Real Alan Bates speaks out on Post Office scandal drama

Alan Bates on This Morning

The real-life Alan Bates as featured in ITV’s Post Office scandal drama has spoken out today.

ITV’s This Morning hosts Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle welcomed Alan Bates, a former sub-postmaster, and his partner Suzanne Sercombe to discuss the latest developments in the Post Office Horizon scandal.

The conversation touched on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s stance, Paula Vennells’ CBE, and a surprise offer from Richard Branson.

Broadcasting from their home in Conwy, Wales, Suzanne shared the challenges they’ve faced, describing the last twenty years as ‘very, very difficult’.

Alan Bates, reflecting on Sunak’s comments, said, “Unfortunately I didn’t hear them, I only heard them second hand, but he really needs to ensure things happen now and they happen at real speed – not just at pace, which he has commented on recently.”

Mr Bates vs the Post Office cast group photo

Suzanne expressed her feelings about Sunak’s approach, saying, “I’m very disheartened personally that [he] seems to be talking about it as something that’s just from the past, the carryover, the fallout is horrendous and it’s been going on for years.”

Alan Bates emphasised the urgency of compensating victims, urging: “What’s the right thing to do? Just get on with it, stop holding it up, get it done. Stop holding it up with bureaucracy and just get it done.”

Regarding criminal convictions, he noted: “I think that’s something that’s going to be looked at now, I think the government are discussing today what can be done about that and I’ll be interested to hear what comes out of it.”

On the topic of Paula Vennells’ CBE, Alan highlighted public outcry, stating: “We had one million people who have signed up to the petition [to strip her of her CBE] in just a matter of days and I think the question has got to be asked, who actually put her up for that CBE in the first instance?”

Alan revealed his refusal of an OBE, explaining: “It felt a bit of a slap in the face whilst Paula Vennells had her CBE for services to Post Office. I couldn’t justify taking that, it would have been a slap in the face to the victims in all of this.”

Suzanne added: “It wouldn’t have made any difference to our lives, we would have still dragged on, waiting for financial redress. We were still leading a very limited lifestyle.”

Alan Bates
Alan Bates

Discussing the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office, Alan expressed satisfaction, saying: “We’re really pleased with it. It has been going as you say for over 20 years and it has from time to time been picked up in the media but all of a sudden, the drama has made a huge, huge difference.”

Josie Gibson concluded the interview by revealing Richard Branson’s response to a previous comment by Bates, offering the couple a holiday on Necker Island. “Dear Alan, I did get a chance to read your moving interview in The Times and we’d love to offer you and Suzanne a well-earned holiday on Necker Island. I can’t think of anyone that deserves a break more. Hopefully see you there. Best, Richard,” Branson said.

Alan, visibly moved, responded: “Much appreciated Richard, much needed but much appreciated.”

This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV1 & ITVX