Accrington actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has said the wife of campaigner and former sub-postmaster Alan Bates is “the wind beneath his wings.”

The former Coronation Street star, who plays Suzanne Sercombe in the ITV drama about the Horizon IT scandal, said she hopes the couple soon get “some peace and happiness and some time to enjoy together”.

It comes a day after an inquiry heard Mr Bates was sacked by the Post Office for being “unmanageable”.

Mr Bates, who attended the inquiry in person with his wife on Tuesday, said the Government needs to be held “responsible” for its part in the Horizon scandal after “pumping huge amounts of money” into the Post Office.

The organisation has come under fire since the broadcast of the drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which put the Horizon IT scandal under the spotlight.

More than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted by the Post Office and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Hesmondhalgh, who was brought up in Elmfield Street, Church, spent time with Sercombe before playing her. 

Lancashire Telegraph:

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “She really is the wind beneath his wings.

“I mean, you get that impression completely when you go to their house and meet them.

“And I had a wonderful afternoon before we started filming, where I was just able to ask about her amazing life – none of which is on screen, of course.

“But I got the impression that it was lovely for her to be able to talk about herself in that way, because their lives have been completely taken over by this campaign for so many years. And I hope that soon to get some peace and happiness and some time to enjoy together.”

Mr Bates had his contract terminated by the Post Office in 2003 after refusing to accept liability for shortfalls in the accounts at his branch in Llandudno, North Wales.

Hesmondhalgh said learning about what had happened to the sub-postmasters was “shock upon shock about how long it went on for and how badly people were treated that the level of lies and corruption that was going on behind the scenes, which of course is all coming out now.”

She added: “But I think that part of the problem was that it had gone on for such a long time.

“There had been really good journalism around, of course, there are podcasts that had been made before, but I think that a drama can just cut to the heart of things.”