The Post Office claims the letter was sent by mistake and has issued an apology. But disgusted subpostmasters have labelled the action as "atrocious" and said it was another example of how the closures programme was being poorly handled.
Convenience Store has seen a copy of the letter, which was from Post Office programme director Sue Higgins. With the letter were a series of 'Key messages for customers/frequently asked questions', informing postmasters of responses they should give if asked about the closures.
The letter warned postmasters that anonymous representatives from the Post Office would visit to ensure that the key messages were being delivered in an 'accurate and professional manner'. It read: "Any compensation package offered to you if your branch is selected for closure shall be subject to you having complied, and continuing to comply, with this obligation up to the date of closure." It also urged postmasters not to communicate with the press.
One subpostmaster told
C-Store: "The whole thing is a stitch up. We've basically been told we'll miss out on compensation if we speak out of line. We understand the network has to be slimmed down, but it should be done openly."
Another added: "At our closures roadshow we were basically told to shut up, listen and do as we were told. The handling of the whole thing has been atrocious."
In an apology, Post Office managing director Alan Cook said: "This section was included in error. I am sorry that this misleading information was included and for the subsequent confusion and upset it has caused."