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The prime minister backed calls for Alan Bates to be knighted
By Thomas Mackintosh
BBC News

Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates who led the campaign for justice in the Post Office Horizon scandal has said he will reject an offer of compensation from the government.

The government confirmed plans for “full and fair compensation” to sub-postmasters affected by the IT scandal in 2022.

Alan Bates told the Daily Telegraph the offer was “offensive” and “cruel”.

He added it is “around a sixth” of what he requested.

Mr Bates’s two-decade fight inspired the recent ITV series which told the story of hundreds of sub-postmasters and postmistresses who were wrongly prosecuted after faulty computer software calculated money was missing from post office branches.

The Post Office brought many of the cases to court itself, and between 1999 and 2015, it prosecuted 700 people – an average of one person a week.

In 2017, a group of 555 sub-postmasters took legal action against the Post Office and two years later it agreed to pay them £58m in compensation, but much of the money was swallowed up by legal fees.

Watch: Former sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses talk to BBC Breakfast

Mr Bates, who took over a Post Office counter in Llandudno, north Wales in 1998, was among more than 500 people who received an average of about £20,000 after the High Court ruling in 2019.

Although campaigners won the right to have their cases reconsidered, only 95 convictions had been overturned.

The government has promised to quash their convictions and pay compensation.

Mr Bates said an offer had been made by the government on Wednesday,

It came 111 days after his claim – prepared with the help of forensic accountants engaged by his lawyers – had been submitted.

Mr Bates said: “Full and fair might be His Majesty’s Government’s interpretation, but in reality the offer is derisory, offensive and after all this time, yes, cruel.

“I will absolutely be turning this offer for financial redress down.

“It’s just a terrible way to treat human beings – and I have heard from several sub-postmasters who have received similarly derisory offers, while others are still waiting.”

Toby Jones starred in ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office, which aired earlier this month

Previously, the government said it would “swiftly exonerate and compensate” those affected.

Victims will be able to sign a form to say they are innocent, in order to have their convictions overturned and claim compensation.

A government spokesman said: “If any applicant to the GLO (Group Litigation Order) scheme feels that they are owed more than is being offered, we are happy to discuss the evidence with their legal advisers.

“If we can’t agree, decisions will be made by an independent panel that includes legal and accountancy experts, who ensure fair redress based on the evidence.”

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