Restriction Order - 3 February 2022

Restriction Order Pursuant to s.19 of the Inquiries Act 2005
Anonymity Order

Background

Applications for anonymity were submitted on behalf of 11 individuals whom I have designated as core participants to the Inquiry. Pursuant to paragraph 25 of the Protocol on Redaction, Anonymity and Restriction Orders, the open sections of the applications were served upon core participants.

Upon reviewing the applications, I issued a “minded to” decision in which I expressed the provisional view that the applications for anonymity should be granted. This decision was disclosed to core participants who were invited to file written submissions in response to the applications and to my “minded to” decision.

No objections have been made by any of the core participants to the proposed grant of these applications.
 

Determination

For the reasons set out in my “minded to” decision, which is appended to this order, I hereby grant the applications of the 11 core participants who have requested that their identities be protected from disclosure. The Inquiry shall maintain a confidential schedule of the names of those individuals to whom I have granted anonymity.
 

Restriction Order

NOTICE: Any threat to break this order, or any breach of it, can be certified to the High Court or Court of Session under section 36 Inquiries Act 2005, which will be dealt with as though the breach had occurred in proceedings before that court, and may be punishable by a fine or committal to prison.

Pursuant to s.19 of the Inquiries Act 2005, it is ordered that:

(a) The names and addresses of those individuals listed in the Inquiry’s confidential schedule of persons to whom the Chair has granted anonymity, and any other information liable to lead to their identification or the identification of their family members shall not be disclosed or published in any form, unless express permission is given by the Chair of the Inquiry, or the Solicitor to the Inquiry acting on his behalf.

(b) There shall be no disclosure or publication of the closed sections of the applications for anonymity dated 22nd October 2021 and 19th November 2021.

(c) This order shall remain in force for the duration of the Inquiry and at all times thereafter, unless otherwise ordered;

(d) Any person affected by this order may apply for it to be varied or discharged on giving 24 hours’ notice to the Solicitor to the Inquiry.

 

Dated 3rd February 2022

Sir Wyn Williams signature

Sir Wyn Williams

Chair

 

‘Minded to’ decision of the Chair
Application for a Restriction Order – 22 October 2021


I have received applications for anonymity from 11 individuals whom I have designated as core participants to the Inquiry. They each request that I make a restriction order prohibiting the disclosure or publication of: (a) their identity and status as core participants; and (b) their names and any personal information, contained within any evidence or documents disclosed or published by the Inquiry, which might lead to their identification or the identification of their family members.

The circumstances of each applicant are different. However, there are common themes in the reasons which they have advanced in support of their applications. Some of those who have requested anonymity currently serve as subpostmasters and fear that their contractual relationship with Post Office Limited and their livelihood will be jeopardised if they are not granted anonymity.

Others who formerly served as subpostmasters and who are now employed in new professions fear that their careers and professional reputations will be blighted if the allegations of dishonesty which were previously levelled at them were brought to public attention. Many fear that the repetition of such allegations will cause significant harm to their reputations and distress to their families.

I am satisfied, on the basis of the information which I have received, that these fears are grounded in reality and that there is a real risk that these applicants will either withdraw their participation in the Inquiry entirely or refuse to participate to the fullest extent that they are able if they are not granted anonymity.

I consider that the participation of those who were or might have been adversely affected by the failings of the Horizon IT System is essential to ensure that the Inquiry achieves its Terms of Reference. I am, accordingly, minded to grant these applications for anonymity but I invite submissions from core participants and representatives of the media before I make a final determination.