Former Hogsthorpe postmaster fights on for compensation

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A former Hogsthorpe postmaster, who lost his home and livelihood as a result of the Post Office Horizon scandal, says he has made his peace with the trauma of the past.

Tom Hedges has been watching a direct live feed from the Post Office inquiry, in which former boss Paula Vennells has been giving evidence.

Since the nation became gripped by the harrowing ITV drama Mr Bates v the Post Office – which outlined a 20-year struggle to clear their names led by Welsh sub-postmaster Alan Bates – there has been mounting pressure for the Government to speed up the compensation process.

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Mr Hedges – now a lay preacher and living in rental property with his wife, Carol – is still waiting for his.

Former postmaster Tom Hedges fights on for compensation from the Post Office.Former postmaster Tom Hedges fights on for compensation from the Post Office.
Former postmaster Tom Hedges fights on for compensation from the Post Office.

More than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted between 2000 and 2014 after a bug in the computer system Horizon led to financial shortfalls in branch accounts.

A sub-postmaster at Hogsthorpe Post Office from 1994 until 2010, Mr Hedges was accused of theft and false accounting to the sum of £60,000.

As reported, he told Lincolnshire World he had on numerous occasions raised concerns about Paula Vennels alleged involvement in the Horizon scandal.

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Mr Hedges said he had written to the Cabinet Office, both ministers and civil servants before after an internal review she ‘quietly stepped down from her position’. He also made a complaint to The Bishop Of St Albans with regard to her suitability as an ordained Priest before ‘she again quietly removed herself from the Church of England’

The inquiry into Paula Vennells’involvement had been the moment Mr Hedges had been waiting for.

However, now she is in the spotlight, he says, “In many ways I feel compassion for her as she is being singled out as the ‘Chief Culprit’ in this whole sorry affair.

"She is obviously deeply part of it all but by no means the only one.”

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“Just as I thought she is trying to give the impression of cooperating and being helpful but, like everyone else, suffers from corporate amnesia and passing the buck to save her neck, though done very carefully and with dignity,” he said.

“My solace is that she is way too toxic for anyone to touch her now, never mind whether the police end up pressing charges.

"She has ruined her own life – unlike me whose life was ruined by her and her cronies.”

Rather than travel down to the inquiry and have to sit in silence and ‘suppress shouting out comments’, Mr Hedges says his focus is on getting the compensation he believes he is due.

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“Last Friday i submitted my fully argued and evidenced claim for compensation,” he said.

“It has taken just over three years since my conviction was quashed.

"The hoops the Post Office lawyers have made me jump through are unbelievable.

" For example, one of my Heads of Loss is for all the rent I have had to pay since were forced out of property and into the rental market.

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"We have rented since 2013 and in the 11 years have forked out a huge sum in rent.

"If we had not lost our livelihood and home our mortgage would have been paid off and we would have owned outright.

" We have had two landlords one for the flat in Skegness from 2013 to 2019 and one for here since then.

" I approached both landlords and got signed letters confirming everything and detailing all rents paid.

" That was not good enough and a few weeks ago I spent a couple of hours photocopying bank statements showing the rents leaving my account.

“They have 30 days to respond to my claim.”

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