Tragic toll of Post Office Horizon scandal

Husband killed by stress over flawed system, says widow

Mandy with a treasured photo of her and Steve, and Steve with their youngest girl.
Mandy with a treasured photo of her and Steve, and Steve with their youngest girl.

THE human cost of the Post Office Horizon scandal has been laid bare by the widow of a postmaster.

Mandy Dosanjh says her husband, Steve Singh, died aged 45 as a direct result of the stress caused by repeated apparent shortfalls flagged up by the flawed system at their post office for several years.

Steve left behind three daughters and a son, the youngest of whom was just 18 months old when he died in June 2018.

Mandy, 41, said: “I feel like I’ve been robbed of my husband and the kids have been robbed of their dad.

“Our lives have been turned upside down as a result of Steve dying because of the stress he felt about the Horizon shortfalls.”

Steve, who wasn’t a drinker or smoker and regularly went to the gym, collapsed with a brain haemorrhage in the Premier c-store and post office that the couple ran in Airth, Stirlingshire, on a Saturday evening.

Mandy said: “I remember it like it was yesterday. I was working in the local BP petrol station and Steve called in with the girls and had a Subway in the afternoon.

“He asked how the shift was going – and that was the last time I spoke to him.

“Later, we got a phone call to the garage saying Steve had had a fall in the shop.

“I jumped in the car and drove along to find two ambulances and paramedics already there – and Steve was on a stretcher.”

He was rushed to hospital, initially in Larbert and then on to Edinburgh, where medics tried to resuscitate him with CPR before he had to be put on a life-support machine.

After a sleepless night, Mandy opened the Premier on the Sunday and discovered a £6,309 shortfall on the Horizon system.

Then, sadly, a decision was taken to turn off Steve’s life support on the Monday and he died at 5:17pm. An only son, his parents were only able to fly in from Punjab on the Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on the Tuesday, Mandy said two Post Office auditors turned up at the shop asking questions about the latest £6,309 shortfall.

Mandy said: “I didn’t know what to say to the auditors. They wanted answers from the postmaster but Steve was already dead. I had to call my uncle to speak to them. They knew Steve was dead but they were abrupt, even rude.”

Mandy managed to get the money from her mum that same day so she could get the auditors out and reopen the post office.

She said: “There was no sympathy or loyalty or consideration that we had been running the post office for 12 years and the shop for 17 years. The Post Office has never expressed any sympathy over Steve’s passing.”

Mandy explained how the couple had started getting shortfalls in 2010. There would be discrepancies of up to £1,000 every few months.

She said: “It was like Cluedo – we couldn’t work out why there were shortfalls. We would make up the missing amounts. We knew it wasn’t the shop staff because they were so good and long-serving.”

Mandy told how Steve became so worried that he wouldn’t take holidays and, in the end, the couple started taking separate breaks so that one of them was always around to run the shop.

Adding to the stress was the fact that members of the family started accusing the couple of taking the money.

The mum said: “Steve’s brain haemorrhage was 100% down to the stress over Horizon. I just feel like I owe him some sort of justice.

“I know the local community would support me. They know we were honest traders and Steve was a genuine guy who was really well known.”

Mandy claimed £41,200 from the Post Office for shortfalls in 2022.

But, after the Post Office said it never received relevant paperwork sent by special delivery, it only offered the widow £25,385, which she accepted in early 2023.

That included compensatory interest of just £3,280 after tax, and, crucially, the Post Office only considered the period from 21 October 2015 to 21 June 2018.

Now Mandy is considering seeking more compensation over Horizon discrepancies in the earlier years, although she added: “Obviously, compensation doesn’t make up for the loss of Steve.”

And the mum has had to give up running the shop to look after her family, although she now works part-time at a nearby Co-op. Mandy concluded: “It’s unbearable – life would have been so different if Steve was still here.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the events of the Horizon IT scandal have brought to so many people and their families.

“However, an apology from the Post Office is, of course, not enough and that is why we are working as fast as we can to provide redress for those affected.

“Both the Post Office and Government are committed to providing full, fair and final compensation.

“To date, offers of more than £150million have been made to around 2,700 postmasters, the majority of which have been agreed and paid.

“We fully share the aims of the public inquiry, set up to get to the truth of what happened in the past and accountability.”