Post Office scandal: Ex-West Boldon postmaster hopes for the 'beginning of the end' as PM promises new law

A former West Boldon postmaster welcomes political pressure as the Prime Minister promises a new law to exonerate victims of the Post Office scandal.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Christopher Head was one of the youngest postmasters in the country when he took over the West Boldon Post Office in 2006, aged 18.

Over the last two decades many like him had been accused of fraud and theft, some losing their homes, going to prison and even taking their own life.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite only experiencing minor losses for the first seven years, in September 2014 the till was around £40,000 down. By November the shortfall had reached £88,098.

From February 2015, Christopher was questioned three times by the Post Office and his home was searched.

After five months the case was dropped, but bosses still insisted he pay the outstanding £88,098.

Former West Boldon postmaster Christopher Head hopes that this is now the "beginning of the end" of the Horizon Post Office scandal.Former West Boldon postmaster Christopher Head hopes that this is now the "beginning of the end" of the Horizon Post Office scandal.
Former West Boldon postmaster Christopher Head hopes that this is now the "beginning of the end" of the Horizon Post Office scandal.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The ex-postmaster has praised the ITV drama, 'Mr Bates vs The Post Office', for shining a light on the scandal and bringing it back into the public eye.

Christopher said: "I wish that the drama had come out about ten years ago.

"People can read an article in a newspaper but it is very difficult for them to associate themselves with it.

"However, when you are sat at home watching something on the television, you can actually see the stress, the trauma and the destruction of lives that this has caused.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It has allowed people to put themselves in the shoes of those who have been affected.

"Lucky for us, the drama has been released in an election year and impacts all political parties.

"It is nice to see them under pressure and actually doing something about it for a change."

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, January 10, Rishi Sunak confirmed that a new law will be introduced to exonerate hundreds of postmasters caught up in the scandal.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Prime Minister stated that the victims are part of “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history”.

Mr Sunak also announced a new upfront payment of £75,000 for the “vital” group of postmasters who took action against the Post Office.

In December 2019, Christopher was among hundreds of sub-postmasters who finally won their case against the Post Office in a £58million settlement over the faulty Horizon IT system.

He is now hoping that with the tide of public opinion strongly in the postmasters' favour and with the Prime Minister's latest announcement, that the ongoing saga will now finally be brought to a conclusion.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Christopher commented: "I hope that it is the beginning of the end but I also said that it was the end in 2019 with the court action.

"We've been promised so much since then and yet here we are in 2024 still discussing the same things like compensation.

"The difference this time is that there is so much public outrage and the pressure is so high on politicians that they are now scrambling round to do something about it.

"In the last few days, I've been doing interviews with media right across the world so it is very damaging for the Government.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"This level of cover up and corruption is something that you'd expect from countries like North Korea, Russia or China, not the UK."

Read South Tyneside's news on the go with our free email newsletters - bringing the headlines to your inbox. Catch up on the day's news and sport and enjoy even more from your Gazette. Visit our website here to find out more and sign up.

Despite victory in court, Christopher is still tens-of-thousands of pounds out of pocket, with the Government's GLO Compensation Scheme not going far enough to reimburse him and many others.

He added: "I made an application to the GLO scheme which was set up and the offer that Government gave to me in December was around 15% of what I had claimed for.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They said that we would be fully reimbursed due to everything that we have been through but in reality, they are not doing that.

"For me to negotiate from their offer of 15% up to 100% of what I have spent during all of this is a massive uphill battle.

"Their offer isn't even close to half-way, never mind 100%."