Mr Bates vs. The Post Office (2024) s01e03 Episode Script

Episode 3

The computer system Post
Office spent an arm and a leg on
is faulty.
I haven't got that money!
The losses must have been caused
by Mr Castleton's own error.
You're inside subpostmasters'
Horizon and he doesn't know?
We're ready to mount
and fund an independent review.
Mr Rutherford's organisation,
Second Sight,
will be working for us, the MPs,
and therefore indirectly for you.
They had no right
to take you to court at all.
They destroyed our whole life
for a lie?
Alan, it's Paula Vennells.
Where do we go from here?
Sorry, Martin, I hit every red
light on the way here, mate.
- You get later every day.
- Oh, come on.
You don't get no more cheerful, pal.
- Just need to get home.
- Ah, we all do, mate. Long day?
They're all long days.
Any specials with these?
Giro pouch. Cheque pouch.
- I'll have to come back for them.
- Yeah.
Please! No don't!
Stay there! Don't look at me!
Come on, hurry up!
- Please!
- Hurry up!
Go, go, go, go!
Martin, let's talk about
what happened.
The total loss to Post Office funds
that day were £54,354.96.
The police were there
in five minutes.
They got most of it back.
This is a culpability interview,
You had the parcel hatch open
and the safe.
In accordance with section 12,
paragraph 18
- of the subpostmasters' contract
- Martin?'re bound to take
reasonable precautions
to safeguard official cash
and property.
You are therefore contractually
liable for an amount of
Seven and a half thousand pounds?
So now the armed robbery
is our fault, too.
It wasn't the robbery
that got me sacked.
Sacked? What?
I'm already under investigation
for the Horizon shortfalls,
and now the robbery.
Three months' notice.
Oh, Martin.
For four years of, every day,
opening that door, waiting for
For what?
For the day to end.
"Terminated for continued
poor accounting performance,
"not operating individual
stock units correctly.
' "Failure to make good losses
in a timely manner."
'They're just going on'
and on about the contract
and blaming Martin for everything,
never accepting
it's Horizon's fault.
How big did the shortfalls get?
£61,000 altogether.
'They've had our savings already.
'And our parents'.'
Alan, we've nothing left to give.
- OK.
- Wow!
Every time we meet,
there's more of us
- There's the vegetarian ones
- Thank you.
..and we're always ravenous.
Have we eaten Alan?
That phone is a full-time job.
And the effect it had
on the family was
I mean, not just me and Lisa,
but, you know, the kids, we
I mean, we had to move
the schools, you know,
cos of the bullying.
And then our daughter,
Millie-Jo, she hit her teens and
..just stopped eating.
It was anorexia.
And they say don't blame yourselves.
But you do.
- Yeah, of course you do.
- And nobody understands, do they?
Jo's always been very kind to us,
hasn't she?
- We call her, "Mum".
- Yeah.
- If she's Mum, what's Alan?
- Dad?
We don't call him Dad.
Alan's the godfather.
Shall we, eh, crack on?
Yep. The Don has spoken.
- You all right?
- Yeah.
The thing is, Alan, I'm not sure
my computer was really the problem.
I just had endless power cuts.
36 of them in one day.
If you get a power cut in the
middle of a transaction, poof!
No wonder it comes out wrong.
You see, erm, my husband died
and I took over.
It was just before
Horizon was installed.
But then they didn't put the new
electricity lines in properly.
Oh, Pam. Really?
Doesn't it just go to show
how absolutely bloody useless
they can be about
the simplest bloody things?
I told them
when they closed me down, I said
.."If you can prove
that I stole that money,
"then send the police round,
send them now."
Since then, I have not slept.
And I've been scared
every waking moment,
expecting that knock on the door.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
You've got nothing to
be sorry for, Pam.
I'm just so I'm just so angry.
I hate being so angry!
If I ever say
I'm going to give this up,
remind me about people like Pam.
So, to, er, to recap, er,
my chat with Paula Vennells has
resulted in a new investigation
and mediation scheme which
will allow all of us to apply
for the compensation we deserve.
Even people like me and Jo?
Alan's got their commitment here
in black and white.
