25 Jun 2024

Post Office Scandal: ‘victims deserve to hear the real truth’, says former subpostmaster


We are joined by former subpostmaster Lee Castleton who tried to defend himself against false accusations by the Post Office that he had stolen money, and was subsequently bankrupted.

Cathy Newman: I wondered what your reaction was to what you heard today from Gareth Jenkins?

Lee Castleton: It’s just the same. It always amazes me how every single time someone gives evidence to the inquiry, they give all of the positives that help them, but never able to give the truth about the things that were hidden. The things that they didn’t say, the things that when you look back, you can see would have made such a difference to people like myself, Seema (Misra) and everybody. Those truths never came out.

Cathy Newman: When he says the Horizon system, which he created was working well, do you think he, in a way, can’t face up to what he created that went wrong? He’s sort of in denial?

Lee Castleton: Yeah. When you think about it, it’s not really good for him to say that it’s not, it was never working, I knew it wasn’t working, and therefore I was completely wrong. He needs to defend his position. It’s like giving expert evidence, he says that he was never told that he was giving expert evidence but all the way down the line, you can hear all the things that he didn’t say. He must have known not to say.

If you’re giving open and honest answers, about the unequivocal goods and bads of anything, you have to give bads but there was never any. When you look at the evidence that was given, you never hear any of the bad sides and then never the negatives throughout all of the original evidence.

Cathy Newman: You sound sort of wearily accustomed to this performance but the fact that there was no kind of in-person apology to you or others whose lives were ruined, does that strike at you?

Lee Castleton: I’m quite happy with that. I don’t want an apology. I’m sure that whatever goes on in his life or whatever, down the line, is not going to make any difference to me going forward. And, I don’t want an apology, what he doesn’t mean really. He did what he did. He will be judged on what he did. And, let’s just hear more truth.

Cathy Newman: You’d like him to face up to what he’s done, not platitudes. You don’t want to hear platitudes. You want him to actually confront what he’s done and understand it?

Lee Castleton: Absolutely. What will happen over the next few days is that Jason Beer (lead counsel for the Horizon inquiry), who’s quite wonderful, will ask him all of those awkward questions that he doesn’t want to answer. All of those questions that should have been asked in the very original cases and all of those answers that you’ll choose whether he’s going to give now or not. And that will be the measure of the man.

Cathy Newman: So what’s the question that you would ask in the next three days of evidence? What would you put to him if you were there?

Lee Castleton: It’s so important that he finds it within himself to be totally open and honest. I don’t think that that probably will be the case. I think there’s a lot of defensive positions being taken, and I just hope that the legal teams are able to probe that and let justice prevail. Let people see what Gareth Jenkins is all about and what happened. Seema and all of the victims, myself included, deserve to hear the real truth, and it’s time.

Cathy Newman: The Met police are investigating the whole scandal. What ultimately do you want to happen to Gareth Jenkins?

Lee Castleton: I want just for him to be able to be listened to, to hear what went on. Why people were asking the particular questions that they’re asking instead of being totally open and honest in his case as well, and let him be judged on that, whether that’s in a court.

One thing that all of the victims were denied was open disclosure and honesty. Disclosure was not very good. People didn’t have all the facts. He’s got a wonderful opportunity now to either give those facts to everybody or the other side, be judged on not doing so. And let him have a decent fist of making a case to defend himself because we weren’t given that.

Cathy Newman: Finally, what do you make of Alan Bates, his knighthood?

Lee Castleton: Fantastic, isn’t it? What a wonderful thing and I’m so, so happy for the recognition for all the group. We’ve all worked so hard, and I know Alan sort of attributed it to the whole group and I think it’s fantastic and I’m very, very happy.