No. 297/2020
5th June 2020

Dear Colleagues


Further to LTB 157/20 Dated 26th March. Branches will be aware the BEIS Select Committee commenced an inquiry earlier this year into the Horizon scandal. Initially this entailed the submission of written evidence followed by two oral evidence sessions, the first held on 10th March and the second scheduled for 24th March.

Covid-19 – Cancellation of Second Oral Evidence Session – 24th March

The Select Committee had called the Post Office’s former CEO Paula Vennells, the current CEO Nick Read and Fujitsu, who designed and run the Horizon system, to give evidence at the second session. Paul Scully, BEIS Minister, was also due to give evidence. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, this was postponed.

BEIS Select Committee: Letters to Witnesses to Replace Oral Evidence Session

The BEIS Select Committee has made a decision not to go ahead with the second oral session and has instead written to Paula Vennells, Nick Read and Rob Putland, Vice President, Fujitsu. The three letters (attached) from the new Chair Darren Jones, Labour MP, Bristol North West are exceptionally strong. Thankfully it will be difficult for those responding to wriggle out of some of the forthright questions. Responses are due by 16th June.

Criminal Cases Review Commission – 47 cases referred to Court of Appeal

Out of 61 Postmaster cases reviewed by the CCRC, 47 have now been referred to the Court of Appeal. 39 cases were originally referred and this number has been increased by a further 8 this week. 7 of the 61 have not been referred and the CCRC is still working on the remaining 7 (which are cases that have only recently been lodged). The CCRC’s press release and also a Computer Weekly article on the CCRC’s decisions are attached.

If these convictions are overturned by the Court of Appeal this will lead to a position whereby significant amounts of compensation will have to be paid to these former Postmasters, with those previously imprisoned likely to receive large sums.

Panorama Show – Scandal at the Post Office – Monday 8th June

The Panorama show, which was postponed from the originally scheduled date of 23rd March due to Covid-19 will now be aired next Monday 8th June at 7.30pm. We are expecting this programme to show heavy support for the wrongly convicted Postmasters; the description for the show taken from the BBC’s website is as follows:

“Reporter Nick Wallis investigates what could be Britain’s biggest ever miscarriage of justice scandal and uncovers evidence of a cover-up at the Post Office”

BBC Radio 4 – The Great Post Office Trial

As reported in LTB 270/20 dated 27th May there have been ten 15 minute daily broadcasts on Radio 4 featuring many ex Postmasters who were wrongly dismissed and in some cases convicted for accounting shortfalls with some ending up in prison. There is a further omnibus edition at 9pm tonight.

Independent Public Inquiry

Despite the pandemic, there is a lot of activity in respect of this national scandal although a degree of momentum was lost with lockdown and whilst Parliamentary scrutiny was gathering pace, this did halt for a while. The efforts of the Select Committee will contribute in bringing this matter into the consciousness of Parliamentarians in general. As there are still so many unanswered questions and there has been no real accountability thus far, hopefully the Panorama broadcast will inject some impetus and will help to put further pressure on the Prime Minister to deliver on his commitment to instigate an independent Public Enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Furey
Assistant Secretary

LTB 297/20 – Post Office – Horizon Scandal – BEIS Select Committee Inquiry
Attachment 1 to LTB 297/20
Attachment 2 to LTB 297/20
Attachment 3 to LTB 297/20
Attachment 4 to LTB 297/20
Attachment 5 to LTB 297/20