Wednesday 15 May 2024


Paula Vennells told to not allow ‘malcontents’ to pollute public service mission

Former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells was briefed to not allow the “self-indulgence of a number of malcontents” to “pollute our public service mission” ahead of a meeting with MPs.

The Horizon IT inquiry heard that the company’s current government affairs and policy director Patrick Bourke believed the potential unsafe convictions of subpostmasters “pales into insignificance to the bigger, social, mission of the Post Office”.

Mr Bourke, who appeared remotely at the probe on Wednesday, said he regretted using the “florid language” and that it was “born of a sense of frustration”, which he used during his time as programme manager for what was known as the mediation scheme.

The inquiry was shown the briefing note, which was prepared by Mr Bourke for Ms Vennells ahead of a meeting with a group of MPs following a telephone call with Lord Arbuthnot in October 2014.

Remarkably obtuse language, it reminds me of Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment. 

What could anyone else do to “pollute our public service mission” even further? Orchestrate a grossly repressive and ludicrously costly over-reaction to a pandemic? I suppose malcontents might say so.


DiscoveredJoys said...

This is the language of the Collectivists - "do not pollute our public service mission", "do not bring the Church into disrepute", "do not expose the Party to criticism".

While the bad behaviour (or the disloyal behaviour) of some may harm the opinions about the 'collective' the collective is only a set of individuals working together for a greater goal. But the ends do not justify the means, and self serving means sabotage the well meaning ends.

Sam Vega said...

Fairly common in bureaucracies, I think. Someone gets given a task, and they focus relentlessly, as if wearing blinkers. All sense of context and background fades away. I bet if the scandal had not erupted, they would be full of self-congratulation for being tough, effective managers.

A K Haart said...

DJ - yes, we seem to have a permanent problem with senior people who cannot deal effectively with uncertainty and the prospect of being wrong or misguided. The resulting damage can be much greater than admitting and resolving the problem early. Net Zero is a huge example.

Sam - it goes very deep too, smart motorways being an example where planners must have known that deaths would be caused. A few people may have walked away from the project because of that, but it is likely that most did not.