Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Making of What's Up at the Post Office

For the last three months I've been working on an investigation into the Post Office. Regular readers of my tweets will be aware of, and possibly fed up with, the number of times I have mentioned this since the investigation was broadcast on Monday.

It was only after all the stress of getting it to air (last minute re-writes and edits, interventions from the BBC's internal Editorial Policy dept, our lawyers, the Post Office's lawyers etc) that I realised there was no point just hoping the story would have an effect - I needed to set up a permanent easily-accessible resource which collated all the information about the investigation, and the response to it.

You can find all that in my blog post What's Up at the Post Office? It includes the TV piece, the radio discussion, a full transcript of the TV piece, relevant quotes, how the story came my way, and the extraordinary response the broadcasts provoked.

I am deeply indebted to a whole bunch of people for getting the investigation so far. Thanks to:

Davinder, who brought me the story, has been having a very tough time. His mental health has suffered as a result of what he and his wife have been through. Yet his commitment to getting me the information I needed has been incredible.

Issy Hogg, lawyer for Seema Misra and Jo Hamilton, has been a mine of information.

My superiors at BBC Surrey and BBC Inside Out South, who immediately recognised this was a massive story and channelled serious resources at getting it to air.

Jenny Craddock and Jon Valters at Inside Out for cheerfully attacking the tedious investigative work whilst I got the fun part of interviewing people and fannying around on camera.

Nicci Holliday and Mark Carter at BBC Surrey who pulled together and got the radio scripts legal led.

Tim Ross, the BBC lawyer who went over everything with a fine toothcomb, and then went over it again after a late statement from the Post Office arrived on his day off, shortly before broadcast.

Alan Bates at the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance.

Ben Goldacre and Richard Wilson for their wise words post transmission. Melissa Wilde for the Manchester Evening News story link.

Matt Deegan, whose knowledge of the Dark Arts and continued sponsorship of important bits of my online presence is something I hope to pay him back for one day.

Chris Cooke and every friend, colleague, ex-colleague and contact who has taken the time to watch/read the story and spread the word...

....and finally, every single subpostmaster and subpostmistress who helped us with the research for the programme, appeared in it or contacted us subsequently. I urge to you to read some of the stories I've been sent in the last week. Some of them are heart-rending.

In order try and have a few hours with my family this weekend I'm going to have to leave this story alone for a bit. But by all means get in touch if you want to.

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