Bridlington postmaster actor describes 'shocking' story of Post Office scandal ahead of new show

  • Will Mellor speaking to Alison Hammond and Dermot O'Leary on This Morning

Actor Will Mellor has described the Post Office Horizon scandal as "one of the biggest miscarriages of justice" in British history.

Known for roles in TV shows such as Broadchurch and Coronation Street, Mr Mellor is playing Bridlington subpostmaster Lee Castleton in the four-part mini-series Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which is being broadcast on ITV in the new year.

The Horizon IT scandal saw more than 700 Post Office branch managers handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 after faulty accounting software made it appear as though money was missing.

In December 2019, a High Court judge ruled that the system contained a number of “bugs, errors and defects” and there was a “material risk” that shortfalls in Post Office branch accounts were in fact caused by it.

Since then, many subpostmasters have had criminal convictions overturned, and in September, the government announced that every post office worker whose wrongful convictions for theft and false accounting were overturned would be offered £600,000 in compensation.

Speaking on This Morning on Friday, Mr Mellor said it was one of the "most shocking" things to happen to "everyday people".

"It's one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history," he said.

"It literally turned their lives upside down and they were completely innocent."

Lee Castleton - the person Mr Mellor is portraying - and his family suffered abuse from within their community as a result of the scandal.

"His children were being spat at and bullied at school," said Mr Mellor.

"[Lee] tried to defend himself and went to court, and they just said 'he's lying, there's nothing wrong with the system'."

"When you watch this series, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that this is a true story," he said.

"It ruined lives."

  • Lee Castleton telling his story to ITV News in 2020

"While we were [filming] it, I was reading the scripts and I just kept going, 'how do they sleep at night? How do they go home to their families knowing they've ruined somebody else's family?'" he said.

Mr Mellor also recounted the first time he met Lee at a press screening of the show.

"Somebody opened the door for me and he went 'hi Will', and I went, 'hi mate', and he said, 'I'm Lee Castleton'," said Mr Mellor.

"I put my coffee down and we just hugged it out and we both had a proper moment, we got emotional."

"I know what he's been through because I've been playing him, and he knows I know," he said.

"He's still going through it."

A Post Office spokesperson said: "We're acutely aware of the devastating human cost of the scandal.

"We're deeply sorry and we're doing all we can to right the wrongs of the past.

"Offers of compensation totalling more than £130 million have been made to date and we fully share the aims of the inquiry to establish what went wrong."

Mr Bates vs The Post Office is being shown on ITV1 and ITVX at 9pm every night between 1 and 4 January.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...