Monday 22 March 2021

Project Sparrow - first board minutes released

Paula Vennells
In June last year, former Post Office Chief Executive Paula Vennells revealed some new information to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee inquiry into the Horizon scandal.

In written evidence, she told the inquiry an ad-hoc Post Office board sub-committee was set up to discuss Post Office decisions in relation to the Complaint and Mediation Scheme, which was set up in 2013 and ran until its sudden demise in 2015.

This "ad hoc" sub-committee had never been mentioned in public before, so I asked the Post Office, under the freedom of information act, to tell me which government civil servants were on the board and ask for the minutes to the sub-committee's meetings.

The Post Office has supplied me with heavily-redacted minutes to five sub-committee meetings. It is interesting that the Post Office now at least appears happy enough to reveal the name of the internal Post Office name for the investigation into Horizon - Project Sparrow. During the High Court litigation it had insisted the word "Sparrow" was legally privileged, much to the bemusement of the presiding judge.


The Project Sparrow board sub-committee minutes are so heavily redacted they don't reveal much other than an organisation far more concerned with public relations than getting to the truth of what had happened to its Subpostmasters (though the redactions may skew this perception). 

Each meeting was considered so important it was attended by the Post Office chair Alice Perkins, as well as the Chief Executive, General Counsel and the government's representative on the board, Richard Callard

It is interesting to note that Angela van den Bogerd, the senior Post Office exec found to have tried to mislead a High Court judge (and who recently cost the CEO of the Football Association of Wales his job) also attended some of the meetings, as did Mark Davies, the Post Office's former Director of Communications. Mr Davies' tactics throughout his tenure requires further examination. He remains the only Post Office exec to have given an interview about the scandal. You can read the Today Programme transcript of that here.

I have uploaded all the Project Sparrow sub-committee minutes to Scrib'd. You can see them in date order below. The first meeting minutes I have been given are dated 9 April 2014, which seems a little late to me. I will be going back to the Post Office and the individuals named in the minutes with some questions.


I am currently running a crowdfunding campaign to ensure I can attend all relevant appeal court, high court and government inquiry hearings related to the Post Office Horizon IT scandal. Reward levels include access to the secret email, and a forthcoming book. Please click here for more information, and if you would like to support my work.

Post Office Project Sparrow... by Nick Wallis

Post Office Project Sparrow... by Nick Wallis

Post Office Project Sparrow... by Nick Wallis

Post Office Project Sparrow... by Nick Wallis

Post Office Project Sparrow... by Nick Wallis