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Ex-Post Office chairman ‘didn’t do anything’ to check staff prosecutions

11 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Former Chair of Post Office Ltd Sir Michael Hodgkinson leaves after giving evidence to the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry. Photo Lucy North/PA Wire

A former chairman of the Post Office said he “didn’t do anything” to check the organisation’s employees were being properly prosecuted.

Sir Michael Hodgkinson told the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry he is “very, very sorry for the misery” that was caused to subpostmasters during the Horizon scandal, but claimed he had tried to “make sure the business was run as well as I could”.

Sir Michael, who was chairman of the Post Office between 2003 and 2007, said he tried to “make sure that people took action” when problems were raised, but offered an “unreserved apology” for not discovering that there were issues with the Horizon system.

Prosecution

After Sir Michael said he was not informed during his induction that the Post Office prosecuted its own staff, Sam Stein KC, who represents a number of subpostmasters, asked: “So when did you learn about the process of prosecution by the Post Office of which you were chair?”

Sir Michael said: “I think that was much later on.”

Mr Stein continued: “And did you say to the people around you ‘that’s a bit of a surprise, I’m a bit surprised we prosecute our own staff, I’d like to know a bit more about it?’”

The witness responded: “No, I didn’t.”

Mr Stein then asked: “Well, you’ve suddenly been made aware that you’re the chair of a prosecution authority… that’s an unusual thing given your business background. What did you do to investigate the Post Office was properly prosecuting its own members?”

Sir Michael said: “I didn’t do anything.”

Towards the end of his evidence to the inquiry on Thursday, Sir Michael said: “I definitely want to say something.

“I’ve been saddened and appalled at the evidence that’s come out over the last 15 years since I left, where so many postmasters and mistresses were unfairly prosecuted under the Horizon system and as a result suffered the most dreadful experiences and devastating consequences – not just for themselves, but for their families.

“I just want to put on record that I apologise unreservedly for the fact that while I was chairman of the Post Office I did not discover the problems with the Horizon system.

“All I can say is I’m very, very sorry for the misery that that then subsequently caused – so I apologise again unreservedly.”

Continuing his questioning, Mr Stein KC asked the former chairman: “Sir Michael, I understand you apologise, but what part of it was your fault?”

He responded: “You just don’t really know, I mean, what else could I have done?

“I tried to make sure the business was run as well as I could.

“Where there were issues reported to us I tried to make sure that people took action – there’s not much you can do.”


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 month ago

Well it goes to show that most of these management jobs are a sinecure with no talent required.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

Another untouchable. Only the lower ranks will take the blame.

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