Widow of exonerated sub-postmaster wants to know why investigator ignored his ‘good record’

UK

The widow of a subpostmaster who was convicted as part of the Post Office scandal says she wants to know why the investigator ignored his “good record” – with her husband having been a police officer for 12 years before he started running the shop in Newcastle.

Marion Holmes spoke to Sky News as she prepares to see Robert Daily, the former Post Office investigator who brought criminal proceedings against her husband Peter, appear before the public inquiry into the scandal today.

Mr Holmes had been a subpostmaster at Jesmond Post Office for 13 years when he was accused of stealing £46,000 in 2008.

He was one of more than 700 subpostmasters who were prosecuted over claims they were stealing from the Post Office – but the missing money was actually due to errors in the Horizon software, which was developed by Fujitsu.

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Fujitsu boss apologises to subpostmasters

The ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which was broadcast earlier this month, has raised the profile of the inquiry and the injustice suffered by the hundreds of subpostmasters.

Mr Holmes’ case went to court in 2010, with the Post Office saying they would drop the theft charge if he pleaded guilty to false accounting.

The former police officer agreed and was given a three-month curfew, where he was only allowed to be out of the house between 7am and 7pm, as part of his community order sentence.

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Mr Holmes died of a brain tumour in 2015 aged 68 – six years before he was exonerated in April 2021.

Peter was exonerated in 2021
Image:
Peter Holmes was exonerated in 2021

Asked by Sky presenter Sarah-Jane Mee on her show The UK Tonight what she want she wants to hear from Mr Daily when he appears at the inquiry, Mrs Holmes said on Monday: “Why he didn’t listen to the fact that Peter had a good record, an ex-policeman?

“Nobody believed him, I just wish somebody had just listened to him.

“It was obvious he wasn’t guilty… Nobody that knew Peter ever thought that he was guilty.”

Ms Holmes also remembered her husband’s “hurt” after seeing a newspaper article which read “ex-policeman guilty of false accounting”.

She continued: “I think that was what really hurt him because it was just there in black and white.”

Recalling the moment her husband first told her of the allegation against him, Mrs Holmes said: “That was like a bombshell.

“But we never thought that anything would come of it because we knew he was innocent.”

Read more:
Subpostmasters say Horizon system ‘still causing mystery shortfalls’
Fujitsu managed call wrongly-accused subpostmaster a ‘nasty chap’
Police probe to decide on Post Office scandal charges to take two years

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‘My business is failing’

Mrs Holmes also talked about the stress her husband was under while he was investigated by the Post Office and the police.

She said: “We knew there was something wrong… my daughter and I could hear him throwing up in the bathroom.

“But when we asked him what was wrong, he said ‘Oh, nothing. I was just coughing.'”

Asked what it was like for her husband, a retired police officer, to be convicted of a crime, Mrs Holmes said: “It just shut him down. Fortunately, the day that we came out of court, a friend said go on to the computer and type in ‘Post Office problems’.

“So straight away we heard of Alan Bates and the JFSA (Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance) and that weekend we had to go down there, they were having a meeting down at a solicitors down in Bedford… we already by then knew that there were several others (who had been accused).

“That helped us a lot because when we sat around the room and everybody told their story, they were almost all identical.”

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The real Mr Bates speaks to MPs

Mrs Holmes said she feels “sad” her husband wasn’t exonerated until after is death, adding: “But it can’t be changed, so there’s no point in dwelling on it.”

The widow also said she wishes Mr Holmes was here to see “what is happening now” since the ITV drama raised the profile of the miscarriage of justice, with the hundreds of Post Office scandal victims to be exonerated and compensated.

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