POST OFFICE: HORIZON SCANDAL – INQUIRY DETAILS
Further to LTB480/20 Dated 29th September.
Following the Government’s announcement on Tuesday regarding the Horizon Inquiry, yesterday we received further information from the Inquiry Secretariat in the form of an email which is reproduced below for your information:
Yesterday Sir Wyn Williams FLSW was announced as the Chair of the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, as a result of which he will make findings and recommendations for publication in 2021.
Sir Wyn is committed to hearing from the postmasters, and/or their representative parties, working with the contemporary Horizon terminals and software to ensure his inquiry addresses the current service offer from the Post Office Limited to postmasters.
Sir Wyn would also like to hear from any individuals and third parties who have been or are currently involved in dispute management between the Post Office Limited and Postmasters in relation to Horizon IT, to ensure his inquiry provides a clear account of the implementation and failings of Horizon over its lifetime. Sir Wyn welcomes any information you consider relevant to the inquiry and that this will be evaluated alongside the responses to a formal call for evidence and the postmaster survey mentioned further below.
The inquiry will also hear from the affected individuals and groups of the longstanding Horizon dispute to ensure his inquiry acknowledges the human impact of this matter. Sir Wyn will ensure there is dedicated space to receive this evidence through planned engagements. The detail for these engagements will be released in due course.
There will also be a formal call for evidence in November 2020, and the postmaster survey (due in early 2021) mentioned further below. Taken
together, these engagements and other meetings should provide the range of evidence necessary to the Inquiry’s terms of reference.
Overview of the inquiry
The inquiry will provide a public summary of the key events and failings that occurred at the Post Office Limited in relation to the Horizon IT system.
The terms of reference commit to build upon the findings of the Horizon and Common Issues trials by establishing a clear account of the implementation and failings of Horizon over its lifecycle. The Inquiry will assess whether lessons have been learned and the changes that are being made.
Additionally, the Inquiry will examine whether the current governance and whistleblowing controls are sufficient.
Sir Wyn will engage with both current and former postmasters, the Post Office Limited, Fujitsu, and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The Inquiry will also seek evidence from those third parties who have represented postmasters’ interests, or who have been involved in mediation and/or dispute resolution processes with the Post Office Limited. Engagement with these groups will be via a combination of formal and informal consultations and information requests.
To obtain the relevant evidence and support Sir Wyn Williams’ engagement aims, the Inquiry will be launching a Call for Evidence in November 2020. This will be open for 12 weeks, and in early 2021 a survey will be distributed to current postmasters. The Survey will be open for 12 weeks.
The Inquiry will engage with former postmasters to obtain their accounts and testimonies, which will assist with providing a public record of the impact that the Horizon IT matter has had.
Sir Wyn Williams and his Secretariat will engage with stakeholders through correspondence (email, post, and telephone appointments) as well as face to face (where possible and consistent with applicable law and COVID guidance) and virtual meetings.
The Secretariat will be in touch again in due course to arrange a time and date to discuss next steps, and to hear from you directly on Inquiry matters.
The inquiry will be led by Sir Wyn Williams, as the Independent Chair he will be supported by a dedicated Secretariat and up to four Independent Advisers. These Independent Advisers will support Sir Wyn Williams by providing advice on the sources, content and interpretation of evidence received (other than the
findings in Mr Justice Fraser’s judgments). They may also provide independent scrutiny and challenge in relation to emerging findings and recommendations.
As you would expect, we will be working with Bill Taylor, Head of Research and Andrew Towers, Head of Political Strategy, alongside Mark Baker, Postmasters Branch Secretary to co-ordinate our activities going forward, which will include submissions to the Inquiry. It should be noted there is nothing in the above email about accountability, or penalties for those culpable and compensation for those wronged. However, from our perspective this position will not inhibit the content of any submissions we make.
The link to the full Terms of Reference to the Inquiry is as follows:
Finally, a web article on this matter has been published and can be accessed via the following link.
Further developments will be reported.