Wrongly jailed postmaster ‘wasn’t allowed’ to send Welsh language letters from prison
A postmaster who was wrongly jailed for stealing, wasn’t allowed to send letters from prison in the Welsh language, he has said.
Noel Thomas, who was jailed for 9 months in 2006 for false accounting after £48,000 went missing from an office account, was initially sent to HMP Liverpool, in Walton, which he described as a “hellhole”.
According to Thomas, who used to be employed by the Post Office in Gaerwen on Anglesey, was told by the prison authorities that he would have to write letters in English, not Welsh, because they didn’t have a translator at the time.
His name, along with 38 others, was cleared in April after the UK’s most widespread miscarriage of justice.
The evidence that was used against him as well as other postmasters, was based on faulty IT linked to the Horizon computer system, and he is now campaigning to win compensation from the Post Office for his ordeal.
He told the BBC’s Today programme on Radio 4: “The main thing really was you couldn’t get in touch with your family. I did write a couple of Welsh letters but unfortunately they brought them back to me and said [they] didn’t have a translator at the time, and so if I wanted to write I had to write in English.
BBC journalist Mark Hutchings asked: “In case you were planning some escape attempt?”
Noel Thomas replied: “Yes, yes.”
When asked about the ordeal, he added: “It is painful. That was 15 years before actually because it took 12 months before sentencing.
“Running up to the court case that morning, about 10 minutes before going into court, I heard the Post Office wanted to make a deal, and they approached my barrister and solicitor and they said they were willing to drop the theft, go for false accounting, and I signed a declaration that said I wouldn’t say anything about Horizon.
“The deal was it would keep me out of jail, but unfortunately it didn’t work like that. The first eight days were in… well it was a hellhole really. Walton prison in Liverpool.
A statutory public inquiry into the Post Office Horizon scandal, which has the power to call witnesses and demand documents, began on June 1, 12 years after it was first called for.