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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 July, 2004, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Postman's reunion website peril
Paul Burnell
BBC NewsOnline Manchester

Stephen Williamson hoped to find old friends online
Postman Stephen Williamson joined website Friends Reunited hoping to meet old school pals.

But instead he became embroiled in a claim he was the father of a child belonging to a woman he had never met.

Mr Williamson, 37, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, received e-mails from a stranger who insisted she had shared romance with him in Gran Canaria.

The trauma was compounded when the Child Support Agency (CSA) said he had fathered the woman's nine-year-old son.

Although, the CSA has now dropped its investigation the trauma lingers.

He said: "I just wanted to meet old friends. I never expected this."

I don't think I will be keeping my entry
Stephen Williamson

Mr Williamson, a father of two, joined Friends Reunited in 2002, hoping to contact his old school mates from Castle Hill School, Bolton.

"It was coming up to 20 years since I left and the old building was going to be knocked down."

Using the entry Stephen Williamson - nicknamed Willy or Spook - he wrote: "I'm working as a postman, have been a postie for 15 years now," giving football and music as his interests with Big Country and The Eagles as his favourite bands.

He even included a photo of himself with his teenage daughters.

He received a few replies - including one from his best school friend with whom he had lost contact.

Reunion joy

"The stupid thing was I found out he was only living round the corner from me. I see him all the time now."

But his reunion joy was marred in March when he received an e-mail from a woman saying: "Remember me from Gran Canaria".

He did not reply as he had not renewed his subscription.

Further e-mails came which he ignored. Last Friday he received a letter from the CSA with the allegation he had fathered a child.

The woman claimed to have had a holiday fling with a postman of a similar name. Mr Williamson was tracked down when the CSA contacted his employers Royal Mail.

It was a shock for a man who had been happily married to wife Jane - his childhood sweetheart - for 17 years.

'Negative use'

He had never been to Gran Canaria and his only foreign holiday had been a trip to Florida in 2000.

"I had a terrible weekend - I could not speak to the right person from the CSA until Monday. The CSA has now told me it will not be taking it further."

A Friends Reunited spokesman said the site was intended to be a fun way for friends to keep in touch and not meant for this "negative use."

He said the website was investigating the incident adding: "We're just trying to find out exactly what happened."

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