Written evidence submitted by Tim McCormack (POH0009)
As some of you will know I am a campaigner on behalf of the very many former and current subpostmasters that have suffered financial losses while operating their post office branch. I am a former subpostmaster myself and have been highly critical of Post Office Ltd management in other matters as well over the years.
As a result of the conclusion of the recent litigation, Post Office Ltd decided that they would acknowledge their past mistakes and that there could be outstanding grievances from both current and former subpostmasters who had suffered unknown losses at their branches. In order to do this POL have set up a complex case review team and complainants are directed to an email address through which they can lodge their claim.
There are so many problems with this approach.
First and foremost it is a reactive approach not pro-active. In the last week alone I have been approached by several former subpostmasters who had no idea of who to turn to, to assist them. This is purely down to last week Sunday Times article and a chance meeting. While I am truly amazed that these people have not come forward before now I can understand why they haven't because they had no-one to turn to that they could trust. Both POL and the NFSP let them down when they first suffered losses and the JFSA is now 'closed' as a result of the settlement.
Secondly, as mentioned above, this complex case review team is hardly independent of POL. I have some knowledge of their current practice in dealing with claims and it appears to be the case that they either do not understand the implications of the decision of the court or are deliberately misinterpreting it to benefit POL and not the claimants.
Any former SPMR approaching this team have their claim acknowledged and put on hold. Details of the number and amount of claimants will remain confidential and most importantly kept from forming any sort of group action against Post Office Ltd. This latter point is extremely important because I can tell you that such a group is being formed as we speak and that nearly all of my contacts are recommending approaching this group rather than POL's complex case review team.
This state of affairs is intolerable and I call on the Government to do the following:
a) set up an independent review group preferably led by Mr Alan Bates to accept and progress all such outstanding claims through mediation and or litigation with POL. This group should clearly be funded by POL.
b) insist that POL discloses to this review group, in a pro-active manner, details of all instances since 2000 where subpostmasters had to pay back substantial losses to POL in order that the review group can try and locate these individuals. I think that surely should be a legal requirement in any case as POL have clearly benefited to the extent of placing misappropriated funds from SPMRs into their Profit and Loss account.
Unless immediate action is taken POL run the very real risk of prolonging this scandal for many many years with not only a judicial inquiry on the cards but also criminal charges against POL and Fujitsu employees sure to extend the very unwelcome publicity that POL has wanted to avoid from the very inception of their failed computer system in 2000.
I urge you to act quickly on this.