Former Post Office boss hands over dozens of new documents ahead of inquiry appearance

Business

The Post Office scandal inquiry has said it will “urgently” review dozens of new documents it has received from former chief executive Paula Vennells.

The inquiry heard her legal team had conducted further searches ahead of her appearance next week and found 50 additional documents that had previously not been shared.

A spokesperson for the inquiry told Sky News: “Lead counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC confirmed this morning that the document was received by the inquiry at 11:17pm last night.

“The inquiry expects to receive further documents from Ms Vennells today, which it will review urgently.”

Mr Beer has previously raised questions about the necessity of receiving documents quickly – and reminded witnesses he “will not hesitate” to call them back to the inquiry if required.

It came as Ms Vennells‘s former colleague Alisdair Cameron, the Post Office’s former chief financial officer, faced questions on Friday about what he knew about the scandal.

He began his session with an apology to the sub-postmasters affected.

Screen grab taken from the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry of Alisdair Cameron, chief financial officer and former interim chief executive of Post Office Ltd, giving evidence to the inquiry at Aldwych House, central London, as part of phases five and six of the probe, which is looking at governance, redress and how the Post Office and others responded to the scandal. Picture date: Friday May 17, 2024.
Image:
Alisdair Cameron gave evidence to the inquiry on Friday. Pic: PA

Mr Cameron was also quizzed on a document he had written titled “what went wrong” in November 2020 for current chief executive Nick Read.

The ex-senior executive wrote: “We should have been tackling these issues 10 years ago.

“However, I do not believe that an earlier settlement was practically possible because the serious claimants believed there had been a miscarriage of justice and required recognition and an apology as much as they wanted money.

“Paula did not believe there had been a miscarriage and could not have got there emotionally.

“She seemed clear in her conviction from the day I joined that nothing had gone wrong and it was very clearly stated in my very first board meeting. She never, in my observation, deviated from that or seemed to particularly doubt that.”

Mr Beer asked: “So she was unwavering in her conviction that there had been no miscarriages of justice?”

Mr Cameron replied: “As far as I was concerned, yes.”

He said he had concluded that the Post Office had a “victim mentality” and its defence of the faulty accounting software was a “waste of public money”.

Read more:
Ex-head of IT ‘blocked Vennells’s number’
Post Office spin doctor said he was in a ‘corporate cover up’
Ex-Post Office boss accused of ‘lying throughout’ at inquiry

Mr Cameron also noted that the business was criticised for being “over-reliant on Horizon when we knew its weaknesses” and that the original prosecutions of sub-postmasters were a “deliberate miscarriage of justice”.

The final criticism was that the company should have “apologised and moved on years ago” and that defending itself had led to a “waste of public money and a postponement of justice”.

In the 2020 document, which was shown to the inquiry, Mr Cameron wrote: “At the heart of everything, the original sin of Post Office – and this may go back a very long time – is that: our culture, self-absorbed and defensive, stopped us from dealing with postmasters in a straightforward and acceptable way.”

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Sub-postmaster cases may be ‘tainted’

More than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted by the Post Office and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters are still awaiting full compensation despite the government announcing those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

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