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The Post Office Scandal

Ten Bobsworth
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421The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sat Jul 06 2024, 08:50



You don't reply for any other reason Bob other than you CAN'T come up with any answer that stands up to the slightest iota of scrutiny.

The civil servants are also not mind readers and their main channel of communication with the PO will come via the PO Board which only got to hear what was presented to it by the likes of Perkins who stopped Crichton speaking about the Clarke advice, and Parker who did not circulate to them the Swift Report.

Why did Perkins and Parker do this?

Parker was clearly muzzled by Jane MacLeod legal advice (MacLeod being one of the 'gatekeepers')

Perkins action is the only fly in the ointment to me - what was the true reason she put Crichton on the naughty chair outside the PO Board meeting on the day she knew about the Clarke advice - that prosecutions had been unsafe???

Thought this might interest you Bob -

Pat McFadden: the most powerful Labour politician most have never heard of

422The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sat Jul 06 2024, 12:00

Ten Bobsworth

Frank Worthington
Frank Worthington

It was just after the New Labour government had tried to make the best of a bad job with Post Office IT that it also had to address the problems with the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), in large part demonstrated by a Panorama expose 'Out of sight, out of mind'.

The CEO of the MHAC was quietly replaced and needed a new job. That would prove to be no problem if you had Lefty friends in lofty places and so he was soon found appointments as Professor of Mental Health Law and Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire and as Chairman of the North Lancashire NHS Primary Care Trust with an annual budget of half a billion quid. Having messed up at MHAC, no professional qualifications in law and no background of academic work were no obstacles apparently.

To my great surprise, I was reminded of all of this yesterday morning when I watched the announcement of the General Election results in the Lancaster and Morecambe constituencies. But that, as they say, is another story albeit very closely connected.

423The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sat Jul 06 2024, 12:41



Once again this as NOTHING TO DO with the Post office scandal.

You continue to project your views with GUILT BY ASSOCIATION.

For example

1 - You claim the Blair government covered up the scandal in your health authority SO they must have covered up the scandal at the Post Office also.

2 - The MP's HID their wrongful expenses claims dating back to the Blair government , so the MP's HID the Post Office scandal too.

3 - Now we have you claiming the Blair government acted IMPROPERLY in respect of a scandal at the Mental Health Act Commission, so the Blair government IMPROPERLY hid to Post Scandal as well.

One simply does not necessarily follow the other -

Using the language of set theory, the formal fallacy can be written as follows:

Premise: A is in set S1
Premise: A is in set S2
Premise: B is also in set S2
Conclusion: Therefore, B is in set S1.

The fallacy in the argument can be illustrated through the use of an Euler diagram: A satisfies the requirement that it is part of both sets S1 and S2, but representing this as an Euler diagram makes it clear that B could be in S2 but not S1.

The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 216px-Euler_diagram

You WANT the Blair government to be GUILTY of the Post Office scandal FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL REASONS (the grudge you have been carrying against them for the last TWENTY FIVE YEARS).

There is absolutely NO PROOF that they have done.

Why would a Conservative government even want to continue a cover up for a Labour one???

They wouldn't they would make MASSIVE political capital by EXPOSING IT!!!

You're just completely and utterly bonkers.

Have you ever considered that it is YOU that is the FOOL and I'm the one wasting his breath - because that is really what is happening here...

Ten Bobsworth wrote:“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you will be like him yourself.” Proverbs 26:4

Poor old Sluffy.

424The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sat Jul 06 2024, 13:00

Ten Bobsworth

Frank Worthington
Frank Worthington

Poor old Sluffy. He'll never grasp it.

425The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sat Jul 06 2024, 14:42



I might be poor Bob but I'm definitely not stupid, mentally insane or a troll.

I can't help you with the clear personal issues you carry around in respect of the Blair government and the dealings you had with your local Health Authority over 25 years ago but I can definitely do something to fix you trolling me on here - and I've given you countless warnings about doing so.

