Admittedly, they've been accused in evidence submitted to a parliamentary select committee of refusing to hand over documents crucial to the Second Sight investigation (both by Second Sight themselves and a law firm representing more than sixty Subpostmasters in the mediation scheme) and at a Westminster Hall debate they were accused of being "duplicitous", and trying to undermine the investigators they've just been accused of sacking.
But the PO says it has gone above and beyond the call of duty in its determination to get to the bottom of the complaints about its IT system and its questionable corporate behaviour. So maybe everything is fine.
It's just... well... here are some of the other things that MPs have said:
"[the Post Office] has broken its word to Members of Parliament in so many different respects that it is frankly bewildering."
"a large number of people have had their life ruined because they adopted accounting practices on the basis of advice given to them by the Post Office."
"if Post Office management speak to Cabinet members and senior Members of Parliament in the way they do, the way they treat their sub-postmasters must be feudal."
"I honestly think we will need a full clear-out of Post Office management before we get a change of attitude in this important public institution."
"five senior managers of Post Office Ltd... said, “We cannot conceive of there being failings in our Horizon system.” I asked all five of them about that. First, that makes us wonder which planet they live on. Secondly, we know that if the organisation operates from the premise that, uniquely, it has a computer system with which there are no problems and can be no problems, that explains its behaviour further down the line."
The Post Office is very keen to point out that during the Second Sight investigations "Nothing has been found in any of the cases to suggest Horizon has not worked as it should."
- the PO has admitted flaws with Horizon in the past,
- the PO refuses to disclose the full extent of what it does know about what has gone wrong with Horizon in the past
- a Subpostmaster with experience of installing IT infrastructure explained to the select committee investigation that the way Horizon was set up was bound to result in data errors
- I've seen a document written by an independent chartered accountant with thirty years experience (no this person doesn't work for Second Sight) which describes the Post Office Horizon IT system as appearing to have "fatal flaws".
... everything is actually okay, because the Post Office says it is.
Don't believe me? Read this press release dated Tue 10 March (ie yesterday):
Post Office Mediation Scheme Update
The Post Office today announced that it has completed its investigations into complaints from 136 postmasters concerning the operation of the Post Office's Horizon computer system.
Horizon has around 78,000 users across 11,500 Post Office branches and processes more than six million transactions every day. Nothing has been found in any of the cases to suggest Horizon has not worked as it should.
56 of the 136 cases have already been closed through mediation or other means. The remaining cases will now be put forward for mediation, except those which have been the subject of previous Court rulings.
Post Office will continue to consider cases with a Court ruling on an individual basis and is continuing to offer applicants the opportunity for a confidential discussion of their case, involving their Member of Parliament if they wish.
Angela van den Bogerd, Post Office Head of Partnerships, said: “This has been an exhaustive and informative process which has confirmed that there are no system-wide problems with our computer system and associated processes. We will now look to resolve the final outstanding cases as quickly as possible."
The announcement means that the Working Group set up to assess whether cases move forward for mediation will be closed.
Angela van den Bogerd added: “We would like to thank everyone who played a part in the Working Group for their valuable and important input.”
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
The Post Office is doing a fantastic job of shutting this story down. The fact that I am just about the only non-specialist journalist following it is both a testament to my ineffectiveness and the Post Office's PR department.
This has been described in parliament as a "national scandal". Someone with a lot more clout than me needs to get hold of this story and give it a proper welly. By all means, call me. I have some very useful information.
For the record then, today, in Prime Minister's Questions, in parliament, James Arbuthnot MP said this:
"Is my Right Honourable Friend aware that in the Post Office mediation scheme, the Post Office has just sacked the independent investigators, Second Sight, and told them to destroy all their papers. Does my Right Honourable Friend agree that it is essential that Second Sight's second report should not be suppressed, but should be supplied to Subpostmasters and MPs, starting with the Honourable Member for West Bromwich West [Adrian Bailey MP] and the BIS [Business Innovation and Skills] Select Committee."
The PM replied:
"I think my Right Honourable Friend makes a very important point. I know he's consistently raised concerns by some Subpostmasters about the operation of the Post Office IT system and the Post Office mediation scheme. It's an issue the Business Select Committee is currently taking evidence on and they should be given all the relevant information. While the government should not interfere with the independent mediation process, I will ask the business secretary to write to him about this concern and make sure the Business Committee can do it's job properly."
A government-owned business being accused of wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to sack its investigators just before they're about to reach a conclusion? Ordering them to destroy documents?
I don't believe it.