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Alan Bates ‘rejects second offer of compensation’ over Horizon IT scandal

Alan Bates’ two-decade fight for justice inspired the ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office (Lucy North/PA)
Alan Bates’ two-decade fight for justice inspired the ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office (Lucy North/PA)

Former subpostmaster and campaigner Alan Bates has reportedly rejected a second offer of compensation over the Horizon IT scandal.

The latest offer was a third of what he had requested, according to the BBC, and Mr Bates told the broadcaster it was “frustrating”.

Hundreds of subpostmasters are still awaiting full compensation after they were prosecuted by the Post Office and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015, as Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Mr Bates, whose two-decade fight for justice inspired the ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office, turned down a “derisory” offer from the Government earlier this year, which he said was only a sixth of what he had claimed.

At the time, Downing Street said the campaigner “deserves the right level of compensation” for his suffering.

Of the latest offer, Mr Bates told the BBC: “It’s frustrating for myself, frustrating for everyone.”

He referred to compensation data and said about 300 cases have yet to be resolved, adding: “It’s just not working quickly enough.

“People have lost 20 years of their lives and they’re still hanging on, we’ve also lost 70 odd people along the way.

“These delays are causing all sorts of problems for the families involved.”

Mr Bates said he may have to “look at other ways to progress the redress”, the BBC reported.

The Post Office declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Department for Business and Trade said: “We pay tribute to the incredible campaign that Alan has led and his determination to get justice for the thousands of innocent postmasters affected by this scandal.

“We have already paid out £202 million to postmasters across the three compensation schemes and as with any offer, if claimants are unhappy their cases can be resolved by an independent panel, which is made up of legal, medical, retail and accountancy experts, to ensure fair redress is offered based on the evidence.”

The department has received 187 claims as of April 30, made offers on 173 of these and paid 141.

Mr Bates had his contract terminated by the Post Office in 2003 after refusing to accept liability for shortfalls in the accounts at his branch in Llandudno, North Wales.

The Horizon IT inquiry has heard he first raised issues with the computer system in 2000, and on one day in December of that year he called the Post Office helpline seven times, with one call lasting about an hour.

In his evidence to the inquiry, Mr Bates said the Post Office was “an atrocious organisation” that was “beyond saving” and needed “disbanding”.