and the podcast is back!
As promised, I have two new pieces of content for you. The first is a short Q&A with Lord (James) Arbuthnot covering where we are now and what he wants to see from the public inquiry into the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.
As well as campaigning for Subpostmasters for more than a decade, Lord Arbuthnot is also a member of the Horizon Compensation Advisory Board.
It is certainly encouraging to report Lord Arbuthnot’s optimism about where things are heading, though he makes it clear there is a lot of work to be done.
I have appended the minutes of the most recent meeting of the HCAB to the Q&A so you can see what their most recent decisions are.
The HCAB minutes and Q&A are worth reading in the context of Sir Wyn Williams’ interim report on compensation, which essentially recommends conferring new power-ups on the Board to boost its strength and influence.
The podcast is back!
The latest Investigating the Post Office Scandal podcast is out, which I co-present with the peerless Rebecca Thomson. In it, I described Sir Wyn’s report as tidying up a few loose ends and making nice noises about the HCAB. Our guest, David Enright from Howe and Co (who represent more than 150 Subpostmasters at the inquiry) did not agree with me “at all”. This led to an interesting discussion.
As well as Sir Wyn’s report, Rebecca, David and I touched on the Post Office disclosure debacle, bonusgate, restorative justice, whether ALL Post Office prosecutions should be re-examined, how long the inquiry will last and what it’s like to be working at the coal face of a process like this.
David also criticised Kevan Jones MP’s call for the Post Office board to be sacked. Listen to what he has to say here. Rebecca and I are deeply grateful to David for his thoughtful and energetic contribution to the podcast.
Speaking of Kevan Jones
The veteran campaigner secured a House of Commons debate on Sir Wyn Williams interim report yesterday. Jones referred to Nick Read’s appearance on Radio 4’s The World At One, wherein Read said the “sheer scale” of the scandal and resolving it had “gone above and beyond anything that anybody could realistically expect”. Jones took issue with Read’s statement and (raising Bonusgate and the Post Office’s disclosure failures) concluded:
“Ill-conceived comments from the present chief executive of the Post Office are rubbing salt in the wounds of the victims. Either he has to go, or something has to radically change at the Post Office.”
The Minister Kevin Hollinrake replied with: “We have a governance review into earlier issues around remuneration and the metrics regarding bonuses, which were found to be completely inappropriate. We are waiting for that report, which I should receive by the end of this month. We will take that under advisement, as we do any other evidence we receive about the operation of the board of the Post Office.”
I am delighted once more that Marina Hyde at The Guardian has written her third blistering column about the Post Office scandal. Marina is a columnist with some clout and she is clearly determined to keep this story in the public eye. And goodness, she can write.
Noel Thomas and I were on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show at lunchtime yesterday. I had told them about Noel’s book and its forthcoming translation into English, but they didn’t mention it. Afterwards I suggested Jeremy get Noel on again when the English translation is published as I think he would make a superb guest. Fingers crossed.
Tomorrow I’ll be on Jeremy Kyle’s show on TalkTV – not to get the results of a paternity test – it’s another discussion about the Post Office scandal. Then I’m going on holiday for a bit.
Thanks and welcome
My thanks and a warm welcome to all the new secret emailers who have come this way over the last week or so. It’s great to have you on board. And my thanks to everyone who has written a note raising particular issues which interest them, or asking questions. I do try to go through my correspondence in batches and answer where I can, but sometimes it all gets a bit much. That said, if you have new information about an aspect of the scandal or a new story you think I need to be looking at, please do let me know. I do read everything I get sent.
Don’t forget the inquiry is due to restart on Wednesday next week for three days before breaking for the summer.
All three days will form part of a special investigation into the case of Julie Wolstenholme, the Cleveleys Subpostmaster, who was sacked over Horizon discrepancies. It ended up in court. In an internal Fujitsu report, Jan Holmes (who will also be giving evidence next week), set the case out as follows:
“The dispute at Cleveleys revolves around the Post Master being dismissed by PO in November 2000, ostensibly for ‘unacceptable losses’, her counter-claim for damages for unfair dismissal and her subsequent refusal to return Horizon equipment to Post Office as she felt that it’s contents would somehow uphold her claims.”
Jason Coyne, who was the claimants’ independent IT expert in Bates v Post Office was the expert witness in the Wolstenholme case. He will also be giving evidence to the inquiry. Should be interesting!
Enjoy the rest of your week,