PR Week puts departed Post Office Comms Director in its “Power” Book

Richard Taylor, in happier times.

On Tuesday 27 February, the Post Office’s Director of Communications, Richard Taylor, left the Post Office. He had been suspended since 12 January after two recordings of him were made public by TalkTV.

Curiously he has just been included in PR Week’s Power Book 2024, which celebrates “the most influential and respected comms professionals in the UK today”.

In the Post Office Tapes, recorded in 2020 and 2021, Taylor insinuated many of the campaigning Subpostmasters were thieves. Specifically, he said:

RT: “We give you… £30,000 pounds in cash to stick in a safe. And the problem with £30,000 in cash in a safe if you’ve got 11,500 post officers [sic] is some of those people decide to… not necessarily with any particular intent… to borrow that money for a little while.”
Q. “So you think that’s what happened?”
RT: “Well some of them downright stole it.”

Also in 2020, he misrepresented the Bates v Post Office High Court judgment, stating:

RT: “It’s never been proven that there was a link between the computer glitch and anybody actually losing any money. That’s what the judge said as well. There’s no causal link….”
Q. “So where did the money go?”
RT: “God Knows.”

This was the line the Post Office Chief Executive Nick Read was trying to spin to parliament in June 2020.

The judgment actually says:

“It was possible for bugs, errors or defects of the nature alleged by the claimants to have the potential to cause apparent or alleged discrepancies…. Further, all the evidence in the Horizon Issues trial shows not only was there the potential for this to occur, but it actually has happened, and on numerous occasions.” [my emphasis]

In 2021, Taylor said of Subpostmasters:

“They get a bit of training, and then we leave them to it, and sling £30,000 of cash in a safe. These people have never run a business in their lives, and they get into a bit of a mess sometimes. Yeah?”

Then he said:

“No one writes about the other side of the story. No one writes about the fact that… 72 cases have been overturned – it was on ITV News yesterday – it was ‘these people are innocent… it should never have happened… they were all wrongly accused’, well – they were actually not necessarily wrongly accused, and it’s not all of them. Because yes, okay, on the scorecard so far it’s 72 overturned convictions… 3 upheld and 20 appeals withdrawn… so in broadest terms it’s currently kinda 72 – 23 so it’s… 3 to 1 but it’s not everybody.”

Only 72 innocent people being given criminal convictions. Some scorecard.

Taylor also insinuated that many Subpostmasters got off on a technicality, stating:

“From a legal point of view, it says nothing about their guilt or innocence. It just means that their conviction is unsafe.”

The Court of Appeal made it quite clear that’s not true. That’s why it found the Post Office prosecutions to be a second category Abuse of Process, ie “an affront to the conscience of the court”.

Taylor’s response

On 11 Jan, the day we were about to publish the Post Office Tapes, TalkTV asked the Post Office for comment. We received this via their press office from Richard Taylor:

“I am deeply sorry about the terrible impact of this scandal on victims and have consistently apologised for all they have suffered. I sincerely apologise for any past remarks that I may have made during personal conversations which cause hurt or offence.”

On 27 February 2024 the Post Office issued a statement. Of the 2020 and 2021 recordings, it said:

“The conversations were one-to-one between Mr Taylor and a friend of forty years who instigated both meetings. While Mr Taylor’s comments did not breach any confidentiality, they do not reflect the view of the Post Office. Mr Taylor apologised publicly to anybody offended by his comments. Richard Taylor has left his role at Post Office, and hopes this might help to ensure that all those affected by the Horizon IT scandal, and the wider public, maintain confidence in the modernisation of Post Office.”

The source who gave me the recordings said: “It was what he said (twice) that damned him, not what I did. I think he probably got off lightly (with a pay off) rather than stay and be there for the inevitable eradication of the Post Office board of Directors.”

One senior PR professional I know messaged me today and said: “Why on earth is Richard Taylor in the list of the so called ‘top 1% of most impressive and influential PR professionals in the UK’? The irony is that PR Week asked us to nominate the worst PR performers over the last year and the Post Office was in the top five. So why include the person who was at the helm?”

Obviously Richard Taylor is a titan among PR professionals, which is why he is lionised the PR Week 2024 Power Book. Or he might be an idiot. I’m not sure. I’ve asked PR Week why they’ve celebrated Taylor as one of the most “the most influential and respected comms professionals in the UK today”. They responded within ten hours to say:

“Thank you for drawing our attention to our oversight here, for which we apologise. Richard Taylor should have been removed from the Power Book before it was published. We have now removed him. For context, the Power Book lists about 450 senior figures working in communications and public affairs in the UK. The vast majority of invitations for the 2024 edition were sent in December last year, before the airing of Mr Bates vs the Post Office and the subsequent stories. We abhor the treatment of Subpostmasters in the scandal and hope for full justice for everybody affected.”

Here is Richard Taylor’s (now-deleted) Q&A in the PR Week Power Book 2024:

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10 responses to “PR Week puts departed Post Office Comms Director in its “Power” Book”

  1. PCOJ Investigator avatar
    PCOJ Investigator

    Please, Post Office Bosses (past and current), will you explain why it is that given the increasing publicity given to prosecutions and what has now been shown to be terrorisation and extortion from wholly innocent SPMs, the same and other SPMs apparently still continued (according to you) to perpetrate these “frauds” (sic) and “thefts” (sic) on such an industrial scale?

    Surely they would have stopped, realising they couldn’t get away with it?

    It would go against human nature (however base and…. venal) to persist with committing what obviously are unsuccessful and stupid attempted crimes, which lead to prosecution, bankruptcy, imprisonment, etc.

    How on god’s good earth such an obvious thing apparently did not occur to you?

    Is the answer that it did, and you are yourselves liars and thieves, compounding your crimes by false testimony at the Inquiry, or that you are as thick-as-mince as Alison Bolsover (Day 79, 19 October 2023 PM) whose testimony makes me wonder how something as mindbogglingly STUPID as her is at liberty to cross the road, leave aside given a job of great responsibility?

  2. Mr Richard Taylor may benefit from knowing he is now in MY “Power Book”………………

  3. The post offices PR attitude has remained the same throughout this scandal. Are any of the PR people going to be called to give evidence to the enquiry.

    1. No names with ‘PR’ after them – but you can see the list of 68 of the ‘great and not so good’ here:

      Should be riveting viewing – provided they’re not all suffering from advanced amnesia….

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Cannot believe the state of denial and impoverished thinking of Taylor. Rachel Reeves cleansing the reputation of Labour……so funny as are the rest of his answers which made me laugh at how ….well….’.dim’ he is…… Obviously never consults beyond his restricted social circle, doesn’t keep up with national news, and in brief , impoverished intellectual capability, small minded and bigoted. Always worth a laugh people like him.
    Thank goodness he is now gone along with others like him………

  5. A lot of these type of publications are “pay to play”. You pay the fee (or your company does) and you appear.

    Interesting that he’s still listed as a PO employee though. That doesn’t seem accurate.

  6. The arrogance of this creature is just mind boggling. The contempt he had for the suffering of the sub postmasters is disgusting. He is now pathetically groveling to save his own skin. What a disgusting human being he makes my flesh creep

    1. Cherry, wait you see and hear the wholesome Rodric Williams. He’s on today and tomorrow.

      In my view, even the North Korean cookbook contains no punishment that would do him justice.

  7. Interesting that his comment regarding best places to network states Westminster. Kind of shows the behind the scenes influence that PO bring to bear on ministers and civil servants with who knows what results in the past.

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