Mr Bates vs The Post Office: Timeline of the UK Horizon Scandal (2024)

Mr Bates vs The Post Office: Timeline of the UK Horizon Scandal (1)

Mr Bates vs The Post Office: Timeline of the UK Horizon Scandal (2)

Mr Bates vs The Post Office: Timeline of the UK Horizon Scandal (3)

Trace the key events shaping the ongoing British Post Office scandal as portrayed in the drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office on MASTERPIECE. Follow the battle of innocent Subpostmasters as they continue their fight for exoneration.

Watch the related documentary, The Real Story of Mr Bates vs The Post Office, airing on MASTERPIECESunday, May 5th at 7pm ET and streaming online.

  1. 1998

    Bates Opens a Post Office

    Alan Bates takes over a shop with a post office counter in Craig-y-Don, Wales. He and “his partner Suzanne poured their life savings into the business,” reports the BBC.

  2. 1999

    Horizon Launches

    The new Horizon accounting system rolls out to postal branches. Subpostmasters “quickly complained about bugs in the system after it falsely reported [large] shortfalls,” says BBC News. The Post Office starts prosecuting cases the same year according to the official UK Post Office website.

  3. 2003

    Alan Bates is Sacked

    Alan Bates refuses to personally repay his branch’s apparent shortfalls of £1,200 and the Post Office terminates his contract. He had “first reported issues with Horizon in 2000,” says The Telegraph (UK).

  4. 2004

    Lee Castleton's Troubles Start

    Within a year of buying his East Yorkshire branch, Lee Castleton’s computer system claims he’s £26,000 in arrears. He’s “made bankrupt by the Post Office after a two-year legal battle,” says The Guardian (UK), “ordered to repay the money [plus] costs of £321,000.”

  5. 2006

    Jo Hamilton Accused of Theft

    Hampshire Subpostmaster Jo Hamilton is “accused of stealing more than £36,000,” reports The Guardian and is dismissed. She “worked a cleaning job, borrowed money from friends, and twice mortgaged her house to pay back the money.”

  6. 2008

    A Vist to Fujitsu

    Michael Rudkin visits Fujitsu, representing the National Federation of Subpostmasters (NSFP). On his tour, “a Fujitsu employee demonstrated how he could make changes to Subpostmaster branch accounts remotely,” reports Computer Weekly. Post Office auditors call on Rudkin the next morning, close his branch, and accuse his wife of stealing £44,000.

  7. 2009

    Computer Weekly Breaks Story

    Computer Weekly publishes its first story about Subpostmasters’ troubles with Horizon and the Post Office response. (Alan Bates contacted the trade magazine in 2004; Lee Castleton in 2008.) In November 2009, Subpostmasters have their first meeting in Fenny Compton. The Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) is born.

  8. 2012

    Second Sight Begins Investigation

    Paula Vennells works her way up to Post Office CEO. As Ministers of Parliament raise concerns about convictions related to Horizon, Vennells agrees the Post Office will pay for an independent investigation. Forensic accountants from Second Sight are hired and begin work.

  9. 2013

    Post Office Proposes Mediation

    Second Sight hands in its initial findings, reporting “unreliable hardware” as the cause of repeated shortfalls. The Post Office then proposes its mediation scheme. Alan Bates shares 100+ cases with the Post Office, according to the documentary The Real Story of Mr Bates vs The Post Office, and mediation begins.

  10. 2015

    Mediation is Called Off

    Post Office executives face grilling by a select committee of Parliament. Shortly thereafter, the Post Office calls off mediation, terminates its Second Sight contract, and brings Subpostmasers’ cases inhouse, reports the BBC. In August 2015, Fujitsu whistleblower Richard Roll tells his story to the BBC News program, Panorama.

  11. 2018

    Subpostmasters Go to Court

    A group litigation with 555 Subpostmasters goes to trial in England’s High Court in November. Come December, it’s publicly announced that Post Office CEO Paula Vennells is part of the 2019 New Year’s ‘Honour’s List,’ due to receive the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award.

  12. 2019

    1st Victory for Subpostmasters

    The High Court delivers a stunning victory to Subpostmasters on March 15. The Post Office payout for wrongful convictions is £57.5M, according to The Real Story of Mr Bates vs The Post Office. After legal fees, each Subpostmaster receives approximately £20,000. The court’s decision allows those convicted to seek appeal.

  13. 2021

    Public Inquiry Announced

    A statutory public inquiry into the Horizon scandal is established. The inquiry is ongoing as of this writing (April 2024). Watch a one-minute video about what each phase of the inquiry addresses.

  14. January 2024

    TV Miniseries Airs in UK

    The miniseries Mr Bates vs The Post Office debuts on January 1st. “Seven days later, and the prime minister stands in front of a packed House of Commons and says the government will put forward a new law to try to quickly exonerate and compensate [Subpostmasters],” says BBC News.

  15. February 2024

    Paula Vennells Loses CBE

    Paula Vennells is stripped of her CBE award by King Charles “for bringing the honours system into disrepute,” writes The Guardian.

  16. March 2024

    New Law Introduced

    UK government introduces legislation to automatically exonerate Subpostmaster convictions in England and Wales, allowing individuals to pursue a minimal reparation sum of £600,000 without the need to present a formal claim.

  17. April 2024

    The Fight Continues

    The public inquiry into the British Post Office scandal continues and Alan Bates fights on. Hearings stream on YouTube and updates on overturned convictions and compensation are on the British Post Office website.

Mr Bates vs The Post Office: Timeline of the UK Horizon Scandal (4)


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Mr Bates vs The Post Office: Timeline of the UK Horizon Scandal (2024)
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