It's your choice what you do but actions have consequences Bob, as I'm sure you know.

Like the saying goes - if you  play with fire you will get burnt.

426The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sun Jul 07 2024, 08:19

Ten Bobsworth

Frank Worthington
Frank Worthington

It was towards the end of May 2011 when the decision was taken to terminate the appointment of the Chairman of the North Lancs PCT. Did the change of government a year earlier have anything to do with it? It might have a bit but, if it did, it didn't stop any of the further cover up and none of the ill-gotten gains found their way back to the public purse. Over half a million quid in the kitty at the last count.

What about the NHS now? Where's all the money going? Is anybody actually looking after it or is it all delegated to the Trusts and their networks of associated individuals with private money-hoarding companies.

What about the Post Office? Did the new coalition government (2010) have listening ears that its predecessor didn't? Ed Davey plainly didn't but some might have and James Arbuthnot was probably able to, at least, get a hearing and apply some pressure to the Post Office.

It also didn't stop the cover up. That continued with even greater intent but if they thought that Second Sight were THIRD-RATE YES MEN, they thought wrong.

What are the prospects now for the wronged SPM's in the worst legal scandal this country has ever known? 'Things can only get better'? I rather doubt it. Things can only get worse with no effective opposition to Sir Kia and his 'merry women'.

427The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sun Jul 07 2024, 10:35



You are completely and utterly bonkers Bob.

428The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sun Jul 07 2024, 12:06

Ten Bobsworth

Frank Worthington
Frank Worthington

Sluffy wrote:You are completely and utterly bonkers Bob.
And you are what, Sluffy? A STALKER?

429The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sun Jul 07 2024, 14:07



How the fuck am I a stalker when expressing reasonable comment on a thread I STARTED on a FORUM where the whole 'reason for being' of any forum is to PUBLICLY DEBATE things???

If you don't want your clearly unhinged hatred towards what you presumably see as some sort of Orwellian BIG BROTHER governmental state ruling over us (irrespective of what political party forms the government of the day) commented on, then keep it to yourself.

How easy is that?

If however you want to post a completely bizarre conspiracy theories, with ZERO FACTS to substantiate any iota of it, when to date a whole STATUTORY INQURY'S evidence and numerous witnesses have clearly shown your deeply personal held conspiracy diatribe has absolutely NO grounding in reality whatsoever, then don't be surprised when someone on the forum such as me points out how bonkers IT and YOU are, especially when there is such a mountain of evidence and facts easily accessible to you, to undermine your premise of a DEEP STATE cover-up still ongoing through sequential changes of various political governments from 1998/99 to the Starmer government of today (and no doubt beyond!).

You are either completely off your trolley or trolling for replies.

My opinion is that it is the former.

The fact that you have posted about your wacky conspiracy theory seemingly EVERYDAY for weeks and months now - and that no one but me bothers to reply to them suggests to me there is NO interest from anyone else in what you claim and that you have been basically 'spamming' the forum for sometime now OR deliberately been seeking a response from me.

In both events spamming and deliberate trolling are not permitted on the forum.

I therefore suggest we (the forum) have the following options to resolve whatever it is you think you are doing.

1 - Cease posting about a DEEP STATE CONSPIRACY THEORY because your conspiracy theory has been seen and disregarded by EVERY other poster on here since this thread began some months ago.

2 - Continue posting on about your DEEP STATE CONSPIRACY THEORY and enter into debate about it, answering reasonable questions as to motive and opportunity for the DEEP STATE to 'engineer' such a conspiracy.

3 - Continue posting on about your DEEP STATE CONSPIRACY THEORY and continue to REFUSE to enter into debate about it, answering reasonable questions as to motive and opportunity for the DEEP STATE to 'engineer' such a conspiracy.  You then will be deemed to be either SPAMMING and/or Trolling and will be BANNED.

I believe that to be entirely fair and reasonable and in the best interest of the forum.

