Government and Institutions

Post Office scandal epitomises unaccountable government


In the Media

IEA research referenced in Tech Monitor


Arthur Seldon's research featured in EconLib

Matthew Lesh writes for City AM

IEA Director of Public Policy and Communications Matthew Lesh has written in City AM discussing the wrongful prosecution of over 700 postmasters who used the Post Office’s faulty accounting system.

Matthew wrote:

“The real shock is that individuals in positions of authority repeatedly ignored warnings, allowing the situation to carry on for almost two decades. The most prominent case to emerge is Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, the then-postal affairs minister, who in 2010 refused to meet with Alan Bates, the former subpostmaster who was instrumental in exposing the Horizon scandal.

“Davey has said he was following the advice of officials. Indeed, Bates received similar responses from ministers across parties, who highlighted the Post Office’s independence from government and parroted the line that Horizon had no systematic problems.

“Post Office Limited is an arms-length body, a private company limited by shares. Yet it is state-owned, delivers an important service and can exercise extensive state powers of criminal prosecution. This structure is no accident. It’s a feature, not a bug, of how the modern state operates.

“In theory, the Westminster system dictates that these bodies are accountable through elected representatives, who hold ministers to account. In practice, there is far too much for anyone to keep up.”

Read Matthew’s full piece here.