Former complaints handler executive claims innocence in Post Office inquiry

A former high-level executive at the Post Office, Angela van den Bogerd, testified at the Horizon scandal inquiry on Thursday, stating that she never knowingly did anything wrong and does not recall receiving an email in 2010 regarding remote access to cash balances in sub-postmasters’ branch accounts. Van den Bogerd, who spent 35 years in various roles at the organization, expressed deep regret for the “devastation” caused to wrongfully convicted sub-postmasters.

Her responsibilities at the Post Office included handling complaints about the Horizon software provided by Japanese company Fujitsu. Between 1999 and 2015, over 700 Post Office managers were prosecuted after the Horizon system falsely indicated missing money in branches. At the time, the company stood by the software’s reliability.

Van den Bogerd, who was portrayed by actress Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama “Mr Bates Vs The Post Office,” had not publicly spoken about the scandal since a 2019 High Court case. In that case, Judge Peter Fraser criticized her testimony, stating that she had not been forthcoming and had attempted to mislead him.

Lead counsel to the inquiry, Jason Beer KC, challenged van den Bogerd’s opening statement, accusing her of not apologizing for her own role in the scandal. Van den Bogerd, who resigned as the Post Office’s business improvement director in 2020, expressed regret for not discovering important documents sooner and apologized for not finding a solution more quickly. She maintained, however, that she did the best she could within the scope of her role at the time, and that she never knowingly did anything wrong.

During the inquiry, it was revealed that van den Bogerd had received an email in December 2010 informing her that Fujitsu could remotely adjust cash balances in branch accounts through Horizon. She stated that she had no recollection of the email and only became aware of the issue in a subsequent email in January 2011. The inquiry also heard a transcript of a meeting between van den Bogerd and sub-postmistress Rachpal Athwal in the same month. Athwal had been wrongfully accused of stealing £710 and was later reinstated. In the meeting, van den Bogerd told Athwal that Horizon could not be remotely accessed by anyone from the Post Office, without mentioning that Fujitsu could.

When questioned by Beer about the accuracy of her statement, van den Bogerd replied that it was accurate but later acknowledged that she did not provide the full picture. She explained that the messaging around remote access was constantly changing and that her colleagues had been adamant that such access was impossible.

The inquiry also addressed an email sent to van den Bogerd and other senior staff in October 2014 by Post Office media officer Melanie Corfield, discussing how to respond if asked about remote access to Horizon. The email stated that the official company line was, “This is not and never has been possible.” Beer asserted that van den Bogerd was aware that this statement was false, to which she responded that it did not register with her at the time. She clarified that she was not trying to cover up the truth and that other colleagues were also aware of the same information.

Earlier in the hearing, van den Bogerd agreed with Beer that using words like “exception” or “anomaly” to describe computer bugs was an attempt to control the narrative. The inquiry will continue to investigate the Horizon scandal.

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post

Exceptional Dental Implant Expertise Flourishes in Bakersfield, California

Next Post

Former Post Office executive apologizes for missing emails but denies cover up in latest inquiry update

Read next