430The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sun Jul 07 2024, 20:33

Ten Bobsworth

Frank Worthington
Frank Worthington

I think you are STALKER, Sluffy, but you are too deranged to realise it. I do not believe that I am the first to have suffered your STALKING and I don't expect to be the last.

431The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Sun Jul 07 2024, 21:29



You are an utter fruitcake if you really believe that to be true - and clearly you do.

Enjoy yourself boring anyone braindead enough to listen to your bottled up hatred of stuff that is deranged and totally imagined such as a Blair led government cover up (the Inquiries findings will certainly not show that, mainly because any possible government cover-up could only start when it first became known of the unsafe prosecutions which happened when they first came to light in 2012/13 HOWEVER the Blair/Brown government left office in 2010 - you don't have to be an accountant to realise there's something wrong in the numbers there), because you won't be doing it on here anymore.

I'm unaware how stalkers behave but I suspect not many go out of there way to lock the supposedly 'stalked' person out of their life as I am about to do by closing the door to you at Nuts.

I would normally thank anyone leaving the site for their contribution to it during their time here but in your case you've gone out of your way to show scant regard (or even a modicum of respect) to anyone and a complete distain, contempt and self-absorbed smugness and aloofness to all in your faux belief that you are far superior to everyone else both on the forum and in real life too.

God help those who have no choice but to endure your constant disdain of and never ceasing unpleasantness to each and everyone.

I've run out of all patience and tolerance with you.

I suspect you may have an awful lot of bad Karma heading your way before your life is through.

432The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Tue Jul 09 2024, 14:54



Fwiw, I've been listening to someone called Mark Russell at the Inquiry today and he is the big cheese at the Shareholder Executive / UK Government Investments Official - which in simple terms means he was the head of being responsible for the governments owning of the Post Office.

He confirms everything I've constantly been saying to Bob, which is he/the government knew nothing of the unsafe prosecutions until Second Sight report and the Clarke advice and that also the PO Board was not aware of the dodgy prosecutions either.

He did shed some light on why Perkins wanted the removal of any mention of Horizon on the Royal Mail prospectus.

To be honest I need to review this part of his testimony again to ensure I correctly understand what he was saying but my first impression goes something like this...

It seems a non executive board member wanted Horizon system to be noted on the prospectus (I'm not sure why, I think it was intended as a positive comment at the time?).

It seems that when this came to Perkins attention, she wanted the reference to be embellished by the findings of the Deloitte's report on Horizon but at the time the report doesn't seem to have been completed and there was a refusal to include something into the prospectus that at the time was unseen by the government.

No one seemed to mind that the mention of Horizon as it stood was a problem in any way but in the end, through further pressure from the Post Office, it seemed easier simply not to mention it at all in the prospectus.

I've taken it as Perkins wanting to have something from Deloitte giving Horizon a clean bill of health, Deloitte not wanting to become part of such (I think Second Sight were employed to do the report instead of Deloitte anyway) and in the end Post Office made such a flap over it, that it became easier just to remove mention of Horizon off the prospectus in view of the printing deadline that had to be met.

It all suggests to me that the PO knew something was wrong, wanted to have a scapegoat (Deloitte's testimony the Horizon was fine), Deloitte eventually not doing a report and PO wanting no mention of Horizon prospectus if there was no one (Deloitte, Second Sight) putting their name to it, saying it was 'robust' - and thus someone to blame if it wasn't.

No doubt Bob believes it is simply Mrs Jack Straw continuing was Tony's (already by then TEN YEAR) cover-up!

Rolling Eyes

433The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Yesterday at 15:30



Fwiw I've finally got around to what I'd said I would do in the post above - I largely got the gist of what was said correctly although Deloitte did do a report (called Project Zebra) which was fed into a PO sub-committee which included chief executive Paula Vennells, general counsel Chris Aujard and Richard Callard, a senior civil servant at the government body which owned the Post Office.

