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Committee publish Horizon IT scandal letters

25 June 2020

Following recent correspondence from Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee relating to the handling of the Horizon IT scandal, the BEIS Committee has published letters today from current Post Office Ltd CEO, Nick Read, the former CEO, Paula Vennells, and Fujitsu

The BEIS Committee has also published today a response from BEIS Minister Paul Scully, following recent correspondence from Darren Jones, BEIS Chair, on the Government's announcement of an independent review. The Minister's response indicates the review will not be on a statutory basis.

The correspondence from Nick Read, current CEO, Post Office Ltd, Paula Vennells. former CEO, and from Rob Putland, Senior Vice President, Fujitsu includes responses on a series of issues such as the Post Office Ltd's conduct towards sub-postmasters, the handling of the Bates v Post Office Ltd litigation, and the role of the Government and UK Government Investments (UKGI) in overseeing the Post Office Ltd's approach.

Chair's comments

Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said:

“The Minister's response gives little confidence that this review will be able to deliver justice for those who have waited for so long.

“It's important, as a bare minimum, that the review is put on a statutory basis so it can summon witnesses and compel the disclosure of documentary evidence. If the Government is really committed to taking action that delivers for the victims of this scandal it should bring forward a judge-led public inquiry.

“The letters we have received from the Post Office Ltd, Fujitsu, and former CEO, Paula Vennells, will likely be seen by many as attempts to shift the blame to the others for the dismal failings which saw sub-postmasters and postal staff suffer so grievously and, in some cases, face prosecution.

“The letters indicate that UKGI was engaged in discussions with the Post Office Ltd about Horizon. This highlights once again concerns about a lack of effective oversight from Government. Now more than ever, we need to be confident that Government can meet its responsibilities as a company shareholder.

“The BEIS Committee will now consider how best to follow up on the issues raised in this correspondence and what recommendations we wish to make to Government to ensure that something like this can never happen again.”

Further information

Image: PA