Horizon Inquiry Day One: CWU demands ‘action not words’

Postal, Post Office (PO)

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Andy Furey urges Nick Read to ‘make change happen – don’t just talk about it’ after Post Office CEO writes lengthy essay pledging to ‘right the wrongs’ exposed during this major miscarriage of justice…

“It’s good to hear these promises, admissions and apologies from Mr Read – but actions speak louder than words,” was the reaction of CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey to the statement released earlier today.

As Sir Wyn Williams’s long-awaited Horizon Inquiry got under way, with wrongly prosecuted postmasters preparing to submit their evidence and others set to be questioned about their respective roles in the affair, the leader of the Post Office wrote an ‘oped’ (opinion editorial) in which he apologised profusely on behalf of the organisation and made a series of commitments, as well as claims.

“Reading through his article today, I was pleased to see the sense of contrition and the realisation that the Post Office has badly wronged so many innocent people,” Andy told CWU News.

“But like many others, I was left with the feeling that, if he really means what he says – and we all hope that he does – then what we really need to see is some serious action to back up these fine words.

“For example, if he wants to ‘ensure that all compensation is full, fair and final for those who have already suffered too much’ then don’t just talk about the interim payments made to the 72 former Postmasters who have had their convictions quashed, let’s highlight the plight of the other 500-plus litigants who received less than £20,000 each – an amount which goes nowhere near to meeting the lost earnings and loss of livelihoods that these people have suffered.

“Let’s work together – the CWU and the Post Office, along with the JFSA – to demand that the Government fully funds their claims and that these monies are not offset against the Post Office operation as a whole.”

Mr Read’s claim that the Post Office is ‘resetting our relationship with our postmasters, upon whom we all depend’ by having ‘two Non-Executive Director postmasters, elected by other postmasters, on the Post Office Board’ was heavily critiqued by the CWU as well, with our national postmaster branch secretary Mark Baker pointing out that “the candidate selection was all done by a Post Office appointed panel and candidates whom they didn’t want with a CWU background or indeed membership – such as myself – were excluded from the ballot.

“It ill-behoves the Post Office to claim that they’re advancing postmaster representation, when they themselves are choosing which candidates are allowed to stand for election,” Mark continued.

“What postmasters really need is a truly independent representative body, a trade union, to fight for their interests. So why will the Post Office not grant full recognition to the CWU – which already has recognition for all other Post Office functions and grades – for postmasters as well?”

Today’s commencement of the Inquiry sparked a great deal of interest across the national press and media and the CWU is determined to continue the fight for justice, recompense and real reform for the future.

Andy Furey and Mark Baker have both been asked by Sir Wyn to give evidence to the Inquiry and they are “very much looking forward” to doing so, adding that “this will be a good opportunity to make these key points directly and publicly and, hopefully, to ensure that the issue of and need for independent representation is fully highlighted.”

Andy concluded: “If people want to follow these proceedings, there is a live-link and people can follow the developments as the various parties give their evidence to the investigation.

“I am confident Sir Wyn Williams will get to the bottom of this travesty and justice will prevail. This will of course mean full accountability for those senior Post Office directors who have caused so much misery for so many for so long.”