Postmaster caught up in major IT scandal which saw many falsely accused of accounting fraud suffered a STROKE after he was hounded for £65,000
- Father Peter Murray had breakdowns and stroke after being hounded for money
- Postmasters tell public inquiry how their lives had been ruined over IT scandal
- Many were forced to the brink of financial disaster and had their health ruined
Postmasters caught up in a major IT scandal told an inquiry yesterday how their lives had been devastated.
Many were forced to the brink of financial disaster and had their health ruined by false accusations of accounting fraud.
Up to 2,500 Post Office staff were sacked, forced to repay cash or even wrongfully convicted and jailed over supposedly missing money.
Peter Murray said he suffered a series of breakdowns and a stroke after he was hounded for £65,000
It later emerged the shortfalls were probably the result of flaws and bugs in computer software.
The Daily Mail has campaigned for justice and the public inquiry opened yesterday with evidence from three sub-postmasters.
Peter Murray said he suffered a series of breakdowns and a stroke after he was hounded for £65,000. The 53-year-old, from Wallasey in Merseyside, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He said he was suspended without pay and forced to take out loans and borrow from friends to make monthly repayments to the Post Office.
He paid £1,000 a month before learning that he was among many sub-postmasters to face false accusations.
‘It left me completely devastated,’ added the father of three. ‘It caused absolute havoc for my family, I have had several nervous breakdowns. It made me feel like a convict, but I’m not going to let it beat me.’
The 53-year-old, from Wallasey in Merseyside, has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he was suspended without pay and forced to take out loans and borrow from friends to make monthly repayments to the Post Office
The High Court found that the Post Office was wrong to force sub-postmasters to pay for the discrepancies and 550 have been awarded a collective £58million in compensation.
But some victims, including Mr Murray, were not included in the legal action and are still fighting for settlements.
Shann Rodgers, from Goldsithney near Penzance in Cornwall, said the scandal had ruined her dream life running the village post office and her ordeal had left her feeling a shadow of her former self.
The 62-year-old was forced to raid savings she had put aside for her daughter’s university education and borrowed money from her elderly parents to meet her employer’s demands.
She said she could understand how some sub-postmasters had been driven to suicide, adding: ‘We have been treated like scum. This was our dream and they turned it into a nightmare.’
Mrs Rodgers said she had feared she would have to leave her home of 25 years if her neighbours found out about the ‘missing’ money, even though she had done nothing wrong.
She said she still had problems with the Post Office’s accounting system, adding: ‘It’s not better, they haven’t fixed it.’
Mark Baker, a sub-postmaster in Salisbury, Wiltshire, told the inquiry: ‘It’s the sense of burning injustice that they have been accused of doing something that they know they have not done. We have lost people through them taking their own lives.
‘Maybe other people have died early because of stress. We don’t feel that the company has fully accepted the wrongs of the past.’
Led by former High Court judge Wyn Williams, the Government-ordered inquiry has faced accusations it lacks the power to fully examine the scandal.
MPs have warned that it will not be able to compel witnesses to attend or be cross-examined, and that Sir Wyn cannot consider compensation claims.
Senior staff from the Post Office and Fujitsu, which developed the Horizon accounting software, will give evidence.
Post Office chairman Tim Parker recently apologised for ‘historical failings’ and said reforms would stop such events happening again.
Led by former High Court judge Wyn Williams, the Government-ordered inquiry has faced accusations it lacks the power to fully examine the scandal [File photo]