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Wrongly jailed postmaster ‘wasn’t allowed’ to send Welsh language letters from prison

09 Jun 2021 2 minutes Read
Cleared – Postmaster Noel Thomas who was wrongfully jailed

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.”

‘Painful’

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.

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Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
13 days ago

Outrageous in this day and age that someone is not allowed to use the Welsh language.

Welsh_Sion
Welsh_Sion
13 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

I have translated many a prisoner’s letter from Welsh into English or transcribe a telephone conversation between the prisoner and his (usually, it’s a ‘his’) nearest and dearest back home in Cymru, at the behest of various prison governors in England.

It’s not difficult to Google “Welsh translator” and search for me or one of my colleagues, drop us an email and ask if we’re available to do the work.

Ceidiog Hughes
Ceidiog Hughes
13 days ago

This happened to me back in the late 1970s when I was sent to the very same prison, HMP Walton, as the result of a Welsh language protest. After writing letters home in Welsh, I was called to see the governor. He held up my two unsent letters and a pile of letters that had been written to me by friends and supporters and told me I could have them…but only on condition that I wrote home in English. I refused in no uncertain terms. It would have defeated the very reason I ended up there. Thanks to my indomitable… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
13 days ago
Reply to  Ceidiog Hughes

The trolls who ridicule the Welsh language forget that the right to use the language was won as a result of a hard fight by groups of brave young people who put their welfare, and sometimes their careers, on the line in the 60’s and 70’s. Diolch o galon iddyn nhw.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
13 days ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Yes we owe them so much ❤️

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
13 days ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Mae arnom gymaint o ddyled iddynt, diolch yn fawr i hwy ❤️

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
13 days ago
Reply to  Ceidiog Hughes

Da iawn, diolch yn fawr i chi 😊

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