Crozier claims he was unaware of the post office scandal that was undermined by letters

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BT chairman Adam Crozier received letters from several MPs about problems with the Post Office’s Horizon IT system when he ran Royal Mail, undermining his claim that he was “unaware” of the scandal.

Correspondence obtained by the Financial Times includes a 2009 email from current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, raising voters’ concerns about the Horizon system and asking how widespread the problems were.

At the time, Crozier was CEO of Royal Mail, which owned the post office. Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 post office branch managers were convicted due to defective data from the Horizon accounting software, including more than 700 that were provided by the post office itself.

Correspondence to Crozier from Hunt and three other MPs calls into question the BT chairman’s claims that he was unaware of the problems that grew into what is now seen as the biggest miscarriage of justice in modern British history.

In a written statement to the Post Office inquiry in February, he said: “It is my deep regret that I was not aware of the tragic situation for the Post Office sub-postmasters and their families during my time at Royal Mail. ”

Crozier added that he was “not aware of any widespread issues with Horizon’s functionality during my tenure” and that he could not recall any issues related to branch account audits or actions against subpostmasters brought to his attention .

While shadow culture secretary in October 2009, Hunt wrote to Crozier: “Some of my constituents who work for the Post Office have brought to my attention that there have been problems with the Horizon IT system”.

He asked for information on the type of problems that had occurred and “whether any problems have been reported nationally and what the current situation is with regard to resolving these problems.”

Correspondence obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows Crozier told Hunt he would ask the then Post Office director, Alan Cook, “to write back to you as soon as possible”.

Three other MPs at the time – Lord Francis Maude, then a shadow minister, David Drew and Lord Henry Bellingham – also wrote to Crozier in 2009 to express their concerns about the system, the FOI response showed.

The documents show that in a response to Drew, Cook stated that Crozier had asked the post office director to investigate and respond to the MP’s concerns.

Bellingham said that during his time as MP for North West Norfolk he dealt with three Horizon cases, each of which was discussed with the relevant minister and with the CEOs of the Post Office and Royal Mail.

“It is inconceivable that they cannot remember this correspondence,” he said.

Maude said he had nothing further to add. Hunt and Drew both declined to comment.

Three Post Office employees also contacted Crozier to inform him of problems related to Horizon, the documents showed.

Crozier, one of Britain’s most prominent businessmen, has largely managed to escape public blame for the scandal that devastated lives for decades and sparked widespread outrage this year.

He led the Post Office’s parent company between 2003 and 2010. Today, Crozier is chairman of FTSE 100 companies BT and Whitbread, owner of Premier Inn, and research firm Kantar.

The Horizon system, developed by Fujitsu, was introduced in 1999. The accounting software used by branch managers contained bugs and defects that caused cash flow discrepancies that falsely made it appear as if money was being stolen.

In his oral evidence at the public inquiry into the scandal last month, Crozier suggested there was a strong degree of separation between parent company Royal Mail and the Post Office, which led to information about problems with the IT system being passed to him.

The post office had its own board, he noted. The companies were completely separated in 2012, prior to the privatization of Royal Mail, leaving the post office under state ownership.

He told the investigation that he could not recall anyone within the Post Office’s management, board or operations team drawing his attention to any bugs, errors or defects in Horizon.

A spokesperson for Crozier said in a statement to the FT that the former Royal Mail chief executive had “already provided full evidence to the Post Office investigation”.

They added: “Relevant correspondence, including some of these letters, was made available to Adam by the inquiry and is consistent with his evidence therefor.

“Under the separate administration of the Post Office, all correspondence and matters relating to the Post Office would have been automatically passed to the Post Office management team,” the spokesperson said.

In his witness statement to the inquiry, in which he said he was shown correspondence from which he understood a letter had been addressed to him from a sub-postmaster in 2008, Crozier said he had “no recollection of receiving any other letters from sub-postmasters”. postmasters on this subject”.

He added: “In any given week I received hundreds of letters, and as a result I could not read every letter, and inevitably I would have to pass the correspondence on to others immediately.”

“I trusted the [Post Office] team and fully expected that my directions would be followed and that any investigation would be conducted fairly,” Crozier said.

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