THE story of Tom Brown, the hero subpostmaster from north Durham who fought off armed robbers and was wrongly accused of stealing £85,000 by the Post Office, is heartbreaking.

He died before Christmas without seeing this year’s indignation, without being exonerated and without being compensated for being driven into bankruptcy – although we are never going to be able to compensate people adequately for their lost decades. However much money they are given, those years can never be reinstated.

The Northern Echo reported fully on his case in 2017, which his MP, Kevan Jones, has been fighting since 2010. Mr Jones should be congratulated for his steadfastness and there are also Conservative MPs who have also been diligently banging their heads against the Post Office’s wall of obfuscation and deception – viewers of the excellent ITV series will know the name of Lord James Arbuthnot for one.

We also think the current government is right to rush through a law exonerating the subpostmasters. Yes, there is something a little unsettling about Parliament interfering with the independence of the judiciary, but this is such an unprecedented case. Yes, there is also a chance that some postmasters who were guilty of fraud may be exonerated – but the Post Office built a case against them that was itself fraudulent as it was based on evidence from a dodgy computer system.

All subpostmasters should have the slate clean. They should go back to being innocent until proven guilty.

Each day, though, brings more questions for Post Office managers: which one of them thought it right to give bonuses to the investigators for a successful prosecution of a subpostmaster. However was that going to lead to a fair investigation into fellow workers like Tom Brown, who deserved to be respected rather than bullied? We sincerely hope he is now resting in peace.