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Post Office worker took own life after being wrongly accused of stealing £60,000

A man falsely accused of stealing money from the Post Office took his own life by walking in front of a bus.

Martin Griffiths parked up in his car on an A road in Ellesmere Port after leaving a note for his loved ones, and tragically walked in front of a bus, his family said.

The 59-year-old had suffered the mental turmoil of being wrongly accused of stealing money from the Post Office for four years, the Liverpool Echo reported.

He had worked for the Ellesmore Port branch for 20 years when he was accused of taking money after an accounting system wrongly displayed a shortfall of £61,000.

According to The Times, Mr Griffiths delved into his own savings to make up for the deficit.

In 2013, in the middle of this pressure, Mr Griffiths, who lived in the village of Guilden Sutton in Cheshire, took his own life.

Postmasters wrongly accused scored a major legal victory this week
Postmasters wrongly accused scored a major legal victory this week

His family have now called for a far stricter line of review from the government and asked for a judge-led enquiry to truly get to the bottom of the injustices behind the scandal.

His nephew Samuel Caveen said: “My uncle had his life and his reputation torn apart by the Post Office and his mental health was completely destroyed.

“It’s an absolute tragedy.”

Mr Griffiths had spent about two decades with the company, with 18 of those as a sub-postmaster.

Among his responsibilities were the tills and book-keeping, but at one point financial shortfalls emerged, and suspicion fell on sub-postmasters across the country.

What had actually happened was a fundamental problem with the Post Office’s computer system, the truth of which would emerge later, but not before tragedy, huge worry, health problems and injustice had beset many families.

Many post officer workers were wrongly accused
Many post officer workers were wrongly accused

Last year, the Post Office paid out a £57.75m settlement after more than 550 claimants brought group legal action over the Horizon system, which was found to contain software flaws that caused financial shortfalls in the sub-postmasters’ branch accounts over a number of years.

Plans for a future review of the computer scandal has been labelled “inadequate” by an increasing number of leading Westminster figures in the last week.

The criticism comes amid calls for a judge-led inquiry into the controversy surrounding the defective Horizon IT system, which saw hundreds of postmasters wrongly suspected of false accounting and theft.

Earlier this week thirty-nine postmasters who were victims of the UK’s most widespread miscarriage of justice have had their names formally cleared.

“The weeks after Martin died were the worst weeks of our lives,” Mr Caveen continued.

“When my uncle passed away, I got a phone call in the middle of the night from his wife, Gina.

“That was horrendous. Looking back, his death seems to have stolen away such precious time.

“He should be a proud grandfather now as his son had a child last year and his daughter is expecting, but he’s not been here to see that.

Dozens of Post Office workers had their convictions quashed earlier this week
Dozens of Post Office workers had their convictions quashed earlier this week

“I feel like it’s a significant portion of my family taken away from me. Family gatherings were and have been curtailed.”

With recent doubts about the government’s response to the scandal, some politicians have started to cast doubts over the scope of the government-ordered exercise and also questioned its independence.

Mr Caveen, 29, formerly of Eastham, Wirral, said: “People want a formal enquiry and a more robust compensation package.

“But most importantly, nobody has been held accountable at the Post Office.”

An investigation recently revealed Post Office managers knew IT problems could be to blame for missing money but still prosecuted staff.

Mr Griffiths was never held criminally liable, but bosses still launched a process to remove him from his post, according to his family.

It had a huge effect on his pride, his loved ones said, and he kept what was happening from them for a long period of time.

Mr Caveen, who has openly and passionately defended his uncle for many years, added: “Pregnant women have gone to prison, parents have missed the birth of their children, people have died, reputations and lives ruined by what seems to be the venal and corrupt practices and excesses of the Post Office.

“The Horizon scandal has been described by some leading figures as the worst miscarriage of justice in British history.

“People have gone 20 years so a few more years so we can get an independent judge-led enquiry is something people involved will be prepared to accept.

“The current government review will not deliver justice and accountability.”

A Post Office spokesman said: “We have taken determined action to address past events and we are working to reform the Post Office, to forge an open and transparent relationship with the thousands of current postmasters providing customers with vital services in the UK’s communities.

“We agreed a comprehensive resolution last year with claimants in group civil litigation, following successful independent mediation.

“We sincerely apologise to those affected.

“We subsequently set up the Historical Shortfall Scheme to provide redress for other postmasters who may want to make claims.

“We have made wide-reaching improvements in the support we provide, from initial recruitment and training, through to the support for daily transaction accounting.

“These are being set out for every postmaster, detailing responsibilities and commitments which support them to build thriving businesses.”

Paul Scully, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The fact is that we have now got the Post Office to accept its wrong position and the fact that the Horizon software could make mistakes – things were being changed there.

“That is why it is important to get that acknowledgement.

“It is also important that we continue to build trust with sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses in their relationship with the Post Office.

“That is why every time I speak to the chief executive, I make sure that that is at the top of our agenda.”



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