Former councillor to be honoured following ‘terrible miscarriage of justice’
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
A former postmaster and Anglesey councillor who lost his seat after being wrongfully jailed for mistakes made by a faulty IT system is to be recognised by the authority for the “terrible miscarriage of justice.”
In 2006 Noel Thomas, a former Plaid Cymru councillor who helped run the Post Office in Gaerwen, was jailed for nine months after being wrongly accused of false accounting after £48,000 was thought to have gone missing from office accounts.
It wasn’t until much later that it emerged that Mr Thomas, now 74, was one of a string of subpostmasters to have been wrongly convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting after falling victim to the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system.
Last month, after 16 years of fighting to clear his name, Mr Thomas and another 38 sub-postmasters’ convictions were quashed at London’s Court of Appeal, with the findings of a separate UK Government inquiry expected this summer.
With more than 700 people having been prosecuted between 2000 and 2014, it has often been described as the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history.
But after Mr Thomas resigned from the Plaid Cymru group on the council and was later disqualified from the authority following his imprisonment, Anglesey’s current crop of councillors have also decided to publicly recognise the “terrible miscarriage of justice.”
Cllr Bob Parry, who was also a colleague of Mr Thomas’ during his time as a councillor for Llanfihangel Ysgeifiog, presented a motion during Tuesday’s full council meeting and noted: “Noel suffered because of a deficient computer system, but after a long battle justice was finally served.
“Noel was a popular councillor and a loss to his community and I can’t imagine how difficult it all was for his family.
“I will never forget that picture of him being led into the back of that police van, but the people of Gaerwen supported him throughout.
“It is usually the case that we present retiring members with a gift and I feel that this would be appropriate in this case and urge you to support this.”
Cllr Aled Morris Jones, who noted that Mr Thomas was first elected to the former Anglesey Borough Council in 1986, added: “The family have been through hell over the years.
“No amount of compensation will make up for this miscarriage of justice but it’s only right that we as a council show our support and respect towards Noel and his family.”
Cllr Parry’s motion was unanimously backed, with Cllr Alun Mummery stating that Mr Thomas “had never lost his self respect.”
As a result, Mr Thomas will be invited to attend the next full meeting that’s held in the council chamber so that he can be presented with a “formal vote of gratitude for his faithful service as a county councillor.”