A FORMER south Cumbria subpostmaster affected by the Horizon IT scandal has told MPs he thinks the Post Office is 'not bothered' about paying out compensation.

Tony Downey ended up bankrupt after shortfalls sprang up at his Post Office counter in Hawkshead leading him to suffer a 'nervous breakdown' and leave the country.

Mr Downey said he had now had to wait eight months for a compensation offer that was 'nowhere near where it should have been'.

He told a hearing of the Business and Trade Committee that the process of applying for compensation under the Horizon Shortfall Scheme was difficult and former subpostmasters were 'not believed' by Post Office bosses.

Mr Downey said his health had deteriorated since being suspended by the Post Office and wrongly accused of stealing £35,000 from Hawkshead Post Office.

Describing his fight to get compensation, he told the hearing the Post Office was not accepting he had become bankrupt and suffered health issues as a result of the wrongful suspension. 

"The initial application is difficult to do on your own," he said.

"They asked the right questions and I gave quite detailed responses which I think they chose to ignore and they picked certain phrases out.

"An example - it's fairly obvious why my bankruptcy happened, they told me that I chose to pay off a £100,000 mortgage rather than pay my £20,000 - well that's just not the case.

"I didn't have a £100,000 mortgage, I rented a home and my debts were double.

"It's like they admit they've wronged but they don't want to pay the compensation.

"For most of us we are not believed, it's as though we are making it up.

"This happened to us.

"They admit it on paper but when it comes to it they're not bothered."

Answering questions from MPs in Parliament, he said: "They're not admitting causation, they won't admit my health issues - they're saying it's my problem.

"From the day I was suspended my health got worse and worse and worse up to a nervous breakdown.

"The doctors put in that the stress of the Post Office, the stress of the bankruptcy had caused my illness, the Post Office chose to ignore all of that and they said I had family problems."

Mr Downey told the committee the last few weeks had been the first time he had set foot in the country in 15 years after moving to France and then Spain.

Carl Creswell, director of business resilience at the Department of Business and Trade, said ministers and senior civil servants wanted to pay out money faster.