The Post Office says
you may put your case
through the mediation scheme,
even if you've already received
a police caution
or been subject to a criminal
prosecution or conviction.
If we got our money back.
And our good names.
An apology, even.
- Steady on.
- Or just getting to the truth.
So, with your agreement,
Kay and I will defend your interests
every step of the way.
We will look into each individual
case and fight our corner.
I know, but, Alan,
do you trust them?
I mean, do we trust them? Really?
..they're putting money
and effort into it,
and it's coming from the top, so
Well, it's got to be worth a try.
Shall we have a vote?
All those in favour?
42 pence change.
- Book of six first-class stamps, please.
- There you go, thank you.
- £3.60.
- Sorry?
'For a long time,
he suspected the staff, you know,
'of stealing from the tills.
'The bad feeling
that's still causing.
'But if it wasn't them,
then it had to be his fault,
'like he's stupid, which he isn't.'
That was before,
before we knew about the Horizon thing.
Can I talk to him?
'Well, he won't talk to me
about it, even now.'
It drives me mad.
I know he's got depression.
He's a proud father, and I think
he thinks he's failed us.
'Failed our family.'
put him on.
It's Alan Bates.
He wants to talk to you.
Please, Martin.
Listen. Martin
you're not alone.
There's a lot of us, and
'there's a new scheme
you can apply for.
'I'm going to send you the forms.
'Martin, you might get
some of your money back.'
..I can't talk to you right now.
People are trying to help here!
'I'm so sorry. Erm'
- He's just He's
- 'It's OK, Gina.'
I'll send you the forms,
but get him to apply.
It's important.
I'll try.
Bloody traffic.
- Hi.
- Oh, hi.
I'm a little late for a meeting
with Susan Crichton.
Bob. Good to see you.
Susan's left us.
New times, new opportunities.
Moving forward,
I'll be your main point of contact.
'This is Susan Crichton.
I have left the Post Office.
'Thank you for NOT leaving
a message.'
..we need to talk.
'I'm not bloody signing up
to this nonsense.'
The Post Office want me to stay on,
but it's pointless.
They've unilaterally taken away
our access to
the legal and prosecution files.
I can't investigate in a blindfold
with both hands tied behind my back.
Alan, professionally,
I just can't do it.
Bob, grit your teeth.
We can't do this without you.
I don't know
why you're doing it at all.
You do know why.
We have to go to mediation
because we can't afford to go
it alone.
You're an idiot to trust them, Alan.
I think they're mostly
just a bunch of lying bastards.
And I think they're wasting
your time and mine.
Bob, if you walk away now,
you'll never find out
which of those bastards IS lying,
what they knew and when.
And you'll never find out what
happens at the end of the story.
We must both be mad.
We are. Pint?
Big day tomorrow.
Your appeal against dismissal.
Why don't I run you a bath?
It'll relax you.
I'm all right. I'm OK, I'm OK.
Please let me wash these clothes,
you've been wearing them for days.
- Don't you wanna wash your hair, love?
- No. Stop.
- For tomorrow!
- Gina.
It's a big day.
- All I'm saying is
- Gina Gina
..we could just make a little bit
of an effort to look nice.
Gina, leave me alone, please.
'We've been over this.'
A parcel hatch is about that big.
Then you've got a sack of mail,
which is
You know how big
a sack of mail is, yeah?
Once they were in with weapons,
even if the safe was closed,
what would you do if they threatened
you and said, "Open the safe!"?
I hope you're having
a fabulous morning.
The time is now coming up to 6:20AM,
and it's time
for a little traffic update.
It looks like there's congestion
on the M62,
and it's building up
to the Runcorn turn-off.
You're off early, love.
- Morning.
- Where is he?
- We don't know.
- Martin?
It's not working.
I know it's not the other one.
- It's
- Are you Mrs Griffiths?
- Can we have a word in private?
- N
No, I
Hmm. Of course.
Thanks for letting me know.
He never regained consciousness.
Gina's had to agree
to switch off life support.
Oh, Alan!
Blood on their hands now.
He had kids, Lee.
I know.
I expect he thought
he was doing them a favour.
- Are you doing it, ever?
- No, no.
