‘Bullied’ dad forced to pay £65,000 to Post Office due to computer glitch

A dad who was wrongly forced to pay the Post Office £65,000 due to a computer glitch claims his life has been ruined.

Pete Murray says he was almost left bankrupt after being told to pay the large sum of money to cover accounting discrepancies at his Post Office branch in Great Sutton, Cheshire between 2014 and 2019.

The 53-year-old paid £1,000 a month to the Post Office despite insisting he had done nothing wrong, reports the Liverpool Echo.

The dad-of-three claims he was left without pay while he was suspended for four months, all the while he was expected to keep up with the monthly repayments.

This forced him to take out £10,000 in bank loans and borrow money from friends to meet the repayments.

Pete, from Wirral, Liverpool, said: "Whenever I reported problems to the Post Office and my contract manager they would refuse to help.

"Some days there would be £2,000 missing from the system, then £5,000, then another day it would be £8,000. This would just happen completely randomly.

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"I was just told I had to pay back the loss out of my income. They would just take my card details over the phone.

"They tell you you're the only one going through this and that it's not happened to anyone else. I couldn't believe it and I thought at the time something was very wrong because I'm very good with maths and computers.

"I even got a solicitors' letter that was headed 'Post Office Ltd. vs Peter J Murray' which demanded that I provide evidence of how I was to repay the money which they said I owed to them."

Pete, who also runs a second Post Office in Wallasey Village, first noticed large deficits when settling the accounts of Hope Farm Road Post Office in Great Sutton in October 2014.

Subpostmasters like Pete are self-employed agents of the Post Office who have contracts with the organisation to provide its services.

Despite frequent calls to the Post Office's helpline pleading for assistance, Pete claims he was told that he was liable for any discrepancies and was told "don't trust your staff".

It led to Pete having a nervous breakdown which resulted in him suffering a stroke, which he says was caused by stress.

While the Post Office maintained that Pete's case was an isolated issue, it later emerged that hundreds of subpostmasters across the country had experienced the same problem.

Last year, two High Court trials found the Horizon computer software, the system used by every Post Office branch, was riddled with "bugs, errors and defects" that ultimately caused the problems.

Post Office was told it was wrong to force subpostmasters to pay for discrepancies.

More than 500 subpostmasters across the country were awarded £58 million in compensation – but Pete missed out on joining the group legal action, although he has now received some compensation and is currently working out a settlement with the company.

Pete described the ordeal as "the worst period of [his] life."

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He added: "I feel quite alienated from my children. I'll sit alone in a dark room most evenings while I should be hanging out with my teenage children. It's really affected my family life. It nearly destroyed my marriage.

"The Post Office bullied me for years and drove me to the point of financial ruin.

"I was completely ignored until the rulings came down in the High Court trials. Until then no-one was listening to me at all."

In a statement, the Post Office said they are continuing to work with subpostmasters across the country but admitted that there was "much more work to be done".

A Post Office spokesperson said: "We're making extensive improvements throughout the Post Office to ensure we work together with postmasters in genuine commercial partnership.

"We've put in place personalised new support for every postmaster, increased training and a new branch support centre with dedicated case handlers for more complex queries which cannot be immediately resolved.

"There is of course much more work to be done but we're putting our postmaster and our customers at the centre of everything we do."

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