"When I became Chief Executive in September 2019, I was clear that the Post Office needed to apologise for events of the past and fully address them."
Righting the wrongs of the past
I stated to a Parliamentary Committee in January, on behalf of the Post Office, how extremely sorry I am for the impact on the lives of these postmasters and their families that was caused by historical failures.
I have heard first-hand the moving testimonies from some of the victims of this scandal and I am in no doubt about the human cost.
The Government’s statutory Inquiry, led by Sir Wyn Williams, will determine what went wrong in the years following the introduction of the original Horizon IT system in 1999. Post Office is openly and transparently assisting the Inquiry’s work to provide, as far as possible, closure for those affected.
Whilst the Inquiry’s work continues my priority is to ensure that there is appropriate, meaningful compensation for victims. Post Office would not have the financial resources for this without Government funding and I welcome the support they announced in December 2021 that enabled us to start making further progress with payments.
The future our Postmasters and customers deserve can only be fully delivered with the resolution of past events. That’s why I established a dedicated team in the Post Office – the Historical Matters Unit – to address compensation, appeals of historical criminal convictions and full assistance with the Government Inquiry.
Past shortcomings must never be repeated. We have made significant changes to rebuild trust and forge a new relationship with our current Postmasters, without whom there would be no Post Office.
We now have two Non-Executive Director Postmasters, elected by other Postmasters, on the Post Office Board to influence strategy and ensure the business’s direction is rooted in the reality of Postmaster business experience. A current Postmaster has also been appointed to a new Director role leading our day-to-day relationship with Postmasters.
Operational improvements have also been made, based on Postmaster and branch staff feedback, in every part of the business from initial appointment and training through to daily transactions accounting. Whilst there is still much work to do, we have made significant progress.
I am convinced that Post Office has changed for the better and that such past failings should never happen again. Securing full, fair and final compensation for those affected is my immediate priority as we right the wrongs of the past. Post Office matters too much to today’s Postmasters, customers and communities across the UK. We must put this right.
Chief Executive, Post Office