In April 2014, members of a sub-committee of the Post Office board discussed Deloitte's Project Zebra work.

[NOTE - Following the Postal Services Act 2011,[5][6] a majority of the shares in Royal Mail were floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2013. The UK government initially retained a 30% stake in Royal Mail,[7] but sold its remaining shares in 2015, ending 499 years of state ownership - Sluffy]

[Although this clearly means the Royal Mail sell off predates the Deloitte report it is still interesting to see what happened the report found and why nothing was ever done about it - Sluffy]

The next month, Deloitte submitted its full report and in June it wrote a briefing for the Post Office board, which outlined two separate ways Fujitsu could alter branch accounts. Extracts from the board briefing are quoted verbatim by the Swift review but the briefing itself has not been released.

It said the auditors had learned that authorised Fujitsu staff with the right database access privileges could use fake digital signatures or keys to delete, create or amend data on customer purchases that had been electronically signed by sub-postmasters. Fujitsu staff could then "re-sign it with a fake key".

Deloitte said Fujitsu staff had also been able to correct errors using an emergency process known as a "balancing transaction", which can "create transactions directly in branch ledgers".

It noted the process "does not require positive acceptance or approval by the sub-postmaster".

Yet the findings of Project Zebra were never disclosed to investigating accountants Second Sight who, since 2012, had been publicly tasked by the Post Office with looking in to sub-postmasters' claims.

The Post Office continued to claim for a further five years that it was impossible for remote tinkering by Fujitsu to alter cash balances in Post Office branch accounts.

In 2015, it lied to BBC executives as it sought to prevent the broadcast of the first Panorama expose of the scandal, briefing them that there was "simply no evidence" that remote tinkering by Fujitsu could have caused branch losses.

The documents that have now been analysed by the BBC reveal that following the Panorama broadcast, Post Office minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe wrote to the incoming chairman, Tim Parker, asking him to give the concerns about possible miscarriages of justice his "earliest attention" and take any necessary action. Business Secretary Sajid Javid approved the letter.

Mr Parker said he would undertake a review of the Horizon system and "various claims that sub-postmasters had been wrongly prosecuted as a result of faults in the system", according to a briefing sent to Mr Javid on 20 November 2015, which was heavily redacted in the released documents.

Mr Parker appointed Jonathan Swift QC and barrister Christopher Knight. They were so concerned about the implications of the Project Zebra documents, they said it was "incumbent" on the Post Office to find out how often these two means of altering branch accounts had been used, "in the light of the consistent impression given that they don't exist at all".

The Swift review, dated 8 February 2016, noted that the Post Office "had always known" about the balancing transaction capability.

It also said the Post Office may be obliged by law to show the documents to postmasters who were seeking to overturn their convictions.

In response to a recommendation in the Swift review, Deloitte was asked within days to return to the Post Office to carry out a full independent review of Horizon, following up on its work on Project Zebra.

The mammoth and expensive task was to trawl back through all the transactions since Horizon began operating - work which was anticipated to take three months.

In a letter of 4 March 2016, Post Office chair Tim Parker wrote to Baroness Neville-Rolfe about the Swift review's findings and recommendations. That included informing her about Deloitte's follow-up work.

He said it would "address suggestions that branch accounts might have been remotely altered without complainants' knowledge" and review "security controls governing access to the digitally sealed electronic audit store of branch accounts".

He added that he had "commissioned independent persons to undertake the necessary work", and in a later briefing informed the minister that this was Deloitte.

The letter did not explicitly mention Project Zebra or Deloitte's earlier findings about how branch accounts could be remotely altered.

In April, the Post Office notified the government that the sub-postmasters had begun their group legal action against it. Baroness Neville-Rolfe and Mr Javid were sent a briefing, updating them on the investigation's progress and discussing how the legal action would affect it.

The briefing, sent before a meeting with Mr Parker, was heavily redacted when it was released under a Freedom of Information Act request. But it said Mr Parker was on track to complete the follow-up work by the end of May and would update Baroness Neville-Rolfe on its progress.

