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If that’s your best, your best won’t do.

When Daniel “Dee” Snider wrote We’re Not Gonna Take It around 1983, it’s unlikely that the British Post Office and its future IT systems were at the forefront of Snider’s songwriting process.  But if we’re going to choose one line in a classic rock song that sums up Paula Vennells’ performance before the long-running Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, it’s the title of this blog.

Vennells was the CEO of Post Office Limited from 2012 to 2019.  Evidence before the Inquiry, mostly in the form of emails, indicated that at least from 2013 she was well aware of the overreliance on bug-infested retail software to secure convictions against subpostmasters  for accounting shortfalls at their branches.

The most in-your-face example of this sprawling miscarriage of justice was probably the imprisonment of West Byfleet subpostmaster Seema Misra (while pregnant).   For the avoidance of doubt, this was before Vennells’ time.  But in 2013, when it became clear that Misra’s and many others’ convictions were profoundly unsafe, implying that she was now owed an apology and compensation, the PR-minded Vennells chose to cover it up to avoid opening the floodgates in relation to other falsely convicted subpostmasters.

Over three days (May 22-24) Vennells cried several times and said she did her best.

But we defer to Mr Snider, above.

Similarly, that wouldn’t fly with 33rd POTUS Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman.

Parliament has intervened; the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Act 2024 is now law, and hundreds of convictions have been quashed.

Tristam Price, Leighton Associates

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