No. Not really.
- Sorry.
- Sorry.
..think about it. I'm sorry.
Don't you
don't you ever do that!
I can't have you feeling bad about
this for the rest of your life.
I'd have just walked away.
I could have just shut the shop.
Just put us on a slow boat
to China. I could have done that.
And they'd have chased us all the
way to China for that money, Lee.
They were never going to let go.
I know you did it for us.
I can't think straight.
I don't know what to do.
It's really very good of you
to come.
We're all so sorry for your loss.
It was four days
before his notice ran out,
and he still hadn't told the staff
he'd been sacked.
Yes, it's very hard.
And his appeal
against being fined for the robbery,
it didn't come to anything.
They didn't decide one way
or the other.
I used to get so cross with him,
I never did understand the problem,
and he couldn't explain it,
just every morning going to work
and saying he was desperate.
He was really desperate.
Every morning, the same words.
"I hate it."
"I can't bear it."
For years.
Can you imagine?
We, er
..we're going to do right by you,
You can rely on us.
So, as we launch
this mediation scheme,
I can confirm our agreement
that Martin Griffiths' case
will be dealt with
as a priority by this working group.
Now, you've also received
a request from the family
that any approaches to Gina
should come through me.
Yes. Yes, we are happy
to agree to this, too.
- Shall we declare this mediation
scheme up and running? - Yes.
We have a long list
of cases to examine.
So let's get started.
Right, then, start with Martin.
First things first
Mr Griffiths.
'Profits falling, Mrs Vennells.
'Government subsidy on its way out.
'That means a reckoning
is on the horizon, does it not?'
'It does, absolutely.'
And the whole point
about this investment programme
is to make sure we have models
that are commercially sustainable.
- 'And my ambition would be'
- Yes.
- ..that within three to four years' time
- Horizon.
..the Post Office doesn't need
to take taxpayers' money
to support those post offices
that can be commercially profitable.
'So, Paula,
if you don't mind me asking,
- 'you're CEO of the Post Office'
- Ask her about Horizon.
'..but you're also a priest
in the Church of England.
'How do you combine
those two roles?'
Very good, thank you.
- Good to see you.
- Thank you very much.
Just one thing.
This, erm, Horizon business.
- Anything in it?
- I beg your pardon?
Some lurid allegations out there.
Well, er
Well, after two and a half years
of investigations,
it is now clear
that the Horizon system is robust
and works as it should.
Thank you.
'And God said to Solomon'
"Ask for whatever
you want me to give you."
And Solomon said
"Give your servant
a discerning heart
"to govern your people
"and to distinguish
between right and wrong."
The Lord was pleased
that Solomon had asked for this.
So God said to him
"I will do what you have asked.
"I will give you
a wise and discerning heart."
I've been preparing for this
mediation hearing for months.
You will remember
that I asked to see this data,
the ARQ data from your system,
so that I could see
if it matched up to my data
from my till in my branch.
I kept everything, you see.
Now, you told me
I wouldn't be capable
of interpreting the ARQ data
because I was a silly woman
or something.
Anyway, may I direct you
to page seven?
Now, you will clearly see
a two-hour period
when money alterations
were being put in,
but not by me,
because I was serving customers.
There is no functionality
in the Horizon system
to remotely access branch terminals.
I just proved there is!
Mrs Stubbs,
we have to tell you now that,
at this mediation meeting,
we are under no legal
or moral obligation
to do anything whatsoever.
And we are working on the principle
of the contract,
which says that if you lose money,
you repay it.
I'm finished with this, actually.
I'm finished with you.
See, I think you're lying to me.
- Mrs Stubbs, calm
- And I KNOW you're patronising me.
And I'm going to tell
the whole world what you are like.
May I remind you that you have
signed a non-disclosure agreement?
I'll talk to anyone who will listen,
I'll stand up with all my papers,
and I will prove
you lied about this.
Mrs Stubbs, this will have
legal ramifications
You want to take me to court?
I couldn't give a toss!
'The way they treat people
'They are despicable!
'I have never, ever been made
to feel like this'
' my entire life.
Pam? Pam?
You're You're breaking up.
I mean, are they lying
or or just stupid?
