Secret email about the Post Office Scandal. Shh!

Post Office senior execs grilled in Parliament

Notes from the field

An art installation inside the Department for Business and Trade

Hi everyone

Apolgies for the radio silence recently. I’ve been insanely busy trying to launch a book at the same time as deal with more interest in the Post Office story than I can remember since 2021.

I’m currently sitting in a rather grand corridor in the House of Commons outside Committee Room number 6. Later this morning, the Post Office CEO Nick Read and various other executives (including the new director Harry Staunton), will be questioned by Darren Jones MP and his colleagues on the Business and Trade Committee.

I am hoping to meet Nick Read and ask him for an interview as I did outside a Business Committee meeting with his predecessor eight years ago. I got the brush off then. Let’s see if it’s any different now.

Saga, Mail on Sunday, Radio Times and the BBC

The recent events which led to an explosion of public interest in the Post Office Scandal have led to some interesting commissions.

There’s (hopefully) a big piece going in YOU Magazine this Sunday, a long-ish piece in the next edition of Saga Magazine and a new episode of The Great Post Office Trial going out at 4pm on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday next week. This is Episode 12: Nowhere Near Over, a title which I suspect will resonate with some recipients of this newsletter.

We have pulled together a number of interesting interviews to update the story, including one with Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake, recorded ini his office, hence the photo above. Genius producer Robert Nicholson (who came up with the title – I thought of some dreadful ones) is, as I write, wrangling all the audio into shape from his lair in Berlin.

The Radio Times piece is scheduled to coincide with the new episode, which will become available with the rest of the series, shortly after it is broadcast on Radio 4.

Dan Neidle gets results

Tax lawyer Dan Neidle’s arguments highlighting the unfairness of the Post Office’s Historical Shortfall Scheme has got results on the hitherto unresolved tax issue.

Yesterday, the government announced that recipients of compensation will receive top ups designed to ensure they are not disadvantaged by the tax implications of their awards. Dan said some strong words about the design of the of the scheme on our podcast episode A Bit Of Neidle (see! I can do titles). If you would rather read Dan’s blog post about it, it’s here. Whether this new development will make enough of a difference remains to be seen, but Dan welcomed it yesterday, tweeting:

“Brilliant work here from the advisory board, and from @kevinhollinrake following through with his initial (and very fast) promise that he would sort this out.”

The Post Office has still yet to justify telling applicants to the Historical Shortfall Scheme that its compensation offers were confidential, when they weren’t. This is a matter which, thanks to Dan, is now with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Gone for a Burton

The Post Office’s incoming chair of its remuneration committee, Amanda Burton, has completed her internal report into Bonusgate. Essentially the Post Office set up a bonus scheme for its execs, rewarding them for doing their statutory duty of complying with Sir Wyn Williams Public Inquiry into the Post Office Scandal. Then it put a falsehood in its annual report to justify awarding the bonus.

Burton seems to conclude everyone involved failed equally, but doesn’t suggest censure or punishment.

Burton also fails to blame any senior executives by name, and doesn’t criticise anyone for thinking that paying Post Office execs for their work on the inquiry was a good idea and yet makes it clear the it won’t be happening going forward.

She also didn’t actually fulfil her remit of working out how the falsehoods related to the bonus scheme got into the annual report either. I’ve read it three times now. It’s utter dross.

Inquiry reconvenes next month

The Inquiry has published its schedule of witnesses for July. This has been put back a month after Sir Wyn Williams was “taken ill” at the end of May. I hope he has recovered.

The list of witnesses includes Gareth Jenkins (6 & 7 of July), the Post Office’s shredder in chief John Scott (12 July) and the Post Office’s head of criminal law Rob Wilson, who really really didn’t want anyone to investigate Horizon in case it concluded the Post Office might have been responsible for miscarriages of justice (13 July). I’ll cover as many as I can. See the full list here.

I’m hoping to ramp up the number of newsletters once more, though I do need to try to get the other thing off the ground. We had wonderful reviews and last week it made The Week’s Book of the Week. If you want to read an interview with me about on the Golden Globes website, you can find it here. Recommended summer reading, it surely is.

Ooh – Nick Read has just turned up. He’s agreed to an interview after the session. Send me a question by hitting reply to this email if there’s something you’d like me to ask him.

Keep well


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