Crozier’s claim he was unaware of Post Office scandal undermined by letters

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BT chair Adam Crozier acquired letters from a number of MPs about issues with the Post Office’s Horizon IT system when he ran Royal Mail, undermining his insistence he was “not aware” of the scandal.

The correspondence obtained by the Financial Times features a 2009 e-mail from the present chancellor Jeremy Hunt elevating constituents’ considerations in regards to the Horizon system and asking how widespread the issues have been.

Crozier on the time was chief govt of Royal Mail, which owned the Post Office. More than 900 Post Office department managers have been convicted in circumstances involving flawed knowledge from the Horizon accounting software program between 1999 and 2015, together with greater than 700 introduced by the Post Office itself. 

The correspondence addressed to Crozier from Hunt and three different MPs calls into query the BT chair’s assertions that he had not been conscious of issues that turned what’s now considered as the most important miscarriage of justice in trendy British historical past.

In a written assertion to the Post Office inquiry in February, he mentioned: “It is a matter of huge regret for me that I was not aware of the tragic situation for Post Office sub-postmasters and their families during my time at Royal Mail.” 

Crozier added he “was not aware of any widespread issues with the functionality of Horizon during my tenure” and that he couldn’t recall points associated to audits of the department accounts or actions in opposition to sub-postmasters having been delivered to his consideration.

While shadow tradition secretary in October 2009, Hunt wrote to Crozier saying: “It has been brought to my attention by some of my constituents who work for the Post Office that there have been problems with the Horizon IT System”.

He requested details about the sort of points that had arisen and “whether any problems were reported nationwide and what the current situation is regarding resolving these difficulties”.

The correspondence obtained by way of a Freedom of Information request exhibits that Crozier advised Hunt he would ask the Post Office’s managing director on the time, Alan Cook, “to write back to you as quickly as possible”.

Three different MPs on the time — Lord Francis Maude, then a shadow minister, David Drew and Lord Henry Bellingham — additionally wrote to Crozier to lift considerations in regards to the system in 2009, the FOI response revealed.

The paperwork present {that a} response to Drew from Cook said that Crozier had requested the Post Office managing director to “investigate and respond to” the MP’s considerations.

Bellingham mentioned that, throughout his time as MP for North West Norfolk, he dealt with three Horizon circumstances, every of which was taken up with the related minister and with the CEOs of the Post Office and Royal Mail.

“It is inconceivable that they can’t recall this correspondence,” he mentioned.

Maude mentioned he had nothing additional so as to add. Hunt and Drew each declined to remark.

Three Post Office workers additionally contacted Crozier to make him conscious of points regarding Horizon, the paperwork confirmed.

Crozier, one of the UK’s most outstanding businessmen, has largely managed to flee public blame for the scandal that ruined lives over many years and sparked widespread outcry this 12 months.

He ran the Post Office’s father or mother firm between 2003 and 2010. Today Crozier is chair of FTSE 100 firms BT and Whitbread, proprietor of Premier Inn, in addition to analysis firm Kantar.

The Horizon system developed by Fujitsu was launched in 1999. The accounting software program used by department managers had bugs and defects that induced money movement discrepancies that made it wrongly seem as if cash was being stolen.

In oral testimony offered to the general public inquiry into the scandal final month, Crozier instructed there was a robust diploma of separation between father or mother firm Royal Mail and the Post Office, which restricted details about points with the IT system being handed to him.

The Post Office had its personal board, he famous. The companies have been absolutely separated in 2012 forward of the privatisation of Royal Mail, leaving the Post Office underneath authorities possession.

He advised the inquiry he didn’t recall anybody inside the Post Office govt, board or operations crew drawing his consideration to any bugs, errors or defects in Horizon.

A spokesperson for Crozier mentioned in a press release to the FT that the previous Royal Mail chief govt had “already given evidence in full to the Post Office inquiry”.

They added: “Relevant correspondence, together with some of these letters, was made obtainable by the inquiry to Adam and is constant together with his proof to it.

“Under the separate governance of the Post Office, all correspondence and issues regarding the Post Office would have been mechanically handed on to the Post Office administration crew to be handled,” the spokesperson mentioned.

In his witness assertion to the inquiry, by which he mentioned he had been proven correspondence from which he understood {that a} letter had been addressed to him from one sub-postmaster in 2008, Crozier mentioned he did “not recall receiving other letters from sub-postmasters on this topic”.

He added: “In any given week I would receive hundreds of letters, and as a result I could not read every letter, and inevitably I would have to promptly pass on correspondence to others”.

“I trusted the [Post Office] team and fully expected that my direction would be followed and any investigation would be carried out fairly,” Crozier mentioned.

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