Post Office: Wrongly jailed postmaster praises TV drama

January 5, 2024 12:29 pm

[Source: BBC]

A wrongly jailed former sub-postmaster says a new TV drama about the Horizon Post Office scandal is important in getting the story to a wider audience.

Noel Thomas, 77, from Anglesey, was one of more than 700 convicted in the miscarriage of justice.

“I think it’s going to bring it home for a lot of people,” said the man sent to prison for false accounting in 2006, whose conviction was quashed in 2021.

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ITV’s Mr Bates vs The Post Office tells the tale of the lives that were ruined.

Responding to the programme the Post Office said it “sincerely apologises to the victims”.

Mr Thomas, from Gaerwen, said the four-part series, which stars Detectorists actor Toby Jones, was hugely important in securing a bigger voice for victims.

“We’ve been a small unit of about 500 of us but it hasn’t really got out there until now, and hopefully this programme will get to reach more viewers.

“It’s been 18 years for me and it’s been hell for a lot of people.”

One of the reporters who worked to uncover the truth was former BBC Wales reporter Sion Tecwyn.

He makes reference to one scene in the series where many postmasters come together and realise the scale of the IT issues.

“The message every sub-postmaster in Noel’s position got from the Post Office was, ‘You’re on your own – there is no one else, so there can’t be a problem with the computer’.

“It was vitally important for them to understand they weren’t alone and there were hundreds and hundreds of them.”

In 2021 the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of Mr Thomas and 38 others.

It was the UK’s most widespread miscarriage of justice, with prosecutions based on flawed information from the Horizon computer system.

An independent public statutory inquiry is due to continue this year.

Actor Ifan Huw Dafydd played Mr Thomas in the series and spoke of his courage.

“Noel’s story goes far beyond the parameters of the script,” he said.

“He lost his business – not just the post office but also his shop.

“He was a county councillor and had lost that job too.”

He described him as a “hero who, through everything, came through with a smile on his face”.

Mr Thomas has now received interim compensation, but is due more.

Responding to the series the Post Office said: “We sincerely apologise to the victims for the devastating impact of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal on the lives of so many.

“We are doing all we can to provide redress and urge anyone affected who has not yet come forward to do so.”