Former Post Office Managing Director Unaware of Prosecutorial Role

April 15, 2024

Alan Cook, former managing director of the Post Office from 2006 to 2010, has testified at a public inquiry that he was unaware for more than three years that the Post Office held prosecutorial authority. Cook expressed regret at not realizing this responsibility sooner, indicating that he had never encountered a situation where a trading entity could initiate criminal prosecutions.

During his testimony, Cook stated that he did not question this matter until reading about it in an article in May 2009. He emphasized that he did not recall asking for a “more robust defence of Horizon,” despite an email suggesting otherwise from a Post Office investigator.

In response to questioning, Cook clarified that the term “robust” was intended to convey thoroughness and vigour rather than defence. He attributed the use of his name in requests to the nature of managerial roles, where individuals leverage authority to expedite actions without his direct approval.

Cook expressed remorse for his oversight, acknowledging his responsibility for not comprehending the full scope of the Post Office’s prosecutorial functions. He also offered a personal apology and sympathies to subpostmasters affected by the Horizon IT scandal, underscoring the complexity of the Horizon system and its impact on operations.

The Post Office has faced significant scrutiny following revelations from the Horizon scandal, which falsely implicated subpostmasters due to faults in the Fujitsu Horizon system. This inquiry aims to uncover systemic issues and provide redress to affected individuals awaiting compensation.

This testimony highlights the challenges faced by senior management in overseeing complex operational aspects and the need for a comprehensive understanding of organizational functions to ensure transparency and accountability.