Devastated widow says husband ‘hit rock bottom’ after false Post Office accusations

The devastated widow of a sub-postmaster who took his own life after being falsely accused of theft has described how the Post Office and their faulty computer system ruined her family’s life. Martin Griffiths, who ran a post office in Great Sutton near Ellesmere Port with wife Gina, was one of hundreds of sub-postmasters wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a flaw in a Horizon computer system.

The wrongful convictions and accusations, made between 2000 and 2014, were recently examined by a public inquiry, which started earlier this year. Mr Griffiths became one of the victims in 2009, when he was accused of stealing over £60,000.

The Post Offices’ accounting computer system, Horizon, had documented a shortfall in income. The shame of being accused of theft was devastating to Mr Griffiths and in September 2013, he killed himself aged just 58.

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In yesterday’s (April 25) BBC Panorama documentary, his widow Gina emotionally described how the Post Office’s faulty computer system had ruined her family’s life. “Martin and I married in ’82, we had two children,” Gina Griffiths told BBC Panorama.

“He liked all sorts of sports. He was a very good sportsman, he loved cricket.

“We decided to look into buying the post office and Hope Farm Road came on the market. And we decided to go for it.

“It was a very busy post office, and we successfully ran it for many, many years, 13, 14 years, and then all of a sudden, money started going missing. We had to pay the money back in order to carry on trading, otherwise, they would have closed us down.

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“They hounded him. They persecuted him. Didn’t seem to be any end to it at the time.”

Gina continued: “Then they told him they wanted to terminate his positions. [as a] sub postmaster and they gave him three months. Martin hit rock bottom.

Martin Griffiths

“He said goodbye on Monday morning. I was going to work an hour later. It came on the radio, about an accident that happened on the road that we traveled on the A41.

“I just knew it was Martin. I think he’d been planning it, I really do.

“He’s a proud man and I think he thought he was letting us all down; his children of him, his parents of him, me. To turn the machine off in the morning, and the worst, the worst thing for me was seeing my children.

“They had to see their dad die and it was purely down to the post office. Nobody else, so I blame them.”

The names of 29 postal workers were cleared in 2021 in the Court of Appeals, but not before many were left homeless, suicidal, devastated and ruined by the impact of the accusations. The Post Office told BBC Panorama: “We are sincerely sorry for the impact that the Horizon scandal has had upon the victims and their families.

“Past failings can never be repeated and we are making fundamental reforms to our operations and culture. Whilst we cannot change the past, we have taken determined action to ensure that justice is provided for the people affected.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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