Ed Davey: I was misled by Post Office bosses over Horizon scandal

Ed Davey starts election campaigning for 2024 in Guildford on Wednesday
Ed Davey has started election campaigning for 2024 - Andrew Matthews/PA

Sir Ed Davey has claimed that he was “deeply misled” by Post Office bosses on the Horizon scandal while serving as the postal affairs minister.

The politician, who is now the leader of the Liberal Democrats, claimed that Post Office executives tried to prevent him meeting campaigners when he was in office between 2010 and 2012.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 700 postmasters were prosecuted after faulty accounting software, called Horizon, made it appear money that was missing from their sites.

Sir Ed expressed “regret” for “not doing more” while in post and criticised senior executives for still “dragging their feet” in the current inquiry into what happened.

The scandal is the subject of a new ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, based on the true story of the sub-postmaster Alan Bates campaigning for justice for fellow postal workers.

When Mr Bates, who is played by Toby Jones in the series, approached Sir Ed in 2010, the MP told him that he did not believe a meeting would “serve any useful purpose”.

He met Mr Bates in October of that year, in the same month as holding three separate meetings with Post Office executives.

‘I regret not doing more’

Appearing on Times Radio on Wednesday, Sir Ed said: “I regret not doing more. I feel, to be honest with you … I was deeply misled by Post Office executives.”

The Liberal Democrat leader added that “there were definitely attempts to stop me meeting them and I regret that we didn’t do more.

“But we were clearly misled, I think that ministers from all political parties were misled by the Post Office executives.”

Sir Ed admitted that he had not yet seen any of the new ITV drama, but committed to watching it and called on other ministers to do so.

He said of Post Office executives: “Now they’re dragging their feet, they’re not bringing forward evidence to the inquiry and that is just outrageous given that there are postal masters getting older, some are even passing away sadly.”

Election campaigning begins

His comments came as the Liberal Democrats kicked off their election campaigning for 2024 in Guildford, Surrey, as the party continues its battle for traditionally Conservative-held “Blue Wall” seats.

Sir Ed arrived to a meeting with local campaigners in a van advertising “Ed Davey’s Tory Removals”, as he described the Liberal Democrats as “the Blue Wall’s premium Conservative MP unseating service”.

He called for the general election to be held on May 8, telling activists: “Britain can’t wait for the change we need. People are fed up of waiting.”

Speaking to The Telegraph afterwards, Sir Ed said that the party was focusing on a “growing geography” of Blue Wall seats, from Surrey through to Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and the South West.

“Our area where we’re going to be fighting is expanding, and it’s quite exciting.”

The Liberal Democrats set out their election pledges, including ending raw sewage discharges in rivers and reducing NHS wait times by increasing the number of GPs and investment in social care.

Sir Ed said: “Keeping people in hospital unnecessarily because you haven’t got social care is incredibly expensive and inefficient and the Conservatives just become the leaders of the world in wasting money.

“They’ve wasted so much money and you can go back to the PPE and all the scandals around that, the bounce back loan system, which was all that fraud.

“I mean, I’ve never known a Government so incompetent, and that applies to their management of the health service.”