Hello followers of the Post Office Horizon Scandal. I am going to attempt to live tweet the BEIS Select Committee hearing during which the Post Office CEO Nick Read is being grilled. You can watch it live here:


Darren Jones, the committee chair starts of calling Mr Read “Nick” which is very chummy and asking him why he can’t give proper compensation to everyone.

Read says it’s difficult. He wants to be thorough and get it right. On the GLO settlement for the 555...
… Read says he can “empathise” and has been working with govt and encouraging govt to compensate them properly.

Jones asks the question again - what is stopping you from giving full settlement to everyone.

Read says he doesn’t have the resources. 950 prosecuted, 736 had...
… Horizon convictions “and were therefore unsafe”. This is new.

I was of the understanding that some of the 736 would be safe. The scandal grows...
Read says 777 offers made to the 2500 applicants to the Historical Shortfall Scheme and only 22 have been rejected. He calls this “progress”. The application window for the HSS close in autumn 2020. It’s 222. They haven’t even made offers to half the applicants more than a year..
… later!

Jones asking Read about people who want nothing to do with the PO even when they have convictions to be quashed. Read says that although they are trying to trace all the 736 they still haven’t reached more than 100 of them.
Seems to dodge the question on whether there should be an independent body finding these people as many hate the PO and will not want anything to do with them so won’t even open a letter.

Another MP asks how many people will die before getting compensation. Read doesn’t know.
Read reels off

736 convictions
72 convictions overturned
57 interim comp payments made
Only 160 of 736 have asked PO for info since PO wrote to them. “That is a challenge"
726 written to by PO
343 Spms have not responded
126 have not been reach
216 have definitely received letters but with no response

MP asks why such a poor response. Read: “Not everybody will want to open up this channel, even though there will be compensation"
Another MP asks why the 555 civil litigants are excluded from the scheme.

Read says v fair q. When we became aware through the media how much was being taken by lawyers we did say this wasn’t enough.

We mediated with the 555 in Dec 2019 over 5 days in good faith...
… in order to bring closure, but to your point we note Sir Wyn Williams (chair of the Statutory Inquiry) will include the 555 in his inquiry and minister Scully is meeting with the 555’s lawyers soon to “see if we can find a way through”

MP: should there be equity with the ...
… others. Not the 555?

Read essentially says yes there should be equity. But each circ is different

MP so they should get compensation which would offset their previous losses

Read: they should get fair compensation

MP: what does that mean?
Read: we’ll look at it

Jones: why not revoke the settlement. YOu’re telling the committee it should happen. Why are you not doing it?

Read: it’s the mechanism. "we will find a way to address the issues of the 555 now we are aware of what is goin on”

MP: was this a PO...
…. decision to exclude the 555 from future compensation or a government one.

Read: it was a deal that was agreed by the 555 during negotiations
Jones: was the reason the legal fees were so high because the litigation went on for so long. does the PO bear some responsibility for that?

Read: yes it had gone on from 2016 and when I became CEO I stopped it within two months

Another MP: Why did the HSS only run for...
… 3 months? Do you accept you completely underestimated the response.

Read: We had 736 convictions to go on. We thought it would be in the hundreds it was in the thousands so we did underestimate. We extended the scheme from 2 to 3 months. We wrote to 20,000 [?] former SPMs...
… and advertised in national and local media. Since the scheme closed 122 more SPMs have come forward and we’ll try to accommodate them.

MP: Why has only a third of the 2500 applications to the HSS been processed. If an applicant has died will their family be eligible?
[Anecdotally these are all lowest value claims too which I hope an MP raises]

Read: we’ll hope to get this 95% done by the end of the calendar year. We think we have a good independent, thorough process in place. In October we doubled the size of our panel to get more...
… cases going through and we’ve agreed with govt how our processes work so their are fit for purpose and quick. We hope to make offers to 50% of applicants by the end of March.

MP: this HHS scheme is strikingly similar to the discredited HBOS compensation scheme

Read: don’t...
… know the HBOS scheme but I am confident we are fair.

