Sir Wyn: compensation “too slow”
Happy New Year!
I hope you all had a great break (if you were able to). There is a certain grim irony to the latest update from the Chair of the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry. Sir Wyn Williams describes the progress toward compensation for some as “too slow”, yet he admits he is powerless to assess some of the key issues around compensation until Phase 5 of his inquiry, which won’t start till way after Easter.
Good people, included Vijay Parekh, Nicki Arch and Susan Palmer are mentioned by name, and I hope they have received good news, by which I mean a large chunk of the cash they are entitled to (or in Vijay’s case, stolen from him by the Post Office).
Three other people who have had their convictions overturned without receiving any (even interim) compensation (all Hudgells clients) are confirmed as going into mediation. I wish them well.
In his report summary, Sir Wyn Williams casts his eye around the current compensation landscape and declares:
“I have no doubt that if there were no compensation schemes yet in existence and that I was making a recommendation about a process for compensating wronged Subpostmasters with a blank piece of paper there would be considerable merit in there being one scheme with a completely independent advisory board and independent assessors determining levels of compensation. However, that is not what exists. There are 3 Schemes in various stages of their development which are functioning in substantially different ways. In my view it would not now be possible to appoint a person or board to supervise all the schemes without there being a significant risk of substantial delay as a result. In relation to all schemes that would be very undesirable In relation to the GLS, however, such delay could be disastrous.”
GLS stands for the yet-to-be-finalised Group Litigation Scheme for the 400+ people locked into the 2019 High Court settlement who were not prosecuted.
Phase 3 of the Inquiry starts tomorrow
It is entitled “Operation: training, assistance, resolution of disputes, knowledge and rectification of errors in the system”.
I must admit to being wholly unfamiliar with the names lined up over the next three weeks, but Rebecca Thomson and I will be keeping across proceedings. I’m sure the witnesses will have something interesting to say. One person who was mentioned a lot in Phase 2 of the inquiry was Stephen Muchow, former Business Director of ICL Pathway. He’s down to be cross-examined on Thursday.
Rebecca and I will compare notes on Friday, put together and publish our 26th podcast and then I’ll write you another newsletter to tell you about it.
Not much happened with the Post Office story over Christmas, though there was an interesting editorial piece about delays to compensation in The Times.
A lot of those who weren’t done by Horizon were done by Paula Vennells’ Network Transformation (not everyone – I realise some have managed to make it work), but it has made the last 20 years a bleak time to be a Subpostmaster.
Thanks very much to everyone who found and joined the mailing list over the Christmas period. It’s great to have you on board. I’m always amazed at the number of people who sign up when we’re not making a song and dance about. Do feel free to hit reply to this email and tell me about your interest in this story. All correspondence is always dealt with in the utmost confidence.
Finally, I know this is of limited interest to most readers interested in the Post Office story, but my main journalistic focus over Christmas was trying to get my book on Johnny Depp’s legal travails finished. As yet, it isn’t, but I’m very nearly there. Juggling Post Office and Depp commitments over the next 8 months is going to make for an interesting 2023. The anniversary of the Depp verdict is on 1 June, which is slap bang in the middle of inquiry territory. I am hoping to be in the US for 1 June promoting the Depp book. I am already having nightmares about it coinciding with Paula Vennells giving evidence at the Inquiry. It’s early days. Let’s see how the first part of the year pans out.
Do let me know what you’ve got planned for 2023 if the mood takes you. Always good to see how fellow secret emailers are planning to take on the universe…!