Sell Post Office to Amazon for a pound, Horizon scandal hero Alan Bates tells MPs

27 February 2024, 12:32 | Updated: 27 February 2024, 12:34

Alan Bates has been giving evidence to MPs today
Alan Bates has been giving evidence to MPs today. Picture: Parliament/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The Post Office should be "sold off to Amazon" as it has become a "money pit for taxpayers", Horizon hero Alan Bates has told MPs.

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Giving evidence to MPs over the compensation payments due to be paid to victims of the Horizon scandal, Mr Bates said the culture at the Post Office "has always been the same".

"It hasn't changed, it's been the same for donkeys years. It will not change and you cannot change it," he told MPs.

He went on to say that the Post Office is a "dead duck" and "has been for years", warning it will become a "money pit for taxpayers".

"My personal view should sell it someone like Amazon for a pound, get really good contracts for all the serving sub-postmasters and within a few years you'll have one of the best networks," he told MPs.

Alan Bates giving evidence to MPs today
Alan Bates giving evidence to MPs today. Picture: Parliament

Mr Bates became a national hero after the extent of his role in unearthing the Horizon IT scandal became apparent in the ITV drama 'Mr Bates vs the Post Office'.

The docu-series recounted how hundreds of sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of stealing from the Post Office, with some receiving false convictions for money that had actually been lost in Fujitsu's faulty IT system, Horizon.

Read More: Hundreds of Post Office scandal victims set to be cleared as details of new legislation announced

Read More: Rishi Sunak refuses to repeat Kemi Badenoch's claim ex-Post Office boss ‘lied’ about delaying compensation

A Department for Business official told MPs today that the anticipated cost of the full compensation to be paid to sub-postmasters would likely exceed the £1 billion that has been set aside.

Mr Bates has not only complained about how long the payments are taking to reach those affected, but has also taken issue with the fact it is even called 'compensation'.

He told the chairman of the committee, Liam Byrne, that the Post Office's attempts to compensate the victims in the scandal are 'not getting faster or fairer'.

Postmaster: People are still waiting for justice

"Speaking personally of my claim, I can say no, it isn't," he said.

"Pay people. There's a lot of distractions and a lot of other things brought up all the time - but just get on and pay people," he went on.

"It's not [compensation] - it's financial redress. This is money these people are actually owed and they've been owed it for years.

"Compensation sounds like something at the benefit, at the whim, of the government and all the rest of it... Let's get it right and let's really push forward on that aspect," Bates added.