'You Were Asleep On Duty': Susanna Reid Roasts Tory Minister Over Post Office Scandal

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride was left squirming.
Susanna Reid grilling Mel Stride on GMB.
Susanna Reid grilling Mel Stride on GMB.

ITV’s Susanna Reid has accused the government of being “asleep on duty” over the Horizon Post Office scandal.

The Good Morning Britain presenter left cabinet minister Mel Stride squirming as she pointed out that sub-postmasters continued to be wrongly prosecuted for five years after the Tories came to power in 2010.

The Post Office started to accuse sub-postmasters around the country of false accounting, fraud and theft, based on data from its Horizon IT system, in 2000.

That continued until 2015, even though serious accounting flaws were first discovered with the software back in 2010.

More than 700 ended up being prosecuted by the Post Office and received criminal convictions.

Their plight was highlighted in the recent ITV drama ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’.

On GMB this morning, Reid told Stride: “This miscarriage of justice continued until 2015. At what point did a minister look at these convictions?

“We have to point out that the government is the sole shareholder in the Post Office, effectively run the Post Office. Hundreds and hundreds of these people, innocent people, were being prosecuted on the base of a single lie.

″How come the government didn’t notice? You were asleep on duty, weren’t you?”

Stride, the work and pensions secretary, said he “wouldn’t accept” Reid’s accusation.

“We did set up some years back now an inquiry under a former High Court judge to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

But the presenter interrupted him to say: “Yes, but it carried on happening while you were in government for a number of years.”

Stride said the government had made available £138 million in compensation payments to 2,700 postmasters.

Reid hit back: “We’re talking about 13 years of government, five years of which these prosecutions carried on taking place. I ask again, why didn’t the ministers in charge of the Post Office when you first came into government go ’hang on a minute, there are hundreds of people being prosecuted here. They can’t all be criminals, what’s going wrong here?”

The minister replied: “You’re quite rightly asking really fundamental questions and that’s why we’ve set up the inquiry.

“The job of the inquiry is to get to the bottom of those issues - who knew what when, what action was taken , what action was not taken, who is responsible?”


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