Ex-Post Office executive Angela van den Bogerd refuses to apologise for role in Horizon IT scandal

A former top Post Office executive has refused to apologise for her role in the Horizon IT scandal, insisting: “I didn’t knowingly do anything wrong”.

Angela van den Bogerd began her evidence to the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry by saying that she is “sorry for the devastation” wrought on subpostmasters and their families.

But when pressed by Inquiry counsel Jason Beer KC, Ms van den Bogerd insisted she had been unaware of critical flaws in the Post Office’s IT system.

“You make no concession or admission that you did anything wrong”, said Mr Beer.

Ms van den Bogerd replied: “I didn’t knowingly do anything wrong.”

Challenged that in her witness statement she “doesn’t apologise for your role”, she told the inquiry she had been unaware of problems with Horizon and added: “I apologise for not getting to the answer more quickly.”

Opening her evidence, Ms van den Bogerd, who was played by Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, said she hoped her evidence would help the inquiry with getting the answers that subpostmasters "deserve".

"Saying sorry I know doesn't change what's happened”, she said.

"But I do want to say to everyone impacted by wrongful convictions and wrongful contract terminations that I am truly, truly sorry for the devastation caused to you, your family and friends.

"I hope my evidence will assist this inquiry with getting to the answers you and so many others deserve."

Errors in the Post Office's Horizon IT system meant money appeared to be missing from many branch accounts when, in fact, it was not.

As a result, the government-owned organisation prosecuted more than 700 subpostmasters who were handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015.

The scandal represents one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in UK legal history. Since then, the Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of more than 100 subpostmasters.

Ms van den Bogerd held various roles throughout her 35-year career at the Post Office, starting off as a network change operations manager, then on to head of network services, head of partnerships, director of support services and the director of people and change.

She was appointed as the Post Office's business improvement director in 2018, but stepped down from the role in 2020.

Mr Beer asked if her departure had been driven by a damning High Court ruling against the Post Office in a group litigation claim brought by subpostmasters.

The ruling identified 30 flaws in the Horizon system, in a major turning point in the battle for justice, and Ms van den Bogerd was personally heavily criticised by the judge.

But she told the inquiry her departure from Post Office was driven by “disillusionment” with the organisation’s actions after the court case, in terms of compensation for wronged subpostmasters.

“(The judgment) wasn’t a reason for me leaving the business, from my perspective”, she said.

“It was the fact we weren’t delivering on what we should deliver and I felt quite strongly about that”, she said, adding that more money was being spent by Post Office on solicitor fees than on compensation..

Ms van den Bogerd is also expected to place blame on tech firm Fujitsu, who created Horizon, for the scandal.

Hundreds of subpostmasters are still awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those whose convictions have been quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

Ms van den Bogerd is due to give evidence through Thursday and Friday.