Nick Wallis Profile picture
Oct 14 68 tweets 11 min read
Welcome to Day 4 of Phase 2 of the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry held at the IDRC- very close to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Live-tweeting follows…
Department for Business (BEIS) making its opening statement. Says the scandal is "grotesque". Apologies profusely to all those affected. Urges all "institutional" core participants to engage and generally reflect on how they all managed to mess up.
BEIS says it has submitted thousands of documents to the inquiry and will have four previous ministers among those giving evidence Stephen Byers, Alan Johnson and Ian McCartney. [No mention of Jo Swinson, which is very worrying as she was involved when the PO went into...
... cover-up mode.]

UKGI rep now on its feet. UKGI has a seat on the PO board and says it was the main interface between Central Govt and PO. Says UKGI was responsible for breifing govt on activities of PO and ensuring decision made by govt were communicated to PO.
Rep says Sir Wyn Williams (inquiry chair) will be concerned by UKGI's role in holding PO to account and strategy and oversight etc etc

[I'd quite like to know how information flowed between UKGI, PO and BEIS]

UKGI wants to make its position clear on a number of issues...
UKGI wants to acknowledge "profound suffering, distress and hardship" endured by "hundreds" of families and those close to them. What happened in relation to Horizon [H] is an affront to justice.

UKGI will give a detailed and frank analysis of what we did, what we could...
... do better and the results of our process of reflection we have undertaken over the past 3 years. We will give a detailed written document setting out where we and PO went wrong in identifying and addressing the errors in the handling of the H isssues and tratement of SPMs
[SPMs = Subpostmasters]

We do not, by submitting our doc that we do not wish to pre-empt your inquiry and we recognise you might come to different conclusions to us. The motivation is because it is our job to serve as the govt's cenre of excellence for coerporate
... governance. We have to get on with the job of working out where we went wrong, so we are supplying you and other core participants our report. As other issues emerge during the inquiry other lessons may be identified...
[UKGI must be pretty sure they know enough about what went wrong to say they've done most of the learning already]
[Suggests an attempt to focus on lessons learned rather than who at UKGI was doing and saying what to whom during the cover-up. Leaving that to the inquiry]
UKGI's predecessor organisation ShEx had very little visibility of PO's activities beyond govt funding.

So UKGI is more concerned with post-2012 matters when there was a UKGI/ShEx NED placed on the PO board.
Powers and responsibilities of ShEx/UKGI NED was similar to most NEDs. The exec management of the PO had to give the PO board the iformation it needed and the board had to be satsified the company was being properly and effectively run. It could ask for all docs and...
... advise on company's handling of particular issues. The ShEx NED participated in collective decision-making. Also the ShEx NED met the BEIS minister and briefed them on the operation of the PO and the way significant issues were being handled.
The NED also communicated what the govt's perspective on significant issues was. Govt does not seek to run public corporations. they have to be given the freedom to operate. However a balance needs to be struck. UKGI believes that on reflectino that balance should have been...
... better struck. Either through its seat on the board or through the shareholder team there are points at which the pO management should hve been challenged more rubstly on H and a more interventionist approach should have been taken.
Six points:
1 Mediation scheme
2 The Second Sight reports
3. The Deloitte review
4. the Panorama broadcast
5 The Swift review
6. The litigation
The PO management response to these should have been challenged, investigated and properly dealt with.

[It seems the PO board was not shown the Deloitte report, the final Second Sight report in 2015 and we know it didn't get the Swif treport]
We further think the Panorama whistleblower allegations should have raised further investigation about the function of the Horizon system.

Goes on to talk about hindsight "it should be exclded from any assessment of the realtime actions and judgments of those directly...
... involved", but it should be applied in learning lessons.

Even the necessarily limited analysis we have undertaken for the purposes of preparing our opening statement it is clear the ShEx NEd and ShEx itself placed too much faith in the assurances...
... the were given by the PO management and action should have been taken.

