I then went to BBC1 to perch on the One Show sofa next to Victoria Wood, Greg Davies and Michael Ball where I tried to summarise it all in around sixty seconds (watch it here - it's after the second piece).
If you have a bit longer than sixty seconds, I would be most grateful if you would have a crack at this blog post. If you are completely new to this story have a look at Computer Weekly's excellent timeline.
I have seen the paper evidence of Jo Hamilton following the advice of the Post Office helpline and watching her branch loss double in three minutes from £2000 to £4000, which she was then told she must repay.
I have heard first hand Michael Rudkin's story about visiting the Fujitsu offices in Bracknell and seeing a Fujitsu employee alter a Subpostmaster's branch account without his knowledge. I know the Post Office denied Mr Rudkin's visit until confronted with the paper evidence it had happened.
If you have any interest at all in how a group of MPs believe a government-owned, taxpayer-funded institution has gone about bankrupting, prosecuting and criminalising hitherto blameless people [and there are far darker stories I can't yet publish], read what was said in the debate below (or in Hansard). It's staggering. And I have no idea why this isn't front page news.
The following was said by MPs during the course of the debate:
1) "[The mediation scheme] is a sham... The Post Office has built up the hopes of sub-postmasters so the scheme has their support. It has broken its word to Members of Parliament in so many different respects that it is frankly bewildering. There are many ways to describe it, but I think the best is to say that the Post Office has been duplicitous. It has spent public money on a mediation scheme that it has set out to sabotage."
2) "I find the Post Office’s foot-dragging, inefficiency, and years of delay absolutely unacceptable."
3) "There should be an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission off its own bat, and even those who have pleaded guilty should be able to take advantage of such an investigation."
4) "The way in which Post Office senior management have dealt with our working group of MPs has been extremely high-handed. I share my right hon. Friend’s concerns: 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."
5) "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."
6) "we met the five senior managers of Post Office Ltd—the chair of the board, the chief executive, the chief technical officer and two others—who 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. Its investigation department should be renamed, because it has never done an investigation since it was set up. When problems are found, eventually it goes to the individual postmasters and postmistresses and says, “There is a problem here. Patently, it is not our system—it’s faultless—so it must be you..”
7) "The arrogant way in which the Post Office is dealing with this issue is astounding. Just before the debate started, the Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary passed a letter around from the chair of the working group on the mediation scheme. He said: