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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Postmaster told to pay after robbery
Soli Dick
The Post Office says Mr Dick did not follow procedure
An elderly postmaster who was injured when he tried to fight off a robber has been told he must pay back thousands of pounds towards the stolen cash.

Sub-postmaster Soli Dick, 73, from Croydon, south London, said he was left covered in blood after struggling with a robber who stole a delivery of 10,000 in notes at the post office in Beckenham, Kent, last year.

He was off sick for four weeks after being struck by a set of keys carried by the robber, who broke in by opening a safety door through an open hatch.

But the Post Office told him he must pay back 7,000, later reduced to 3,620 on appeal, because he had failed to take the right precautions.


I think it is terrible - how can he be asked to pay when it is not his fault?

Customer Carol Parsons

Mr Dick, who has worked for the Post Office for 33 years, is refusing to pay and faces losing his job.

He said: "I am not saying that I am a brave man or anything, but I did try to do something to stop him.

"I feel that there is absolutely no justification in their demand and I feel that if anything they are supporting the criminal by imposing a further fine on me."

The Post Office said it was part of a sub-postmaster's contract that he or she was responsible for anything lost "through negligence, carelessness or error".

But Mr Dick, who is employed on a sub-contract basis and not directly by the Post Office, said working for the company had become "very impersonal in every way".

He said: "After I was first attacked (in 1971) while I worked at Clapham Junction, the district postmaster came to my home with a bunch of flowers for my wife.

"I was also treated to dinner in the Post Office tower and given 100."

Safety procedures

More than 600 customers signed a petition saying Mr Dick should not have to pay the money.

One customer, Carol Parsons, who visits the tiny post office every week, said: "I think it is terrible - how can he be asked to pay when it is not his fault?"

His local MP, Jacqui Lait, has written on his behalf to the government and the chief executive of Consignia.

A Consignia spokeswoman said: "There are strict safety procedures to be followed and we train all sub-post masters to be aware of this before they take up their post.

"If these are not followed then that would lead to the sub-postmaster having to pay some of the money back."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC London's Gareth Furby
"Mr Dick says he would rather see his contract terminated than pay out a penny."

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Click here to go to Kent
See also:

15 Oct 02 | Politics
15 Aug 02 | England
10 Apr 02 | Business
19 Feb 01 | Scotland
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