Controversial former Post Office executive Angela van den Bogerd has left her job at the Football Association of Wales (FAW) after mounting pressure over her involvement in the Post Office Horizon scandal.
Van den Bogerd was a central figure in the Post Office Horizon scandal that saw subpostmasters blamed for accounting shortfalls which were actually caused by computer errors. As a result, many were prosecuted for financial crimes, with some even sent to prison.
During a 2019 High Court trial where subpostmasters were suing the Post Office, High Court judge Peter Fraser criticised Van der Bogerd’s evidence for the Post Office’s defence, saying said she sought to mislead him.
Van den Bogerd left her position as a Post Office director quietly in May last year after many years of service.
She was later appointed head of people at FAW, but when Jack Sargeant, Welsh Parliament member for Alyn and Deeside, expressed his concerns, pressure mounted. In a letter to FAW CEO Jonathan Ford, Sargeant expressed his concerns that FAW had appointed Van den Bogerd despite her involvement in a national scandal.
In his letter, he said Ford should be aware of Van den Bogerd’s involvement in the Post Office Horizon scandal and what judge Fraser said about her in his judgement.
“The judge’s comments and the considerations of the victims of the scandal across Wales and the UK should be at the forefront of your mind,” he wrote.
In a multimillion-pound High Court trial, where subpostmasters sued the Post Office, they were proved right that the Horizon system contained errors that could cause apparent losses. Judge Fraser said: “There were two specific matters where [Van den Bogerd] did not give me frank evidence, and sought to obfuscate matters and mislead me.”
It was not long after Sargeant’s letter that Ford lost a confidence vote in a FAW board meeting, said to have been triggered following criticism of Van der Bogerd’s appointment. He stepped down in March, but Van den Bogerd remained.
According to BBC Wales, Van den Bogerd will leave after FAW’s ruling council voted to recommend terminating the employment of Van den Bogerd at a recent meeting. The FAW said it would not comment when contacted by Computer Weekly.
Paula Vennells, CEO at the Post Office during a period where subpostmasters were blamed and punished for the unexplained losses, also recently left her senior position in an NHS trust after pressure emanating from her role in the Horizon scandal.
During her seven years at the Post Office helm from 2012, Vennells earned millions of pounds, and in 2019 was awarded a CBE for services to the Post Office and charity. That same year, just before the court case ended, Vennells left the Post Office to take up the role at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, one of the biggest trusts in the NHS.
A Computer Weekly investigation in 2009 revealed that subpostmasters were being blamed for unexplained financial losses, which they claimed were caused by errors made by the Horizon system. The Post Office denied this, and many subpostmasters were subsequently prosecuted for theft and false accounting, with prison sentences, community service, criminal records and heavy fines among the injustices they suffered as a result (see timeline below).
The scandal is far from finished, with subpostmasters seeking to clear their names and receive appropriate compensation, and there are calls for a statutory public inquiry with the power to call witnesses under oath.
Next week will see 42 former subpostmasters have their cases of wrongful prosecution heard in the Court of Appeal. This is an unprecedented number of appeals to be sent as a group by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Meanwhile, the group of subpostmasters that took on the Post Office in court – and won – are now seeking answers on the government’s role through the Parliamentary ombudsman.
There are also calls from subpostmasters, politicians and campaigners for the government to pay the £46m legal bill that subpostmasters had to pay, despite winning the court case.