Former Alderley Edge sub-postmaster amongst those still awaiting compensation

A former Alderley Edge sub-postmaster was amongst 700 prosecuted by the Post Office for theft and false accounting which they had not committed and was instead the consequence of a computer software system that made numerous errors.

Scott Darlington was sub-postmaster in the village from 2005 to 2010 before losing his job and being prosecuted for a shortfall.

In April 2021 he finally had his name cleared by the Court of Appeal, having been falsely accused of theft.

However, like hundreds of other sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses who were victims of the 'biggest miscarriage of justice' in British history he still hasn't received his compensation, apart from an interim payment.

The Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of 39 former sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses on April 23rd 2021. Referring to Mr Darlington's case the court ruled "His convictions are unsafe. Notwithstanding his guilty pleas, we quash his convictions on all five counts."

Scott previously told alderleyedge.com "A discrepancy occurred in 2008 of £1700 which I had to pay back although I knew something wasn't right. Later on that year larger discrepancies occurred until Jan 2009 when I was audited, suspended and subsequently terminated. It was an absolute nightmare to say the least. I was given a 3 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years."

Whilst some of the sub-postmasters were asked to make up the shortfalls, which ran into tens of thousands of pounds for some, others had criminal charges brought against them, had to pay fines, lost their homes, 239 were sent to jail and four tragically killed themselves.

On 1 February 2010, in the Crown Court at Chester, Mr Darlington pleaded guilty to five counts of false accounting. On 23 February 2010, he was sentenced to a total of three months' imprisonment suspended for 12 months, with a requirement to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. Of the alleged £44,508.46 shortfall, he paid £9,000 from his own wages.

Speaking to alderleyedge.com in 2017, Scott Darlington said "This had untold consequences for me. I could not find a job for 3 and a half years. I almost lost my house. I suffered depression etc I was living off virtually no money during this time. I was headline news in the Manchester Evening News and Macclesfield Express.

"I felt everybody in Alderley believed I had been stealing and was so embarrassed by that. I am now living in Bollington and working at last. But this nightmare has continued for 9 years and is finally coming to a conclusion."

A spokesperson for Nexus Chambers, who represented the former Alderley Edge sub-postmaster said "Scott Darlington lost his job and good name. He was shamed by local press coverage and was unable to get another job for 3 and half years because of this conviction.

"He suffered weight loss and stress, his family suffered because of his inability to work, he was unable to provide for his child as he would have wanted. He has had to deal with this for years as he fought to clear his name."

The national scandal is now headline news following the ITV drama Mr Bates v The Post Office renewing public interest in the scandal resulting in demands for former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells to have her CBE withdrawn and increasing pressure on the government for all sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses to be clearly and justice to be served.

Speaking with Scott Darlington this week, he told me "Yes it's all blown up at last ! Because of the TV drama.

"The response to the TV drama has been amazing. Far greater than I expected to be honest. This has really helped a lot."

"I think it's clear the government has to put something in place to overturn all the outstanding convictions otherwise it will take another ten years to do that at the current pace.

"We all need a decent compensation amount so we can move forward without the financial difficulties we have all had to endure. Then the perpetrators need to be brought to account otherwise it won't feel like justice."

Scott added "I would like to think that everybody in Alderley is still on my side after the TV drama and hopefully I can come into the village with my head held high."

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

John Westbury
Monday 8th January 2024 at 3:51 pm
Let's hope we soon see charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice against those responsible for this utterly disgraceful situation.
Kristina Hulme
Monday 8th January 2024 at 8:57 pm
We at Travel by Design always believed you Scott and you were a brilliant subpostmaster in Alderley Edge all those years ago. Pleased to hear you are ok and living in nearby Bollington. We hope you get the compensation you rightly deserve
Now Retired Kristina and Anthony Hulme

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