Jones: I am a bit surprised you’re not familiar with the HBOS scheme given it was discredited

Read: I am confident it is a fiar scheme

MP: how exactly is the scheme designed and run

Read: HSF are aiding PO...
… scheme agreed with their guidance. we agreed with BEIS and UKGI a significant level of scrutiny and oversight

MP why do claimants have to waive their rights to action once they have an offer?

Read: if they disagree with their offer they can go to mediation
MP: are you concerned that HSF designed the HBOS scheme and are now involved in yours?

Read: it’s something HSF will be acutely aware of.
[we’re back on to the 555]

Read: I can understand their compensation as been unjust. we want to do something on this and now we have Sir Wyn saying it will be part of his inquiry we have two avenues to pursue

Jones: did govt sign off on the HSS design?

Read: yes
MP: claimants don’t have much evidence to support their claim as they never had it to start with and the PO often loses it - how can proper compensation be claimed

Read: it’s hard to assess a claim without evidence. Panel will have to work hard to take that into account.
Jones: this is your problem - why does the PO not know who paid in what money when? Why do you expect the victims to have access to it when you don’t?

Read: the panel need to take this into consideration when they make their award

Jones: so since 2005 you do have the info?
Read: some

Jones: why not all? you have to prepare accounts. where did it go

Read: into a general suspense account
Read: we have been clear we will provide as much information we have to SPMs as we have to the CCRC etc
Andy McDonald MP goes back to 555: can you indicate or commit that the 555 will get parity.

Read; getting full and fair and final comp for all the SPMs is essential. The PO cannot move on without it. Nothing like this can happen again. We need a sustainable PO going...
… forwards.

MP: what’s the total compensation and legal fees

Read: from the PO itself it is in excess of £300m - including compensation, legal fees and creating compensation schemes

MP: what assessment will this have on the PO network going forward?
Read: when I joined I was v clear we needed a self-sustaining PO that could fund itself. With these “shortcomings” that process will take longer. We are Europe’s biggest retailer. With the pandemic etc profitability will take several years.

[Session ends]
[Next session features Scully, Cooper and Cresswell]

Jones to Scully: why won’t the govt unwind the 555 settlement agreement.

Scully: the 555 pioneered all the work here. I understand the strength of feeling. We have met some of the individuals. Some can claim compensation...
… if they have their conviction overturned…

Jones: what are you going to do about it, minister

SCully: I’m talking to Alan Bates, there will be a meeting on the 17 with lawyers to see a way forward…

Jones: we know what you need to do minister. Do you need the money? Do we..
… need to call the Treasury minister here.

Scully: the Treasury have been very amenable

Jones: so the 555 will get their money if the Treasury say okay. You will unwind the settlement.

Scully it’s about a mechanism

Jones: The CEO has just said he will unwind the...
… settlement but can’t because he can’t get the money.

Jones: the 555 need more than sentiment.

Scully: they need action. Now the pandemic is moving to the next stage, this is by far and away the most pressing issue in my responsibilities going forwards
MP: why did 3 people whose convictions were overturned not get interim compensation

Scully: the PO did not want to retrial those SPMs because it wasn’t in the public interest, but the PO believes that Horizon was not central to their case so they have so far refused to...
… pay their interim compensation.

MP: how many more convictions will be sought to be overturned

Scully: it’s about trying to find people and getting them to apply. Once they have applied, they can get their convictions overturned, then they can get compensation.
MP: how much money have you put aside for compensation? And how much support have you provided to applicants because thy’ve been to hell and back.

Scully: we have changed the wording on the letters we have sent as they were overly legalistic to ensure we have empathetic...
… wording and we have an independent panel on the HSS to help SPMs as much as we can.

[Dodges the overall compensation question]

MP: was the application to the HSS underestimated

Scully: yes

MP: why

Scully: difficult to asses what happened over a 20 year period
Tom Cooper: the unhappiness with Horizon system and its problems is hard to assess - the initial estimate for applicants to the HSS scheme it was a couple of hundred

MP applicants?!

Cooper: yes
MP: and you budgeted £35m and it’s now standing at £300m?

