ONE of the victims of the Post Office scandal whose story is being told in a new ITV drama said tonight’s episode will ‘shock’ viewers.

Jo Hamilton, a former sub-postmaster from South Warnborough, suffered an ‘horrendous ordeal’ when she was forced to beg and borrow money after being accused of stealing £36,000 by the Post Office.

She pleaded guilty in 2008 to false accounting for fear of going to prison. However, her conviction was quashed in 2021 after she was found to be a victim of the Horizon Post Office Scandal, where a faulty accounting system led to more than 700 sub-postmasters being prosecuted.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Jo Hamilton, who is played by Monica Dolan in Mr Bates vs The Post Office

Their story is now being told in a four-part ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which is laying bare what has been called the ‘most widespread miscarriage of justice in British legal history’.

Speaking to the Gazette following the airing of the second episode on Tuesday, January 2, Jo, now 66, said: “I don’t think people realise the scale of what they did. It’s depraved. Tonight’s episode will shock you to the core. It is depraved. I do not know what’s wrong with them and when you see what happens tonight it’s hideous.”

Jo said she first became involved with the drama three years ago and has helped the programme’s writer Gwyneth Hughes and Bafta-winning actress Monica Donlan who plays her, to accurately tell the story. This involved her recording her life story on audio for Monica to listen to, helping the actress adopt Jo’s character.

“She did real research and she spent the day with me and she and some others went to dinner to the Fur and Feathers in Herriard. She really got to know us all. It really shows because Monica has done a great job,” she said.

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Jo watched the drama in London prior to it being shown on television this week and said: “Gweneth has done an incredible job to cram 20 years into four episodes and make it so it can be understood what’s going on. People don’t realise how evil they (the Post Office) have been. I still don’t understand why. Why did they do this? When they realised, they didn’t stop. They made it so difficult and dragged us through the High Court.”

Although Jo has received some compensation, she said she will not give up campaigning and fighting until all the victims receive their money back. She also hopes to see individuals prosecuted for their actions.

“They have quite literally perverted the course of justice and bent all the rules there are to bend,” she said, adding: “Our barrister said it will happen, but it can’t happen until the inquiry is finished.”

The inquiry into the scandal began in September 2020 to provide a public summary of the failings that occurred with the Fujitsu faulty software, Horizon. It is due to finish later this year.

Jo, a mother-of-two who is now retired, but still does some part-time cleaning work, said she still feels angry about the ordeal, saying: “What I feel angry about is so many people are old and dying before they get their money.”

She added: “It’s consumed me for many years. I will put it behind me when everyone has been paid. I’m in a better position financially now. I can’t imagine what it’s like to still be waiting.”

Jo said the third episode will ‘shock’ viewers, as the harsh reality of how the ordeal impacted individuals is shown, along with the response from the Post Office.

“It’s just awful,” said Jo, adding: “It’s awful and it really did happen. What is shown on the programme tonight really did happen. I don’t know how they sleep in their beds at night. I really hope some of them get done for perverting the course of justice.

“It was clear that they knew what they had done and instead of putting their hands up, they fought us and they spent all this public money trying to prove something that couldn’t be proved.”

Despite the trauma she suffered, Jo said a positive to come from the ordeal is the friendships she has forged with other victims and the support she received from the community in South Warnborough, who stood by her throughout. They were shown on the drama turning up at Winchester Crown Court to support Jo when she was sentenced, clapping her as she entered the court room.

“Thank goodness I had the support of the village because I would have gone to prison like some of the others,” Jo said, adding: “They said I’m 75 per cent likely to go down for this. I did actually think I was guilty of false accounting because I said money was there which wasn’t. But I hadn’t taken anything. I wasn’t concealing it for my own benefit.”

The Post Office has been asked for a comment.