Postmaster left ‘suicidal’ after racist abuse ‘tried to contact Ed Davey three times’

10 January 2024, 12:01 | Updated: 15 January 2024, 19:48

Sathyan Shiju ran a post office in Tolworth between 2001 and 2006
Sathyan Shiju ran a post office in Tolworth between 2001 and 2006. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

Sir Ed Davey is under fresh pressure to return his knighthood over his role in the Post Office Horizon scandal, after a postmaster told LBC that he did not hear back from the former Cabinet Minister.

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Sathyan Shiju ran a post office in Tolworth between 2001 and 2006 in the constituency of Kingston and Surbiton which is held by the Liberal Democrat leader and former Post Office Minister Sir Ed Davey.

Mr Shiju told LBC that he faced a growing shortfall which eventually topped £20,000 in 2006 and had to ask friends and family to help him cover the costs.

But it was not the money which solely affected the former postmaster.

He told LBC that after he was forced to relinquish control of his post office he received a "horrendous amount" of abuse including "people shouting at me" and "telling me I come from a different country".

Read more: Post Office compensation 'should be paid by August', minister says, as 130 more victims come forward

Mr Shiju told LBC he was spat at and had eggs thrown at him in the street
Mr Shiju told LBC he was spat at and had eggs thrown at him in the street. Picture: LBC

He also revealed that he was spat at on two occasions on Tolworth High Street, and had rotten tomatoes and eggs hurled towards him.

The profound shock and stress of the scandal also affected Mr Shiju's mental health.

He told LBC: "I became suicidal, and in one of my low moments my daughter caught me... otherwise I wouldn't be here to talk to you", and revealed he was forced to live in India in order to get specialist mental health support.

The former postmaster also revealed to LBC that he tried to reach out to Sir Ed Davey on three occasions but did not hear back.

Nick Ferrari is joined by Henry Riley covering an LBC exclusive

He said he tried to reach out to Sir Ed Davey, on three occasions but did not hear back
He said he tried to reach out to Sir Ed Davey, on three occasions but did not hear back. Picture: Alamy

"He refused to talk to me, I had no chance to talk to him. I tried three times"

Questioned on whether he was angry at the apparent lack of involvement from Sir Ed, Mr Shiju told LBC "I wish I could say [he] had a chat with me, and that he tried, but he didn't. He just completely ignored me.

"I was going through my worst nightmare and I was looking for someone to talk to, and somebody to believe me. Ed Davey should have talked to me."

Whilst Mr Shiju's Post Office was in the Kingston & Surbiton constituency he lived within another MP's seat.

So far there has been no compensation given to Mr Shiju, he has managed to recuperate some of the £20,000 shortfall.

Reflecting on his time running the Tolworth Post Office Mr Shiju told LBC: "I lost two of my houses, two of my businesses, I lost everything. But the biggest thing I lost was my daughter's education."

He also believes that his car was stolen from outside of his South West London business.

He explained to LBC his daughter was about to sit A-Level exams, but because she saw her father was suicidal she took him to India "and stayed with me for three-and-a-half-years. Her study has gone. The Post Office ruined my life, and ruined my daughter's life."

Asked whether the MP for Kingston and Surbiton Sir Ed Davey should lose his knighthood, Mr Shiju laughed and told LBC" "I don't know who decides who gets knighted.. Paula [Vennells] handed it back, and I can see she has a guilty conscience".

He is now back on his feet as a successful area pharmacy manager, but he concedes that since 2006 his life has "been a nightmare".

He said: "I am slowly recovering, but my morale and confidence is rock bottom. I still want justice for what they did to me".

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "We deeply regret the pain and the experience Mr Shiju has been through. In public records Mr Shiju is not now and never has been a constituent of Ed’s.

"Mr Shiju’s approach to Ed’s office would - by strict Parliamentary protocol - have resulted in him being helped to contact his own MP at the time.

"Ed has earned the reputation as a hardworking and tireless local MP, who helps thousands of residents every year and is currently helping two local former postmasters in his constituency who have suffered a terrible miscarriage of justice.

"The Post Office - along with Fujitsu - perpetrated a conspiracy against the victims, the public and the state.

"Along with 20 other Business Ministers, Ed was lied to by post office managers when he challenged them on their botched computer system. We hope the inquiry will bring the perpetrators of this conspiracy to justice."