Secret email about the Post Office Scandal. Shh!

The Oppenheim Project – gruelling Fujitsu/ICL evidence goes somewhere slowly, plus…

… Clarke “shredding” advice published

Hi there

Rebecca and I went to the inquiry today and reviewed the last two days’ evidence in our latest podcast here.

Yesterday Keith Todd, former CEO of ICL (80% owned by Fujitsu) gave evidence about the Pathway/Horizon project and was shown clear evidence that Fujitsu didn’t just go to Tony Blair to try to strong-arm him into saving the Horizon project, but that he was directly involved.

Mr Todd preferred to rely on his own memory rather than contemporaneous documents, as he sought to explain the collaborative way in which ICL heroically went about trying to mend the disaster the government had created. The documents brought to his attention by the inquiry appeared to suggest that he played a central role in making sure the government knew that ICL’s ability to float on the stock exchange, and hundreds of jobs were at stake if the government canned Horizon.

Prosecution support

Todd was taken to a contract between ICL, the DSS and the Post Office, which promised the DSS and the Post Office ‘Prosecution Support’ – sight of secure audit data (should they require it) for prosecuting Subpostmasters. Todd said he had no knowledge of any protocol or system which was put in place to practically implement this contractual right.

Wednesday’s witness, Tony Oppenheim, former Pathway project director before becoming a senior Fujitsu man, was also asked about the ‘Prosecution Support’ promised to the Post Office. He agreed that it contractually should be provided to the Post Office for free and morally given the seriousness of what was at stake. This simply doesn’t match the claim so many Subpostmasters’ defence teams have made, which was that the Post Office refused to disclose Horizon audit data because it was too expensive.

Oppenheim seemed mystified that the Post Office would prosecute people without doing a proper investigation of the evidence on which they were being prosecuted. He also had no idea what systems were in place for providing the Post Office with the evidence they were contractually entitled to. If you get a moment do have a listen to our podcast which covers this – or you could read Karl Flinders from Computer Weekly who picked up on the same line which stopped us in our tracks today – a Horizon ‘showstopper’ of an error.

The ‘shredding’ advice

I’ve written about Simon Clarke’s ‘shredding’ advice before. It came to light during the 2021 Court of Appeal hearing, which eventually led to 39 Subpostmasters having their convictions quashed and being told their prosecutions were an affront to the conscience of the court, in lay-persons’ language, a Very Bad Thing.

I published the ‘shredding’ advice today on the back of the interest the initial Clarke advice generated. I realise a lot of m’learned friends have been rather struck by reading the source documents for the first time.

Paul Marshall was one of the first lawyers outside the Post Office to read both advices – he told my Radio 4 series The Great Post Office Trial that when he first did so, it nearly caused his “teeth to fall out”. It is impossible to recreate the circumstances under which Mr Marshall first saw the documents, but you too can now scratch your head in disbelief.

John Hyde at the Law Gazette has rounded up some of the legal issues – or more specifically, those who were creating them – under examination at the inquiry.

Academic submission to the public inquiry

Professor Richard Moorhead has made public a series of submissions his department sent to the inquiry today. You can read more here. Professor Moorhead says:

‘We have updated our working paper series to publish WP3 (on the conduct of criminal proceedings) which we submitted to the #PostOfficeInquiry last year (what we saw appears to have been picked up by several of the submission to the Inquiry including the Ind Counsel) and WP5 on the Swift Review’ (the latter being a refinement of Prof M’s rather magnificient ten substack posts on this, chronicled in this newsletter as they challenged and then surpassed the number of Star Wars films)

First Northern Ireland conviction quashed

Alan McLaughlin, who ran the at Tennent Street Post Office in Belfast has had his conviction for false accounting quashed. The Court of Appeal’s Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan said:

“The conviction does leave us with a significant sense of unease and should be quashed… The Horizon evidence was an essential component of the prosecution case in the court below, and a clear disclosure obligation went unfulfilled, unbeknownst to prosecutors with carriage of the case.”

Alan’s is the first Postmaster conviction to be quashed in Northern Ireland. Mr McLaughlin’s representatives from Madden & Finucane Solicitors say:

“Throughout the investigation and prosecution he was consistently told by the authorities that he was the only one who was having similar IT problems. It has now emerged that this was clearly not the case and many others were told the same thing.

“We look forward to preparing the appeal for Alan’s colleague, Lee Williamson, whose appeal is listed in January.”

False Accounts extra date

The satirical play about the Post Office Horizon scandal False Accounts has been given a matinee date on 5 November, meaning there are now six dates at the Questors Theatre in West London from 1st to 5th of November. You can book tickets to every performance here.

The Saturday matinee will be followed by a Q&A with a former Subpostmaster. Sadly I will not be able to attend, but I will be there for the evening performance. I know at least 4 former Subpostmasters, my publishers, and London Walks’ Ian Fagelson will be in attendance if you want to join the party.

Thanks so much to everyone who has supplied photos and reviews of the Birmingham production of False Accounts. I am sorry that I have only got these reviews and photos up so far. I’ll try to do another blog post with more reviews and photos this weekend.


It’s been another long day. I hope you find what Rebecca and I are doing useful. If you’re not already on twitter, I would recommend joining and following us both there – it’s free to sign up and I do put a lot of Post Office scandal-related information out on my twitter feed. Rebecca’s feed is here.

Both Rebecca and I are out of London over the next two days, but if our partners allow us, we’re going to follow the inquiry remotely from our respective country hideouts and reconvene on Sunday to round up Thursday and Friday’s evidence for another podcast.

Thanks for all your feedback. Don’t forget if you want to make a suggestion or comment or want to impart any information – all you have to do is hit reply to this email. I might not be able to reply (sometimes the volume of correspondence is just too much), but I promise I read everything I get sent and I do very much appreciate it.

Inquiry re-starts at 10am tomorrow. You can watch it here.



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