Victim of Post Office scandal speaks out after ITV drama

Jo Hamilton on This Morning

Jo Hamilton, a central figure in the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, appeared on This Morning”to discuss her experience with the faulty Horizon computer system, which led to her wrongful conviction.

Jo, alongside Monica Dolan, who plays her in the drama, spoke to hosts Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle about her ordeal.

Jo recalled her time working with the Post Office, saying, “I’d worked there for 18 months, paper based, never had a problem. Once it went electronic, I lost control of it. But I thought it was something I was doing. Because they told me I was the only one, I believed it was my fault.”

She expressed her disbelief and anger towards Paula Vennells, the former Chief Executive of the Post Office, particularly over Vennells’ acceptance of a CBE. “I don’t know why [Paula Vennells] accepted [her CBE] in the first place. She must have known by then. She left part of the way through the last trial and she must have known what she was doing. I just don’t understand it,” said Jo

Mr Bates vs the Post Office cast group photo

Discussing the government’s response to the scandal, Jo stated, “They [the government] push out all these statements and everything and make it look like they’re paying everybody, but trust me, they’re not. They’re not paying the group that took them on in the High Court and that’s not right.”

Jo detailed her initial experiences after the Post Office went electronic: “Just after I took over, it went electronic and I went from never having a problem to what you see on the screen – Monica has done a great job of what exactly happened.” She described the moment she first noticed the financial discrepancies, “It’s in the drama, where Monica taps the screen. I was £2000 down so I rang them and literally it doubled in front of my eyes and then they said, ‘Well, you’ve got to pay that.’ So I demanded the area manager come down. He came down and couldn’t find it and said, ‘Well, you’ve got to pay it. Your contract says you’ve got to pay it.”

Jo also spoke about the personal impact of the scandal, “Yeah, I obviously had to tell my mum and dad and husband when we remortgaged, but when it went from nine to 36 [grand], I just kept quiet. I didn’t know how to get out of the mess I was in.”

Monica Dolan, reflecting on her role, said, “I remember when we met at the read through and I think you nearly didn’t get lunch because I was hounding you for information, but I really remember asking you, ‘What was it that stopped you for so long, not telling anyone or your family until you remortgaged and just you saying in quite a small voice, ‘Well, I thought it was me.’ And that gave a key to so much of how to play it.”

Monica also commented on the broader implications of the scandal, “I think it’s quite relatable because everyone in some small way has had that experience of ringing a helpline or something going wrong with a computer, but what shocked me so much was first of all the contract where the sub postmasters are contracted to pay back this money if it doesn’t balance, also that the Post Office could conduct its own criminal investigation… I agree with Keir Starmer, I think that definitely should change.”

Monica expressed her frustration towards the decision to award Paula Vennells a CBE, “I’d really like to find out who decided to give her a CBE in 2019 because they knew at that point that there was this huge problem. So did someone give it to her in order to dishearten the sub postmasters further? It seems an extraordinary decision to me.”

Jo’s story and the ITV drama shed light on the complexities and injustices of the Horizon Post Office Scandal, resonating deeply with viewers and continuing to stir conversations about accountability and reform.

This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV1 & ITVX

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