Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30024

Posted on 17 December 2019 at 13:07 GMT

photo Paul Mattsson

photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Post Office workers - the long road to justice

Kevin Pattison and Ros Campbell

Hundreds of former Post Office (PO) workers, whose lives were ruined after being falsely accused of committing fraud, finally had a modicum of justice after the High Court on 16 December again ruled in their favour.

Some of the victims had suffered bankruptcy, nervous breakdowns and been wrongly imprisoned after PO bosses accused them of fraud and theft, when in fact there was a faulty 'Horizon' IT accounting system, first introduced in 1999-2000.

Many sub-postmasters were found guilty and fined. Several went to jail. Moreover, these accountancy errors were known to the PO but were not revealed at the time.

In every case the PO told the sub-postmaster and the court that this was the only example of a discrepancy in the Horizon system, which was incapable of making mistakes. They were still accusing new sub-postmasters earlier this year that they were the only ones showing a discrepancy on the Horizon system.

Eventually, sub-postmasters got together, some of them through the Communication Workers Union (CWU), and realised that there were numerous discrepancies in the Horizon system.

They took the Post Office to court for compensation for the loss of their livelihood, and in some cases their liberty.

Sub-postmasters won their case last March but the PO then spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money using legal tricks to prevent or delay sub-postmasters getting the compensation due following the decision, including accusing the judge of being biased in favour of the sub-postmasters.

In his judgement on 16 December Justice Fraser said: "This approach by the Post Office has amounted, in reality, to bare assertions and denials that ignore what has actually occurred... It amounts to the 21st century equivalent of maintaining that the earth is flat."

As well as wasting 32 million of public money on legal fees the Post Office has been paying enormous bonuses to the senior managers who have been pursuing this case.

Just prior to the recent court judgement the Post Office agreed to pay 58 million, without admitting liability, to settle a class action lawsuit with these former sub-postmasters.

However, PO chief executive, Paula Vennells, who pursued the vendetta against the sub-postmasters during her 2012-2019 tenure, has yet to apologise. Vennells took home 3.7 million in salary, plus bonuses, during this time. In the 2019 New Year Honours she was awarded a CBE "for services to the Post Office and to charity"!

Under the 2011 Postal Services Act - promoted by the then Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable - Royal Mail was privatised (although the government kept responsibility for the pension fund which was in deficit).

The Post Office side was retained by the government which under a 'modernisation' programme provided a ten year 'transitional' subsidy which ends in 2021.

Some 2,500 out of 11,500 franchised Post Offices are threatened with closure over the next year. Meanwhile, many Crown Post Offices have been handed over to WH Smith under the government's modernisation scheme, which the CWU has termed "backdoor privatisation".

The CWU has in recent years conducted strikes against the closure of these Crown Post Offices.

Privatisation has been a disaster for the workers and public alike. Corbyn's manifesto promised to renationalise Royal Mail.

And although the Tory general election victory has knocked back this demand, possible renewed industrial action by the CWU in 2020 could bring this demand back into the political arena.

(This article has been updated since it was first written)

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

Post Office:

triangle39 'postmasters' cleared - now clear the rest

triangleWHSmith: hands off our Post Offices!

triangleCWU conference: Sharpen up our act? Yes. But weaken our democracy? No

triangleHuddersfield set to lose two town centre post offices

CWU:

triangleCWU elections: Vote for a fighting, campaigning, socialist EC member

triangleCWU members' resolve to strike still firm as union enters talks

triangleCWU BT ballot - time for action now!

triangleThousands of BT workers to ballot for strike action

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/6/21

Leicestershire

Engineers in fourth week of strike action

16/6/21

PCS

Conference 2021: Divide between union leaders and rank-and-file exposed

16/6/21

Electricians

Sparks win victory!

16/6/21

NHS

Underpaid, overworked - NHS workers say: 'Enough is enough'

16/6/21

Enfield

Enfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

16/6/21

Unite

Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election

16/6/21

Finance

National finance meeting

16/6/21

Unison

Socialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference

16/6/21

Birmingham

Birmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

16/6/21

Cornwall

Johnson's G7 hypocrisy

16/6/21

Homelessness

Pandemic homeless

16/6/21

Protest

International solidarity protests

16/6/21

Socialist

Queues at Socialist Party stall in Cov

16/6/21

BFAWU

Majority of BFAWU members vote to break from Labour

16/6/21

NHS

Now is the time to fight for the NHS

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999