Cooper: actually it’s closer to £153m, currently

MP: will that change upwards?

Cooper: not sure, actually

MP: so 5x the original estimate.

Cooper: yes

MP: so who will be held to account for that. For getting that...
… wrong.

Scully: we will be constantly monitoring the scheme and the PO’s work on it
MP: tell me about the ADR process. How many settlements so far?

[this is for SPMs whose convictions have been overturned]

Cresswell: none. Two offers have been made to one law firm representing some of the claimants [Hudgells, I bet] and these will act as almost test cases for
… the rest.

MP: we heard about efforts to contact convicted SPMs and those otherwise affected - are you satisfied the efforts are enough

Scully: yes - the coverage of this us weird. People and members are aware that something bad has happened over a long period of time..
… but no one is quite sure what. We can do more and work with the media to spread the word [blethers]

MP: [interrupts] what about the trauma people have suffered? and the pain that revisiting this causes?

Scully: this comes back to language and approach - Scully talks about...
… Chris Head [erroneously convicting him as he does so] and Tracy Felstead and talking to her about the trauma revisiting all this causes and the need to be very mindful.

MP: is the HSS scheme fit for purpose given it was part-designed by HSF who designed the HBOS scheme?
Scully: yes, they have the knowlege and experience and will learn from the HBOS scheme

MP: but the PO gets to decide on final payments. Why?

Scully: we have an independent advisor panel. we have to be seen to be doing the right thing and doing the right thing. The system has...
… to have this balanced between speed and the right compensation and I think we have the balance right.

MP: how can people make a claim if they do not trust the PO?
MP: especially if their access to information is limited or held by the PO.

Scully: it comes back to the independent panel and their efforts to work with the SPMs

MP: can SPMS have access to an independent resource to put together their claim? Mentors or a support system?
Cresswell: the scheme will contribute towards the cost of independent advice.

[Do have a look at what Alistair Carmichael MP had to say about the HSS. He thinks it stinks postofficescandal.uk/post/compensat…]

Jones: there are concerns about the scheme - can it be amended?
All: yes

Cresswell: but it could disrupt the delivery of the scheme. We are poised to benefit a large number of SPMs over the next few months.

Jones: Read told us 85% would be compensated by the end of the calendar year

Scully: he said 95% I would aim for 100%
MP: what does UKGI do on the PO board. Mr Cooper - what did you do during the litigation and why exclude the 555 from proper compensation

Scully: can we leave this to the inquiry

Jones: answer the question about compensation

Cooper: our remit is with regard to corporate...
… governance. Financial performance, strategy and reporting to the board. And I am a PO NED. The compensation aspect falls within finance and none of the compensation would happen without govt funding.

MP: cresswell - how did BEIS affect the 555 compensation?
Cresswell: ministers were consulted and their agreement was sought before the final sum was agreed.

MP: can you Mr Scully outline the decision-making boundaries between BEIS/UKGI/PO re compensation.

Scully: we are underwriting the finance
MP: what does the minister for the PO actually do given the PO is a separate entity?

Scully: PO is a limited company. It’s an unusual style of arms-length body… the shareholder is the Sec of State, but we have sign off on board members, but PO has operational independence.
MP: but as shareholder you have influence

Scully: of course. we have board representation. so we can influence on a day to day basis.

MP: so you could be more proactive in the compensation matters?

Scully: we are! we worked with them to do interim compensation and the HSS...
MP: was the govt happy with the way the PO dragged out the litigation

Scully: that will all come out in the Satutory INquiry. I wasn’t minister at the time. My personal view is clearly it’s not right it happened like it did. There’s no point in me opining on it as I don’t...
… want to tread on Sir Wyn’s toes.

Jones: I’m getting a slight sense of slopey shoulders. You say compensation should happen. The PO says compensation should happen, but no one is taking responsibility for it. Re HSS. HSF set up the HSS, went to Nick Read. Read took it to the..
.. PO board. Cooper you scrutinised it.

Cooper: yes with lawyers

Jones: and what did BEIS do?

