The recent ITV dramatisation Mr Bates vs The Post Office highlighted a huge miscarriage of justice.

The ongoing injustice has been running for more than 20 years, since the Post Office introduced it's Horizon computer system.

The malfunctions in this system saw 100s of sub-postmasters and mistresses recording deficits on their accounts. None could understand what was going on. Some frightened people used their savings to make up shortfalls.

The inhuman Post Office managers seemed happier to believe that 100s of their loyal staff were dishonest than they might have a malfunctioning computer system.

They pushed on prosecuting hundreds of people.

Some went to prison, a number committed suicide, others had mental breakdowns.  It was a truly scandalous story.

The drama tells how Alan Bates refused to break under Post Office intimidation. He lost his business but continued the fight against injustice.

The key to the successful campaign was bringing people together. The Post Office repeatedly told those they were accusing that no one else was being effected in the same way. This made people feel powerless, isolated and alone. Once there was some media coverage, the dots began to be joined, with Bates bringing the people together.

Then, lawyers became involved plus Parliamentarians joined the effort to get justice.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan watched the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post OfficePaul Donovan watched the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office

Former Conservative MP for Wanstead and Woodford (1987 to 1997) James Arbuthnot played a key role in advancing the case in Parliament and bringing the Post Office to account. He was MP for North East Hampshire, when advancing the cause.

What the case proved is how important an effective campaign is in attaining justice.

Miscarriage of justice cases succeed when people come together in an effective collective campaign. Lawyers, politicians and journalists all have a role to play but the campaign is essential.

Bates played a vital role in getting the sub-postmasters campaign underway.  There is still a long way to go, lots more penalised sub-postmasters have come forward since the drama was aired.

Many have still not been compensated or had their convictions quashed. Those who committed suicide will never be compensated. A terrible loss.

There are lessons to be learned in terms of bringing corporate power to account. Bringing people together in a collective voice is key. 

Something else to keep in mind is that more such computer based scandals are likely to occur, as we all blindly bow to the power of the machine over people.

People need to come together in opposition, refusing to be isolated, atomised and made to feel powerless at the behest of some bottom line defined dystopia. Power to the people!

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (