Inquiry schedule published
Sir Wyn has made a video
Sir Wyn Williams has delivered a very helpful youtube video explaining what’s going on with the Post Office Horizon inquiry. If I had to guess, I would say it had been made on a mobile phone, with no external microphone. And I bet the internal mic was not front-facing.
Sir Wyn’s video is therefore well shot (phone cameras are as good for things like this as professional cameras), but he sounds off-mic.
This is very easy and cheap to fix. If someone from the inquiry wants some free advice on how to ensure Sir Wyn can be properly heard as well as seen next time, I would be very happy to point them in the direction of some excellent, cheap and easy to operate mobile phone external microphones. I mention this because these videos are very much a Good Idea, and I sincerely hope Sir Wyn makes a lot more of them.
In terms of content, Sir Wyn has announced that:
– he is going to have another hearing on compensation on 8 Dec. He is clearly not happy about the speed at which this is being sorted out, and has correctly recognised how big a priority this is.
– the schedule for this autumn’s evidence sessions, which you can find here.
– he is determined to get to the truth of who knew what, when, and what they did with that information.
The evidence sessions will feature:
John Roberts – former Managing Director Group Services, Post Office
Terrence Austin – former Systems Programme Director, ICL Pathway
Stuart Sweetman – former Managing Director, Post Office
Jeremy Folkes – former Infrastructure Assurance Team Leader, Horizon Programme, Post Office Counters Limited
Stephen Byers – former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; former Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Lord Alistair Darling – former Chief Secretary to the Treasury; former Secretary of State for Social Security; and former Chancellor
Alan Johnson – General Secretary, Communications Workers Union; former Minister, Department of Trade and Industry
Colin Baker – former General Secretary, National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP)
At least one of the above is a secret emailer (and someone who has been very generous in helping me understand this story). I cannot wait to hear all of them cross-examined. Fingers crossed the full truth will finally start to come out.
The Swift Review Saga concludes
Professor Richard Moorhead has finished his epic TEN blog post series on the failings of the secret Swift Review. The review was commissioned by Tim Parker, the Post Office Chairman, who, on receiving it, hid it from his own board.
Moorhead’s language is chosen with care, which is why his conclusion to the circumstances surrounding this report, how it was approached and the effect it had is so dramatic. Summarising everything in his final post, Moorhead says:
‘The ways in which the evidence before Swift was limited and the persistence of an untruth about remote access in the Bates defence suggest this may be a tale of more than frailty and might be a crime but I hope the analysis is of use to those who need to consider how better to manage independent reviews in the future.’ [my emphasis]
It reads as a throwaway comment, but I am sure Moorhead thought very carefully about inserting it in that paragraph. It is not something he would say lightly.
In case you were wondering, Professor Moorhead has publicly committed to consolidating his blog posts into a report to Sir Wyn’s public inquiry.
If you want to read the Swift Review go here. If you want to read all of Prof Moorhead’s blog posts on the Post Office scandal, including the ten posts on the Swift Review you can do so here.
Another podcast episode – Ep 12!
One of my favourites so far – do listen here. Deirdre Connolly is a former Subpostmaster from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. She was one of the 555 civil litigants who took the Post Office to the High Court and won. In 2010, Deirdre, who had successfully run her Post Office in Killeter without a problem for four years, was told she had a £15,000 discrepancy. She was suspended without pay on the spot.
Deirdre was asked by a Post Offie investigator if she was working with the paramilitaries. A whispering campaign began in her local village. Deirdre’s mental health fell apart. Her family suffered. She went bankrupt. After nine years of fighting, Deirdre received £11,000 as part of the 2019 High Court settlement fee. She has received nothing since, despite the government making a £19.5m pot of interim compensation available to the 555 in March this year.
Deirdre tells a good story and she’s a great interviewee. The companion piece to this episode – The Compensation Catch– can be found on the Post Office Scandal website, here. Deirdre’s witness statement to the Post Office inquiry can be found here. Her oral evidence to Sir Wyn Williams can be seen here.
London walk – survivors’ photo
Thursday’s London walk in aid of the Horizon Scandal Fund was a triumph on several fronts. Firstly it was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic and lovely secret emailers. A walk is a great way to mingle and swap notes.
Secondly, the walk itself was superb. Ian (holding the red brolly above) is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide (7th best in London, according to TripAdvisor).
Ian who taught me so much about parts of London I have walked through so many times in complete ignorance. It really was an eye-opening afternoon and I am so grateful to him for organising the event.
Thirdly, the generosity of the individuals who attended the walk was perfectly matched by Ian’s ability to extract money from people if it’s for a good cause. I mentioned last week that by the time the walk started Ian had raised £500. By the time it had finished, possibly due to Ian’s initiative in bringing a card reader with him, that total had reach £1000.
This money will go directly towards helping people who are still suffering. Thank you to everyone who donated and everyone involved in organising the walk. If you did attend and want to help Ian reach the top of the greasy Trip Advisor Tour Guide ratings pole, you can rate him here, though please note Ian says: ‘for a review to be published, the reviewer must be signed into an account at Facebook, Google or Tripadvisor itself at the time of posting’.
See how they run
Don’t forget my publishers, Bath Publishing, are running the Bath half-marathon next month in aid of the Horizon Scandal Fund. If you can afford to, please bung them a few quid by sponsoring them here.
Cuckfield Book festival
I am going to be interviewed by the BBC’s Julian Worricker at the Cuckfield Book Festival at 1pm next Sunday 9 October.
Julian, alongside Danny Baker, John Inverdale and Shelagh Fogarty are the four people who inspired me to work in the media when I was a callow Radio 5-listening youth. Julian is a forensic interviewer with the warmest of voices. If you want to come along to the festival, you can buy the tickets here. All the info you need about the rest of the festival is here.
Just one more thing…
I am going to make more of a fuss about this next week, but there’s no reason why I can’t tell you now. Rebecca and I are very much hoping to cover the Inquiry open hearings taking place during October, November and December. This will take time, and as hapless freelancers, our time sadly costs money. The bare minimum we are hoping to do is one day a week each, which will result in at least one podcast, and some blog/substack activity. As a result I have re-activated my tip jar. Everyone who donates will be added to the secret email list. Rebecca and I will pay ourselves out of the tip jar according to the hours we put in.
Our reporting of the Inquiry will remain free at the point of consumption to serve the wider public interest. We are pretty sure the money we get from the tip jar will not cover our costs, but by being there, we might find stories and angles which may be of interest to other news organisations, so we can supplement our crowdfunded income with occasional commissions from newspapers and/or broadcast outlets.
I am also working on a complete overhaul of postofficescandal.uk, which will become a hub pointing people in the direction of all my and Rebecca’s Post Office activity, including blog posts, podcasts, Horizon Scandal Fund activity, archive secret emails (more than six months old), live events (eg book talks), the lot.
If you feel you have already donated quite enough towards my work or to the Fund, I would quite understand! But please, if you can, do forward this email – or the next one, which will make more of a fuss about this – to a friend, suggesting they might be interested in following the Inquiry through our journalism over the next year or so. Rebecca and I would be very grateful.
Have a great weekend.
Please do forward this email to a friend. Everyone who buys a copy of the book through Bath Publishing will automatically be invited to join the “secret” email list.