'Do you have any idea of the suffering you have caused?': Ex-Post Office boss accused of 'lying throughout' at inquiry (2024)

A former top Post Office executive has denied lying "throughout" her two days of testimony at the inquiry into the Horizon IT scandal.

Angela van den Bogerd, who held various roles over 35 years at the organisation, told the hearing that while she did miss evidence of problems with the computer software at the time, it had not been "intentional".

Her roles at the Post Office included handling complaints about the Horizon system, which was provided by Japanese firm Fujitsu.

More than 700 Post Office managers were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after the software made it seem like money was missing from branches. At the time, the company insisted Horizon was robust.

Edward Henry KC, representing some of those wrongly convicted, accused Ms van den Bogerd of telling a "blatant lie" in a September 2015 letter sent to former sub-postmaster Parmod Kalia.

Mr Kalia spent three months in prison after being falsely accused of stealing £22,000 from his London branch in 2001.

In the letter, the former executive said there was "no evidence of transactions recorded by branches being altered through remote access" - despite her receiving emails years earlier which highlighted the issue.

'Do you have any idea of the suffering you have caused?': Ex-Post Office boss accused of 'lying throughout' at inquiry (1)

Mr Henry said: "It's a blatant lie, isn't it?"

She replied: "That's my understanding of what I'd been given at the time."

As he questioned her further about what she knew and when, Mr Henry said: "You're lying again today, as you have done throughout, I suggest.

"Do you have any idea of the suffering you have caused, the many lives that have been blighted, with you contributing to that pain and that cruelty? Do you have any idea?"

As it happened: Post Office inquiry latest

Ms van den Bogerd replied: "I appreciate the level of suffering that would inevitably happen as a result of prosecutions" but said she was never involved in prosecutions.

She added she had worked to understand whether there were any issues with the Horizon system.

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It came after Ms van den Bogerd, who was played by Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, said on Thursday that she was "truly, truly sorry" for the "devastation" caused to wrongly convicted sub-postmasters.

The former executive also said she never "knowingly" did anything wrong.

During Friday's hearing, Ms van den Bogerd was also quizzed about the case of Martin Griffiths.

The former sub-postmaster had run his branch in Cheshire for 14 years before shortfalls appeared in 2009. He was accused of being responsible for shortfalls of up to £100,000 and was then blamed by Post Office officials for a robbery at his branch in March 2013.

Ms van den Bogerd said Mr Griffiths had been asked to pay a fine of 20% of the money taken during the raid - more than £7,000 - because it was believed he had not been "complying with certain procedures at the time".

He died after stepping in front of traffic in September 2013. A coroner ruled he had taken his own life.

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'Do you have any idea of the suffering you have caused?': Ex-Post Office boss accused of 'lying throughout' at inquiry (5) 3:03

Counsel for the inquiry Jason Beer KC pressed Ms van den Bogerd on whether a subsequent offer of compensation to Mr Griffiths' family was dependent on them dropping any legal action against the Post Office.

He also asked about a separate claim the family held against Second Sight - which produced a report detailing issues with the Horizon system.

Ms van den Bogerd said it was part of "the broader piece of the network transformation. It covered everything".

'Do you have any idea of the suffering you have caused?': Ex-Post Office boss accused of 'lying throughout' at inquiry (6)

Mr Beer then appeared to lose patience with the witness.

He replied: "What does that mean? That's just word soup... I asked you, Ms van den Bogerd - the payment was going to be conditional upon the family withdrawing the claim that they'd made under the mediation, wasn't it?"

She answered: "Yes, because that's the way the network transformation payment was set out."

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In another exchange, Sam Stein KC, representing other scandal victims, described the former executive as being "Post Office through-and-through like a bad stick of rock".

He referred to a 2019 court case in which a High Court judge said she had sought to "mislead" him during her evidence defending the Post Office.

Mr Stein described the comments as "pretty serious" and asked if the Post Office investigated her as a result. She said no.

He then asked: "Did you get your bonus that year, in 2019, Ms van den Bogerd?"

"Yes, I did," she replied.

Mr Stein then asked: "So despite the finding in the High Court that basically you lied... you got your bonus?"

She responded: "Yes."

The inquiry will continue next week with evidence from the Post Office's former head of legal Hugh Flemington.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

'Do you have any idea of the suffering you have caused?': Ex-Post Office boss accused of 'lying throughout' at inquiry (2024)

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