A copy of a recent Post Office Newsletter has come anonymously to my attention which throws into question some of the statements made by the Post Office Chairman (Mr Graham Cregeen) at the public meeting in Ramsey last Wednesday (26th November).
At the public meeting Mr Cregeen clearly stated that he was not aware of any Post Office Staff being told that they could not speak out about the closure of the Ramsey and Douglas Crown Post Offices and the loss of their jobs.
He also stated that the Post Office staff were free to speak and to make themselves heard.
This newsletter, issue 110 for the week ending 14th November (that’s three days before the staff were told they were being made redundant) clearly states:
We would like to remind staff, as employees of the Isle of Man Post Office it is essential we do not discuss any work related matters in public using social media or any other means of communication.
…It is our duty to also remind you that under the Official Secrets Act we as individuals do not have permission to discuss any business related information withour prior consent.
Doesn’t this read just like a gagging order? The timing of this “reminder” is extremely suspect as well.
What is also suspect is the way the Official Secrets Act is used in such a sweeping manner, applying it to “business related information”. As far as I can tell, this is utter nonsense, which makes me believe that it was used to intimidate Postal Workers into silence.
The Official Secrets Act makes it an offense to disclose information that “relates to security or intelligence, defence or international relations” – Unless there are additional provisions not contained in the primary legislation then i’m not entirely sure how the business operations of the Isle of Man Post Office fall into these categories.
On top of this, I have located a Freedom of Information request made in 2012 to the UK Government about the Royal Mail on this exact issue, asking if Royal Mail workers fall under the Official Secrets Act . The answer? No, they don’t.
The mention of the Official Secrets Act is a clear implied threat of prosecution, and is seriously concerning. I can easily understand why many Post Office workers felt they couldn’t speak out and exercise their democratic right to free speech.
It only remains to ask:
- Why did the Isle of Man Post Office issue this thinly veiled threat?
- Why did the Chairman of the Isle of Man Post Office state that he knew nothing about it?
- Why did the Chairman of the Isle of Man Post Office state that Postal Staff were free to speak about the “business related” closure of the Crown Offices, when this previously released newsletter stated quite clearly the opposite?