Post Office executive warned of wrongful conviction six years before innocent man was cleared

During his time in prison, Carl Page attempted to take his own life due to the impact the wrongful conviction had on his mental health and his life, ITV News Investigations Editor Daniel Hewitt reports

A senior Post Office executive was told by an independent investigator that an innocent sub-postmaster had been wrongly imprisoned without “any evidence”, six years before his conviction was finally quashed. 

 A secret recording obtained by ITV News has revealed Angela Van Den Bogerd, former Head of Partnerships at the Post Office, was told in January 2015 that the organisation had “materially misled” the courts in prosecuting Carl Page - a sub-postmaster from Staffordshire. 

She was a key figure in the Post Office scandal and gave evidence to Parliament in February 2015 alongside then-Chief Executive Paula Vennells.

ITV News has heard from Angela Van Den Bogerd, former Head of Partnerships at the Post Office, for the first time since the ITV drama.

She refused to answer any questions and said she wouldn’t be making any further comment until the inquiry.

Mrs Van Den Bogerd is heard in the recording agreeing with independent investigator Ron Warmington that “we need to take another look at this,” confirming he had provided “further information that is material to this case.” 

However, Mr Page heard nothing from Mrs Van Den Bogerd or anyone at the Post Office after this meeting. His conviction was not overturned for another six years.  

In that time, Mr Page attempted to take his own life due to the impact the wrongful conviction had on his mental health and his life.  

In April 2021 at the Court of Appeal, the judge described his prosecution not only as “unfair” but as an “affront to justice”. 

Katherine Kelly plays Angela van den Bogerd in the ITV Post Office drama. Credit: ITV / Mr Bates and The Post Office

In December 2006, Mr Page was convicted of stealing £94,000 from the Post Office he owned in Rugeley in Staffordshire.

In January 2007 he was sentenced to two years in prison and served six months. He spent the rest of his sentence wearing an electronic tag.  

At his first trial, the Post Office accused him of money laundering and theft, wrongly alleging he had colluded with a customer to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The jury found him not guilty of money laundering and could not reach a verdict on the theft charge, and the case was dismissed. 

After this, the Post Office immediately submitted for a re-retrial but this time accused Mr Page alone of stealing £282,000, which he denied.

The Post Office later reduced the amount to £94,000, and Mr Page pleaded guilty on the advice of lawyers at the time. 

In his witness statement to the Post Office Inquiry, Mr Page wrote:  “My legal team advised me that, if I was convicted, I would have to serve seven years in prison, and I was advised to make a plea that I stole £94,000. Anything less than £100,000 would get me 2 years in prison. I took this advice as I had a child and a family, I thought this was the easier option.”  

 Carl Page had always maintained his innocence up to that point.

In his defence statement at the second trial in 2006, Mr Page denied he had been dishonest, saying the Post Office could not prove how much money ought to have been in his accounts at the beginning or end of the indicted period, or when or how money was taken. 

Mr Page’s conviction was based on data from Horizon, the Post Office’s now-discredited IT system. 

In 2012, independent investigators Mr Warmington and Ian Henderson from the company Second Sight were brought in by the Post Office to investigate potential issues with Horizon.  

ITV News has obtained a secret recording from a meeting on January 5, 2015 between Second Sight forensic accountant Mr Warmington, and then Head of Partnerships at the Post Office Angela Van Den Bogerd. 

In the phone call, Mr Warmington discusses Mr Page’s case with Mrs Van Den Bogerd, and says the conviction was based on Horizon data on foreign exchange currency which he says was inaccurate. 

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The phone call between Angela Van Den Bogerd and Ron Warmington

Angela Van Den Bogerd: “Carl Page, should we have a quick discussion on this?  

Ron Warmington: I know the whole case intimately…I’ve studied it in minute detail…I think that Post Office got this wrong right up front. I think there was no theft of £282,000.” 

Angela Van Den Bogerd: “…how do you, how do you arrive at that conclusion then?” 

Ron Warmington: “Everything I'm looking at in terms of the evidence is proving that my hypothesis is right, not that it's wrong… it looks as though Post Office concluded that there ought to have been £282,000 more in sterling or currency in that branch than there was. And that's correct.” 

Angela Van Den Bogerd: “…Because that's what the print out from, from both machines. Yes.”

'I think that Post Office got this wrong right up front', says Ron Warmington

Ron Warmington: “Yes. Well, here's my problem… bear in mind I'm intimately familiar with that because I used to be a foreign exchange dealer… Now, Horizon is not a foreign currency system, a multi-currency system. It only has Sterling.... I strongly suspect that...Horizon was maintaining a local currency equivalent of the foreign currency balances meant to be held. And by reason of doing that, it had basically come to the conclusion that there was more currency left in that branch than there really was…

“The key issue is that I do not see any evidence in any of the trials that any money at all was stolen.” 

'I do not see any evidence in any of the trials that any money at all was stolen,' says Ron Warmington

In response, Angela Van Den Bogerd agrees the case needs to be looked at again. 