[Okay so UKGI are going to Point their Blame Finger at PO management]
[NFSP's Blame Finger is pointing at both PO and Fujitsu]
[Fujitsu is up next. Suspect they will point theirs at PO, too]
[BEIS didn't seem to be blaming anyone but itself in its opener...]
The litigation sub-committee included the UKGI non-exec which [apparently] challenged the litigation strategy (as well as deciding it) and had a hand in bringing to an end [when it was losing badly]
In the firing line so far:

John Scott - shredding documents
Angela van den Bogerd - Vennells' wing-woman and representative on earth
Vennells - CEO during the cover up
Alice Perkins - chair 2012 - 2015
Tim Parker - chair 2015 - 2022
Colin Baker - Gen Sec
George Thomson - Gen Sec

UK Gov
Jo Swinson
Alan Johnson
Ian McCartney
Stephen Byers

Gareth Jenkins - H architect
Alan McNaughton - board member
Michio Naruto - the big boss in Japan who threatened Blair
Okay Fujitsu man on his feet (I think all opening statements bar one by men, so far)

Fujitsu apolgises to SPMs.
Warehouses have been searched, databases have been processed and docs from 120 individuals have been collected. That amounts to 30m records in electronic...
... and hard copy going back 25 years. Fujitsu and its predecessors have supplied IT servies in the UK for 55 years. It has more than 9000 employees in the uK. We provide retail transport, defence and utlities IT.
[now talking about winning the tender to automate the PO]
There have been 21 "formed conversions" of the Horizon contract between the PO and Fujitsu since 1999. This includes hundreds of contracted controlled documents which are used to provide detailed specifications for operational services.
On 14 Jan 2000 that national rollout of H could continue (after being halted because it didn't work when it was initially rolled out in Oct 1999). By end 2001 it was in all branches.
Fujitsu concurring with Mr Justice Fraser's classificatin of H

2000 - 2010 - Legacy Horizon
2010 - 2017 - Horizon Online or HNG-X
2017 - to day HNG-A Horizon Anywhere (final replacement of Windows NT with Windows 10)
Fujitsu acknowledges there have been a number of bugs errors and defects of H and that they had the potential to and did affect SPM branch accounts.

No IT system will ever be completely free of bugs errors and defects - there were processes for identifying, communicating...
... escalation and resolution of bugs between PO and Fujitsu.

Fujitsu had and has the ability to remotely access H in a variety of ways. It had it from rollout to date. PO has been aware from an early stage of F's ability to remotely access the H system.

We are...
... committed to supporting the inquiry. Thankyouverymuchgoodbye.

Kate Gallafent on her feet for the PO.
Chair asks if it would be a good time for a break. KG agrees. We go on a break...
If you want to watch this live it's here:…
KG for the PO on her feet.

Says she will consider all opening statements and we welcome this inquiry.

This phase is an important step and we are grateful to make short submissions. We apologise unreservedly for the suffering and damge to every person affected by the H scandal.
On the day Human Impact hearings began, Nick Read PO CEO apologised. NR join PO in Sep 2019 and played an active role in getting the group litigation settlement. NR said what happened was unacceptable and said the inquiry should get to the bottom of what happened.
PO remains fully committed to those objectives. WE have worked resolutely to respond to the issues raised in thejudgments of Mr Justice Fraser it does not have all the answers. Only by listening to the inquiry, the representations...
... submission and questions will we understand what went wrong. we therefore will wait for evidence to come. By not saying anything specific about Phase 2 we mean no disrespect.
Says that Nick Read and many senior execs have listened and watched a lot of the human impact...
... hearings. They were "chastening" we pay tribute to those who had the courage and strength to do so.

PO created a team to identy and record each action point arising from evidence in the HI hearings.

