I was struck last week by a tweet from the MP Lucy Allan. She said,
“The more I find out about the (subpostmasters) scandal the more disgraceful the behaviour of management has clearly been: arrogant, authoritarian with a casual disregard for justice and Parliament. Government must now act.”
Support for the cause of the current and future claimants from parliamentarians in this sorry saga is always welcome but there is a need for us to further inform them of the facts. Lucy in her tweet uses the past tense, “has clearly been”. That is not quite the truth. The reality is that Post Office management continue with their arrogant, authoritarian attitude and not a casual disregard for justice but a complete, utter, shameful and most likely criminal denial of the facts laid out before them by Justice Fraser in the recent litigation.
Arrogance in some cases can be well founded and based on obvious superiority of one party over another. It is a personal trait that most find obnoxious and only those who share the same superiority complex can ignore the otherwise distasteful comments that come their way from those who suffer from their arrogant slurs. However when arrogance is misplaced and based on a self opined superiority that is not supported by fact then those that display this tendency in real life become dangers to themselves and the company they keep.
I think the majority of us agree that this is now a national scandal. It exists, it has not been fully dealt with, and while eventually it may well find its way into history, the scandal has not yet reached its zenith. Scandals come to an end when those responsible are dealt with or scapegoats are found to take the blame but even then premature endings to national scandals are a matter of fact and the whole truth rarely appears on its own in full and final admission of what occurred to cause it and the consequences of it. This scandal, ladies and gentlemen, has legs and we haven’t really begun to see any fall out from it at all for those now trying to cover it up.
The Post Office has used several forms of words recently in reply to media enquiries about the on-going scandal. The latest was published this week in the Sunday Post. They said,
“In reaching a comprehensive settlement with the claimants in the litigation, we accepted our past shortcomings and we have sincerely apologised to those affected. We continue to make extensive changes, reflecting the lessons we have learned from this difficult experience, to build a modern Post Office. We also continued to directly address past events for postmasters affected. We are planning a scheme with the aim of addressing historic branch shortfalls for postmasters who were not part of the group litigation and we will announce details in the near future.”
This is an example of completely misplaced arrogance. They have not accepted their past shortcomings in any acceptable form. Financially they have, and will continue to, benefit from the money they have received from subpostmasters that have paid up and continue to pay up for discrepancies in their accounts for which they cannot explain. POL are perfectly aware that as a result of the settlement all the claimants will not receive a great deal of the amount they lost to POL who pocketed the money and stuffed it in their profit and loss accounts. That money substantially inflated POL’s key performance indicators and as a result bonuses were paid. No news of these bonuses being repaid.
“We continue to make extensive changes”. I am appalled by the use of the term ‘we’ in this phrase because ‘we’ refers to the very same personnel that were responsible for this unholy mess. No news of the large scale sackings of the people responsible so those very same people are being empowered to make the changes that they hadn’t the intelligence to do in the past. What better example of misplaced arrogance do we need?
“Lessons we have learned”? They haven’t learned anything. Who taught you these lessons? The judiciary, the claimants litigators and probably more than most Alan Bates and several former and current subpostmasters. Where are they in this and why are they not involved in ‘teaching’ the miscreants how not to do the same all over again. The lesson as it happens is only chapter one in a long text book on how to run a Post Office. POL have a lot to learn still and right now, as things stand, I don’t reckon they have anybody in their organisation with either the intelligence or aptitude to take these lessons and do something with them.
“Directly address past events”. We will see about that. There is one very simple way to do it and I am not going to hold my breath for POL to do so and that is for them to be proactive and go out and find the people who paid them thousands and who as yet have no knowledge of the existence of this new scheme of theirs. No doubt this scheme will have a closing date but be warned POL so did PPI and that continued for years after. The sad thing is that there will be many more claimants who have died by the time they get around to doing the right and proper thing but getting round to it they will. That will be forced on them by an inquiry whether public or judicial. The chances of POL doing anything of any worth before that time are few and far between.
So what to do Nick before you too are embroiled in this very arrogant cover up? First get rid of Angela – I have more than enough evidence to suggest that she was the main culprit in this, perhaps unwittingly, but she has certainly encouraged in your organisation an undeserved belief in her ability and intelligence. If she is the best you have got then you don’t have much believe me.
Then you need to get subpostmasters involved. You may have met many already who are no more than able to run a convenience store but among the network are some very smart people who deserve to be at the forefront of the changes you want to make. Make use of this valuable resource and don’t ignore it. Use this maxim “they are not them they are us” and you will understand how the new relationship between ALL your servants MUST work.
Employ people who will search for the truth and inconsistencies and not accept the obvious shortcomings of your organisation. People who will promote all the change you need. Personally based on your record so far I see no reason to believe you are capable of delivering all this.
Prove me wrong Nick ….