• Wednesday, May 29, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Post Office tried to discredit me, says Alan Bates

Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates looks on during the day he gives evidence at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, in London, April 9, 2024. REUTERS/Isabel Infantes

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

FORMER sub-postmaster and campaigner Alan Bates has said the Post Office tried to discredit him during his fight for justice in the Horizon IT scandal.

While giving evidence to the Post Office Horizon IT public inquiry, he accused the Post Office of lying about the accounting system.

He said he has spent 23 years campaigning to expose the truth and fought for the entire group of wrongly convicted sub-postmasters.

Bates said during this period, Post Office Limited lied and defended the Horizon IT system and tried to “discredit and silence me and the group of sub-postmasters”.

The campaigner claimed when Horizon was first installed he was positive as he had prior experience working with retailing and accounting software.

However, he soon found various glitches, including a lack of transparency over transaction data.

Bates repeatedly raised concerns in late 2000, but they were ignored.

His contract was terminated in 2003 after a prolonged dispute with the Post Office over Horizon.

He refused to repay Horizon-related sums without being shown sufficient evidence that he was responsible.

One internal Post Office document even stated that Bates was dismissed because he was “unmanageable”.

Bates said he was expecting to get sacked, because the Post Office officials were after him.

He is the first witness to give evidence to the fifth phase of the Post Office Horizon IT public inquiry into the scandal.

Between 1999 and 2015, hundreds of sub-postmasters, were wrongly prosecuted due to the faulty Horizon software, which showed errors that did not exist.

Bates founded the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, and led a group of 555 subpostmasters who took the Post Office to the High Court over the scandal.

He has been campaigning on behalf of sub-postmasters for decades, and recently ITV had produced a TV series based on the scandal Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

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