WHEN Alan Bates was sacked as a Welsh supbpostmaster in 2003 for becoming too awkward and too outspoken in his criticisms of the Horizon computer system, he wrote to his line manager saying: “I can assure you of my continued and now increased resolve to bring the real facts of what is going on to those who will have no choice but to act, regardless of whether it takes years.”

More than 20 years later, he finally got his time in the spotlight. He has fought with a dogged cussedness that is absolutely admirable and now there is no one who doubts that he, and the other subpostmasters, were appallingly stitched up by those who preferred to put their trust in a computer rather than in a human being and by those big bosses who wished to protect themselves by sacrificing the little people in the sub post offices.

He does deserve an honour, as recognition that an arm of the state has done him a profound wrong, and it says something about the country’s warped priorities that when the Prime Minister surprisingly rushes out an honours list, it is to reward billionaire party donors and not someone like Mr Bates.

More than an honour, Mr Bates deserves financial redress for his lost decades.

It is a second scandal that those victims of the Horizon scandal are not having their claims settled with the utmost speed. An arm of the state robbed the subpostmasters of their years – in some cases, it imprisoned them, and in a few cases it drove them to take their own lives – while chief executives, civil servants and probably ministers failed in their duties, so the very least the Government can now do is make sure the victims’ remaining years are not taken up with more arguments about the size of their settlements.