• Friday, June 21, 2024

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Former Post Office PR boss admits his emails ‘look ludicrous’

Mark Davies admitted that his past emails denying problems with the Horizon IT system now seem “ludicrous.”

A post office sign hangs above a shop in Belgravia, in London, Britain January 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hollie Adams

By: Pramod Thomas

FORMER communications director of the Post Office, Mark Davies, acknowledged during a recent inquiry that his past emails denying problems with the Horizon IT system now seem “ludicrous.”

These emails were brought to light as part of an inquiry into the wrongful prosecution of hundreds of sub-postmasters due to accounting errors caused by faulty software.

Between 1999 and 2015, many sub-postmasters were blamed and prosecuted, leading to what is considered one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history.

At the inquiry on Tuesday (14), lawyer Julian Blake presented emails where Davies had accused journalists of “campaigning” against the Post Office.

One email showed Davies joking about being “at the heart of a corporate cover-up,” while another criticised BBC‘s reporting as “straightforwardly inaccurate” and “sloppy journalism.”

Blake questioned Davies about his response to a 2014 BBC report on the Second Sight investigation, which highlighted issues with the Horizon software. Davies defended his stance, arguing that at the time, there was no acknowledgment of systemic issues with Horizon.

When pressed by Blake on why he couldn’t accept Second Sight’s findings in 2014, Davies conceded that he now recognises there were issues with Horizon but insisted he never sought to mislead anyone.

He also refuted claims that his request for a specialist media lawyer after the suicide of sub-postmaster Martin Griffiths in 2013 was to combat negative publicity, stating it was to get guidance on reporting suicide.

In his statement to the inquiry, Davies expressed regret for his role in prolonging the suffering of those wrongly accused, saying, “I am deeply sorry for that.”

The inquiry is currently in its fifth phase, examining issues such as whistleblowing, redress, and complaints related to Horizon. Former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells is expected to testify soon.

The scandal has resurfaced in the public eye following an ITV drama, Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which highlighted the human cost of the wrongful prosecutions.

More than 900 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted based on faulty Horizon data, with 700 cases taken to court by the Post Office itself.

Despite the government announcing £600,000 payouts for those with quashed convictions, many are still awaiting full redress.

On Tuesday, emergency legislation was introduced in Holyrood to clear the names of wrongly convicted Scottish sub-postmasters.

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