New scrutiny mounts on Sir Ed Davey as allegations arise that the Liberal Democrat leader dismissed victims of the Post Office scandal during his tenure as a minister, with revelations surfacing about his responses to letters from sub-postmasters

Lib Dem Leader Sir Ed Davey Faces Renewed Scrutiny over Post Office Horizon Scandal

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey is facing fresh pressure in connection with the Post Office Horizon scandal, with renewed focus on his actions during his tenure as a government minister. The Sunday Times has disclosed a collection of correspondence between former sub-postmaster Alan Bates and ex-ministers from the Coalition government, including Sir Ed. Bates, whose fight for justice is depicted in the ITV drama ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office,’ has brought increased public attention to the scandal. Over 700 Post Office branch managers received criminal convictions due to faulty Fujitsu accounting software, known as Horizon, leading to what is considered the most extensive miscarriage of justice in British history. A public inquiry into the matter is currently ongoing.

Accusations Against Sir Ed Davey for ‘Fobbing Off’ Scandal Victims

Accusations have emerged against Sir Ed Davey, accusing him of dismissing the concerns of victims affected by the Post Office Horizon scandal. The Sunday Times reported that during his tenure as postal affairs minister from 2010 to 2012, Mr. Bates wrote five letters to Sir Ed, urging him to intervene and call for an independent investigation. In response, Sir Ed rejected the idea of a meeting, stating that the matter was not within the government’s purview, as the Post Office operated at an ‘arm’s length’ from ministers. Despite further correspondence and a meeting, Sir Ed maintained the government’s inability to intervene in cases before the courts or where legal judgments had been reached.

Unresolved Issues and Legal Action

Mr. Bates continued to express dissatisfaction with Sir Ed’s responses, stating that the minister’s adoption of an ‘arm’s length’ relationship allowed the Post Office to act with impunity. Despite notifications of new victims and discussions, Sir Ed reiterated the Post Office’s confidence in the Horizon system and its integrity. As the dialogue progressed, Mr. Bates accused Sir Ed of aligning with the Post Office’s stance and eventually decided to pursue legal action with the Justice For Sub-postmasters Alliance (JFSA). The unresolved issues and the potential financial liability for taxpayers were emphasized, leading to a breakdown in communication between Mr. Bates and Sir Ed.

Changes in Leadership and Political Accountability

In February 2012, Sir Ed Davey was promoted to the Cabinet as energy secretary, and his role as postal affairs minister was taken over by fellow Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb. The subsequent change in leadership did not bring resolution to the Post Office Horizon scandal. Criticism extended beyond the Liberal Democrats, with former Lib Dem ministers accused of ‘fobbing off’ victims. SNP MP Joanna Cherry emphasized the responsibility that comes with government, stating that both Lib Dems and successive Tory Governments should address the issue. The involvement of various ministers from different political parties over the years adds complexity to the situation.

Lib Dem Response and Ongoing Inquiry

In response to the accusations, a Lib Dem source highlighted that Sir Ed was the first postal affairs minister to record a meeting with Mr. Bates, contrasting with four Tory ministers between 2015 and 2019 who had no recorded meetings. The party emphasized Sir Ed’s commitment to cooperating with the ongoing inquiry and expressed sympathy for the families affected by the scandal. Despite political differences, the focus remains on achieving justice and compensation for those impacted.

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