For a while there,
right at the start of mediation got close to trusting them,
didn't you?
despite every awful story
they've heard,
despite all the work we've done,
they still don't get it.
They actually believe they're right.
I understand your impatience,
of course I do.
But, Alan, really?
Four closely typed
pages of complaint?
"Finding the truth is the last thing
they're interested in"?
Well, that's been our experience
of their investigation.
Well, will you at least acknowledge
that, before writing to
the minister,
it might possibly have been useful
to raise your concerns with Paula?
Martin Griffiths is dead.
Yes, I know.
I, too, am concerned
about the length of time
mediation is taking,
but Paula is very exercised.
I'm sorry, James, but, ha, these
mediation hearings are a joke.
Well, let's just ask Paula
about that, shall we?
'No, we have not dragged our feet.'
I've had 22 people working on this,
full-time, for more than a year.
But not a single case finalised.
And now I am told
that people are walking out
of their mediation meetings.
Yes, it has taken longer
than we would've liked.
As chief executive
of the Post Office,
I could not put this scheme in place
and not do it properly.
The system and the people
who work in our branches
are too important for that.
Well, at least we can agree
on that one.
Let's be clear,
we still have allegations here
of miscarriage of justice.
Our lawyers advise the correct route
for challenges
to criminal prosecutions
- is via the Criminal Cases Review Commission
- Hold on.
- Hold on.
- the Appeal Court.
- No, you made promises, Paula.
- You promised me personally
that my constituent, Jo Hamilton,
whom I believe was wrongly convicted
and with whom all of this started,
would be eligible for mediation.
Our lawyers advise
that no mediation scheme
has the power to overturn
a criminal conviction.
Paula, this is quite wrong.
You have broken your word to me.
And you have broken your word
to the subpostmasters.
You have broken your word
to Parliament.
'Post Office has broken its word
'to Members of Parliament
in so many different respects.
'It may, of course, be that
the trade of subpostmastering
'was infiltrated
by a sudden rash of criminals.
'I have met a lot of these people,
and I personally do not believe it.
'Frankly, I no longer trust
the Post Office
'and will not be negotiating
with it further.
'It has spent public money
on a mediation scheme
'that it has set out to sabotage.'
He says he can get some interest
from the select committee.
Oh, not another talking shop.
I'm looking forward to it.
Probably more than Paula.
Is it possible to
access the system remotely or not?
I hope it is
that we know it is not possible,
and that we're able to explain
why that is.
I need to be able to say,
"No, it is not possible,
"and we're sure of this
because of X, X, X."
I need the facts.
That's Paula.
She looks very smart.
Very corporate.
Who's the other one?
Angela van den Bogerd.
The gruesome twosome.
Don't they have any blokes
at the Post Office?
'I have spent a lot
of the past 12 months'
Yes! Come on, Bob.
..requesting access to documents
that have been challenged.
One issue we're looking into relates
to Fujitsu's office in Bracknell.
Now, we first requested
documents relating to that
almost two years ago,
and we have still not been provided
with those documents.
Erm, may I respond?
We did provide
a year's worth of emails
that Second Sight requested.
those emails that were provided
were for the wrong year.
That seems to me an amazing error.
Are there any other issues?
Probably most important
would be full access
to the legal and prosecution files
held by the Post Office.
Paula, why don't you
make those files available?
What's the problem?
- The point I want to pick up first, if I may
- No, no.
Answer my question.
Er, it is the first time,
personally, that I've heard that.
I'm happy to go away
and have a look.
They've been told that
under no circumstances
could they be given those files.
Is that right or wrong?
I I do not recall that, no.
And you can piss right off.
That sounds to me like a shambles.
We are hearing from Bob
that your organisation
has been obstructive
to his independent work.
Is that right or wrong?
We have provided,
for every single case,
detailed, thorough,
independent investigation.
Let me stop you there.
We've just heard from Bob,
who is independent,
that you have not.
You are the head
of the organisation.
Will you provide the information,
yes or no?
This is the first time that I have
been asked for this information.
- Yes or no?
- I am not aware
Will you provide it? Yes or no?
- 'Give me a simple answer.'
