Same old secret email, though
I was very rude about the sound in Inquiry Chair Sir Wyn Williams’ youtube video last week, and then I had one of those Dawning Realisations.
He looked pretty good. In fact, he looked professionally lit. Turns out he was. He was professionally shot, too, and the videographers had an unfortunate microphone malfunction. My apologies to all concerned. These things happen. I sincerely hope Sir Wyn continues to do video updates.
It’s the night before the re-start to the inquiry. I’ll be going up to the International Dispute Resolution Centre next to St Paul’s Cathedral in London tomorrow, along with Rebecca Thomson. Rebecca and I have today formally launched our crowdfunding campaign to cover as much of this inquiry as possible.
Let the finger-pointing begin
On the face of it we are unlikely to get fireworks as no one is being cross-examined. Firstly, Jason Beer KC will essentially walk us and Sir Wyn through the plan for the rest of the inquiry. I hear he is going to focus on some areas where things went seriously wrong, when they went wrong, and how far up the chain this all went. I am told names at the top of government will be named as will names at the top of the legal profession.
Mr Beer will continue laying things out on Wednesday, and then it is the turn of the barristers for the Subpostmasters. Then, starting Thursday afternoon and going through to Friday, we get the Infamous Five.
I haven’t been able to verify the following information but I have seen a document stating that:
At 4pm on Thursday, the NFSP will attempt to absolve itself from responsibility for its actions by saying it was hoodwinked by the Post Office over Horizon and therefore could only dig holes (far less try to intervene) as its members were gunned down in their hundreds (I paraphrase) over a 14 year period.
At 10.30am on Friday the government’s Business Department (BEIS – which owns the Post Office) will offer an unreserved apology and tell the inquiry it wants to focus on ‘Disclosure, key themes, compensation, and lessons already learned’.
At 11am, UK Government Investments (which has a director on the board of the Post Office) will tell the inquiry it wishes to offer ‘framework and chronology’ and will attempt to distance itself from prosecutions and its involvement in the decision-making surrounding Post Office prosecutions.
At 11.30am Fujitsu will apologise to Subpostmasters, admit the system wasn’t really fit for purpose when it was rolled out, tell the inquiry ‘bugs could affect accounts’ and make sure everyone knows that the Post Office was aware ‘from an early stage’ that accounts could be amended remotely.
In 2015, remember, three Post Office executives told a Panorama programme I had a hand in making that remote access to Subpostmasters’ accounts could not happen and had never been able to happen in any circumstances.
There is sometimes a fine line between being mistaken, lying and perverting the course of justice. Let’s see what the inquiry digs up.
At 12 noon on Friday, for a whole hour, the Post Office will apologise and tell the inquiry that it has two main aims:
– to listen and learn
– to assist the Inquiry
The PO will also provide an update re compensation.
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? In fact it’s worse than that. I’ve just got my hands on a letter sent to the inquiry on behalf of all the core participants which says that the Post Office is up to its old lack-of-disclosure tricks.
The core participant lawyers Howe and Co say that the Post Office is ‘continuing in its pattern of late and partial disclosure of relevant documents, as well as continuing to obfuscate attempts by others to obtain those documents’ and would, in most other circumstances, seek an adjournment of the inquiry.
This means, says Howe and Co, that ‘the Inquiry and core participants are now expected to proceed with evidential hearings in the absence of full disclosure or even an idea of the extent of missing documents. You will no doubt appreciate the serious consequences this may have on the quality and utility of the evidence given to the Inquiry.’
Howe and Co have asked to address the inquiry on this issue on Wednesday.
Thanks so much to everyone who has joined this mailing list over the past few days and weeks. I am hoping to keep you properly informed, whilst also trying to complete my book on Johnny Depp. I suspect it will lead to interesting dreams. It will also mean that I might find it difficult to reply to your correspondence, but I promise you I read every reply to this email and I am deeply grateful to you for being here.
I am also overwhelmed by the number of existing secret emailers who re-donated to help me and Rebecca cover the inquiry. It’s deeply (nearly wrote depply then – it’s started already) generous of you, but please, if you’ve donated before, don’t put your hand in your pocket again – just spread the word – foreward the secret email or the website, or the podcast, or the book, or any live events which might be in your area. Speaking of which…
Coming to Jesus
If you are in Cambridge tomorrow night and at a loose end, I’m going to be speaking at Jesus College at 7.30pm tomorrow evening. You can get tickets here. I’ll probably be running on fumes by that stage, but at least I can tell everyone about the first day of the inquiry first hand. ‘Coming to Jesus’ was the title of the email I got from the events-organiser lady at Jesus over summer when I must admit I had forgotten all about it. I did think ‘that’s a bit forward’ when it dropped into my inbox.
I was never happy with the old Post Office Scandal website (which supplanted Post Office Trial).
Thanks to the Herculean efforts of the web guru who helped me build my Reporting Depp v Heard offering, there is now an all-singing, all-dancing brand new Post Office Scandal website to peruse. Please do so at your leisure. It only exists because of your generosity. I want to make it a free-at-the-point-of-consumption hub for all my (and a lot of Rebecca’s!) work on the upcoming Inquiry.
New podcast episode
Please do have a listen to the latest Investigating the Post Office Scandal podcast, which features a primer for new listeners and a walk through the next phases of the Inquiry, plus an interview which David Enright from Howe and Co conducted with Rebecca last week.
I’ll live tweet what I can of the inquiry, but given it will be streamed live on youtube too I won’t go all guns blazing, but if you want to know my perspective on what’s happening, I’ll see you on twitter tomorrow. If you don’t ‘do’ twitter (and I don’t blame you), you can still read my tweets without logging in or signing up.