'Your family is gone' Sub-postmaster threatened into giving false confession speaks out

Senapathy Narenthiran says he was coerced by Post Office auditors. Credit: ITV Meridian / PA

A former sub-postmaster has told ITV Meridian Post Office auditors threatened him into giving a false confession to save his family, when the Horizon IT system wrongly said he owed thousands of pounds.

Senapathy Narenthiran, 68, worked in a post office in East London when he first noticed shortfalls in his accounts. He's since moved to Ramsgate, Kent, to try and rebuild his life.

He was a victim of the scandal, which saw over 700 sub-postmasters and mistresses wrongly prosecuted by the Post Office between 1999 and 2015.

Naranthiran was told he owed £275,000 by auditors, who refused to believe he had done nothing wrong.

He said despite giving pages of evidence to prove he was innocent, they refused to listen, before threatening his wife and family if he refused to confess.

"They said you need to write a confession letter saying that you have taken the money," he told ITV Meridian.

"If you don't give me that letter you will be going to prison... your wife will be going to prison.

"Your kids will be taken into care. That's it. Your family is gone."

  • Senapathy Narenthiran tells ITV Meridian that auditors coerced him into giving a false confession.

Naranthiran was given a three year jail sentence, of which he served one and a half years behind bars.

When he was first accused he wrote four letters explaining in detail what he believed had happened, knowing he was not at fault.

He then gave those documents to Post Office officials, who he says dismissed them, adamant he had stolen thousands of pounds.

"I gave them four letters with exactly what happened," he said.

"They said no, you still have to write it. That you have taken the money from your shops, then only the shortfall came and you accept the shortfall.

"I said no I'm not. They said if you don't then this is what is going to happen...

"You will be arrested, your wife will be arrested, and your children will be going into care.

"I thought what's the point.... in the end I told the auditor, you dictate what you want me to write, I will write it and give it you.

"She dictated what she wanted me to write, I did, I signed it and gave it to her.

That's it, then the police took me to the police station."

  • Narenthiran said the officials threatened his wife and children.

Now, as he tries to rebuild his life following his conviction, Naranthiran has moved to Ramsgate where he is starting a cafe.

The conviction has left him with a black mark, and at the age of 68, he fears his name will not be cleared before he dies.

He, and others, say the process has gone on for too long, and want a blanket pardon to be issued to all who were wrongly convicted.

By 2026 he hopes everything will be over. He said: "Now it is 2023, at least even before 2026, if they can finish everything.

"I am 68 years old, maybe another two years I live, prior to that my name has to be cleared.

"Like me there are so many elderly sub-postmasters and postmistresses there, their names have got to be cleared so they can go and live in society without any black marks on them."

  • Senapathy Narenthiran fears he will die before his name is cleared.

Rishi Sunak on Sunday confirmed a report that Justice Secretary Alex Chalk is considering ways of helping to clear the names of convicted subpostmasters caught up in what has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

More than 700 Post Office branch managers were given criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software called Horizon made it appear as though money was missing from their shops.

There has been fresh public backlash to the scandal after ITV aired a drama starring actor Toby Jones last week about the scandal.

Scotland Yard said on Friday evening that officers are “investigating potential fraud offences arising out of these prosecutions”, for example “monies recovered from sub-postmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions”.

The Metropolitan Police, even before the ITV series on Horizon was broadcast, had already been looking into potential offences of perjury and perverting the course of justice in relation to investigations and prosecutions carried out by the Post Office.

Two people have been interviewed under caution but nobody has been arrested since the investigation was launched in January 2020.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to right the wrongs of the past, as far as that is possible. Both Post Office and Government are committed to providing full, fair and final compensation for the people affected.”

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