- Yes or no?
'I am not prepared, on behalf
of the Post Office to give'
I think I've got my answer.
You won't provide it.
No, you have not got your answer.
You have not heard a yes or no.
I am simply saying, at the moment,
I am not able to answer
your question.
I find it quite astonishing
that you don't seem to know anything
about an issue that is so
politically and socially sensitive.
I know a huge amount about this.
I know the really important things.
You are the chief executive,
so the buck stops with you.
It does stop with me.
I am not denying at all
that there are problems.
Of course there are.
There are problems
in any organisation.
But this is about the reputation
of the Post Office.
No, it's not! It's about
people's lives, you moron.
Slaughtered her.
Paula's face.
She had no idea what just happened.
Gina Griffiths has pulled out
of the mediation scheme.
- Well, that can't be right.
- Alan would've known that.
Unless they went to her
behind our backs.
What kind of people go back
on a promise to a grieving widow?
It's not a huge amount of money.
Not, you know, life-changing.
And in return,
you had to pull out of mediation.
I've got nothing coming in, Alan.
I was gonna have to sell the house
just to live.
I imagine they also got you to sign
a non-disclosure agreement,
promising not to talk to anyone
about Martin's case.
I shouldn't even be speaking to you.
They rang up, Alan.
They said it was a one-day offer.
If I didn't say yes
by the end of the day, then
I'm sorry.
It's all right, really.
I understand.
I don't blame you.
When Angela came to see me
Angela Van den Bogerd came here?
She was nice I thought. Kind.
Now I don't know about any of them.
I think you just
We just cling to a notion,
don't we?
That people can't be that bad.
Hello, Angela.
Oh, good news.
No more reports for Bob to write.
No more need for you
to trail down to London.
No more working group meetings.
'A new way forward.'
You're closing down
the mediation scheme?
No, no, no. No, no no.
Not Not closing it down.
We're simplifying it.
'We're taking it in-house.
'We'll decide each case
Closing it down.
After 18 months,
it's in everyone's interest
to speed things along now,
don't you think?
- Well, if that's what you want to do.
- 'Oh.'
Well, good to talk.
'Bye, Alan.'
Goodbye, Angela.
Oh, you sods.
I'm calling to tell you
that I'm not allowed
to talk to you any more.
Sacked again, eh? That was quick.
Well, I considered pointing out
that they're not allowed
to just kick you and me
off the working group.
Well, they're not allowed
to go around ruining people's lives
or breaking their promises.
But since when
did that ever stop them?
'They are not just dropping us,
'They're rubbing our noses in it.'
They're making us destroy or return
every single document they gave us.
The whole investigation.
Three years' work up in smoke.
'I'm so sorry, Alan.'
Nice knowing you, Bob.
Yeah. Goodbye, Alan.
Oh, there you are.
They're going ahead
without me, without Bob,
without anyone fighting.
Our members' corner.
Did look at paint charts, but
in the end,
I think I just want white.
I'll get it done this weekend,
erm help take my mind off it.
You what?
Yeah, so, erm
..test came back positive.
Hardly time to catch a cold,
is there? Let alone get cancer.
You'll outlive me.
They'll operate.
It'll be fine.
I'll live. I want to live.
I have to.
See some bastards go to prison.
I'll put the kettle on.
Mm. Still here, then?
Tough old bird.
I've, er
- I've been thinking.
- Oh, God.
No, no.
If we can't find a lawyer
by, I don't know, December
..maybe it's time to call it a day.
You once said to me,
"If I ever start talking
about giving up"
That was then.
Don't you dare give up
on account of me, Alan.
Well, I'm not.
It's just, you know
..12 years is long enough
to keep banging my head
against a brick wall.
Don't you dare!
Cos that would mean
the last 12 years of my life
meant nothing, too.
New plan, then.
Oh, well, maybe you could've
fought me a bit harder there.
What about if we all apply,
all of us,
to see everything
the Post Office has got on us?
Horizon logs, investigation reports,
accounts, all of it.
And, er
And then, if we can see them,
I think we've got
a much better chance
You have a lovely day.
And don't dawdle
when Mummy comes to pick you up.
Are you gonna come in and help?
