Written evidence submitted by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters (POH0023)

Statement from the Regional Directors of the National Federation of Subpostmasters

We, the undersigned, are the NFSP’s Regional (Non-Executive) Directors. We are subpostmasters ourselves and became active within the NFSP in order to contribute to the success of the sub post office network and to play a part in supporting our fellow members of this historic organisation.

NFSP (Non-Executive) Directors are elected by members within each region, with (re)election required every three years. It is our duty to represent the interests of NFSP members in our regions – we take responsibility for providing support to individual subpostmasters in our regions; co-ordinate the activities of other local representatives (Branch and Regional Secretaries); and act as the voice of our regions when feeding into the national decision-making process via the NFSP Board.

As a body, the NFSP Board is dismayed by the actions of Post Office Ltd (PO) and its IT supplier Fujitsu since the introduction of the Horizon system. Similarly, we are deeply concerned by the fact that the Horizon software system we have ourselves used as subpostmasters has been proven to be prone to serious faults.

The Committee has, quite rightly, sought to understand the role of the NFSP in the Horizon scandal. As a Board, we endorse the main submission from the NFSP.

We also implore the Committee to recognise that, as a group of individuals providing front-line support to, and intervention on behalf of subpostmasters, our view is that any colleague who suffers a loss in their branch accounts, is innocent until proven otherwise by way of proper, open and transparent investigation. In the event of a loss or shortfall, we will do everything within our power to support our members and achieve the right outcome for them.

Looking backwards, we wish for all current and previous subpostmasters that were adversely affected by the Horizon scandal to have their reputations restored and to be appropriately recompensed so that they are able to move on with their lives.

Where the NFSP has been criticised for its actions in the past, the Committee should understand that as an organisation we have learned from this. As stated, we are subpostmasters ourselves and we were elected by subpostmasters to support and represent their interests.

The two years since the election of Calum Greenhow as NFSP CEO have seen a period of stability within the membership of the NFSP Board. During this period, considerable progress has been made in improving the service the NFSP offers subpostmasters at the regional and national level. We maintain that the service we offer to members should be free at the point of use.

As the main NFSP submission will outline in greater detail, we, as elected representatives of subpostmaster members in our regions, have helped shape our work towards ensuring the following:

  1. That as an organisation we have systems in place to ensure appropriate oversight of staff and elected officials – meaning that we can take effective responsibility for our actions as an organisation.
  2. That we effectively scrutinise the activities of PO – including the collation and analysis of relevant data.
  3. Ensuring all NFSP members receive the treatment and support they deserve – first by agreeing what that support should look like and then through the development of effective procedures and training for all involved in providing support.

Subpostmasters have invested significant sums of their own funds into the post office network. They are important contributors to local economies and are, collectively, a major employer in the UK. As their voice, the NFSP will ensure their concerns are made clear to PO and to government. And, as a group, we will work to putting their interests first, always.

Signed:

Stuart Rogers BEM – South West

Saj Hussain – South East

Nilesh Joshi – London

Christine Donnelly – North Thames and East Anglia

Bharat Visani – Midlands

Sue Jude – Wales

Uel Houston – Northern Ireland

Tim Boothman – North West

Sue Edgar – North East

Paul McBain - Scotland

May 2020