However, the documents seen by the BBC reveal that in June, Deloitte's three-month investigation was suddenly stopped just before it could be completed.

On 21 June 2016, Tim Parker told Baroness Neville-Rolfe he had taken the decision on the advice of an unnamed senior barrister for the Post Office.

He told her the detailed work being carried out by Deloitte was "complex, costly and time consuming" but that good progress had been made. "I had hoped that by now I would be in a position to draw my investigation to a close," Mr Parker wrote.

"However, given the High Court proceedings to which I refer above, Post Office Limited has received very strong advice from Leading Counsel that the work being undertaken under the aegis of my review should come to an immediate end… I have therefore instructed that the work being undertaken pursuant to my review should now be stopped."

UK Government Investments (UKGI), the government body which owns the Post Office, addressed what the board knew about these successive reviews and investigations in an opening statement in 2022 to the ongoing public inquiry into the Horizon scandal.

It said there was no indication in the minutes of the Post Office board meeting in June 2014 that the board had received the Project Zebra briefing. UKGI said Mr Callard "does not recall ever receiving such a briefing".

The statement said the board had not asked for a copy of Deloitte's full report at the time of Project Zebra. UKGI said the board had been given an executive summary by the Post Office general counsel Chris Aujard, which was "focused on Deloitte's approach to the review but importantly did not set out its findings".

It said the board had also never received the 2016 Swift report, nor been briefed in detail on its findings. The statement said Tim Parker did not send Swift's full report to the Post Office Board and that his letter of 4 March 2016 to Baroness Neville-Rolfe did not make clear how serious the Swift review's findings were.

Full article here -

434The Post Office Scandal - Page 22 Empty Re: The Post Office Scandal Yesterday at 15:43



The following is from the Inquiry testimony of Mark Russell interviewed by Emma Price on behalf of the Inquiry - It covers Perkins wanting something doing with Horizon being mentioned on the Royal Mail prospectus and goes on to talk about Horizon and the PO being at 'arms length'.

Ms Price: Also in 2013, there was discussion of what should and should not be included in the Royal Mail prospectus. Could we have on screen, please, POL00381730.

Starting on page 2, please. There is an email dated 16 September 2013. from Jorja Preston to Alice Perkins. The middle paragraph of this reads:

“I asked Martin Edwards for a briefing re your meeting with Mark Russell but Martin just wanted to know if there is anything specific you need included in the brief please? I was hoping to get it to you Wednesday morning when you are here but Martin and Paula are seeing Will G Wednesday afternoon so it might be sensible for Martin to send a few bullets after that meeting should anything come from it you need to be aware of? Are you happy …”

So it appears from this there was a discussion in this email ahead of a meeting planned between Alice Perkins and you. Going back, please, to the bottom of page 1, and Alice Perkins says:

“Hi Jorja,

“My main question [relates to] Strategy and Funding?”

There’s reference here:

“I also need to be on top of the industrial action so I’ll have another look at the presentation for the Board Deep Dive.”

So there’s some suggestion there that there was a deep diver into industrial action:

“Also the update on where we are on Second Sight etc. And the latest on the [Royal Mail] prospectus. So basically all the current hot topics.”

Were you aware at the time that the Royal Mail prospectus was being viewed as a “hot topic”?

Mark Russell: I can’t remember that, no, and, actually, I can’t remember any of this. I’m not particularly surprised I can’t remember it because, in the scheme of things, I was very involved in the Royal Mail privatisation, this would not feature very high up the list.

