Wombles Partners Being Total Wombles: Partners ‘torn apart’ at Post Office inquiry

Another great report from Roll on Friday

Two Womble Bond Dickinson partners have defended their roles in the wrongful prosecution of sub-postmasters at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, although the view of a WBD associate watching proceedings was that his boss was “torn apart”.

Innocent postmasters had their lives destroyed when the Post Office blamed them for accounting discrepancies that were caused by its faulty Horizon IT system, while Wombles raked in enormous fees.

Tom Beezer kicked off his appearance with an apology to “each and every subpostmaster and mistress”, and also said sorry to Lee Castleton, a former subpostmaster who was bankrupted by his wrongful conviction.

Beezer assured the inquiry that he had been “confident in the assertions made to me by POL [the Post Office] about the robustness of the Horizon system”, but since then, “my confidence in such assertions has been eroded”. Not ‘alf!

He should have had a word with his colleague Andrew Parsons, who was hammered by Inquiry counsel Julian Blake with example after example of advice he gave to the Post Office not to disclose Horizon’s errors.

That included walking Parsons into a bear trap by asking him if he had ever advised the Post Office not to write things down because then they would be disclosable.

“No”, the Womble replied confidently, at which Blake whisked him to a note he wrote in 2013 telling the Post Office that informing its insurer about Horizon errors “would look bad for POL if it ever became public knowledge”, and that “to reduce the risk” it would be better if, “rather than sending a formal written notification”, the Post Office “verbally notifies them so as not to leave a paper trail”.

Challenged on the apparent contradiction, a rattled Parsons responded, “I apologise, I misunderstood your question”.