Daily Mail

Post Office chiefs ‘plotted a raid on the pensions of sub-postmaster­s’

- By Mary O’Connor

Post office bosses plotted to raid the pensions of wrongly accused sub- postmaster­s to make up discrepanc­ies in accounts, it was revealed yesterday.

Minutes from a 2004 board meeting, produced at the public inquiry into the Horizon scandal, reveal ex- chief operating officer David Miller was tasked with targeting ‘the pensions of fraudsters’ to ensure the company was reimbursed.

Quizzed by inquiry counsel emma Price, Mr Miller denied being the plot’s architect, insisting it was ‘proposed by somebody else’. Mr Miller also denied comparing Fujitsu, the Japanese technology giant behind the flawed Horizon it system, to a ‘ man who had just shoved 15 inches of bayonet up my posterior’.

He was quoted in a september 2010 PowerPoint presentati­on which said Post office executives felt ‘shafted’ by the Government and Fujitsu, then known as icl Pathway.

the presentati­on also said the deal to roll out Horizon had been signed with a ‘gun at the head’ of the Post office.

Mr Miller also said he ‘regrets’ the ‘missed opportunit­y’ a former sub-postmistre­ss’s case presented to tackle faults in the system. He admitted that, had he read it expert Jason coyne’s damning assessment of Horizon and legal counsel’s advice regarding Julie Wolstenhol­me’s case in 2002, he would have ‘taken action’. Ms Wolstenhol­me ran a branch in cleveleys, lancashire, but was dismissed over alleged shortfalls of £25,000 and pursued in the civil courts. the Post office later settled the case for around £180,000.

in his witness statement, Mr Miller said he first learned of Mr coyne’s report – which found Horizon ‘clearly defective’ – in a meeting with tony Marsh, the Post office’s thenhead of security. He said: ‘He told me there was an issue with the expert advice which had led our counsel to say the case was unlikely to succeed.

‘Knowing what i now know about Horizon and the way it was used to wrongly prosecute and bring civil claims against sub-postmaster­s, i very much regret not reading the expert’s report and counsel’s advice. Had i done so, i would have taken action to address the issues raised.’

Asked by sam stein Kc, who represents sub-postmaster­s, if he was ‘lying through your teeth or a complete incompeten­t’, he said: ‘i’m not lying.’

inquiry chairman sir Wyn Williams put it to Mr Miller that if ‘responsibl­e people’ had taken Mr coyne seriously, it might have prevented much of what followed. ‘is that fair?’ he asked. Mr Miller replied: ‘i’m afraid that is correct.’

the scandal saw more than 700 sub-postmaster­s prosecuted because of flaws in the Horizon system which made it appear money was missing.

The inquiry continues.

‘Bayonet up my posterior’

 ?? ?? Denials: David Miller
Denials: David Miller

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