Ms Price: Could we have on screen, please, UKGI00002057. Starting towards the bottom of page 3, please, the email from Alex Dunn to Jonathan Lewis, 18 September 2013, and the subject is “Prospectus – [Post Office Limited] comments”, and we can see there in the middle paragraph:

“I will look through your mark-up in detail but please note that the Horizon point was raised specifically by one of the Non-Executive Directors who was adamant that a reference to this must appear in the prospectus. We had drafted the revised paragraph so that it was consistent with the report and [Post Office Limited’s] press release. [Post Office Limited] have reviewed this section and had no comments on it (as it is now drafted) so I am surprised that it should now be of concern to the [Post Office Limited] team within BIS. I think that is will need to stay as drafted.”

Then the reply to this above, it says:

“Tim – I explained to S&M the POL points and sent the attached mark-up. Please see the two emails below from S&M setting out the [Post Office Limited’s] position. Could you look at these and let me know your thoughts? With the strength of this opposition, given it is RM’s prospectus after all, there is only a limited amount of further pushing I think we can actually do. From a legal perspective, I would not advise pushing further.”

Then the email above this, the email is sent to Tim McInnes from the Shareholder Executive, this time, also on 18 September 2013. It says – apologies, this is from Tim McInnes to Jonathan Lewis.

I’m sorry, we’re too high up in the email, so if we can scroll down a little, please.

So that email below is from Jonathan Lewis to Tim McInnes in ShEx, then going up again, please:

“Thanks for this and for fighting our corner. I’m not sure I agree with any of their points – in particular certainly not around [Post Office Limited] signing off any wording …”

There are number of emails which follow on page 1 and, please, towards the bottom of page 1, we have Tim McInnes to Will Gibson:

“Yes. And I just had Martin on the phone … Alice is properly up for a fight. I’ve bought some time but let’s see what Emma can set up.”

Then the email above from Will Gibson to Tim McInnes. Then we can see there discussion, again, of that issue.

Going up again – apologies, going further down – that email which is highlighted:

“Alice coming in to see Mark tomorrow – this will be raised.”

Can you remember being made aware that Alice Perkins was properly up for a fight over the wording of the RM prospectus?

Mark Russell: No, I can’t remember that.

Ms Price: Can you recall being aware that there was any issues or dispute about the wording of the Royal Mail prospectus, vis à vis Horizon issues?

Mark Russell: I can’t remember it. This suggests I was aware but I can’t remember it.

Ms Price: Could we have on screen, please, paragraph 126 of Mr Russell’s statement, that’s page 56. Here you deal with a meeting which appears to have taken place between you and Alice Perkins on 3 June 2014, at which you appear to have offered some assistance in relation to Deloitte. We can see the section of the email that is set out there. I won’t read through that all now, unless you need me to.

In relation to Deloitte, you deal with this at paragraph 127. You explain here that you don’t have any recollection of the meeting with Ms Perkins but, with reference to that paragraph, what were you offering in relation to Deloittes work on Project Zebra?

Mark Russell: Well, as I say, I don’t have a memory of this but it appears – and this would seem logical – that Alice Perkins was at the stage of hoping for a Deloitte report that was fairly positive, and wanting this to be capable of being put into the public domain and it appears Deloittes, at that stage, weren’t prepared to do that and I could only deduce that they weren’t prepared either because, as is almost certainly the case, they wanted to do further work on the system or what often is a reason is that, in the original engagement letter, it isn’t clear that a report is going to be publicised, and professional services firms like Deloittes hate these things coming up at a later time.

What was I offering? I think just to test Deloittes as to whether they wouldn’t attach their name.

Ms Price: At paragraph 129, a little further down the page, you make the observation that it appears that the reassurance that was given to the Board by Deloitte meant that, regrettably, the full Project Zebra report was not scrutinised by the Board or by the Shareholder Executive; is that right, is that your understanding?

Mark Russell: Yes.

Ms Price: So you personally didn’t see the Project Zebra report; is that right?

Mark Russell: No.

Ms Price: You say at paragraph 203 of your statement that you did not know until the GLO [The GLO Scheme is an ex gratia claims-based scheme for postmasters who were part of the action Alan Bates and Others v Post Office Ltd pursued under a Group Litigation Order, and who do not have a Horizon-related conviction - Sluffy] that Fujitsu could insert data into branch accounts without the consent of subpostmasters –

Mark Russell: Correct.

