The Welsh woman at the heart of the Post Office as it persecuted innocent postal workers

She describes herself as an ‘experienced senior HR leader’ and ‘a vibrant, collaborative and committed business leader’, but for those involved in the Horizon Post Office scandal, Angela van den Bogerd is one of the key players in what is described as the greatest miscarriage of justice in British history.

Her appearance at the public inquiry into the scandal was a day many of the convicted sub-postmasters had long waited for. Over the many years of being told they were responsible for financial discrepancies, sometimes amounting to thousands of pounds, the Post Office pursued prosecution even as concerns were repeatedly raised. People were imprisoned, lost their livelihoods, their families and even their lives. Many have died without any resolution, and the debate over how to even compensate them continues, with former post office workers still suffering emotionally and financially.

Born in Swansea in early 1966, the then Angela Mages got her first job at the Post Office at the age of 19, working as a counter clerk in the Swansea area. Within two years she became branch manager in Swansea and was responsible for 950 branches in Wales.

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When she took the witness stand on Thursday morning, April 25, Mrs. Van den Bogerd had already indicated to the lawyer that she wanted to make a statement before asking questions.

She wore a black and white dress, her necklace hanging down and her glasses perched on her nose. She held a sheet of A4 paper folded in half and spoke without emotion.
“Um,” she started.

“Saying sorry, I know, doesn’t change what happened, but I want to say to everyone affected by wrongful convictions and wrongful contract terminations that I am truly sorry for the devastation caused to you, your family and friends. I hope my evidence will help this inquiry get the answers you and so many others deserve.”

From humble beginnings, she rose through the ranks of the Post Office, with titles including ‘network change operations manager’ and ‘head of network services’, ‘support services director’ and ‘people and change director’.

She is described as the executive who knew more about Horizon than anyone else.

During the two days she gave evidence at the public inquiry, she was accused by lawyers of telling a ‘blatant lie’ after she signed a response to a Panorama program in which the Post Office said: ‘Investigations have not revealed any transaction which was caused by a technical error with Horizon”.

She was accused of causing ‘suffering’ and ‘destroying’ lives with ‘pain and cruelty’.

She was told she was “responsible for or complicit in the lie that there was nothing wrong with Horizon on every possible occasion.”

One of the most dramatic stories in the ITV drama Mr Bates V the Post Office, which brought this long-standing issue to wider public attention, was the scene where Martin Griffiths walks in front of a bus and commits suicide after being chased by the police. Post office.

She admitted that she had played an “important” role in his case. His branch had been attacked by two robbers armed with a sledgehammer and a crowbar, wearing balaclavas. He was injured in the attack, but the Post Office initially held him liable for the event, arguing that he had failed to secure the safe, left the front door open and said he owed £38,000.

Angela van den Bogerd gives evidence at Post Office's Horizon IT investigation -Credit:PA

Angela van den Bogerd gives evidence at Post Office’s Horizon IT investigation -Credit:PA

The public inquiry heard Mrs Van den Bogerd met privately and offered his widow £140,000 after his death, but the settlement was conditional on Gina Griffiths and the family signing a non-disclosure agreement with their claims against the Post Office.

On September 23, 2013, he drove his car to a parking lot on the A41, got out and deliberately stepped in front of an oncoming bus? He remained in a coma for three weeks before his life support machine was turned off.

When Alan Bates emailed Post Office staff, including Mrs Van den Bogerd, to tell them he was “dangerously ill” and “the Post Office had driven him to suicide”, the following email chain between employees of the Post Office did not once ask how Mr Griffiths was doing, but did say: “Given the potential media element, can we engage a specialist media lawyer in case we need urgent advice this evening?”

Losing patience with her answers during this series of questions, investigating attorney Beer accused her of using “word soup” instead of answering clearly.

One of the most important questions is when problems with the Horizon system came to light.

In her written testimony to the inquiry, Ms Van den Bogerd said she was unaware that Fujitsu could remotely access the accounts of individual post offices until 2011, but she was shown a series of emails sent by Ms Van den Bogerd between 2010 and 2014 received on remote access to Horizon.

Katherine Kelly as Angela von den Bogerd in the ITV drama Mr Bates v The Post Office -Credit:ITVKatherine Kelly as Angela von den Bogerd in the ITV drama Mr Bates v The Post Office -Credit:ITV

Katherine Kelly as Angela von den Bogerd in the ITV drama Mr Bates v The Post Office -Credit:ITV

On December 5, 2010, she was forwarded an email from Lynn Hobbs, the organization’s general manager of network support, stating that she had “found out that Fujitsu can actually place a booking on a branch account remotely.”

She then said, “I don’t remember seeing that in December,” to which Attorney Beer said, “That’s different whether you remember, fourteen years later, receiving an email. You say in the witness statement here, “I had no knowledge of the assets,” when in fact you did have knowledge because you had received that email.

In 2011 and 2014, she also received emails telling her about the possibility of remote access. But Ms Van den Bogerd said she “may have missed” the email, adding: “If it had been registered with me I would have challenged it… I certainly wasn’t trying to cover up or suppress or anything in to do that sentence, and That’s the thing I’m struggling with, because it wasn’t just me; there are also other people involved in the same information at that time.”

On the second day of her testimony the following was put to her: “The evidence here yesterday and today regarding your involvement shows that there were many occasions on which you were made aware of problems including bugs, remote access , Gareth Jenkins, Ferndown Post Office, Martin Griffiths’ case, to name a few, but you allowed prosecutions and financial recoveries to proceed anyway, didn’t you?

Her response was: “I was not involved in any prosecutions.”

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It was already known that Ms Van der Bogerd already handled complaints in 2010. She was also part of an initial mediation program that was created in 2014. She appeared before MPs at a parliamentary select committee inquiry into Horizon in 2015 and co-authored an internal report on the software.

She was often present during the High Court class action brought by a group of 555 postmasters in 2017, after which the judge responsible said she “did not give me candid evidence and tried to cover up matters and mislead me”.

In a 300-page court judgment from March 2019, High Court Judge Peter Fraser strongly criticized Ms Van den Bogerd: “There were two specific cases where [she] has not given me candid evidence and has tried to cover up matters and mislead me.”

Last week her evidence emerged that, as a lawyer told her, she “basically lied” about receiving her bonus from the Post Office in 2019.

Despite the judge’s words being made public, after leaving the Post Office in 2020, she served a four-month term as ‘head of people’ at the Football Association of Wales (December 2020 to March 2021). Her probation was not extended, the BBC reported at the time. Quoting a source, the BBC said her appointment was among the issues raised in a unanimous vote of no confidence in then-CEO Jonathan Ford passed by the FAW’s ruling council on February 22, 2021.

Her Linkedin profile also states that she worked as a non-executive director of Family Housing Association (Wales) for two years and eight months.

She now works as a freelance HR consultant, she told the Post Office in her witness statement.

During her interrogation, Ms. Van den Bogerd was steadfast in her defense. When barrister Jason Beer KC asked her point blank. ‘Do you have any idea of ​​the suffering you have caused, of the many lives destroyed because you contributed to that pain and that cruelty; Do you have any ideas?”

She then replied: “I appreciate the level of suffering that would have inevitably happened as a result of persecution. I have never been involved in the prosecutions and through my work I have tried to understand whether there were any problems with the Horizon system through the plan.”

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