Post Office scandal: Toby Jones ‘played a hero’ in Mr Bates drama

Actor Toby Jones, who played the lead role in the TV series about the Post Office scandal, has said he “played a hero” in the drama.

He starred as Alan Bates in the ITV show Mr Bates vs the Post Office, which tells the story of hundreds of sub-postmasters who were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting.

Many of the reported losses in branch accounts which led to prosecutions were actually caused by faults in Horizon – the Post Office’s computer system.

Jones, speaking at the Hay Festival, said Bates – a former sub-postmaster himself, who led the victims’ campaign to get justice – “doesn’t want any honours until he’s finished the job”.

“I get to play a hero. Really, someone who I think of as a hero. Someone in the culture who just doesn’t seem to be subject to the same forces that we all are,” the 57-year-old said.

“He can’t be bought. He’s asked to open Glastonbury. ‘No, thank you’. He’s asked to do these things, he doesn’t want to do any of that. He says, ‘I’ve got work to do’, which is to get that stuff done.”

Jones added that the values that Bates had demonstrated, such as duty and following things through are “unfashionable” now, but he remembered “being lectured about” them when he was growing up.

The Post Office Horizon scandal has been called the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history.

The four-part series, which aired at the start of the year, renewed mass public interest in the plight of the victims like never before.

Last month, a bill quashing the convictions of hundreds of sub-postmasters became law just before Parliament ended ahead of the general election.

Former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells also recently faced three days of questions at the public inquiry into the scandal.

When reflecting on what exactly had made the show such a hit, Jones said there was “a feeling of disempowerment” in the country.

“There’s a feeling of outrage, justly, and the story is told very clearly, and it’s by no means obvious,” he said.

“Computer software malfunction is not an obvious thing to make a drama about.”

He also spoke about the victims of the scandal, describing them as having “this extraordinary dignity, considering 20 years of living in a Hitchcockian nightmare.

“They have this incredible humble modest humility.”

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