Plus: Ismay on the stand
Today, former Post Office exec Rod Ismay was on the stand giving evidence at the Inquiry. You can watch it here and read what I have to say about his evidence yesterday here in: Rod Ismay: the useful idiot
What a week. At 5.41pm last Friday I was just about ready to shut my laptop and think about dinner when the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry informed the world they had received an apology about an extraordinary error in the Post Office’s annual accounts.
If you are new here (and if you are, you are welcome), the Post Office set up a bonus scheme relating to its work on the Inquiry, announced the Inquiry had been completed, and that the bonus metric had been 100% achieved, and then said it was confirmed to have been achieved by the independent chair of the Inquiry, Sir Wyn Williams. Apart from the actual setting up of the bonus scheme, everything else stated above is untrue, but it somehow found its way into a document laid before parliament.
If you want read the full gilhooly on that, may I direct your attention to the posts I wrote earlier this week.
There are several other takes on it here:
Dan Neidle’s op-ed piece in The Times: “Post Office chiefs’ bonuses are yet another scandal“
Daily Telegraph “Post Office faces fresh inquiry over IT scandal bonus payments“
and the Financial Times, which carries the great quote from Lord Arbuthnot:
“It does appear that nobody on the board of directors read the accounts. If that’s the level of competence or energy they put into their roles, then they really ought to go.”
As you would hope with a story this serious, MP have already swung into action. The government announced that the Post Office will be conducting its own internal review into what happened. Of course, no one can have any confidence the reivew will be worth the webpage it’s published on, given the Post Office’s previous form.
Far more likely to achieve something is the review of what happened at a Business Select Committee “public scrutiny session” anounced by the Chair of the Committee, Darren Jones MP. Jones has kept a tight grip on this scandal from his position in the Committee Chair and I expect he will be wanting some proper answers from those he calls. Unless I’ve missed something neither the terms of the Post Office review, nor the nature of the public scrutiny session has been announced. Watch this space.
Shortly after both the review and scrutiny session were announced, Kevan Jones MP secured an Urgent Question in the House of Commons to discuss the Post Office’s latest idiocy. You can read the transcript of the short debate here. It is noticeable that during the debate Chris Loder MP calls the Post Office CEO Nick Read “a liar” (along with Read’s Head of Public Affairs Kenneth Pritchard) but doesn’t explain exactly why. More on that to come too, no doubt.
Tom Witherow at the The Times has summarised the debate here.
Whilst the above was going on, Karl Flinders was keeping a close eye on the Inquiry for Computer Weekly. Karl noticed that the Post Office knew about back end access to the Horizon IT system and wrote it up here.
Karl has just filed another piece from the inquiry today about the infamous gloating email written by internal Post Office lawyer Jarnail Singh after Seema Misra lost her court case in 2010 and was sent to prison.
On Wednesday evening last week I was invited down to Hastings to speak about the Post Office Scandal at The Pig, a lovely pub on the seafront.
It was organised by Rosie Brocklehurst (a secret emailer) and friends, and was a sell out. I am very grateful to everyone who came along, and to Rosie’s team, who made me feel very welcome.
I am particularly grateful to Katy Crane, daughter of a Subpostmaster, with a truly awful story to tell. She spoke on stage with such determination. I wish her the very best in her future endeavours, getting justice for her mum.
I don’t think I’m going to be doing many more public events this year on the Post Office story as I’ll be focusing on the Depp v Heard book. The only remaining Post Office talk I’ve got left in my diary is on 24 May at Chipping Campden Book Festival. I’ll be joined on stage by former Subpostmaster Wendy Buffrey and Second Sight’s Ron Warmington. Both are amazing speakers. I think there are only a few tickets left, so snap them up here if you can.
If you’re interested in my take on court reporting in the UK and US, I recorded an interview yesterday for The Media Podcast which has just dropped today. and I’m delighted to tell you that the Daily Telegraph has give my Depp book a 4 star review, which is nice! My thanks to the talented Tom Beard for the above image.
If you would like to continue supporting my work, please consider buying the Depp book. It’s out next week and I’m getting very jumpy (frog gag) about its prospects. I realise both subjects seem to have very different audiences, but you may have a relative in your life who was intrigued by the trial in Virginia last year!
I have reopened my email newsletter for specific Depp v Heard related business. If you are particularly interested in my activities around the book, please do sign up (and tell your friends). It’s free.
A reminder that if you would like to receive my blog posts the moment they are published, then there is a sign up box on the front page of postofficescandal.uk and at the bottom of every blog post. Just put your email address in there and you’ll get sent each blog post immediately. That too is free. I usually write a post, publish it, flag it on twitter, then start writing a newsletter to give you that special secret email extra value service. if you want your blog posts before even those twitter types get to see it, sign up via the website form.
Welcome and thanks
Due to the unexpected bump in interest in the Post Office story over the last week, a number of new subscribers have found their way to this newsletter. As I said above you are very welcome. Please do drop me a line (by hitting reply to this email) and let me know your interest in this story.
I continue to receive huge amounts of correspondence on a variety of platforms about a number of issues. I do read everything I get sent, but sometimes it is quite difficult to respond to everything meaningfully or at times, at all. Please forgive me for a delayed response to any communication you send.
Have a great weekend. Enjoy or avoid Eurovision, according to your preference. I think Hannah Waddington should be our next Queen.