Subpostmistress who ‘paid back’ £70,000 to Post Office says they accused her children of stealing

A former subpostmistress has told The Independent the Post Office accused her children of stealing money from the till.

Myra Philip worked at the counter alongside her mother, Mary, who ran a post office in Auchtermuchty, a town in Fife, Scotland.

With her mother, she paid £70,000 back to the Post Office through a combination of loans, savings and borrowing from family members, leaving her feeling ”humiliated, shamed, and frustrated”.

This week, the inquiry into the scandal is hearing from Paula Vennells, who was chief executive of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, by which point Myra and Mary had already been pursued by auditors.

Describing her ordeal, Myra said: ”Most weeks, there was a cash shortfall. We had to put money in, time after time. It took all the profit from the shop. It was so bad, I couldn’t pay my mortgage, let alone the post office mortgage.

“If there was a shortfall, we were there until 3am trying to make it work.

“They were accusing my teenage children of getting up through the night and managing to get into a locked safe. I ended up sleeping with the keys to the Post Office under my pillow at one point.”

 (Myra Philip)
(Myra Philip)

The former subpostmistress described the institution as ”rotten to its core“, as new polling shows trust in the Post Office has plummeted.

Once Britain’s sixth-most-trusted financial, banking and insurance brand, it has dropped to 135th in the space of a year, according to polling by Savanta.

Public outrage at the Horizon IT scandal spread rapidly with the broadcast of the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

Myra said the entire ordeal had a “terrible” impact on her mother, who was a former police officer and a respected figure in the local community.  She was 65 when she was suspended by auditors in 2006 following an internal investigation.


Mary died in January 2018 at the age of 83 without knowing the truth behind the shocking scandal which rocked Britain.

She revealed that her mother would stocktake on paper and enter it into the broken Horizon IT system. She appealed multiple times to her local Federation of Subpostmasters rep who would speak to her ”like a criminal”.

Mary ”went to her grave not knowing“ she was a victim of the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

“I want to prove her correct because she would have loved that. She was very much an ’I told you so‘ person. And she deserved to know that she was right.”

 (Myra Phillip)
(Myra Phillip)

“We didn’t talk about it much after because it still upset her,” she said. “And she wasn’t the sort of person who was prone to emotional outbursts. She was a very strong woman.”

Myra is still seeking compensation after she missed the deadline to apply in 2020. She claims she did not receive any contact from the Post Office because her mother was dead.

After the scheme closed, Myra reached out to the Post Office via email and was told to apply to the historic shortfall scheme.

“They told me I couldn’t apply because the scheme was closed and remained closed - and they were sure I would understand and wished me all the best,” she said. “That was the point that I completely lost my temper and then started campaigning.“


Since the release of the hit ITV drama,Myra feels people no longer look at her like she is “crazy” when she explains the situation.

Ahead of Paula Vennells testimony at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, Myra said Ms Vennells’ crime was an “attempted cover-up” of the scandal.

At the inquiry on Wednesday, Ms Vennells apologised for the suffering of sub postmasters and their families, and broke down in tears. She said she was “too trusting” of the information she was given while she was in her post.

The Post Office said in a statement: ”We are sorry for the hurt and suffering that was caused to victims of the Horizon IT Scandal and their loved ones. The Horizon Shortfall Scheme was established to provide redress to victims of the scandal.

“So far £117m has been paid to victims and the scheme remains open to late applications.

“Interim payments of up to 100% of the proposed settlement under that scheme is made available to claimants pending an agreed final resolution in order to alleviate any immediate financial pressures and there are no caps on the amounts of redress available.”