Cresswell: we wanted to build in a significant role for the govt in the delivery of the schem. Govt has an approval right to case assessors and the panel

Jones: that happened before
… the board approved it.

Cooper: it happened in parallel

Jones: and did you sign it off, minister, or was it officials

Scully: I did

MP: what’s the total cost of ALL this?

Litigation £57.57m plus £153m for HSS claims plus £5.7m for interim comps
[AGAIN they get away with not being pushed on a figure for final cost of everything including final compensation for overturned convictions]

Scully: in terms of the ongoing viability of the network. govt is stepping in to underwrite the process to secure the future of the PO.
Scully: can answer the charge of slopey shoulders? This is a frustrating period for many, but because of the naturer of it the lenth of time its taken and our desire to progress this as best we can I want to move this forward in the next few weeks. As a junior minister with...
… oversight but no operational control.

Jones: so a decision on the 555 in the next few weeks will be made?

Scully: we have a meeting next week. We don’t even know who has legal oversight for the 555. We need to get that answered before we can start.
[An MP nearly gets to ask the question about total final estimated cost of fighting the Subpostmasters and their total final compensation but doesn’t]

Jones asks if govt will write to the committee with some figures. But doesn’t quite specify what he wants, which meants the...
… inevitable dodging.

So here’s some back-of-a-fag packet calcutions and other hot takes:

1) We found out today that the PO considers 736 convictions to be unsafe of a total of 950 made during the 2000 - 2015 period which began when Horizon...
… was rolled out and ended when the Post Office realised (but didn’t tell anyone) it was responsible for dozens, possibly hundreds of unsafe prosecutions.

2) The total amount of money the PO has spent so far on legal fees, the civil litigation settlement and creating...
…. compensation schemes is in excess of £300m.

The government has spent:
£5.7m on interim compensation and
plans to spend £153m on the HSS scheme.

So we’re careering towards half a billion. ON TOP OF THAT...
… you will have the compensation made by the government to those whose convictions have been overturned. We learned today that of the 736 people the PO had written to, 160 have got back in touch requesting more information. I know at least one of the people who did this...
… has already had their conviction overturned, and there may be one or two more, so the 160 who have already come back to the PO overlaps a tiny bit with the 72 who have already had their convictions quashed, but let’s say for safety that by the end of this year 100 people...
… will have had their convictions quashed in total. If those people get an average of £1m in compensation each, that’s £100m. If it they get £5m each - that’s another half billion. It’s hard to get any info about the scale of the claims people are making (and of course...
… we’ve just found out the PO/govt has made its first two offers in response, but again, we don’t know what they are), but I know there is at least one former SPM putting in an 8 figure claim, I know one who is claiming around £7m and one who is claiming around £4m...
Obviously every circ is different. Some people were jailed, and suffered horrendous mental health side-effects, loss of future earnings etc etc, but let’s say each of the 100 get £2.5m each, then that’s another quarter of a billion pounds.

A very long time ago I spoke...
… to someone who told me that back in 2013, the government should have set aside a billion quid, held up its hands and fairly and methodically unpicked all the prosecutions and worked fairly through the resultant claims. That’s what they say they are doing now, but only...
… after trying to use our money to bury the scandal, prolong the agony for Subpostmasters and kill of their claims by using what at the very least seems unethical practices at the High Court.

Of course we haven’t even begun to count the cost of the Statutory Inquiry which...
… will run for more than a full year and the ongoing Metropolitan police investigation into certain people at the Post Office and Fujitsu perverting the course of justice. The Met Police investigation celebrates its two year anniversary tomorrow, btw, with nothing, so far...
… to show for its. Although I think at the last count five people were working on the investigation full time.

Anyway, if all this is new to you, please do consider buying my book about the scandal, which is available, here, now:


If you buy through...
… this link you will be invited to join the Post Office scandal “secret email” newsletter which will keep you up to date on every twist and turn of the scandal.

