Secret email about the Post Office Scandal. Shh!

Jenkins wants inquiry ‘immunity’, Clarke advice published and first reviews of False Accounts the play

Pathway to Horizon disaster

Hello everyone

It’s been a big week at the inquiry. For the first time we’ve seen decision-makers close to the Horizon rollout getting properly cross-examined. We’re starting to see some answers come through.

It wasn’t anything that dramatic, although Rebecca Thomson (on our podcast) described it as a Greek tragedy.

The inevitability of what ended up happening is what’s so awful. Why didn’t anyone think about the power that Horizon gave the Post Office and what it would mean for Subpostmasters? The short answer is, they didn’t.

They cared about what Fujitsu thought, they cared about what the government thought, they cared about their own careers, but when it came to whether Subpostmasters should be able to accept this system into their businesses … at the end of the day, that wasn’t really their problem.

To find out more, listen to episode 16 of Investigating the Post Office Scandal, or have a quick read of my tweet thread from today which pulls the week together. Or read the transcripts/watch the videos on the inquiry website.

Jenkins and the Clarke advice

Gareth Jenkins, the former Fujitsu engineer, wants certain assurances before giving evidence to the inquiry. Read more here.

Writing about Jenkins made me realise no one had actually published the Clarke Advice. There is a titanic psychodrama raging over that document and what it engendered. I have not suffered like the many people who have come into contact with it, but for months after the Post Office told me they no longer considered the advice privileged (or at least I think that’s what they told me), I didn’t post it. I don’t know why. I just felt a general sense I might get into trouble if I did.

I don’t believe any document should have a witchy spell on it. This is not Discworld. Watching events play out in the Court of Appeal on 18 November 2020 made me realise that the law (or at least, a powerful court) could act against the public interest.

It suddenly felt, for the first time in my 20 years as a journalist, that if ever I chose to act in the public interest, the state might not defend me. I could find myself on the wrong side of the law. Or a badly informed court. It gave me the shivers. Anyway, I’ve published it now. Come and get me.

Let’s play

The notices are in! Do have a read about the new satirical play – False Accounts – which puts the Post Office Scandal on stage. I have posted the reviews here.

Also – James Hartley, hero lawyer from the Bates v Post Office litigation has recorded a podcast with Legal Business which you can listen to here.


Rebecca and I are still trying to get to grips with the best way to make our coverage of this inquiry work. We were the only journalists in the room at the inquiry today, which is disappointing, but understandable. There’s a lot going on everywhere else. We are very grateful for your support.

I’d also like to volunteer a special thanks to those legally-qualified people (often strangers) who have kindly given their time and expertise to me for no other reason than they are keen to give people a better understanding of what the law is all about. I am exceedingly grateful for your advice and help.

Right. Bed.

Have a great weekend.


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