255 action points were raised, 193 of which have been resolved.
28 action points involve allegations involving current and former PO staff. We have broiught this to the attention of the PO SPEAK UP whistleblowing team who have contacted the witnesses to see if they can provide more evidence for an investigation into those individuals.
We recognise that some witnesses might not want to do this eiher because it's too little, too late, or because they don't want to engage with the PO, but we urge all witnesses to speak to the Speak Up team.

["PO starts witch hunt"]
[sorry - I"m being flippant, and I know that many individual former SPMs are deeply angry at the way low level management and PO staff treated them with arrogant disregard. It might be a useful exercise for PO staff to have to account for their actions for once]
KG points out Nick read is here with her today and she says many more execs will be present during phases of the inquiry according to their expertise. They will remain a close oversight of these proceedings.

NR wants ANY SPM who has an issue with regard to any aspect of...
... this scandal they should contact him directly.

Former Chair Tim Parker wrote an apology to every SPM who had their conviction quashed. Having considered submissions from Howe and Co if an SPM would like to meet MR Read and get a personal face to face apology,
... please get in touch.

Yesterday the PO disclosed 95,000 documents to the inquiry. The issue of disclosure was raised earlier this week. We are committed to assisting the inquiry.

KG moves to compensation.
As of yesterday offers have been made in the Historical Shortfall Scheme to 1976 cases (83%) amounting to a total value of £55m

Payments have been made in 1600 cases. Amounting to £34.5m

KG explains how good their process for HSS is including mediation, dispute resolution...
... etc and a Post Office wellbeing support hotline provided to HSS applicants independent from the PO.
KG raises late applicants and says it was wholly unacceptable that there was a delay to the decision as to whether or not to accept late applicants to the scheme. Now late applicants can join. 224 were waiting to find out if they could. We sent 97 letters out by noon yesterday...
... and we hope to get the rest out by the end of the week.

Applicants will be asked to explain why they couldn't join the scheme by the deadline. Examples include not knowing about the scheme, they were ill, poorly or overseas. That's not an exhaustive list.
If the pO is minded to exclude someone on the basis of a late application, they can appeal. Inquiry will be kept abreast of this. No variations will be made in any way that will result in a less fair preocess
PO also reviewing its decision to not provide compensation to a ltd company which was running a PO which has since been resolved (29 claimants) or the 7 who are bakrupt or insolvent.

PO offering £400 fee to allow for legal support to review an offer. But will consider...
... application for more.

There is other legal funding available to assess heads of loss.
Says "just" 209 people have gone for the dispute resolution procedure.
Of 81 overturned convictions, application for interim payments have been made in all but one case and that's the choice of the intended applicant. Interim payments have been offered in all but 3 cases...
The PO is pretty sure that it isn't going to budge on this.

They are all represented by Hudgells, and they are going to go to an independent mediator.
Sorry I may have misrepresented KG there - she says the cases still remain a problem for the PO and therefore they are going to go to mediation.
Now KG is talking about final compensation.

It has recieved non-pecuniary claims from 31 claimants who've had their convictions overturned. It's made offers worth £4.5m across 19 cases and hopes to make further offers by the end of this year.
All non-pecuniary payments will be tax-exempt.

2 pecuniary claims have been settled via mediation!!!!

First full and final compensation to SPMs announced!!!
To clarify - full and final compensation to those whose convictions have been quashed.

She doesn't say how much they got, dammit.
PO says it is in the process of trying to backdate payments for those who were suspended without remuneration - something Justice Fraser ruled was unfair and has subsequently been changed.
KG concludes with comments on the last phase of the inquiry phase 7 - Current practice and procedure and recommendations for the future
We have already put two SPMs on our board, elected by other SPMs.

We set up an Improvement Delivery Group which did 407 changes already with 443 by end of the year.

These include independent appeal panel in cases of suspensions.

Branch Hub to allow better comms.
43 themes have been id'd as important to change internally

24 have been done

10 are coming

9 haven't

We are continuously improving in the light of the Common Issues judgment...
PO is committed to remediation work in relation to its existing system, Horizon will be retired by 2025 (calls this "ambitious" - oh dear). Design and testing alongside 240 postmasters to ensure their views are fully taken into account.

