and: the ghost of Trotter looms
This morning I was writing a blog post about Brian Trotter’s return to the Post Office when I was alerted to an extraordinary evidence session unfolding at the Post Office Horizon Inquiry by Tom Witherow at the Daily Mail.
Back in 2000, Amandeep Singh was a Fujitsu Horizon helpline operator, his first proper job. It sounded hellish. I’ve outlined most of what he had to say here on Threadreader (and you can read his witness statement here and watch his evidence here) but the most attention-grabbing testimony was his recollection of the racism, suspicion and mockery of Subpostmasters on display amongst his colleagues.
Singh came across as a conscientious, professional person who was deeply troubled by the attitudes he encountered. He described working in a “toxic” environment whilst trying to help “frantic” and “stressed” Subpostmasters who had holes in their accounts.
Singh was first line support, and was supposed to refer problems he couldn’t deal with to second line support. Second line support were resentful of having to supply support to Subpostmasters who were not IT literate and used to try to “belittle” first line support colleagues whilst also disparaging the Subpostmasters themselves.
Subpostmasters would be mocked behind their backs for their incompetence and generally assumed to be on the take. Asian Subpostmasters calling in would be put on mute so the call handlers could moan about having to deal with “another Patel” with problems.
Do watch the whole session if you can. Mr Singh appears after Liz Evans-Jones (also a helpline operator) at 1hr 25m and only speaks for 35 minutes.
I would also be most grateful if you would have a look at my now finished blog post on Brian Trotter (above), a former Post Office contract manager accused of trying to bully one Subpostmaster into admitting she’d stolen money from her branch.
He was also criticised by Mr Justice Fraser in 2019 for putting “inaccurate” information in his sworn witness statement. Trotter left the Post Office in 2020 after an undistinguished 40 year career, but the Post Office has decided to call him back to work with them in their Historical Matters Unit.
Trotter told the Inquiry he never considered Horizon to be a source of branch accounting problems. In his view it was always human error. Just the sort of chap to be helping the Post Office come to an unbiased, balanced view on compensation matters. More here.
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I am grateful to Tom Witherow for alerting me to what was going on at the Inquiry today whilst I was desperately trying to catch up with what I missed last week. I hope Tom will be able to get a story in the Daily Mail main paper about Mr Singh’s evidence.
I am also extremely grateful to everyone who has been pointing me in the direction of interesting evidence (including the lady who told me her husband was suspended by Brian Trotter).
Please accept my apologies if I can’t reply to every email I get – I do read every single message and try to stash them away in my increasingly frazzled brain.
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