Friday, 26 August 2016

Julian Wilson

Julian Wilson 1949 - 2016
I only met Julian a couple of times. I spoke to him quite a bit on the phone and got to know something of his life over the course of the last five years. 

He was, I suppose, what we journalists call a contact. But his gentle manner, generous spirit and calm good humour made me think of him as more than that.

Julian Wilson was a Subpostmaster and one of the founding members of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance. He and his wife Karen had their lives turned upside down by problems with the Horizon computer system in their Post Office. 

Julian was prosecuted by the Post Office for false accounting, pleaded guilty and went to his grave a near-bankrupt convicted criminal. Julian was one of the many former Subpostmasters accepted onto the mediation scheme launched in 2013, only to be told, more than a year later, that as a convicted criminal, the Post Office would not mediate with him.

When he died, Julian’s conviction was one of the twenty being considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. He was also one of the dozens of former Subpostmasters currently suing the Post Office at the High Court for the damage done to their reputations and lives.

Julian found out he had terminal cancer towards the end of last year. This summer he deteriorated rapidly.

I never made a film specifically about Julian. I just used to call him for a chat, to get an alternative perspective on what was happening with the Horizon story and get his opinion of how things were going.

“Hello Nick…” he’d say every time I called up. “What can I do for you?”

That was Julian in a nutshell. It was all about what he could do for me. He never once asked me to do anything for him. Not once. He would always take the call and always help where he could. Then he would ask after my kids and my work and always end the conversation by saying “Call me anytime, Nick. Any time you like.”

When I was told Julian had cancer I didn’t immediately pick up the phone. I got round to it in April. He was fresh out of surgery and preparing for another bout of chemotherapy. I’d heard things were touch and go, but his voice sounded strong and he was cheery as ever.

“Don’t worry.” he told me “I’m on the mend. I'm feeling better. Things are going to be alright.”

We spoke about his determination to see his name cleared and the latest on the various legal obstacles he and the JFSA were facing. There was never a trace of bitterness about Julian. He accepted things with great patience even though he was still in danger of losing his house because of the Post Office’s pursuit of him.

Given that activists have been campaigning against the Post Office for more than a decade, I felt Julian’s situation could be used to highlight how long everything was taking and that, for some, time may be running out.  Julian agreed it made sense. He had no qualms about appearing on camera, even though he might not be looking his best. 

I remember interviewing Julian in December 2014 alongside his wife Karen in a village hall in Fenny Compton, where the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance met for the first time back in 2009. Karen stood there with tears streaming down her face as Julian explained in his measured, Hampshire burr how problems with the computer system at their Post Office in Astwood Bank had caused their lives to fall apart.

Julian and Karen's story will be told another day. For now I just want to say goodbye to a lovely man whose company and time I enjoyed very much. It is a crying shame he had to dedicate the latter years of his life to fighting penury and trying to clear his name.

He was a kind-hearted and genuine human being.

I feel like I’ve lost a friend.



  1. Exactly that Nick!!!
    We the JFSA family have lost a wonderful brother and I feel personally I have lost a dear friend.
    In true Julian style he turned up at my dad's funeral the day after he had his chemo line put in ,because he cared about me more than himself. Whenever I rang to see how his treatment was going he'd ask me how I was rather than answer my question. Never once did he say why me?
    He carried on campaigning against the Post Office until he had no strength left to fight and I made him a promise
    In the last few days of his life that I would keep going along with the JFSA until we got our long overdue justice!!!!!
    What an absolute tragedy that such a good man should be taken from his beloved wife Karen and wonderful daughter Emma before his name had been cleared !!!
    Rest assured my dear friend we will get justice and I know you will be up there with my dad and Jackie's daughter watching it happen!!
    Miss you xx

  2. I would like to say I thank him from the bottom of my heart for all the work he put in for us postmasters, It is really appreciated. Rest in peace.

  3. My sadness on hearing this news has been overcome by my anger, my frustration and my renewed determination that I will do everything I am able to do to make sure the true culprits are brought to justice. To hear this on the day that the police who opened an enquiry into POL recently have shelved the case to allow the CCRC to continue their investigations - THEY HAVE TAKEN A YEAR ALREADY - is doubly frustrating.

    But now I understand a phone call from Julian recently - he was phoning to say goodbye but didn't say as much - only thanked me for my efforts. I feel I have failed but I won't stop and neither will Alan, Nick, James, Mark and all the others. Our efforts will be renewed because of this and the shame of POL will be heaped in large doses on the shoulders of Paula Vennells and her cohorts. RIP Julian - I am so sorry that we could not let you leave this world with the vindication you will certainly, but now posthumously, receive. GODDAMMIT....

  4. He was my brother and I loved him dearly we were always 4 but now alas we are 3 -thanks to all who loved him .
    Michael x