First small scale pilots started...
... this month. Soon every SPM will have a chance to see their digital future.

PO is aware scrutiny will be uncomfortable for many, but it welcomes it.
KG ends.

Sir Wyn says that concludes the day, but wonder if anyone has anything else to say.

No one does. That concludes this week's inquiry.

At 10am on Tuesday we re-start with the Inquiry's own technical expert Charles Cipione who will speak for two days.
If you would like to support my and @Rebeccathomson_ 's work, (she's sitting next to me on the press bench today), please do subscribe to the secret email - I'll get one out tonight and we'll try to get a podcast done too:
And a blog post or two, no doubt.
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More from @nickwallis

Oct 14
Good morning from the Salvation Army Cafe at the northern end of this bridge. I’m settled here ahead of Day 4 of Phase 2 of the inquiry, being held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC), in Juxon House, near St Paul’s Cathedral in London.


1/ St Paul's Cathedral
This is an epic tweet thread which I’ll turn into a blog post in due course…

I am catching up on the transcripts of the past few days and will pick out anything of interest. I was here for the opening day on Tuesday, but missed Wed and Thu.

Read 111 tweets
Oct 13
Been looking forward to this. Katrina Watt (sp.?) is addressing the Post Office Horizon Inquiry on behalf of the National Federation of Subpostmaster. Live-tweeting follows, but you can watch it here:

KW calls the evidence at the Human Impact sessions "shocking".

NFSP urges PO and govt to make interim payments of compensation without delays. Hopes all that were wrongfully prosecuted and dismissed will have their...
... reputation restored. Also wants all compensation inc consequential losses.

Says being a core participant at the inquiry allows it to participate in a way that the NFSP couldn't in Bates v PO
Read 37 tweets
Aug 12
In 2020 the BEIS Permanent Secretary reprimanded the Post Office chairman Tim Parker for failing to disclose Jonathan Swift's report to the Post Office Board on advice from the Post Office General Counsel Jane MacLeod. Sarah Munby says: "We understand that you were advised...
... at the time by the Post Office's General Counsel that for reasons of confidentiality and preserving legal privilege the circulation of the report should be strictly controlled....
... Nevertheless, given the background of parliamentary interest, the fact that your review was commissioned by the Minister responsible for the Post Office and the potential significance of the recommendations made by Jonathan Swift QC...
Read 10 tweets
Aug 12
Patrick Green QC, lead counsel for the claimants in Bates v Post Office has just said:

"The Review is an incredibly important document and we would have wished to have shown it to the Court if it had been available to us.”
Richard Moorhead, Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at Exeter University has read the Review and says the points made about remote access seem to be "a bit of a show stopper both for its impact on potential appeals and on the Bates v Post Office litigation...
Read 4 tweets
Aug 11
Holy Gimcrack! A relentless and forensic FOI campaign by @ElCShaikh has grubbed several documents of serious import. A secret Post Office review into the possibility it may have got things horribly wrong...
It's dated 8 Feb 2016 and follows the Aug 2015 Panorama...
In Sept 2016 the Postal Minister at BEIS, Baroness Neville-Rolfe writes to the incoming Post Office Chairman, Tim Parker (succeeding Alice Perkins, Jack Straw’s wife, who lasted three years. No one knows why her tenure was so short).

The letter begins “Dear Tim…
Read 40 tweets
May 23
This is the most extraordinary expert witness testimony I think I’ve ever seen.
I have just asked @HeatherDexterR1, a long-time correspondent of mine, who is an expert witness in UK courts (covering fraud, director disputes or professional negligence claims) and a member of the Expert Witness Institute, what she thought of what we just witnessed. She replied
@HeatherDexterR1 "The role of the EW is that of one to assist the court in understanding complex matters and their opinion should be given independently and not influenced by counsel or the client...
Read 10 tweets

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