Ms Price: – or that Fujitsu may be able to delete and replace Horizon audit files containing transaction data?

Mark Russell: Correct.

Ms Price: Where do you think the fault for this state of affairs lies?

Mark Russell: Well, this should have been known by the Board, I would say. Even though, you know, my subsequent understanding is Deloittes didn’t do a detailed analysis of the system. They – in one of their reports, they clearly had raised this issue. That should have been communicated clearly to the POL Board and the POL Board should have communicated it to us.

Ms Price: In relation to testing the option of bringing in alternative investigators, which was referred to in that email?

Mark Russell: Yeah.

Ms Price: That is alternative investigators to Second Sight; is that right?

Mark Russell: Correct.

Ms Price: Did you tell Alice Perkins that you were interested in the option of bringing in different investigators?

Mark Russell: Again, I can’t just remember how the discussion went. My memory of Second Sight was – and when I first heard that Second Sight were involved in this review my first question was: are these the sort of people who can do this type of work? Are they resourced correctly? I’d never heard of Second Sight and, as time went on, what I did hear, principally through my Shareholder Executive colleagues, was the complaint that they were struggling in terms of dealing with the various cases.

Now, this may not be an accurate summary of what the problem was but that was certainly what I was hearing. So I presume this conversation with Alice reinforced that point, that they were losing confidence in Second Sight and in their ability and capability to progress this bit of work. I think I’d have been of the view that the work was important and the suggestion of Grant Thornton would have simply been, as I think I say, my first port of call would have been get one of the Big Four professional services firms more directly involved. But, at the time, I was quite focused on the fact that, almost from a policy point of view, Government should try to get more Big Four type work into the next layer down and I think that’s why I would have suggested Grant Thornton.

Ms Price: Did you personally have any reason to think that there was a problem with either the quality of Second Sight’s work or the speed at which it was being produced or were you reliant and on what others told you?

Mark Russell: Completely on what others told me.

Ms Price: I’d like to come, please, to your detailed reflections, which are set out at paragraphs 208 to 227 of your statement. Starting, please, with paragraph 208 on page 92. You say here:

“… my involvement in the Horizon issues, and how these issues were addressed during my time as CEO of the [Shareholder Executive]/UKGI, was not material, and not nearly as material as I wish now it had been. As CEO of the [Shareholder Executive]/UKGI, various levers were available to influence (and, where appropriate, direct) actions to be taken, either through my [Shareholder Executive]/UKGI colleagues, through my relationships with the Chair and CEO of [Post Office Limited] and thorough the shareholding Department and its Ministers.”

Put simply, do you wish now you had been more involved in Horizon issues?

Mark Russell: Yes.

Ms Price: There is a lot of information you were not aware of at the time, as is evident from your statement. Do you think that the information you were aware of should have prompted you to become more involved than you were?

Mark Russell: Well, possibly, but I think you can say that about a number of people, if we’d understood the significance of what we were seeing.

Ms Price: Going, please, to paragraph 211 over the page. You deal here with some specific moments when there could have been more probing and persistence and you list the Deloitte Project Zebra report, the final Second Sight Report, the Panorama whistleblowing allegations and the Parker review. Are these moments that you think, on reflection, the Shareholder Executive and UKGI should have become more involved and questioned the Post Office Limited narrative further?

Mark Russell: Yes, I do. I do. And it is those specific instances. You know, I go back to the Interim Second Sight Report, which people still attach a lot of importance to, and I look at, as I say, paragraph 8.2 and I think after a year, after a year of work, if those are the conclusions, this not sort of earth shattering. So it was the final report – again, not particularly well presented, I would suggest – it was the final report that had quite a lot in it that absolutely should have been raising alarm bells.

Ms Price: Did you ever feel a sense from within the Shareholder Executive or from the Department or ministers that it was too difficult to contemplate subpostmasters being right, the consequences of that being too catastrophic?

