‘I blame the Post Office for my husband’s death’: Widow speaks out over Horizon compensation

Speaking publicly for the first time, the widow of Jayakanthan told ITV News she believes the Post Office 'is to blame' for her husband's death

For the twenty years of her widowhood, Gowri has wondered: what really happened on the last day of her husband's life.

The facts of his death are simple. But the sudden financial crisis that drove him to suicide remains mysterious.

"There were two officers. And I think the police also came. And I asked them, 'where is he? Where is my husband?' And they said he is under audit. Under investigation."

Jayakanthan ran a string of convenience stores. And he'd recently taken on a Post Office branch in west London. Suddenly, there was money missing from its accounts.

"He panicked, that's the best word. He got scared," says Gowri.

She is speaking publicly for the first time of the moment she discovered her husband's body, in the attic of their home.

"Finally we thought to kick the door [down] and we went in and he was dead. For three days I didn't sleep. For three days I was crying."

Jayakanthan took his own life, but his widow believes others bear some responsibility.

"I think the Post Office is to blame," she says.

Gowri describes her husband as an ambitious businessman and a generous father, who worked hard to support their two young children.

'They said he is under audit. Under investigation,' Gowri told ITV News

"It was a really bad dream for me. I was in shock. Unexpected."

Slowly, Gowri rebuilt her family's life. She moved back to Sri Lanka for a while, where she had met her husband when they were both young children.

She returned to the UK, and settled in Liverpool, where we met at the Royal Albert Docks.

But it was only when the problems with the Post Office's Horizon IT system became public knowledge that she tried to seek redress.

Still, her claim for compensation took three years to settle, and it ended with its rejection.

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The Post Office panel admitted it had "no reason to doubt that the audit and what it uncovered had a profound impact on Mr Jayakanthan and resulted in him sadly taking his own life".

Yet It concluded: "The discrepancies identified during the audit cannot on the balance of probabilities be presumed to be Horizon shortfalls."

There is an obvious implication, so I ask her: "Is it possible that he did take the money?"

"I don't think so," she replies.

The truth is there's no proof, only unanswered questions.

Gowri's husband, Jayakanthan, took his own life. Credit: Supplied

Even the Post Office has conceded that there is no Horizon transaction data for Jayakanthan's branch and only limited relevant documents in a case that cost a man his life.

Kevan Jones is a Labour MP who sits on the Post Office's Horizon Compensations Advisory Board.

"This case is an absolutely tragic one, but one of too many unfortunately," he told ITV News.

"The Post Office have either destroyed records or in some cases just lost them. Then, we should err on the side of the victim and that's what certainly should happen in this case."

Jayakanthan's death is the fifth known suicide associated with the Post Office scandal.

Labour MP Kevan Jones said Jayakanthan's case was 'absolutely tragic'. Credit: ITV News

He denied himself the chance to clear his name. Gowri fights on in his absence.

"In the report they believe it is not Horizon. We are asking them to disclose the Horizon system which was in the Putney Post Office," she says.

"It's cost me a lot. Personal. Financial. I'm a widow. And I can't change that."

This scandal was covered up for so long that many truths might be lost forever.

A Post Office spokesperson said: "We recognise that the claim made relates to truly tragic circumstances.

"Every single claim is assessed by an independent panel before it recommends an outcome, and that offer can rightly be disputed and re-examined.

"We are deeply sorry for the pain and suffering which the events of the Horizon IT Scandal have brought to so many people, their families, and friends."

If you, or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, here's where to get support


Mind is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues.It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

The Samaritans

Samaritans is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

  • Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline)

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

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