April 13, 2024
Money

Postmaster given £200,000 in compensation from Post Office uses money for ex-wife’s dementia care


A postmaster has been given £200,000 in compensation from the Post Office which he will use for his ex-wife’s dementia treatment.

Francis Duff, 81, from Merseyside, was forced to declare bankruptcy after he was punished for stealing money from his own till when computer glitches were in fact to blame.


He was initially offered more than £330,000 in compensation, however, was set to lose all but £8,000 as the majority would be taken under bankruptcy proceedings.

The 81-year-old lost his home and suffered a divorce after he was accused of stealing money from his own till.

Post Office/Old hands

A postmaster who lost his home and his marriage during his ordeal will now receive £200,000 in compensation which he will use to help his ex-wife’s dementia care

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To save money on heating bills, Duff, who once won a certificate of valour from the Post Office for fighting off an armed robbery, would often wear a coat inside and wrap himself in blankets.

However, this week his lawyers announced that he will receive £200,000 of the compensation taken off him back, after a gruelling three-and-a-half-year battle.

Duff told The Times he will use that money to support Louisa, 79, his ex-wife who is suffering from dementia.

Neil Hudgell, his lawyer, said the payment took “two years too long” and the settlement offered is “still too little”.

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Duff, who became a postmaster in 1981, only started noticing problems when the Horizon computer system was installed in 2000 when he started to notice shortfalls on his till.

Using his own money to cover the difference, Duff said his marriage soon began to break down.

He said: “We had been happily married for 34 years, but we started to have arguments about the losses. She encouraged me to sack staff. I refused and she told me that I was ‘not man enough’. We separated while I was still working for Post Office and eventually divorced.”

He declared bankruptcy in 2001 and sold his post office for a fifth of the asking price.

The 81-year-old was initially told he would have to give up all but £8,000 of his original £330,893 compensation, however, three years later, he has finally been informed that he will be able to keep the majority.

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Now able to help his ex-wife with her care, Duff said: “It was the Post Office that drove a wedge between us.

“She was a good wife and a good mum, and I’ve not lost sight of the fact that this impacted hugely on her life too.”

Between 1999 and 2015, hundreds of subpostmasters were convicted of swindling money on the basis of evidence from a flawed IT system.

Despite years of campaigning, just a small number of them had their convictions overturned.

As the long-running battle for justice has ensued, ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office highlighted the scandal this year.

In 2022 a statutory public inquiry began into what has been described as the “worst miscarriage of justice in recent British legal history”.



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