No one can fail to have been moved by the appalling treatment of sub-postmasters throughout the Horizon scandal. Post Office Limited has exhibited the worst possible behaviours of a State owned business. At best, it has been a faceless bureaucracy, accountable to no one. At worst? We can only imagine its impact on the innocent people affected.
But what if Mr Bates and other sub-postmasters were themselves part owners of the Post Office? How soon would the faulty systems have been exposed? Would individuals really have been convicted on its evidence?
Back in 2011, unaware of what was taking place behind the scenes, Mutuo proposed a new mutual structure for Post Office Ltd. One that empowered the sub postmasters, employees and customers as the key stakeholders. It would have replaced the single Government shareholder that has been shown to be totally inadequate. It was intended to put real people first.
Post Office executives told us then that relationships with sub-postmasters were ‘currently difficult’ which has to be an all-time winner for understatement. Yet the outline plan for a mutual was accepted by them and by the Coalition Government of the time, to their credit.
It was to be implemented once a business transformation plan was complete, but that was soon forgotten following the Conservative election win in 2015.
In its place, the cruel policy of prosecuting so many people continued, driven forward by Post Office executives as agents of the single State shareholder.
We are re-releasing this policy paper today. ‘Post Office: Made Mutual’ is the argument for a publicly owned, but co-operative Post Office. It is just as relevant today.