Non-disclosure agreements will not be enforced by Post Office, says Inquiry Chair
Sir Wyn Williams assures Post Office workers and Second Sight as he continues call for people to come forward
Sir Wyn Williams is reiterating his call for people involved in training, assisting, auditing or investigating subpostmasters to come forward, as he confirms that the Post Office will not seek to enforce the terms of any non-disclosure agreement (NDA) it may have with current or former employees, subpostmasters, branch managers or assistants, or Directors in relation to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference (subject to certain conditions, as outlined in the relevant correspondence).
Today’s announcement strengthens previous commitments secured by the Chair of the Horizon IT Inquiry for Post Office Limited to apply individual NDA waivers on a case-by-case basis.
It is hoped that this will encourage more people to respond to the Inquiry’s recent call for evidence relating to phases 3 and 4 of the Inquiry. Phase 3 will focus on ‘Operation: training, assistance, resolution of disputes, knowledge and rectification of errors in the Horizon system'; Phase 4 will cover ‘Action against subpostmasters and others: policy making, audits and investigations, civil and criminal proceedings, knowledge of and responsibility for failures in investigation and disclosure’.
In a statement, published today, Sir Wyn Williams said:
“I have been made aware of potential concerns regarding the ability for certain persons to engage with the Inquiry in light of obligations those persons may have under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with Post Office Limited.
“...I hope that this announcement alleviates the above concerns and that any and all persons with relevant information who may have been previously deterred from engaging or participating with the Inquiry may now feel free to do so.”
The Chair has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence but is inviting people with information which may assist the Inquiry to make themselves known. Those with information relating to phases 3 and 4 are invited to respond to the Call for Evidence by 18 July 2022.
Second Sight released from confidentiality obligations
Today's announcement also addresses concerns previously raised regarding the ability of Second Sight, who were commissioned to carry out an independent review of the Horizon system, to engage with the Inquiry.
In correspondence, published today, Post Office Limited consents to the release of Second Sight from confidentiality obligations for the purposes of disclosing material to the Inquiry, making submissions to the Inquiry and/or giving evidence to the Inquiry. This remains subject to seeking Post Office Limited’s prior consent in relation to any material that may be subject to legal professional privilege.
The Inquiry has today published correspondence relating to the non-disclosure agreement waiver and the release of Second Sight from confidentiality obligations.
The Chair’s full statement is available here.
Notes to editors:
The Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is an independent statutory inquiry examining failings surrounding Post Office Limited’s Horizon IT system which led to the suspension and termination of contracts, and the wrongful prosecution and conviction of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses. Read the List of Issues the Inquiry is examining here.
The Inquiry has published an indicative timeline for its public hearings, which is available here.