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East Anglia subpostmasters join litigation action

PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 August 2017

Around 70 subpostmasters from East Anglia applied to join the Group Litigation Action against the Post Office. Picture by Leonard Owen

Around 70 subpostmasters from East Anglia applied to join the Group Litigation Action against the Post Office. Picture by Leonard Owen

Leonard Owen

Around 70 subpostmasters from East Anglia applied to join the Group Litigation Action against the Post Office regarding allegations of bullying and intimidation.

Of the 1,400 applicants from around the UK, 522 current and former subpostmasters were selected for the first wave of evidence to be served on the Post Office.

It is not clear at this stage how many of the 522 are from East Anglia.

Claimants allege that evidence shows a pattern of bullying and intimidation by Post Office Ltd from 1999 to present – allegations that are denied by Post Office.

It is alleged that problems with the Post Office Ltd’s point of sale computer system Horizon had erroneously showed financial shortfalls in post offices all around the UK.

Speaking on behalf of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA), Alan Bates said: “They aggressively interviewed subpostmasters experiencing problems with the Horizon accounting system, telling them they were the only ones with these problems, locking them in darkened rooms and insisting on searching their homes.

“Many were pressured to pay alleged balance shortfalls and to resign – often resulting in bankruptcy and loss of homes as well as jobs. Some were even pressured to admit to false accounting and subjected to criminal prosecutions – even though there was no evidence or any proceeds of crime.”

He said it was outrageous that a government owned entity engaged in a systemic pattern of bullying and threatening behaviour. “This litigation isn’t just about money but about lives being destroyed. The consequences of Post Office Ltd’s actions were devastating and include loss of homes and ability to earn an income, loss of reputation within their local community, stress related illness and, tragically, even death.”

James Hartley, Partner at Freeths, who is leading the group action: “The GLO (Group Litigation Order) will now enable the Court to manage this large-scale litigation to an efficient and just conclusion.

“We are confident that this will enable the full extent of this systemic behaviour by Post Office Ltd to be brought to light, wrongdoers held to account, victims compensated and hopefully a broken Post Office Ltd culture mended.”

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