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Who is Tim Parker? Former Post Office chair appearing at inquiry

The Post Office Horizon IT inquiry continues today, when Tim Parker, the former chair of Post Office Ltd. will give evidence.

Mr Parker will be the latest senior figure to give testimony as part of the Horizon scandal that led to hundreds of sub-postmasters being wrongly convicted of stealing money.

The public inquiry, which began in February 2021, has heard evidence from Post Office and Fujitsu employees.

The fifth phase began on 9 April, with campaigner Alan Bates claiming that the Post Office had spent 23 years trying to “discredit and silence” him.

Paula Vennells, chief executive of the Post Office between 2012 and 2019, gave evidence for three days in late May.

She began by saying sorry to the sub-postmasters and their families “who have suffered as a result of all that the inquiry has been looking into for so long”.

Who is Tim Parker?

Tim Parker and Paula Vennells at the opening of the Nyetimber Post Office branch in 2016 (Photo: Chris Ison/PA)

Tim Parker is a British businessman and multimillionaire who has been chairman of the National Trust, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and Post Office Ltd.

From 1986 to 2014, he was successively the CEO of Kenwood, Clarks Shoes, Kwik-Fit, the AA and Samsonite.

Born in Hampshire in 1955, he went to the independent Abingdon School, before studying philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Pembroke College, Oxford.

Upon graduating, he worked as a junior economist in HM Treasury from 1977 to 1979.

In 2004, Mr Parker was appointed CEO of CVC Capital Partners and Permira, and purchased the AA from Centrica for £1.75bn.

During the following two years, he carried out a major restructuring programme, cutting one third of the company’s 10,000 jobs. Mr Parker was given the moniker the “Prince of Darkness” by trade unions, as a consequence.

From 7 July to 19 August 2008, Mr Parker was the first deputy mayor of London, under Boris Johnson. He was also chairman of Transport for London and CEO of the Greater London Authority during that period, before resigning.

His wealth was estimated at £247m by The Sunday Times Rich List in 2018.

Mr Parker continues to be a trustee of the Royal Academy of Music.

How was Tim Parker involved in the Post Office scandal?

Mr Parker became chairman of Post Office Ltd in October 2015 in the midst of an ongoing dispute between the company and numerous sub-postmasters regarding its Horizon computer system.

In December 2019, the Post Office agreed to a £58m settlement, and a High Court judge ruled that bugs, errors and defects in the Horizon system caused shortfalls in branch accounts.

Speaking in 2020, Mr Parker said: “I am sincerely sorry on behalf of the Post Office for historical failings, which seriously affected some postmasters.

“Post Office is resetting its relationship with postmasters with reforms that prevent such past events ever happening again.

“Post Office wishes to ensure that all postmasters entitled to claim civil compensation because of their convictions being overturned are recompensed as quickly as possible.

“Therefore, we are considering the best process for doing that.”

He resigned as chairman of Post Office Ltd on 30 September 2022.

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