A SHOPKEEPER in Alveston has said he fears for the future of his business after apparent software issues have led to accusations of defrauding the Post Office of £41,000.

Hari Jayanthan, who has run the Post Office branch out of the shop for the past two years, said that the problem first arose in December, when the software he uses to balance the books told him that they had a shortfall of £36,000, which came as a surprise as there had been no unexpected change in business.

After contacting the Post Office repeatedly for help, there was no meaningful response and Mr Jayanthan was left unsure what to do.

“I thought it had to be a mistake,” he said. “They said they would have a look and they kept saying they could not find anything.

“I was asking if I had done something wrong, pushed the wrong button or something, and if someone could come and help me, but nobody turned up for six months.”

Then in May, officials from the Post Office arrived on his doorstep, telling him that they were now owed £41,000.

But with the shop only making around £14,000 a year from the Post Office, the total owed is higher than what would have been made.

Sadly, Mr Jayanthan said he was too late to join the campaign after discovering it.

“I keep getting letters and phone calls asking how I plan to repay them, and I don’t know what to do.

“This is the only business I have and I don’t have that kind of money to repay them, it’s all I have got. What can I do?

“We took no money from them and I could find no fault on my side.”

He added that the loss of the branch has also hurt his own business, with less people coming through the door, instead having to use other branches, the closest being in Thornbury.

Earlier this year, more than 500 postmasters from across the country banded together, claiming they were being falsely accused by the Post Office of fraud or theft, due to a faulty computer system.

The Horizon accounting system, which was introduced in 1999, allegedly saying that the branches run by sub-postmasters like Mr Jayanthan were in massive deficit.

The collective have since filed a class action law suit against the Post Office, which is ongoing.

A Post Office spokeswoman said that they would not be commenting on individual cases.

She said: “Regarding the litigation, the position is that a group litigation order (which is a standard procedural tool that enables the court to manage litigation involving multiple parties) was made earlier this year.

“We welcome this for offering the best opportunity for the matters in dispute to be heard and resolved.

“Post Office is defending the case. We cannot comment on its specific details, but are addressing the allegations through the court’s processes.”

She added: “The Post Office has confidence in the Horizon system, which is robust, reliable and used across 11,600 branches by postmasters, agents and their many thousands of staff, to process six million transactions successfully every day, including on behalf of the UK’s high street banks.”