Hull KR are a club on the up with an improving and impressive squad, an exciting head coach and stability off the field, however their chairman is now taking on a new challenge and that is to represent victims of the Horizon Post Office scandal.
Neil Hudgell has been involved with Hull KR since 2004 when he took control of the club and since then he’s helped the side through plenty of ups and downs, now landing them on stable ground and as one of the country’s most promising clubs.
He’s also the founder of Hull-based Hudgell Solicitors and having stepped down into a reduced role at Rovers, after garnering investment from Paul Sewell, Hudgell still works and represents the firm.
One of the next cases he’s set to tackle surrounds the Horizon Post Office scandal that consumed the British Postal Service from 1999 until 2015.
The stories of the victims has regained attention and come to light after the ITV drama series based on the scandal ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’, a four-part drama series that has rightly caused uproar about how postal workers were wrongly imprisoned and fined thousands.
Horizon was a new form of computer accounting software implemented by the Post Office that failed and led to shortfalls at postal branches across the country, however in the belief that the system could not be wrong it led to over 700 sub postmasters being convicted of theft and fraud.
It was only in 2019 that the High Court would finally rule that the Horizon system was in fact faulty, proving the innocence of those wrongly convicted and this new drama highlighting the events has led to further uproar.
As such the government have promised to begin quashing convictions whilst some victims are still fighting to have them overturned, and also seek compensation.
That’s where Rovers’ Hudgell comes in, the solicitor taking to BBC News this morning to reveal the hundreds of potential victims that have contacted his company seeking representation.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The drama has elevated things to a whole new platform. The countries woke up to the hideous scandal that this is all about.
“The two overwhelming feelings, I think, are revulsion at the behaviour of Post Office and an outpouring of absolute sympathy for these hideously scarred people.
“It’s obviously galvanized them, given them a renewed energy because they’ve been fighting this fight for two decades, but equally, what it’s also done is it’s brought out of the woodwork other seriously damaged people that have lived in the shadows for so long and have had to deal with mental health issues, trauma and all those sorts of things.
“We’ve been inundated with calls, well into three figures, it’s a number that rises by the day. A disturbing feature in some senses is the fact that a number of these calls are coming from relatives, sons and daughters of postmasters who are no longer with us.
“They’re emotional calls, difficult calls because they’re not here to have their names cleared so those scars will remain indefinitely. So it’s a really difficult journey but it’s one that they feel compelled to take on behalf of their loved ones.”
The ITV drama that has catapulted this story back into the mainstream stars Toby Jones as the eponymous Alan Bates, showcasing the fight for justice which is something that Neil Hudgell will continue to advocate for in his work beyond Hull KR.