Thursday 14 December 2023

Mr Bates vs The Post Office: coming to your TV from 1 January.

I haven't written much of late about the Post Office Horizon Scandal because the Statutory Inquiry is continuing and all hearings are broadcast live or available very soon thereafter on YouTube.

Suffice to say progress continues at a pace slower than the average snail with many SPMs still to be offered anything like recompense and compensation for the false prosecutions.

The Inquiry has heard from many of those postmasters affected and in some cases their families, and has questioned politicians, civil servants, managers in Fujistu Ltd, and many staff at all levels to middle management in Post Office Ltd, although as yet not the Directors or Former Directors.

Reporting continues in Private Eye, Computer World, and Nick Wallis' blog, and the story has gained a lot of traction in the mainstream press including The Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, and others, as more remarkable and unbelievable revelations have been made.  

Post Office Ltd has continued to find it difficult to provide email and written evidence that has been requested by The Inquiry, frequently finding more just as key witnesses were to be examined, causing their examination to be postponed, in some cases several times.

Toby Jones plays Alan Bates in the ITV drama.

Now a 4-part television dramatisation called Mr Bates vs. The Post Office will air on ITV and ITVX on four consecutive evenings from 9pm on 1 January 2024.

Written by screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes – whose previous credits include Tom Jones, Honour and Vanity Fair – and helmed by Broadchurch and Vigil director James Strong, the four-part drama promises to tell "the story of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history."  

According to an official synopsis: "Many of the wronged workers were prosecuted, some of whom were imprisoned for crimes they never committed, and their lives were irreparably ruined by the scandal."

Speaking about the case as the show was announced, Alan Bates himself described it as "one of the most egregious scandals the country has ever seen" and added, "thankfully this has now been exposed and the victims are finally on their way to finding the justice they deserve."

Meanwhile, Jones said he was "proud to be a part of this shocking, unsettling but ultimately inspirational drama.”

And speaking about the star-studded cast, ITV Commissioning Editor Helen Perry said: “We are so grateful to the extraordinary cast that have come together for this show. Their talent will help shine a spotlight on one of the most important and unbelievable stories of injustice in recent British history.”  (Radio Times online May 2023)

For viewers in Ireland it's appearing on Virgin Media One at 21:00 on January 1st.

Will Mellor plays Lee Castleton.

From "Campaign4Change", by Tony Collins* and Davie Bicknell

“To my shame I didn’t know very much about this,” said actor Toby Jones. He was speaking at a press screening at BAFTA of “Mr Bates v The Post Office“, a star-studded ITV drama series on the Post Office IT scandal.

The series has prime-time TV slots.  Some scenes in the episodes may lodge in the national psyche, in a way that news stories on the scandal rarely have, however influential they were at the time.

Also being aired in the first week of January is an ITV documentary on the scandal Mr Bates vs the Post Office: The Real Story. It will go out on the same evening as the final episode, 4 January, at 10.45pm.

The series has a a focus on how a respected state-owned institution, the Post Office, intervened in the normal family life of branch sub-postmasters, sub-mistresses and their staff, in ways that had lasting effects on young children, grandparents, wives, husbands and partners.

People watching may need to remind themselves that the story is based on fact not fiction.

“You can’t believe it’s true,” said cast member Will Mellor who plays former sub-postmaster Lee Castleton. “Even when we were filming it, I just kept saying ‘I can’t believe they’ve actually done this to these people.’”

At one level it’s a mystery story. Why did the Post Office’s corporate executives and others at a senior level, including auditors, investigators and lawyers, seem to try and outdo each other in demonstrating inhumanity towards sub-postmasters and their families?


Although this is on prime time television, starting on New Year's Day may not be the best, so watch it on catch-up at ITVX.  There's no indication at this stage as to how long it will be available.  Readers outside the UK will probably not be able to watch it on the app unless using a VPN.

I shall probably watch it earlier in the evening a day behind: although I know much of the story, as regular readers so, I would like to sleep after watching it.  

I hope Post Office Diretcors, Executives and their in house and external lawyers watch it, along with current ministers and civil servants.   I hope they don't sleep until they have firmly decided to do something to recompense the thousands of people affected before any more die. Over 60 have died already, waiting for justice.


  1. I shall watch this with eyes glued to my TV it will be an eye opener.

    1. Thank you for reminding me; it was on my list of blogs to do, but I have been doing the Music Giants and 2024 programme!

  2. Should it be rated X in the horror category?

  3. Full and proper justice - none of this bonuses for reducing compensation nonsense

  4. I've watched only the first episode so far... Wow... will continue watching.

    I remember a trip to a sub post office for some new issue stamps. I wanted half a sheet. Most (?) of the time, there are 25 stamps in a half-sheet, but this time, there were 30 - and I hadn't noticed, nor had my sub postmaster. So, he charged for 25. I went on my way, had lunch in a cafe somewhere, and looked at my newly acquired stamps to discover there were 30... not 25. So, on my way back home, I popped into that little post office and paid the difference. My sub postmaster (now 10+ years retired) was really really nice; I couldn't have him out of pocket (even if it was about £2-3, when 1st class cost was less than 50p)

  5. I was not really interested when the news of this mini-series broke - after all, I have followed the story from early on and I have the book. How could this shine a new light on the story?

    Well, it did, and I found myself becoming angry all over again. An institution that I have followed and supported all of my life, behaving in such a moral vacuum, in such a cold and inhumane manner. Every executive, every auditor, every lawyer involved needs to be hunted down and barred from future service (and income) until they can demonstrate that they have developed a conscience. And why did nobody in the courts notice that they were suddenly dealing with a whole rash of new private prosections?

    The whole story still beggars belief, and we will all, as taxpayers, be paying for this for years - because the Post Office certainly won't.

  6. I have just finished watching part IV of Alan Bates V The Post Office, and I sat there absolutely astounded at the Spanish Inquisition type of conduct used by the top level of Post Office Management against their loyal & honest sub postmaster employees. I hope that at some point in the future that they all have to be punished for their part in this disgraceful affair. well done ITV and the makers of this fine drama. I would also like to say I have signed the petition to have Paula Vennells stripped of her CBE so have joined the other over 100,000 signers who think the same.


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