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Alan Bates reveals what he really thinks of ITV drama, Mr Bates vs The Post Office

Alan is portrayed by Toby Jones in the series 


Alan Bates, Toby Jones split image© ALAMY/ITV
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
January 2, 2024
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Alan Bates has revealed his reaction to ITV's new drama, Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which details the shocking true story behind the Post Office scandal. 

Alan, a former subpostmaster who was accused of fraud by the Post Office and was crucial in shining a light on the scandal, appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain on Tuesday. 

When asked by host Susanna Reid if he's enjoyed watching the drama, Alan, who is portrayed by Toby Jones in the series, was full of praise for the performances from the star-studded cast. "Yeah," he responded. "I think the actors have done a wonderful job in it and they've really portrayed a lot of the suffering that people have gone through so well."

WATCH: Alan Bates reveals what he really thinks of ITV drama, Mr Bates vs The Post Office

Alan was one of hundreds of innocent subpostmasters working in the UK who were wrongly accused and later charged of theft, fraud, and false accounting thanks to a faulty IT system. 

Back in 1999, the Post Office introduced a new electronic accounting system called Horizon. The system had glitches in its account software which wrongly detected financial shortfalls and caused discrepancies worth thousands of pounds.

Alan Bates on Good Morning Britain© ITV
Alan Bates appeared on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday

Alan was one of the first subpostmasters to notice the errors in the system at the end of 2000. Detailing the moment he realised that the system was faulty, the 68-year-old explained: "I think, realistically, it all started for me a couple of weeks after the system went live and I suddenly found I had a £6,000 shortage coming up on the system. 

"I couldn't understand it, I couldn't get any help with it at all but after doing what felt like hundreds of print-outs and spending hours and hours going through them, I found there were whole batches of duplicated transitions which had made up the bulk of that money. Once I found it, I reversed them. I put all my concerns in writing to the Post Office but they never responded."

Alan Bates at home with is partner Suzanne Sercombe
© ALAMY
Alan with his partner Suzanne Sercombe

Alan's contract with the Post Office was terminated in 2003, when it said that £1,200 was unaccounted for at his and his partner Suzanne's branch. 

Years later, Alan and five other claimants took the Post Office to the High Court and in 2019, a judgement ruled that postmasters were prosecuted on the basis of data from the defective Horizon IT system. 

So far, only 93 convictions have been overturned, with many people still waiting to have their names cleared and to receive compensation. 

Toby Jones as Alan Bates and Julie Hesmondhalgh as Suzanne© ITV STUDIOS
Toby Jones as Alan and Julie Hesmondhalgh as Suzanne

During his interview on Good Morning Britain, Alan explained that some victims of the scandal have been waiting for over 20 years for compensation and put the hold-up down to the "bureaucracy" involved in the compensation schemes. 

"The big problem at the moment seems to be the bureaucracy involved in the scheme that's running and we've got to get that moving, we really do," said Alan, adding: "People have been suffering for far too long now."

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