Mark Russell: Emphatically not. Emphatically not. I’d go so far as to say I’d have relished – we would have relished – uncovering this.

Ms Price: At paragraphs 212 to 2014 you discuss UKGI’s failure as an organisation to appreciate the scale and the significance of the Horizon problem and you discuss the initial focus on what you believed were major issues, such as long-term financial and commercial sustainability. Then five lines up from the bottom you say this:

“Critically, I was not aware (and to the best of my knowledge nor were the [Shareholder Executive]/UKGI Board or ExCo) of the cumulative number of prosecutions and convictions until well into the GLO. I also didn’t understand the significance [and, again, you don’t believe the Board and ExCo understood the significance] of [Post Office] led prosecutions. Finally, neither [you] nor the [Shareholder Executive]/UKGI board and ExCo were aware of the many and fundamental failings of the way in which [Post Office Limited] conducted its prosecutions.”

Going down, please, to 214, you deal with where you took comfort but you say:

“Wrongly, I did not consider the risk of unsafe convictions as a result of failings in the Horizon system to be significant, in large part because of the repeated and categorical assurances that [Post Office Limited] had provided to [the Shareholder Executive]/UKGI and others about the Horizon system.”

If you had known the true position in respect of bugs, errors and defects in the Horizon system and the scale of the prosecutions and other action taken against subpostmasters, their staff, and Post Office employees, what would you have done differently?

Mark Russell: I – what would I have done differently? I think lots of things differently. I think I’d have escalated it to our Board, to – I’d have had conversations within the Department, I’d have gone to see ministers. I think there’s a variety of things I’d have done.

Ms Price: At paragraph 215 over the page, you deal again with the assurances that you were given and at 216 you say:

“In spite of the above, had we had more scepticism and curiosity on our own part, such that we interrogated further, we might have concluded that a much fuller investigation of the system should have taken place sooner. The fact that [Post Office Limited] was a relatively autonomous ALB would not have stopped us recommending a comprehensive, independent investigation if we had felt this to be necessary albeit that this would have signalled a loss of confidence in the POL Management and Board.”

Can you help with why the Shareholder Executive and UKGI did not have more scepticism and curiosity at the time?

Mark Russell: I don’t think easily. I mean, this is clearly a hindsight point and you crawl over the – I wouldn’t even say they were necessarily red flags but indications that we could have latched on to, and I don’t have any easy explanation as to why we didn’t latch on to them, other than they, at the time, didn’t appear significant, profound, and we had – you know, we had such strong assurances from the Post Office itself, and from the Board, who we had no – actually no reason to doubt.

Sorry, I don’t think I can answer your question clearly as to why we didn’t.

Ms Price: You describe at 217 the strong assertions made to ministers in submissions around the integrity of Horizon as being wrong and making for uncomfortable reading now. Can you explain what the submissions should have done but did not, and why this was important?

Mark Russell: I think they should have been clearer that – and they were clearer in some, but really not all of them. They should have been clearer that this was information that we were receiving from the Post Office, and I think the way it reads is this was a kind of balanced view, which clearly it wasn’t. Now, there was an absence of other detailed data points to counteract that and there was clearly a very active campaign by the subpostmasters but, beyond that, I think we should have just been clearer as to where the information was coming from and the veracity of that information.

I mean, in part, it is the reason why we were very glad when ministers engaged directly in this because these were difficult judgements to make. So the fact that Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who you will hear from, engaged absolutely directly on some of this, I think – I’m very glad that happened. Of course, we all would have liked to have engaged much earlier on it but that was an indication of the difficulty in producing balanced submissions. It was – you had to hear the evidence yourself and make your own judgements.

Ms Price: In terms of governance, does it remain your view that the arm’s-length body model for Post Office Limited is not the problem, the issue is the execution of that model?

Mark Russell: Absolutely. Absolutely.

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