The Welsh woman at the heart of the Post Office while it persecuted postmasters (2024)

She describes herself as an “accomplished HR senior leader” and “a vibrant, collaborative and engaging business leader” but to those involved in the Horizon Post Office scandal, Angela van den Bogerd is one of the key players in what has been described as the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history.

Her appearance at the public inquiry into the scandal was a day many of the convicted sub postmasters had long waited for. Over the many years they had been told they were responsible for financial discrepancies, sometimes of thousands of pounds, the Post Office pursued prosecutions, even when concerns were repeatedly raised. People were jailed, lost their livelihoods, families and even their lives. Many have died without any resolution, and the debate over how to even try compensate them continues to rumble on with former Post Office staff still suffering emotionally and financially.

Born in Swansea in early 1966, the-then Angela Mages took her first job at the Post Office aged 19 working as a counter assistant in the Swansea area. Within two years, she became a branch manager in Swansea and went on to be responsible for 950 branches in Wales.

READ MORE:Victim of Post Office scandal asks Welsh MP to leave their family alone

READ MORE: Wronged, humiliated, destroyed: The story of three lives ruined by the Post Office scandal in Wales

When she took her seat in the witness box on the morning of Thursday, April 25, Mrs van den Bogerd had already indicated to the barrister she wanted to make a statement before taking questions.

Wearing a black and white dress, her necklace hanging down with glasses perched on her nose, she held a piece of A4 paper, folded in half she spoke without emotion.
“Umm,” she started.

“Saying sorry, I know, doesn't change what 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.”

From humble beginnings, she rose through the ranks at the Post Office, holding titles such as “network change operations manager” and “head of network services” “director of support services” and “people and change director”.

She has been described as the executive who knew more about Horizon than anybody else.

Over the two days she gave evidence in the public inquiry, she was accused by barristers of telling a “blatant lie” after signing off a response to a Panorama programme where the Post Office said: “investigations have not identified any transaction caused by a technical fault with Horizon”.

She was accused of causing “suffering” and “blighting” lives with “pain and cruelty”.

It was put to her she was “responsible for or complicit in the lie that there was nothing wrong with Horizon on every possible occasion”.

One of the most dramatic stories in the ITV drama Mr Bates V the Post Office which has brought this long-standing issue to wider public attention was the scene showing Martin Griffiths walk in front of a bus and take his own life after being hounded by the Post Office.

She admitted she had had a “significant” role in his case. His branch had been raided by two robbers armed with a sledgehammer and crowbar dressed in balaclavas. He was injured in the attack but the Post Office originally held him liable for the event arguing he had not secured the safe and left the front door open and said he owed £38,000.

The Welsh woman at the heart of the Post Office while it persecuted postmasters (1)

The public inquiry heard Mrs van den Bogerd personally met and offered his widow £140,000 after his death, but the settlement was conditional on a non-disclosure agreement being signed by Gina Griffiths and the family dropping their claims against the Post Office.

On September 23, 2013, he drove his car to a layby on the A41, got out of his car and deliberately stepped in front ofan oncoming bus? He remained in a coma for three weeks before his life support machine was turned off.

When Alan Bates emailed Post Office staff including Mrs van den Bogerd to tell them he was “dangerously ill” and “the Post Office had driven him to suicide”, the following email chain between Post Office employees did not once ask how Mr Griffiths was, but did say “Given the potential media element please can we line up a specialist media lawyer in case we need urgent advice this evening?"

Losing his patience with her responses during this line of questioning, inquiry barrister Mr Beer accused her of using “word soup” rather than answering clearly.

One of the key questions is when issues with the Horizon system came to light.

In her written witness statement to the inquiry, Mrs van den Bogerd said she did not know that Fujitsu could remotely access the accounts of individual post offices until 2011 but she was shown a series of emails that Ms van den Bogerd received from 2010 to 2014 about remote access to Horizon.

The Welsh woman at the heart of the Post Office while it persecuted postmasters (2)

On December 5, 2010, an email was forwarded to her from Lynn Hobbs, the organisation's general manager of network support, said she had "found out that Fujitsu can actually put an entry into a branch account remotely".

To that, she said: “I don't ever remember seeing that in December,” to which the barrister Mr Beer said: “That's a different thing, whether now you remember, 14 years later, receiving an email. You're saying in the witness statement here "I had no knowledge of the ability", whereas, in fact, you did have knowledge because you'd been sent that email”.

She also got emails in 2011 and 2014 telling her about the possibility of remote access. But Ms van den Bogerd said she "must have missed" the email, adding: "If it had registered with me, I would have challenged it…I was certainly not trying to cover up or suppress, or do anything along those lines, and that's the bit I'm struggling with, because it wasn't just me - there are other people being party to the same information at that point."

On the second day of her evidence, it was put to her “The evidence here yesterday and today concerning your involvement shows that there were many, many occasions on which you were made aware of issues, including bugs, remote access, Gareth Jenkins, Ferndown post office, the case of Martin Griffiths, to name just a few, but you let prosecutions and financial recoveries carry on regardless, didn't you?”

Her response was: “I wasn't involved in prosecutions”.

READ MORE: The investigator who led the destruction of the lives and reputations of innocent sub-postmasters

READ MORE: Horizon developer Fujitsu awarded contracts worth millions in Wales despite Post Office scandal

It was already known Ms van der Bogerd dealt with complaints as early as 2010. She was also part of an initial mediation scheme created in 2014. She appeared before MPs at a parliamentary select committee inquiry into Horizon in 2015 and co-authored an internal report on the software.

She was often present during the High Court class action taken by a group of 555 postmasters in 2017, after which the judge in charge said she "did not give me frank evidence, and sought to obfuscate matters, and mislead me".

In a 300-page court judgement handed down in March 2019, High Court Judge Peter Fraser strongly criticised Mrs van den Bogerd, stating: “There were two specific matters where [she] did not give me frank evidence, and sought to obfuscate matters and mislead me.”

It emerged in her evidence last week that despite, as a barrister put to her, “basically, you lied” she received her bonus from the Post Office in 2019.

Despite the words of the judge being made public, after leaving the Post Office in 2020, she had a four month tenure as “head of people” at the Football Association of Wales (December 2020 to March 2021). Her probationary period was not extended, the BBC reported at the time. Quoting a source,the BBC said her appointment was one of the issues cited in a unanimous vote of no-confidence in then chief executive Jonathan Ford passed by the FAW's ruling council on February 22, 2021.

Her Linkedin profile also says she spent two years and eight months as a non-executive director of Family Housing Assocation (Wales).

She now works as a freelance HR consultant, she told the Post Office inquiry in her witness statement.

During her evidence, Mrs van den Bogerd was steadfast in her defence. When Inquiry barrister Jason Beer KC asked her bluntly. “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; have you any idea?”

To that, she replied: “I appreciate the level of suffering that would have inevitably happened as a result of prosecutions. I was never involved in the prosecutions and my work has been trying to understand whether there was any issues with the Horizon system through the scheme.”

The Welsh woman at the heart of the Post Office while it persecuted postmasters (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Duane Harber

Last Updated:

Views: 5552

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duane Harber

Birthday: 1999-10-17

Address: Apt. 404 9899 Magnolia Roads, Port Royceville, ID 78186

Phone: +186911129794335

Job: Human Hospitality Planner

Hobby: Listening to music, Orienteering, Knapping, Dance, Mountain biking, Fishing, Pottery

Introduction: My name is Duane Harber, I am a modern, clever, handsome, fair, agreeable, inexpensive, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.