No, darling, not today.
Bye-bye, Joshua.
Granny Jo loves you.
You were only gonna be
helping them make paper hats.
Yeah, it's not the school's fault.
They can't let me be alone
with the children
when they know
I've got a criminal record.
Oh, God.
- Come on.
- Mum, will you stop it?
- This all right?
- Yeah.
It's fine. Love a toast-based meal.
Are you all right?
Never was any good to me, was it,
all that defective equipment?
Never did manage to pop
any babies out of it.
And, you know
when you think about
the life we ended up having
maybe it's OK
the children never came along.
I'm here, sorry.
Oh, I think this might be
what I've been waiting for.
- Exciting.
- Signature there, please.
- Cheers.
- 'Do they think we're idiots or what?
'146 pages blacked out.
It's ridiculous.'
Can you make any sense
of exactly what's been redacted?
No, I can't tell, it's all black.
But I'll tell you
what's definitely not there.
The memo from my investigator.
The one where he admitted
there's no evidence against me.
'The one that proves
it's a miscarriage of justice.'
'The subpostmasters
applied to see this information,
'as is their right,
'and the Post Office think
they can just refuse to share it.
'It's simply inexplicable.'
What the Post Office is saying
is this.
That there have been
about half a million users
of the Horizon system
since it was introduced in 2001,
involved in Post Office business,
and that only 150 people
have applied to the mediation scheme
for events
spanning more than a decade.
The Post Office is saying
that the idea that there is
widespread unfairness
is simply not true.
Well, I would disagree.
These are people who have been
pillars of the community,
who've had their reputations
dragged through the mud,
who who've been sent to prison,
some of them,
and I understand that at least one
has committed suicide.
And, Mrs Hamilton
you believe that you have done
nothing wrong?
I have done nothing wrong.
'I did not take a penny
from the Post Office,
'but unfortunately,
the contract which runs the'
Excuse me, could you just
turn the radio up? Thanks.
'..many of us in the Justice
For Subpostmasters Alliance
'didn't receive a copy of,
says quite clearly
'the postmaster is contractually
responsible for the losses.'
That's great.
'We did ask the Post office
for an interview.
'No-one was available.'
'Alan Bates?'
'Hi, Alan. My name's James Hartley.
I'm a solicitor.
'Yeah, I just heard
the Radio 4 piece.
'I I think I can help.'
'I always say to lawyers,
'we're fighting a war
against an enemy
'owned by the British government,
'which means they have mighty forces
'and bottomless pockets
funded by the taxpayer.'
While we're just
skint little people.
Well, I specialise in contract law,
and this contract is
114 pages of complete rubbish.
- I only got the two-page version.
- It's unfair.
It's out of date.
It even says you're not allowed
to gamble on the premises.
Yeah, when we've got
lottery terminals, yeah.
But, you know, we all signed it,
or some version of it, so
Well, yes, but
a contract that is not properly
understood by both parties
is not necessarily legally binding.
Look, I think it may be possible
to raise the money
to fight them in court.
There are specialist funders
who are willing to take the risk,
but only if there are enough of you.
We had 130 applicants
to the mediation scheme
before the Post office destroyed it.
Well, how many would you need?
At least 500.
Well I can do that.
'Is that Alan Bates?'
Yeah. Who's this?
'I worked at Fujitsu
in technical support.
'I was gonna call you'
'..but I wanted to make sure you'
Hang on, hang on.
You're breaking up.
I'm going to pull over.
- Sorry, I got cut off.
- 'No, no.'
I I lost you.
I don't want anyone knowing
I'm talking to you.
Of course. I understand.
But they're lying. That's the point.
They say there's no remote access
to branch accounts,
but there was a whole room
full of us inside Fujitsu
working overnights,
doing thousands of corrections
on Horizon
while the postmasters slept.
Nobody's gonna admit it, obviously.
Are you still there?
Yes! Sorry.
Er, just getting comfortable.
Please, go on.
'We were just constantly
'Coding errors, bugs,
data corruption.
'Horizon was much worse
than I thought.
'It was shocking.
It needed scrapping, really.
'It was hard-coded and hard-designed
for a completely'
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