'I regret not asking tougher questions': Former postal minister Ed Davey breaks silence on Horizon scandal

3 January 2024, 14:13 | Updated: 3 January 2024, 17:38

Ed Davey said he regrets not asking tougher questions
Ed Davey said he regrets not asking tougher questions. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Former postal minister Ed Davey has broken his silence on the Horizon scandal, saying he regrets not asking tougher questions.

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Speaking to LBC, Mr Davey said he should have done more as Postal Affairs minister to prevent the Horizon scandal.

He said ministers from all political parties had been misled by post office officials.

"It is a national scandal that has been going on for 20 years now and the Conservatives really need to sort this out and give proper compensation," Mr Davey said.

"I was Postal Affairs Minister for two years, I did see Mr Bates, and I regret not having asked the Post Office managers even tougher questions.

"I did, I obviously raised it with them, but I think that they have misled minister over minister across all political parties."

Mr Davey also addressed the inquiry into the scandal, saying: "I think it's right that there's a public inquiry into this – this is so outrageous."

Read more: Inside the Horizon scandal: The true story behind new drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office

Read more: Post Office Horizon scandal victims to be offered £600,000 in compensation each

Alan Bates, former sub-postmaster and founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance.
Alan Bates, former sub-postmaster and founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance. Picture: Alamy

Over 700 Post Office branch managers were given criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software, Horizon, made it look as if money was missing.

Sub-postmasters quickly realised unexplainable discrepancies in their records but the Post Office dismissed concerns as no one else was experiencing such issues.

Soon, the Post Office accused the sub-postmasters of taking the missing finances for themselves and started criminal proceedings.

One sub-postmaster from Wales, Alan Bates, and five others from JFSA (Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance) took the post office to court on behalf of 555 claimants.

In 2019, the High Court ruled that the software contained "bugs, eros and defects" with "material risk" which caused shortfalls in the Post Office branch accounts.

The Post Office was ordered to pay £58 million in compensation for the false prosecutions.

It has since been called the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

Mr Davey said: "I want to congratulate Alan Bates for his campaign.

"I really hope the government listens and the inquiry delivers for the postmasters."

The scandal is now being turned into a TV drama called Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which delves into some of those wronged who then cleared their names.