Sub postmaster's life 'ruined' by wrongful conviction in Horizon scandal

Ian Warren was a subpostmaster who was caught up in the Horizon subpostmaster scandal.
Byline: Sonya

Ian Warren has described how his life has been 'destroyed' by his conviction for theft during the Horizon scandal. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A former sub postmaster has described how his life and health have been ruined after he was wrongly convicted of theft during the Post Office IT scandal. 

Ian Warren, 75, who ran the Post Office in Castle Hedingham, said his conviction left him unable to find work and believed the financial and mental stress of the situation contributed to his cancer and the dementia that put his partner Valerie Wilson, 69, in a care home. 

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

He was also given a community sentence. 

Ian Warren received a suspended sentence and was ordered to repay £18,000.

Ian Warren received a suspended sentence and was ordered to repay £18,000. Byline: Sonya Duncan - 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’. 

In total, the Post Office prosecuted 736 sub postmasters and sub postmistresses between 1999 and 2015 based on information supplied by the Horizon software. 

Some went to prison, while others were financially ruined or have since died. 

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"It has destroyed my life," Mr Warren said. "Mentally, I have coped, but I have sought and got some help.

"I am so desperate about what has happened to my partner, who is not even 70 yet and she is in a care home with dementia and nobody can convince me that that has got nothing to do with the Post Office thing. 

“And nobody can convince me that I did not get cancer because of the mental and financial stress of the situation." 

Ian Warren believes the stress of his conviction led to his cancer and his partner's dementia. Byline: Sonya

Ian Warren believes the stress of his conviction led to his cancer and his partner's dementia. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

He used to work as a financial director for large companies and ‘opportunistically’ decided to take over the Castle Hedingham village store and Post Office as he planned for the end of his working life. 

But he moved to another village near Dereham in Norfolk with his partner 11 years ago after the stigma of his sentence made life uncomfortable in Castle Hedingham. 

“We all got a terrific stigma and you’re in a community and there is no smoke without fire and it is just horrible to be known as the person who pleaded guilty to the theft of people’s pension money from the Post Office,” he added. 

He has so far received £100,000 in compensation, but said the settlement does not cover the financial damage he has suffered from being unable to find work. 

He is continuing to push for further compensation along with other sub postmasters affected by the scandal.  

A spokesperson for the Post Office said:  “We are sincerely sorry for past events and providing compensation to victims of the Horizon scandal is a priority.  

"We are continuing to make payments every week. Interim payments of up to £100,000 have been expedited, ahead of final compensation, to the majority of people whose convictions have been overturned and will continue for others.

"Post Office is working with the government on the arrangements for final settlements.”