Former Post Office executive says she never ‘knowingly did anything wrong’

A former top Post Office executive has said she never “knowingly” did anything wrong in the Horizon scandal.

Angela van den Bogerd began her evidence at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry in central London on Thursday by saying she was “truly, truly sorry” for the “devastation” caused to wrongly convicted subpostmasters and their families.

Ms van den Bogerd, who was played by Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, later said: “I didn’t knowingly do anything wrong, and I would never knowingly do anything wrong.”

Jason Beer KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, pointed out that she had not apologised for her own role in the scandal in her witness statement.

“So things that I might have missed at the time I really regret that and wish I’d been able to see that back then.”

Mr Beer pressed again, asking: “You don’t apologise for anything that you did wrong, do you?”

She responded: “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.”

Ms van den Bogerd, asked if she blames Horizon developer Fujitsu for not being “transparent” with her and the Post Office, responded: “Yes.”

Angela van den Bogerd at the inquiry
Angela van den Bogerd held various roles throughout her 35-year career at the Post Office (Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry/PA)

The inquiry heard that Ms van den Bogerd was told in an email on December 5 2010 that Fujitsu could remotely amend cash balances in branch accounts.

In her witness statement, Ms van den Bogerd had said she was not aware of remote access to accounts until 2011, claiming on Thursday she could not remember the email.

The inquiry was shown a transcript of a January 2011 meeting between her and subpostmistress Rachpal Athwal and her husband Val, after Ms Athwal was wrongly accused of stealing £710 and sacked.

In the meeting, Ms van den Bogerd said that Horizon could not be accessed remotely by anyone from the Post Office, without mentioning that Fujitsu could, the inquiry heard.

Mr Beer asked: “Are you saying that what you said overall there is accurate?”

Ms van den Bogerd said: “So that is accurate. I go on to talk later about Fujitsu, I believe.

“But in terms of what I said there that was accurate. Nobody in Post Office could get into the system then and I still don’t think anyone can now, even today.”

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 on to 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.

Ms van den Bogerd told the inquiry of leaving because of delays in compensating subpostmasters, saying she was “disillusioned” with the process.

She denied it was because in 2019 judge Mr Justice Fraser said she “obfuscated” and “misled” the High Court during legal action brought by hundreds of subpostmasters.

“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.”

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.

The scandal represents one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in UK legal history. Since then, the Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of more than 100 subpostmasters.

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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