It is detected that Javascript is turned off in your web brower. Please turn it on to load the page correctly. For more reference about how to turn it on, please refer instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Tim Allen’s Postmaster Ponderings: “Humiliation in spades but no sign of justice yet at Horizon Inquiry”

May 17, 2024 |

This article is the individual ponderings of a postmaster and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NFSP but is the sort of communication we receive or hear that in turn is reflected in our future policies/actions.



My YouTube addiction to the Horizon Inquiry shows no sign of abating. The final phases have all the superheroes and super villains being rolled out in quick and exhausting succession.

Sir Wyn and his team, led by the enigmatic Jason Beer, are all on form putting ‘the bad guys’ to the sword and doling out humiliation to the point that a public flogging would perhaps be preferable for many of the recipients. Humiliation however is not the same as justice and this still feels like it’s miles away for the postmasters who were victims of Post Office Ltd’s (PO) scandalous behavior over more than a decade.     

Justice can be translated into prosecutions and convictions but it’s still quite hard to pick out the names of those who look guilty enough, on an individual level, for (presumably) the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against them.

Some will clearly be worried about prison, jail time or criminal prosecution.

Gareth Jenkins is represented at the Inquiry by a lawyer, Jarnail Singh, one of their own profession, has been thoroughly cross-examined, and also Angela van den Bogerd, who describes herself a “vibrant, collaborative and engaging business leader”

I also hope we see John Scott, Head of Security, again. Mr Scott, a former police sergeant, proved on numerous occasions that there’s nothing abnormally wrong with his memory but said “I have no recollection of that” at least 200 times and not once did he answer a question by actually remembering something. From a man with such a responsibility for investigation and prosecution practice, surely, we should see him again.

Rob Wilson, Head of Criminal Legal, came over as a man haunted by his failure to have done his job properly and if a sword had been offered to him during his questioning, he would gladly have fallen on it given the opportunity. Not so with Mr Singh. Mr Singh would question the existence of a sword placed in his hands and then be mystified as to the purpose of such a complicated device. Mr Singh happily lives in LaLa land where there is nothing to see or hear, lots of sand in which to bury your head and who actually said he took some pride from Jason Beer calling him a “post box”.

Jason Beer, lead inquisitor, appeared to have risen from his death bed on Friday 3 May to cross examine Jarnail Singh. Before he started, he mentioned, in a weaker voice than we are used too, that he had the flu. For any other interviewee he might have let one of his able colleagues take his place but there was no way anyone else was going to be allowed to have Round Two with Mr Singh. It was clear Beer knew, after the slippery obfuscation of Round One, how he could take Mr Singh to the water he needed to drink. 

His tactic was to treat Mr Singh as if he was a six-year-old. Although even the age of six would be to insult most six-year-olds. I did genuinely wonder if something was affecting Mr Singh’s faculties in the early stages of the Beer v Singh contest as his memory was clearly even worse than the first time they met, but as the hearing progressed Mr Singh managed to blow this possibility by the very clear memory he exhibited of their first encounter, things he’s said and things he wished he’d said. At one point, Mr Singh had the gall to describe himself as a “meticulous person”.  It wasn’t a description that I’d have used.    

Mr Singh is clearly proud of his technophobia. The use of high-tech items like computers and printers and the associated actions like saving a file or printing a document were beyond him he said. Such actions are for others. Mr Singh’s job was to sit at his desk and tell his hapless secretary that all the magic devices in the office needed to produce the next thing he’d managed to think of, and it had better happen quickly, before he forgets.

Jason Beer took Mr Singh back to 2010. So many years ago. He showed Mr Singh a document.  It’s a key document in this Inquiry which proves that PO and specifically Rob Wilson and Mr Singh knew about bugs, errors and defects with the Horizon system in 2010. 2010 is on the one hand a long time ago but, on the other hand, PO had already been prosecuting their postmasters for a decade by this point and so, if they really didn’t know by that time, it should have been the awful moment when they finally woke up to the fact that terrible mistakes had been made, that they couldn’t ignore it any longer, and that they should take a hard look at what they were doing and had done. 

The email that Rob Wilson sent to Mr Singh was marked “Confidential” and “Urgent” and it was clear from the few covering words that Mr Singh was required to read it. 

“I didn’t receive it”

“I didn’t read it”

“I don’t remember it”

said Mr Singh using his well-practiced lines that Mr Beer was clearly expecting following their earlier encounter in Round One. 

I think it’s a human condition to eventually have lightbulb moments when suddenly something clicks into place, and we suddenly understand something that we have missed or simply didn’t understand. This should surely have been one of those moments. Mr Beer proved, to the satisfaction of any six year old, that this document, this document marked URGENT and CONFIDENTIAL, showed the existence of bugs, errors and defects, in Horizon, had been not only received by Mr Singh but that this Fujitsu document had been opened, saved and printed within nine minutes of Mr Singh receiving it. “No I didn’t” said Mr Singh. A six-year-old would have laughed but the adults in the room could only gape at the audacity of the man.   

If Mr Singh did have a lightbulb moment he grasped the pull cord to the side of it and extinguished it as quickly as he could so he could get back to the comfort of LaLa land.

How will the Inquiry pull together their conclusions from thousands of hours of interviewing and evidence gathering? John Scott tried his hardest to fly under the radar while Mr Singh flew into it.  I find it astonishing that Mr Scott was easily the witness who has most annoyed me listening to him. Scott free? I hope not.


Do you ever feel we are being got at? 

I don’t. 

I think we are forgotten about, or, and actually more importantly, our customers are forgotten about.

The latest bit of bad news is that Royal Mail seem to have run out of serious obstacles preventing them from achieving the seemingly inevitable scrapping of Saturday post deliveries and also the legal requirement to deliver Second Class mail every day. 

First Class deliveries will continue as normal. Or will they? It would seem that Royal Mail can charge what they like for a First Class stamp so I’d bet several stamps on them hiking this price, not primarily so they can make more profit, but so that they can reduce demand. In due course they will have the data to say that demand for First Class is now so low that daily deliveries can’t be justified. 

This is Royal Mail’s perfect scenario, if they can make every other day mail deliveries to everywhere then they can half their workforce. So far, so bad but the impact on us will be felt in numerous ways: Lower footfall, lower sales and lower margin given that nearly all stamp sales will become second class and that we are paid 3% of the cover price of each second class stamp v 5% for each First Class. Expressed in money that’s 2.5p and 6.75p respectively. If you want to cover the cost of the 2024 Minimum Wage of £11.44 it means you or your staff have to sell a 2nd class stamp in under 8 seconds or a generous 21 seconds for First Class!


Maybe Amazon pricked up their ears and really liked Alan Bate’s suggestion that Post Office Ltd should be sold to them for a quid. The thousands of retail stores that offer PayPoint’s Collect+ parcel return service have had the plug pulled on them, thus leaving our post offices as their preferred partner. I hope that’s as good as the Amazon partnership news gets!

Tim Allen

Kington Post Office


Are you interested in writing a blog about your experiences as a postmaster, or about the issues and challenges you face? Get in touch with us at