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Welsh Tory MP denies ‘jumping on bandwagon’ in Post Office scandal

13 Jan 2024 6 minute read
Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie

Martin Shipton

Ynys Môn Tory MP Virginia Crosbie has denied jumping on a bandwagon after the family of a sub-postmaster who was wrongly jailed asked her to stop mentioning his case on social media.

Noel Thomas, who ran a post office in Ms Crosbie’s constituency, was one of hundreds of victims falsely accused of stealing money from the Post Office when accounting faults were in fact caused by the Horizon computer system. He was given a nine-month prison sentence and disqualified from being a councillor.

After Ms Crosbie referred to Mr Thomas’ case on Facebook, the ex sub-postmaster’s daughter Sian Vaughan Thomas posted a message which said: “Virginia Crosby, may I please ask who you are, I never met you, dad apparently met you once a few years ago, and you never acknowledges [sic] that meeting, could you please stop putting things on social media about Noel my dad, we are finding it very upsetting. Diolch Thomas family.”

‘Publicity stunt’

In another comment on Instagram, Mr Thomas’ son Edwin Thomas addressed Virginia Crosbie, saying: “Hi, please don’t use my father’s name to help promote yourself. He came to you asking for help and you took no notice of him. This is a publicity stunt from you so please never use his name again. Thanks.”

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts raised in the House of Commons the plight of Mr Thomas and other sub-postmasters, saying: “Former Plaid Cymru councillor Noel Thomas’ 16-year-long quest for justice has had enormous repercussions for him and his family. He faced imprisonment, bankruptcy, and the loss of his home. He describes his nine months spent in prison as ‘hell on earth’.

“I know now of people who will not work on #PostOffice counters. This has meant that there are communities that have lost their post offices. Not just individuals have suffered this agony but also communities have lost essential facilities. What assessment has the Minister made of the loss of post offices following the scandal, and the effect on communities, particularly rural communities?”

Anglesey Postmaster Noel Thomas who was wrongfully jailed in 2006

Kevin Hollinrake, the UK Government Business and Trade Minister responsible for the Post Office, told Ms Saville Roberts: “On behalf of the Government and the Post Office, I apologise for what happened to Mr Thomas, who obviously featured very heavily in the programme. It was such a moving story, and anybody watching would have been moved to tears by what happened to him and others.

“Individual sub-postmasters lost their reputation, and they can get compensation for that, but the right hon. Lady is right to say that the post office network itself may have suffered some loss of reputation. I still believe that our post office network is hugely valued, and that citizens and constituents hold it in very high regard.

“To make sure that we have suitable post office provision around the country, the key thing is to ensure that post offices are financially viable and sustainable. We are working very hard on that. For example, we are encouraging the Post Office to take a firmer line in negotiations on the banking framework, which is a significant revenue opportunity for the network, and on parcel hubs. We see a bright future for the network, but it is vital that we draw a line under this scandal before we secure that future.”

Supported

In the same Parliamentary question session, Ms Crosbie asked Mr Hollinrake: “Noel Thomas, one of my constituents, was a former sub-postmaster who was wrongly convicted. His conviction for false accounting in 2006 was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2021. How is my hon. Friend ensuring that sub-postmasters such as Noel Thomas, across the UK, are heard, supported, recompensed, recognised and, most importantly, exonerated? Will the Minister meet Noel Thomas, should he wish that to happen?”

The Minister responded: “I would be delighted to meet Noel Thomas. A key part of the excellent dramatisation Mr Bates vs The Post Office and of Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The Real Story, which sits behind it and which people can also watch, features Mr Thomas.

“His story was incredibly moving and anybody who saw it would be moved by it, so of course I will meet him. I am keen to ensure that he gets not only the apology he deserves, but the redress he deserves, and I am sure we can discuss that when we meet. The Government are keen to make sure that the compensation schemes work as effectively as possible, to make sure that Mr Thomas gets the compensation he needs and he is able to move on with his life.”

‘Fairness’

Plaid Cymru issued a statement from its general election candidate for Ynys Môn Llinos Medi saying: “Thank you Liz Saville Roberts for referring specifically to Noel Thomas in the House of Commons. As a Member of Parliament for Ynys Môn, I would be privileged to stand in the House of Commons and demand fairness for our Noel, along with all the other postmasters.”

Ms Crosbie responded: “Even by Plaid Cymru’s usual standards of hypocrisy this is a new low. It is perfectly legitimate for me to ask a minister if he would meet one of my constituents following such a terrible scandal. I was doing my job. If I had not, I would probably have been criticised for doing nothing.

“Accusations I have just joined the bandwagon are nonsense too. I spoke about this issue in Parliament and mentioned Mr Thomas back in 2021. There was no Plaid organised outcry then. I find it particularly hypocritical that no-one is accusing Liz Saville Roberts of joining the bandwagon when she mentioned Mr Thomas in Parliament just minutes before me, and he is not even her constituent.

“That Mr Thomas’ family do not want me to mention him again is fine. I have not mentioned him or posted on social media about him since the family asked me not to do so. He now has the invitation to meet with a minister that I secured. If he doesn’t want to do so, then that is his decision. I wish him and his family the very best.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

It is the bandwagon that her boss has jumped on that worries me…

The Lone Ranger and his little sidekick Murkha Sunak…

“Wait for me Mr Dillon”

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Anniversaries often echo down the years…

It is the 60th of the ‘Radfan Campaign’, to repeat what has failed repeatedly is considered madness. Aden and the leaving of…shades of the fall of Saigon.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

There are a lot of questions she should be asking her government. One would be why does her government allow the law to be abused in this way. A lot of people have suffered from this type of law, blood scandal, hillsbourough, there will be more and there are many others under pressure from deep pockets in companies and governments.

She could also ask how Simon Blagdon is.

onedragonontheshirt
onedragonontheshirt
1 month ago

There are literally no depths to which this Tory slime will not sink. Revolting.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

To be fair there are many who are jumping on the bandwagon with this. The horizon situation has been going on and known about for years. It’s a sad indictment on many of the British population that it has taken a docu drama on ITV to alert them to this tragedy. Perhaps if we weren’t watching reality TV and reading the Sun and Daily Mail then more pressure would have been on the Virginia Crosbie’s Tory gov, which has been in power for 14 yrs, to have done something far far earlier.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

Indeed but this scandal started under a Labour govt – when poor Noel Thomas was disgracefully (and wrongfully) jailed a certain Tony Blair was the UK PM.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago

Well she would, wouldn’t she?

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Rank opportunism from the Tory MP for Ynys Môn – now
there’s a surprise. But for the record the scandalous persecution of hundreds of sub postmasters and sub postmistresses started under a Labour govt – indeed when poor Noel Thomas was disgracefully (and wrongfully) jailed a certain Tony Blair was the UK PM.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Of course she’s jumping on the bandwagon. Her seat is under threat. She has to appear to show concern seeing her tenure in office has achieved absolutely nothing for the people of Mam Cymru. It’s squeaky bum time me thinks.

Anyway, both Labour & Tories are equally culpable for the Post Office Horizon scandal. System problems were noted as far back as 1999 when Blair was in power. How many were sacked, jailed or commited suicide since then? I think the 700 figure quoted affected is much bigger.

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