A FORMER Post Office investigator still believes a subpostmaster stole money from his branch despite a court overturning his wrongful conviction, the Horizon IT inquiry has heard.

Raymond Grant told the probe he considered William Quarm to still be guilty of stealing money from his Post Office branch in North Uist, Scotland, but denied that was the reason for not regarding the inquiry as a priority.

Quarm was convicted of embezzlement in 2010 and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He died two years later at the age of 69 and his conviction was successfully quashed in the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh last year.

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Grant also lamented the fact that “there was nobody paying me the salary to do the work that we’re here talking about today” as he was asked to recall his time at the Post Office.

He said he had to conduct research “in my own personal time” and had “spent some time in my sick bed reading” in preparation for giving evidence to the inquiry.

The probe heard Grant had to be forced to attend on Wednesday as his “time was limited” due to his “10 to 11-hour” working days and moving house.

He submitted a “minimum” witness statement that was a little over two pages long – arguing that he was looking after homeless residents in a Christian shelter during December where “there are a lot of activities going on”.

The National: Protestors outside the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC said he would see if the witness could improve on his statement, before adding: “Now that carol services and dog walking are out of the way”.

Beer asked the former investigator: “When you made a witness statement, did you think that Mr Quarm continued to be guilty of the crime of embezzlement?”

Grant replied: “Yes I did.”

Beer said: “Does that remain your view?”

Grant responded: “I’ve subsequently been advised that the verdict has been reversed so he is now not guilty of the offence.”

Beer pressed him: “I’m talking about in your mind.”

The former investigator said: “In my mind, I still think Mr Quarm had a role to play in the loss of the money.”

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Beer continued: “That’s a different answer to a different question – the question would be ‘did Mr Quarm have a role to play in the events?’ “The question I, in fact, asked was ‘Do you think, do you remain of the view, that he’s guilty of the crime?'”

Grant replied: “Yes I do.”

The counsel to the inquiry went on: “Despite the verdict of the High Court of Judiciary in Scotland?”

Grant said: “Yes.”

Beer then asked: “Was that amongst the reasons that you didn’t regard this inquiry as a priority?”

Grant responded: “No.”

The counsel to the inquiry said: “You haven’t said that to any of the solicitors in the inquiry before – ‘Mr Quarm was guilty, I don’t know why you’re asking me questions about this’.

Grant said: “If I’ve said that, then that would be my view at that time, yes.”

Beer continued: “‘It may be a priority for you investigating but it’s not a priority for me’. They would accord with your sentiments, wouldn’t they?”

Grant said: “Well I think you’re mixing up the priority.

“I’m talking about priorities that I had in my personal role 16 years on from being a Post Office investigator, working for another organisation who pay me my salary.

“There was nobody paying me the salary to do the work that we’re here talking about today.

“I was being asked to do that in my own personal time.”

He continued: “I do not think that it was a fair thing to ask me to do in such a short space of time, considering that this inquiry has been going on for a number of months and years.”

More than 700 branch managers were prosecuted by the Post Office after Fujitsu’s faulty accounting software, Horizon, made it look as though money was missing from their shops.

The saga prompted an outcry across the country after it was dramatised in the ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office earlier this month.

Hundreds of subpostmasters are awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.