The word on the street is that Post Office Ltd (POL) will fund the £58 million settlement with the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) out of available funds. Another example of the unbelievable arrogance of the POL board who seem to revel in the fact that they are unaccountable to anyone. Unaccountable perhaps but not closed to external scrutiny and I do hope they realise in time that I at least will examine in detail their annual accounts when they are published to see where they sourced these funds. It may come as a surprise to the POL accountants that they are specifically prohibited from dipping their fingers in the BEIS working capital loan which may be used ONLY to finance the cash flow in the network under EU State Aid rules. If they did attempt to use it then it would not be the first time they have overstepped the mark in this way and as we are beginning to understand, being caught doesn’t seem to prevent POL from trying again. We’ll see.
Unaccountability is a recurring theme with POL. The situation would be entirely different if they were answerable to shareholders as a public company. What public company would attempt to persuade shareholders that the very people who mismanaged the company into a situation where a small businessman who never trusted the computer system that POL forced upon him to produce his Post Office branch accounts took POL to court and ended up costing them over £80m in settlement and legal costs, proposed to carry on with Business as Usual with no sackings or resignations.
POL might rebut this observation by referring to Paula Vennells’ departure but she left the building in January last year, long before the Horizon trial started and well before such remarkable and extraordinary strategic decisions were made like the decision to apply for the recusal of the trial judge without even informing their own QC who was appearing on their behalf in court at the time.
A board member has now left but it looks more like rats leaving the sinking ship rather than being forced out. Perhaps more will follow but it is self evident surely that those who remain in charge of POL believe that the JFSA litigation is behind them and they can move on safe in the knowledge that there is no one out there ready, willing and in a suitable position to hold them to account for POL’s incredible lack of corporate common sense.
Are they truly blind to the forthcoming referrals from CCRC to the appeal court of many if not all of the convictions against subpostmasters brought by POL. The consequences of these appeal court hearings, the publicity generated and the new facts that will emerge will make the JFSA litigation look like a walk in the park, notwithstanding the criminal proceedings to be brought against POL and Fujitsu employees. All that will probably act as a catalyst for more whistleblowing and I for one am already sitting on a huge piece of incriminating evidence that is good enough to suggest further acts of perjury may have been committed in the Horizon trial..
What is more, without the heads rolling of those responsible for this mess, it appears to me to be far more certain there is a huge cover up in progress. Well good luck to them if that is what they are trying to do because they were stupid enough to be caught and tried in court already and if they are that stupid then clearly their attempts at a cover up will be just as weak as their defence was in the Horizon trial.
If POL were a public company reliant on shareholders to back their Share Price on the open market I would certainly not be investing in them and would be warning others to do the same. There is nothing at all to suggest that anyone in the upper echelons of POL management have got an iota of commercial ability and if they only took a real interest in what the people who have been criticising them over the years and in doing so have been proved correct time after time will they have any chance at all of maintaining a viable network.
The new CEO, Nick Reid, arrived last September. He has had 4 months to find out what has been going on and in those 4 months he has had the opportunity to hear at firsthand what the Judiciary think of the past mismanagement of the company in very scathing terms. His probation period is now up as far as I am concerned. His inaction in removing employees who have been implicitly involved in the totally misplaced decision to contest the JFSA claims in court is now testament to either his complete lack of managerial ability or his involvement in a massive cover up. I truly do not understand how someone taking over as CEO of a company that has just lost its entire profits and more for the last two years in defending a court case that should never have taken place can consider asking the people responsible for the mess to help him get to know the company he is taking over.
Nick, this has just started. The trials and tribulations in the Rolls Building before Justice Fraser was a mere prelude to the real action. You can wait and see what happens or I (or plenty others) could tell you what IS going to happen. Clear as mud to you perhaps, clear as daylight to me.