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Post Office inquiry: Ex-communications boss admits old emails attacking journalists now look ‘ludicrous’

Screen grab taken from the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry of Mark Davies giving evidence to the inquiry at Aldwych House, central London, as part of phases five and six of the probe, which is looking at governance, redress and how the Post Office and others responded to the scandal.  Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry/PA
Screen grab taken from the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry of Mark Davies giving evidence to the inquiry at Aldwych House, central London, as part of phases five and six of the probe, which is looking at governance, redress and how the Post Office and others responded to the scandal. Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry/PA

The former head of communications for the Post Office has admitted his old emails that attacked journalists’ investigations into the Horizon scandal now look “ludicrous”.

Mark Davies, who was the communications director at the Post Office for over seven years between 2012 and 2019, told an inquiry on Tuesday that he deeply regrets not doing more to question the inner workings of the Post Office, at a time when the scandal was taking root.

Inquiry counsel Julian Blake presented a large volume of emails exchanged between Davies and other Post Office employees, including former chief executive Paula Vennells, over a number of years.

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In several of them, Davies lambasted attempts by journalists to report on the failings of the Horizon software.

His statements included: “The journalism is appalling” and “I can’t sit and take this garbage much more”, in reference to reporting by the likes of the BBC and Private Eye.

The Post Office scandal has derailed the lives of hundreds of innocent subpostmasters and postmistresses wrongfully prosecuted over alleged faulty accounting – caused by the faulty Fujitsu software Horizon.

In March, MPs said the Post Office is “not fit for purpose” to administer compensation to those affected.

When questioned on the emails, Davies admitted that “with the benefit of hindsight, some of them look ludicrous I agree.”

Blake asked Davies: “Had you ever asked yourself: might we in fact be the baddies?”

“We really believed we were doing the right things,” Davies replied.

Another of his emails showed that Davies did not believe that the Post Office’s Horizon software was faulty. Davies wrote an email to colleagues “for no other reason than it made [him] feel better”, in which he described the situation as a “conspiracy”.

Bryan Glick, editor in chief at Computer Weekly, a publication that has reported on the Post Office scandal heavily, posted on X, saying that he used to wonder whether the Post Office PR team believed what they told journalists:

Blake also questioned whether Davies thought the Post Office did enough investigating of its own to look into the problems with Horizon and whether he personally looked into matters enough.

Davies said: “Absolutely for whatever reason, the correct levels of investigation did not take place.

“I regret deeply that I didn’t do more to question internally…If colleagues told us something we would scrutinise it and push back. I wish we had pushed back harder.”