A FORMER subpostmaster from Greenock falsely accused of theft by his bosses has told how he is still suffering flashbacks and waiting for justice after 14 years.

Keith Macaldowie, 50, was pushed to the brink of suicide due to claimed shortfalls at his post office in Angus Road which were caused by the faulty Horizon computer system.

The first claimed shortfall of £5,000 occurred in 2009 and the second in 2011, when an audit alleged £10,000 was missing.

As he was hounded by management, the Greenock dad-of-two borrowed £10,000 from his mother-in-law, took another loan for £5,000 and remortgaged his home to balance the books.

But he was still forced to resign over the threat of prosecution and after losing his business he is today working as a local street sweeper.

Keith says the trauma of his ordeal has come flooding back this week with the screening of a TV drama about the scandal, Mr Bates v The Post Office.

It has provoked national outrage and brought the issue to to the top of the political agenda.

Keith said: "It was a hard watch for me, because I could see myself. It was quite emotional, it gave me flashbacks.

"It brought it all back. At one point back then I was ready to kill myself, but I was worried about the impact on my sons."

When shortfalls kept occurring at his branch Keith couldn't understand why.

He said: "I thought it must be something I was doing wrong, though I hadn't taken the money. 

"There were bugs in the system which could duplicate transactions and I didn't know that the system could be accessed remotely up until the inquiry.

"I was forced to resign for 'false accounting' or else I'd be prosecuted."

Greenock Telegraph:

Keith is one of the 555 people led by former postmaster Alan Bates who took the Post Office to the High Court in 2019/20.

He received just £10,000 from a Group Litigation Order (GLO) from a £58m settlement paid out in 2019 to 600 postmasters out of court.

Keith says his experience has taken a heavy toll. As well as his mental health problems, his marriage broke down. Tragically his wife whom he was separated from passed away last year, and he is now sweeping the streets and a lone parent to his sons, aged 21 and 17.

Keith, who is awaiting an appointment at the Crown House mental health centre, said: "Every morning I wake up, I'm annoyed that I am still alive but I've got to be here as I am the only parent for the boys.

"If this hadn't happened, I would still be running my own business. It's really knocked my confidence. I was accused of stealing and got into debt. I had to give money to the post office I didn't owe, it's like extortion."

Keith says he is glad that the television drama has made such an impact but is angry that this is what it has taken for politicians to take the case seriously.

He said: "It is a disgrace that it's taken a TV drama before things have come to a head. This goes all the way back to 2009, there were two Panorama documentaries made about it and a book. It's ruined my life."

Keith says he doesn't know if he'll ever get back the money he had to pay, or compensation. He believes former Post Office bosses should be taken to task over the scandal.

He said: "I'm in the process of applying for reimbursement, which is not compensation.

"I'm still in limbo, as I don't know know whether I am entitled to it. It's in the hands of the legal team.

"The ex-Post Office CEO Paula Vennells should be investigated and if wrongdoing is found, she should be prosecuted. I also think Fujitsu who created Horizon should be investigated as well."

Keith says while he wants justice to be done he believes it will ultimately be too little, too late for him and so many others whose lives have been ruined.

He told the Tele: "There is nothing that can help me. No amount of money will make any difference to me. It's too late. It's too late for lots of people.

"It will have an impact on families for generations."