Subpostmaster turned to drink to cope after Post Office Horizon scandal

Ian Warren described how he turned to drink and anti-depressants to cope with legal proceedings

Ian Warren described how he turned to drink and anti-depressants to cope with legal proceedings - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A former subpostmaster has told an inquiry into the Post Office IT scandal that he turned to alcohol and anti-depressants to cope with the stress of legal proceedings after he was wrongly convicted of theft. 

Ian Warren, who ran the Post Office at Castle Hedingham, has provided a witness statement to the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry and the human impact hearings which are currently taking place in Leeds. 

In 2009, he was given a six-month suspended sentence at Chelmsford Crown Court and ordered to repay £18,000 after being forced to plead guilty to theft to avoid being sent to prison. 

Ian Warren was ordered to repay £18,000 after being wrongly convicted of theft

Ian Warren was ordered to repay £18,000 after being wrongly convicted of theft - Credit: Sonya Duncan

However, the punishment was quashed by the High Court in early 2021, which heard the Fujitsu computer programme Horizon used by the Post Office contained "bugs, errors and defects." 

Mr Warren described how he could not sleep during his ordeal and felt "bullied," by investigators looking into the unexplained losses during his time in charge of the Essex village branch, which began in 2004. 

“During the time the audit took place and later during the closure of my Post Office, I began to drink to excess," he said. 

“However, I have since sought help for this and it was successfully dealt with. I no longer have a problem with alcohol. 

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“It was at this point that my GP felt my dose of antidepressants should be increased, due to the stress of everything that was happening. Since then, I have continued to take anti-depressants.” 

His statement also reflects on the impact on his family, including being unable to have regular contact with his grandchildren because he had to move away from Castle Hedingham to his current home in a village near Dereham in Norfolk. 

His children were also aware of his conviction, and he believes the stress contributed to him developing cancer and his partner Valerie Wilson developing dementia that had left her in a care home. 

“I am in a state of disbelief at what had happened and for which I was not responsible. The whole situation has had a significant impact on my wellbeing and self-confidence and has caused my family and I so much hurt over the years,” he concluded. 

In total, the Post Office convicted 736 subpostmasters and subpostmistresses between 1999 and 2015 based on information supplied by the Horizon software. 

So far, he has received £100,000 in compensation but said this does not cover the financial losses he has incurred from being unable to work since the conviction and he is pushing for a fairer settlement.