Post Office fight continues, says honoured campaigner

Sir Alan Bates sits in Bangor University library, wearing red, gold and black doctorate gown and a black suit, with a blue shirt and brown tie. Behind him are shelves of books.
Sir Alan Bates has received a honorary doctorate from Bangor University for his campaign over the Post Office computer scandal [BBC]

The man who led the campaign over the Post Office scandal says an honorary award adds another string to his bow in the continuing fight for justice.

Sir Alan Bates was awarded a honorary law doctorate by Bangor University to recognise his role, immortalised in the television drama Mr Jones Vs The Post Office.

The former sub-postmaster from Llandudno in Conwy, north Wales was given a knighthood in the King's birthday honours.

He told students at a graduation ceremony that if there was one lesson to take away from the scandal, it was to admit failures.

"One of the things the Post Office scandal shows quite vividly is that things go wrong," he said.

"But when things go wrong don't cover it up - because the cover-up can be worse than the crime."

Sir Alan lost his Post Office contract in 2003 over false claims there were cash shortfalls in his accounts.

Like thousands of other postmasters, he was a victim of errors made by the Horizon computer software installed in all UK post offices.

He founded the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance in 2009, taking on the Post Office in the courts.

It led to convictions against postmasters being quashed, and the launch of the ongoing Post Office inquiry.

However, Sir Alan said the battle for justice continues. He has turned down offers of compensation, which he described as "cruel" and "derisory".

"It's not over yet, by a long chalk," he said.

"We are still negotiating. I am just one of the many that are still stuck in this position.

"I'm just hoping that with the new government in, that there is some resolve there to draw a line under this after all these years."

He said he hoped the honorary doctorate would help keep the campaign in the spotlight.

"There are still some horrendous outstanding issues," he said.

Addressing students graduating on Thursday in Bangor, he added: "People need to take responsibility for their actions, and hopefully you'll do that when you go forward from here."

He received a standing ovation, including from former Anglesey postmaster Noel Thomas, who was wrongly jailed because of the Horizon errors.

Mr Thomas was also awarded a honorary doctorate for his role in the campaign at a ceremony earlier in the week.