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Sir Ed Davey says he should have apologised sooner for Horizon scandal role

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said he “probably should have said sorry earlier on” in relation to his role in the Post Office scandal.

Sir Ed served as post office minister under the coalition government from 2010 to 2012 and apologised to victims of the scandal when writing in The Guardian earlier this month.

Hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongly convicted because of faulty accounting software, with the major miscarriage of justice in the spotlight thanks to an ITV drama.

Sir Ed will give evidence alongside former Post Office boss Paula Vennells at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry when it resumes in April.

Asked why it took him so long to apologise, Sir Ed told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “I probably should have said sorry earlier on, but it is a huge scandal and our hearts go out to those hundreds of subpostmasters and their families who were treated appallingly.

“The key thing now is to make sure that those exonerations happen quickly, that they get the compensation quickly and that they get to the truth with the inquiry.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey will give evidence at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry when it resumes in April (Yui Mok/PA)

Sir Ed previously said he was repeatedly lied to by the Post Office about the efficacy of their software.

Asked whether he should have questioned the Post Office’s version of events a bit harder, he said: “I was never asked a question in parliament, actually. It wasn’t raised that much with me – Mr (Alan Bates) did, and that’s why I met him.

“There were a few written questions and a few letters, but it wasn’t actually until the BBC had a Panorama programme, where they found that insider in Fujitsu who blew the whistle … and the Panorama programme was aired in August 2015. I don’t know what ministers at the time knew about that.”

Writing in The Guardian on February 1, Sir Ed said he was “deeply sorry” for the families who have had their lives ruined by “the greatest miscarriage of justice in our time”.

Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells
Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells forfeited her CBE for ‘bringing the honours system into disrepute’ after her handling of the Horizon crisis (Jeremy Durkin/PA)

“As one of the ministers over the 20 years of this scandal, including my time as minister responsible for postal affairs, I’m sorry I did not see through the Post Office’s lies – and that it took me five months to meet Alan Bates, the man who has done so much to uncover it,” he said.

Ms Vennells forfeited her CBE for “bringing the honours system into disrepute” following her handling of the Horizon crisis, after issuing an apology last month.

She was named on Friday in a list published on the Cabinet Office website as an individual whose honour had been revoked.

A series of other current and former politicians have been or will be questioned by the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, including Conservative ministers Greg Clark and Kelly Tolhurst, Liberal Democrat politician Sir Vince Cable and Labour shadow cabinet member Pat McFadden.