Post Office 'complaints handler' chief who 'misled' previous judge insists she did 'nothing wrong' in Horizon scandal

25 April 2024, 12:51

Post Office 'complaints handler' chief who 'misled' previous judge insists she did 'nothing wrong' in Horizon scandal
Post Office 'complaints handler' chief who 'misled' previous judge insists she did 'nothing wrong' in Horizon scandal. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

A former Post Office executive has insisted she did 'not do anything wrong' in the Horizon scandal as she apologised 'for the devastation caused' to sub-postmasters and their families.

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Angela van den Bogerd, the former head of partnerships and people services director at the Post Office, started her evidence session today at the government inquiry into the Horizon scandal with an apology.

Ms van den Bogerd said she is "truly sorry" for the "devastation" caused to wrongly convicted subpostmasters but later said she did “not do anything wrong”.

She insisted, however, that she never "knowingly" did anything wrong. As part of her role at the Post Office, Ms van den Bogerd handled Horizon complaints.

It comes after Ms van den Bogerd was previously accused of not providing "frank evidence" that sought to "mislead" a High Court trial by Judge Peter Fraser in 2019.

Judge Fraser said the Post Office executive "did not give me frank evidence, and sought to obfuscate matters, and mislead me".

Angela van der Bogerd is seen arriving at Aldwych House ahead of giving evidence to Post Office - Horizon IT Inquiry
Angela van der Bogerd is seen arriving at Aldwych House ahead of giving evidence to Post Office - Horizon IT Inquiry. Picture: Alamy

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Speaking at the trial, Ms van den Bogerd said: "Saying sorry I know doesn't change what's happened. But I do want to say to everyone impacted by wrongful convictions and wrongful contract terminations that I am truly, truly sorry for the devastation caused to you, your family and friends.

"I hope my evidence will assist this inquiry with getting to the answers you and so many others deserve."

Ms van den Bogerd said she did the "best I could" and never "knowingly" did anything wrong.

She told the inquiry: "I didn't knowingly do anything wrong, and I would never knowingly do anything wrong."

Counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC said she did not apologise in her witness statement for her role in the Horizon scandal.

Ms van den Bogerd went on: "I apologise for not getting to the answer more quickly. But with the evidence I had and the parameters of my role at the time, I did the best I could to the best of my ability."

She told of leaving the Post Office in 2020 because of delays with the compensation scheme, saying she was "disillusioned" with the process.

Hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted during the Horizon IT scandal and accused of stealing from the Post Office.

More than 700 subpostmasters were prosecuted by the Post Office and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as Fujitsu's faulty Horizon IT system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Alan Bates, former subpostmaster and founder of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, with wife Suzanne Sercombe, leaves Aldwych House, April 9
Alan Bates, former subpostmaster and founder of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, with wife Suzanne Sercombe, leaves Aldwych House, April 9. Picture: Alamy

Ms van den Bogerd was played by actress Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which depicted the Horizon scandal and one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

Ms van den Bogerd held various roles throughout her 35-year career at the Post Office, starting off as a network change operations manager, then as head of network services, head of partnerships, director of support services and the director of people and change.

She was appointed as the Post Office's business improvement director in 2018, but stepped down from the role in 2020.

Errors in the Post Office's Horizon IT system meant money appeared to be missing from many branch accounts when, in fact, it was not.

As a result, the government-owned organisation prosecuted more than 700 subpostmasters who were handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015.

Hundreds of subpostmasters are still awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those whose convictions have been quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

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