Former Royal Mail chief executive unaware group’s lawyers conducted prosecutions

The former chief executive of the Royal Mail Group has said he was not aware that lawyers within the organisation conducted prosecutions.

In his witness statement to the Horizon IT inquiry on Friday, Adam Crozier expressed “huge regret” over the “tragic situation” for subpostmasters and their families during his time at Royal Mail.

He told the inquiry: “I do not recall any involvement in or knowledge of the oversight of the investigations and prosecutions brought by Post Office Ltd against subpostmasters, either for theft, fraud and false accounting for alleged shortfalls in branch accounts for the recovery of such alleged shortfalls through the use of civil proceedings.”

Counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC asked: “Were you not aware that in fact there was no Post Office legal team – it had no separate legal in-house function and that civil and criminal proceedings were brought by lawyers within the Royal Mail Group legal team?”

Mr Crozier said: “I was not, no.”

Post Office Horizon IT scandal
Adam Crozier leaves after giving evidence to the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Beer continued: “So lawyers from within the group gave advice on prosecutions, they made decisions about prosecutions and within prosecutions, and they conducted the proceedings, not any Post Office lawyers, you didn’t know that?”

Mr Crozier replied: “I was not aware of that, no.”

The former chief executive also admitted he did not have a “developed understanding” of the way in which Royal Mail carried out prosecutions.

Addressing Mr Crozier’s knowledge of prosecutions in the group, Mr Beer asked: “Is the truth of the matter that in your position you did not have a developed understanding of the extent to which Royal Mail prosecuted or the way in which things were or were not carried into effect?”

Mr Crozier responded: “I’m not a lawyer. I would not claim it is my area of expertise.”

The comments came after the former Post Office managing director Alan Cook claimed he was unaware for more than three years that he was the head of a prosecuting authority.

Mr Cook told the inquiry he had not heard anything “sufficiently categoric” to suggest the Post Office made prosecutorial decisions and said he blamed himself for “not picking up on it”.

When asked about the claims, Mr Crozier said: “I would find that surprising.”

Reflecting on the impact the saga has had on subpostmasters, Mr Crozier said: “I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies to the individuals and families of the individuals who were so wronged, and for whom justice has been denied for so long.

“I can only imagine the immense and continued suffering they must have faced over many years.”