A few weeks ago I published a blog post (https://problemswithpol.wordpress.com/2018/12/29/awarding-the-truth/) that put forward a contrarian argument regarding Paula Vennells’ role in the whole sorry saga of the Horizon debacle. Of course it wasn’t well received but I wrote it to try and understand for myself why and how the CEO of Post Office Ltd could be so naive, so blind to the real truth, that she continues to believe that there is no merit in any of the JFSA claimants cases.
Well given that the Horizon part of the trial is not yet underway and I don’t want to undermine any of the evidence that will be put before the court in that regard, I will stay away from that piece of the jigsaw for the moment.
However Paula Vennells still remains a complete enigma to me. In the blog post I mentioned above, I considered if her quest for the truth was from the heart and if she really wanted to get to the bottom of the matter. She seems to rely totally on her underlings to provide her with the facts and it seems she makes no attempts herself to read the evidence that is staring her (and the court for that matter) in the face.
Other than the JFSA case, there are a number of other potential claimants waiting in the wings. These are the group of former Subpostmasters who ended up with a criminal conviction and whose cases have been referred to the Criminal Courts Review Commission. One of the most notable of these cases is that of Seema Misra, who was sentenced to a jail term after a trial by jury, and whose case I and others, most notably Nick Wallis, have written about.
The CCRC are understandably waiting until the judge in the JFSA case reaches and publishes his decisions before publishing theirs. The wait for justice for Seema is unfortunate BUT the fact of the matter is that justice will prevail in Seema’s case and she will be exonerated for the crime she was wrongfully accused of. THERE IS NOT ONE SHADOW OF DOUBT ABOUT THIS.
I know this as fact because I have studied the evidence. I have read and re-read the transcript of the trial, and I have even gone so far as have a police investigation opened up against POL for possible misconduct in public office. That investigation is on hold until the CCRC publishes their decision and releases the evidence they hold back to the police. It is my opinion that it is inevitable that some current and former Post Office Ltd employees will go to jail as result.
So why does she not take at least Seema’s case seriously? I do not understand why I and many others see the bleeding obvious but she does not.
In the meantime she sees fit to accept a CBE and now accepts an invitation to be non-executive board member in the Cabinet Office. While this is unbelievable for many, it is a clear indication that she truly believes she is innocent of any involvement in any of the cases before the courts and commission. How on earth can she be so deluded?
I will send this blog post to her lawyers (and her) for comment but here is the real truth:
When Seema was accused of theft from her post office, she was on her own. No one to turn to other than lawyers who knew little about how POL operate. She did her best though and trawled through the internet looking for clues that other postmasters had been similarly accused and dealt with by the courts. She found a reference to one such case – that of Lee Castleton – who took on big brother POL in the High court in a civil trial but sadly lost. In the decision notice for that trial Seema noted that Lee had come across an error in the Horizon system that has become known as the Falkirk error and which resulted in a loss to the SPMR that POL had to make good. It was only because the SPMR noticed it that it came to POL’s attention and clearly it was an error that had existed in the system at the time Seema was operating her Post Office. So she advised her defence team to show as one possible defence that the Horizon system had possibly caused the losses in her office. POL as the prosecution set out to prove that the Falkirk error did not occur at West Byfleet (Seema’s office) and they appeared to be successful in this as far as the Jury was concerned.
Seema’s defence expert in her trial played a significant role, and had it confirmed by POL and Fujitsu that there was a log file known as the Known Errors Log, that recorded all the errors that had been found in the Horizon system. Despite repeated requests from Seema’s defence team, POL would not release the content of this file. Had they done so it would have been devastating for POL, for the entire subpostmaster community and, as has been frequently suggested as the reason for the non-disclosure of these errors, consumer confidence in the Post Office brand. More to the point though it would have certainly swayed the mind of the jury, particularly as the reticence of POL to publish this list of errors would have to be taken into account.
For the past few years I have tried without success, with repeated Freedom of Information requests, to obtain the contents of the Known Errors Log, but now, as I am led to believe, the JFSA team have obtained a copy of it and it is now public knowledge I believe that there are not just a few errors in it but over 8,000. How many of these existed at the time of Seema’s trial is not known but SURELY TO GOODNESS MS VENNELLS you can see that the failure of POL to disclose this evidence to Seema was wilful and open to interpretation as a criminal act.
Notwithstanding the above though, evidence revealed to date by Second Sight and by disclosure at the JFSA trial, shows that POL deliberately withheld evidence of a known error at exactly the same time as Seema’s trial was ongoing. In fact the expert witness from Fujitsu who appeared for the prosecution at Seema’s trial was at the meeting that discussed withholding this evidence due to ongoing criminal proceedings. Ms Vennells there are people in your organisation who must surely be going to jail over this. A poor and pregnant women was sent to prison as a result of lamentable behaviour by your staff and you are ultimately responsible for their actions.
Ms Vennells, all of this evidence has been available to you for some considerable time yet you in your wisdom have chosen to accept a CBE and an invitation to the Cabinet Office. Reprehensible behaviour that anybody with any decency would not have committed. You should be truly ashamed of yourself, and I hope and trust that one day you will be.