Please buy the book. It still has 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon! You can read the reviews here:

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More from @nickwallis

10 Jan
Oh ffs - new info from the Post Office Horizon Inquiry incoming:

The Inquiry has updated the Completed List of Issues to include an additional footnote in relation to Issue No. 183.In addressing...
“… paragraph 183, the Chair will consider whether all affected sub-postmasters, sub-postmistresses, managers and assistants, were adequately compensated for the wrongs they suffered….
“… The additional footnote confirms that this includes the 555 Claimants in the group litigation of Alan Bates and Others v Post Office Limited case [2019] EWHC 34308 (QB).”

This confirms the assurance given to solicitors Howe and Co that compensation for the 555...
Read 4 tweets
10 Jan
The only new info i can see in this letter from Paul Scully is that the £57.75m settlement announced in Dec 2019 is now being represented as £42.75m plus costs. We have long been led to believe the costs plus funders' success fees left the claimants with circa £12m to share...
... assuming that remains correct then the breakdown of the civil litigation settlement would be:

Lawyers: £15m
Funders: £30.75m
Claimants: £12m

Total: £57.75

Though I am assuming the term "costs" equates to legal fees, which might be wrong. Or the new figure from Scully...
... is a typo (unlikely as he repeats it), or I've made some other erroneous assumption leading to a glaring error. Presentationally it is a bit weird though - why is Scully trying to claim the claimants got £42.75m after costs when for the last two years we've been...
Read 8 tweets
7 Jan
Well this is interesting. Nick Read - Post Office CEO, and Paul Scully - business minister, are going to appear before the BEIS Select Committee on Tuesday next week to answer questions about compensation for Subpostmasters. Tom Cooper, the government civil servant and PO...
… director (who sat on the board throughout its disastrous, expensive, and - some would say immoral - civil litigation defence) will also be answering questions.

There are three distinct tranches of Postmasters requiring compensation….
1) Those going through the government funded, Post Office-operated Historical Shortfall Scheme. Alistair Carmichael MP has already raised serious concerns about its fairness in the HoC (postofficescandal.uk/post/compensat…)...
Read 9 tweets
14 Dec 21
Chair of @CommonsBEIS blasts minister over this morning’s written statement into Post Office scandal compensation scheme for those with quashed convictions:

“To publish a written ministerial statement two hours before a session like this… leaking it to the press...
@CommonsBEIS … the day before, not providing sufficient detail or giving a statement to the house is quite frankly wholly unacceptable…
Jo Hamilton: It’s terrible.
Darren Jones: … it’s terrible I agree. And so we will be calling ministers in the Post Office to ask many of the questions...
@CommonsBEIS … that we’ve talked about today and to try to provide as many answers as possible.”

That was @DarrenpJones MP talking at the end of a @CommonsBEIS oral evidence hearing.

Separate to that I’ve been told an Urgent Question has been requested for tomorrow - which...
Read 7 tweets
14 Dec 21
A quick thread on what seems like a busy parliamentary date in the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

This morning, Paul Scully, the Postal Affairs Minister announced that the govt would provide compensation for those whose convictions have been quashed.

No one knows…
… because he did not say, how much has been provided. Is it £1m per each person whose conviction has already been quashed - ie £72m?

I know for a fact that many of those whose convictions have been quashed are seeking well over £1m in compensation...
… and it is almost a racing certainty that more convictions will be quashed (remember 738 people are thought to have been convicted using Horizon evidence between 2000 and 2015)…

It therefore becomes important to know what provision has been made. Is it £1m each for 700...
Read 22 tweets
22 Nov 21
Welcome to court 4 of the Royal Courts of Justice where we are expecting seven appellants to have their convictions quashed. There follows a live-tweet thread of what is happening in court... Save our Subpostmasters banner being held up outside the RCJ
The two people holding the banner in the last tweet are Eleanor Shaikh, a customer who became so outraged by the Post Office’s treatment of her Subpostmaster Chirag Sidphura that she became a campaigner. Read Chirag’s story here:


Just out of shot on the right is Pete Murray whose story is extraordinary. The Post Office tried to ruin him and very nearly succeeded. His story can be read here.

Read 80 tweets

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