Post Office campaigner Sir Alan Bates to receive Honorary Doctorate from Coventry University

Head and shoulders image of Sir Alan Bates

Sir Alan Bates

University news

Monday 08 July 2024

Press contact

Press Team

Campaigner Sir Alan Bates is to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Coventry University in recognition of his quest for justice.

Sir Alan, who received a knighthood in the King’s Birthday Honours list, has been the driving force behind hundreds of former postmasters and mistresses fighting to clear their names after being wrongfully convicted in the Post Office scandal.

He founded the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) and in 2017 more than 500 subpostmasters led by Sir Alan brought a group action in the High Court to expose the truth behind what was wrong with the Post Office’s Horizon system and it was this that led to the criminal convictions being overturned. The Alliance’s efforts rose to prominence when the 2024 television series Mr Bates vs The Post Office shone a spotlight on one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history.

Sir Alan, 69, will receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws for his outstanding resilience and commitment to pursuing justice at a ceremony at Coventry Cathedral later this year.

I hadn’t expected this and it was very much a surprise. My other half asked me ‘are you going to accept it?’ and I said ‘I think I will’ as I have turned down an awful lot of things.

However, this isn’t about me – this is about the group, what has happened and what still needs to happen now.

Sir Alan Bates

The JFSA began their journey back when Sir Alan gathered around 40 former subpostmasters and mistresses on a Sunday in 2009 at Fenny Compton Village Hall, 20 miles south of Coventry.

But why was Fenny Compton chosen for what proved to be a momentous occasion when Sir Alan himself had run a post office in Craig-y-Don, Llandudno, in north Wales.

I was looking for somewhere centrally in the UK with good connections so people could travel and it wasn’t too far off the motorway to get to the hall at Fenny Compton. As we weren’t funded I always concentrated on village halls and found Fenny Compton which seemed suitable and wasn’t ridiculously expensive to hire, and thought we’d give it a go and see who turns up.

We were restricted to the kitchen though as at that time they had a hole in the floor in the main hall! Most of our meetings in the early days weren’t at Fenny Compton, they were in Kineton and we only went to Fenny Compton that once due to the building work.

Sir Alan Bates

Sir Alan has spent the last 20 years fighting one of the biggest injustices seen in this country for some time. He has done so tirelessly, selflessly and with no desire to take credit for himself – he has simply wanted to do the right thing for hundreds of people who had been wronged.

He epitomises the very essence of some of the qualities we try to instill in our students; dedication, determination and passion. Our students should look at Sir Alan and feel inspired to achieve with the same levels of resilience, leadership and collaboration with others. We could not be prouder to bestow an Honorary Doctorate of Laws upon Sir Alan Bates.

Professor John Latham CBE, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University