Alan Bates: Toxic Post Office can’t get its act together

The former sub-postmaster told the BBC that the Post Office’s business model is “dead in the water”.
Alan Bates: Toxic Post Office can't get its act together
Alan BatesGetty Images

Post Office campaigner Alan Bates has slammed the firm as a “toxic organisation” that “cannot get its act together”.

Mr Bates said financial redress for sub-postmasters is “the real priority” as the firm’s bosses are engulfed in a row with the former chairman.

The former sub-postmaster Alan Bates led the campaign to expose the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

His work partly inspired the recent ITV drama which reignited public interest.

Referring to an evidence session in front of MPs on Tuesday, he told the BBC’s Today programme that victims of the scandal were being “dragged all over the place with one thing after another by this toxic organisation that cannot get its act together – and it’s just appalling.”

The Commons Business Select Committee heard claims that Post Office chief executive Nick Read had been threatening to resign over his pay packet.

MPs were also shocked by the revelation from the former chairman Henry Staunton that Mr Read was also under investigation by the Post Office’s human resources department. It came after MPs were told by witnesses earlier in the day that an internal investigation was under way into Mr Staunton over his alleged behaviour while he chaired the company.

On Wednesday, Mr Bates described the developments as a “sideshow”.

“[It is] the victims at the end of the day who are suffering because of all of this and that was the one thing that really got to me… It’s important to some people, all of this type of sideshow, but getting the money out to people has to be a priority.”


Liam Byrne, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, told the BBC: “What we saw yesterday is, chaos, frankly, when what we need is a clarity of purpose about getting money out the door.”

He added that “at best, about 20%” of a budget of roughly £1-1.2bn for compensation for victims of the scandal had been paid out.

During the hearing in Westminster, Mr Bates said that the bitter row that has broken out between government and Mr Staunton was a “distraction”, adding that the government needs to “get on and pay people”.

Mr Bates said that he wants the compensation scheme for victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal to speed up.

He continues to campaign for all sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses affected by the Horizon software failure and for fair compensation from the government.

Mr Bates’ two-decade fight inspired the recent ITV mini-series – Mr Bates vs the Post Office – which told the story of hundreds of sub-postmasters and postmistresses who were wrongly prosecuted after a faulty accounting system suggested money was missing from Post Office branches.

On Tuesday, he also questioned the framing of money due to sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses under the GLO scheme as “compensation”.

“It’s not – it’s financial redress. This is money these people are actually owed and they’ve been owed it for years.

“Compensation sounds like something at the benefit, at the whim, of the government and all the rest of it… Let’s get it right and let’s really push forward on that aspect,” he added.

Mr Bates founded the Justice for Sub-postmasters Alliance, and he and five others took the Post Office to the High Court in 2017.


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