Angela Van Den Bogerd: “In terms of taking this forward then Ron, I think, as we've done other cases, I think we've got material evidence… we've got further information that's material to this case. Yeah. I think we need to take another look at this.” 

Ron Warmington: “I think you do. And… at the moment, I mean, horrific as it is, I'll, I'll give it to you with both barrels. I think all three trials were materially misled by post office… in the witness statements.” 

Later in the meeting, Angela van Dan Bogerd even questions the supposed rationale behind Mr Page’s alleged crime. 

Ron Warmington: “He said throughout, I never did it. I didn't understand where the money had gone.  I certainly didn't steal it…” 

Angela Van Den Bogerd:  “As I say, I think we need to revisit… he's gone to a lot of effort for very little gain, supposedly. Yes. That’s what  I  find very remarkable.”  

Ron Warmington: “Absolutely.” 

'He's gone to a lot of effort for very little gain, supposedly,' says Mrs Van Den Bogerd

Mrs van Den Bogerd worked at the Post Office for more than 30 years, holding a number of managerial roles.

At the time of the meeting with Mr Warmington in January 2015, she was Head of Partnerships and had been handling complaints from sub-postmasters as part of the working group tasked with dealing with the Horizon IT issues. 

She was one the key executives that independent investigators were reporting to about their findings, including claims of potential miscarriages of justice. 

In his impact statement to the Post Office Inquiry in 2022, Mr Page said he had raised concerns about issues with Horizon before his arrest and conviction, but was ignored:  

“I began noticing shortfalls in the balancing and initially just thought this was due to silly mistakes I was making.  

“I identified the need for additional training due to these shortfalls and had requested this from my area manager...but this fell on deaf ears.” 

He was instead sent to prison, and his life was destroyed as a result. 

Mr Page said: “Prison itself was such a humiliating experience... I felt absolutely worthless and felt upset and angry that I had lost everything I had worked hard for. 

“The boys [his sons] stopped seeing me as people were asking them questions, and they were embarrassed. 

“Things were getting on top of me and my debts were building up, this ended in a suicide attempt in January 2014 and I was admitted to a mental health hospital for three weeks. I was subsequently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

Sub-postmasters outside the High Court. Credit: PA

“I do not mix with people these days, I have lost all my friends. 

“Nothing will be able to undo what I have been subjected to. I will never be able to get the time back I have missed with my children or rebuild the relationships I have lost. 

“My dad passed away before my conviction was quashed and I feel he died not knowing the truth.” 

At Mr Page’s trial, the Post Office relied heavily on Horizon data to evidence that he had stolen the missing £282,000 form his branch account.

At this successful appeal in 2021, the judge was damning in his assessment of the Post Office’s investigation: 

“Despite the fact that Horizon’s reliability was plainly raised by the defence, there is no evidence of any investigation into the root cause of the shortfall.” 

“There was no evidence to corroborate the Horizon evidence. There was no proof of an actual loss as opposed to a Horizon generated shortage.” 

Paula Vennells faacing questions over her part in the Horizon scandal. Credit: ITV News

Less than four weeks after the meeting between Mrs Van Den Bogerd and Mr Warmington, she was called to give evidence to MPs about Horizon alongside then Post Office Chief Executive Mrs Vennells.

She sat next to Mrs Vennells as the Post Office boss told the committee that the organisation had found no evidence of any miscarriages of justice.  

Mrs Van Den Bogerd told MPs there is “not a culture of denial” at the Post Office, “we have not dragged our feet” and that she had “done a thorough investigation” into hundreds of cases.  

Mark Baker worked for the Communication Workers Union who represented dozens of wrongly accused sub-postmasters.

He gave evidence at the same select committee hearing, appearing just before Angela Van Den Bogerd gave her testimony in February 2015. 

“My jaw was hanging open when I was hearing them deny these things,” Mark Baker tells ITV News

Mr Baker says he was shocked by what she told MPs. 

“My jaw was hanging open when I was hearing them deny these things,” he told ITV News. 

“I myself had told them there is a strong likelihood that the cases that I had been dealing with were as a result of Horizon faults.  

"So for both herself and Paula Vennells to deny that there was anything wrong with Horizon, well they were lying through their teeth.” 

ITV News approached Mrs Van Den Bogerd for comment.

She said: “I am cooperating fully with the Inquiry and will be giving evidence later this month. I will not be making any comment outside the Inquiry process.” 

Mr Page’s solicitor told ITV News: “Mr Page reserves comment until Mrs Van Den Bogerd gives evidence at the Post Office Inquiry on April 25th, which he will be observing with keen interest.”  

ITV News has approached the Post Office for comment.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We reiterate our heartfelt apology to victims in the Horizon IT Scandal and our focus remains on supporting the ongoing Public Inquiry to establish the truth of what happened so those affected can receive the justice and redress they so deserve.”

Second Sight’s Mr Warmington told ITV News he could not comment on the recording as he has been designated a Core Participant in the ongoing Post Office Inquiry and have undertaken confidentiality agreements.

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