Toby Jones claims Alan Bates turned down Glastonbury offer: ‘He can’t be bought’

Actor Toby Jones has claimed that Alan Bates, the former subpostmaster leading the fight for justice against the Post Office, turned down an offer to open Glastonbury Festival.

Jones, who plays Bates in the critically acclaimed ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, made the revelation during an appearance at Hay Festival, while reflecting on his role in the series.

The four-part drama depicts how hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to a faulty IT system and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015.

“I get to play a hero,” Jones, 57, told his audience in Powys, Wales. “Really, someone who I think of as a hero. Someone in the culture who just doesn’t seem to be subject to the same forces that we all are.”

He continued: “He can’t be bought. He’s asked to open Glastonbury. ‘No, thank you.’ He’s asked to do these things, he doesn’t want to do any of that. He says, ‘I’ve got work to do,’ which is to get that stuff done.

“[Bates is] a hero and he doesn’t want any honours until he’s finished the job. And these are values that, I’m not going to say I grew up with, but I sort of remember being lectured about. About duty and about following things through.”

Alan Bates (left) and Toby Jones in ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’ (PA, ITV)
Alan Bates (left) and Toby Jones in ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office’ (PA, ITV)

He added: “These are very, very unfashionable things that maybe stand in stark contrast with what we’ve been living with in government for some time.”

The Independent has contacted Glastonbury organisers for comment.

The annual festival has invited a number of political figures to speak at Worthy Farm over the years, with previous appearances from Jeremy Corbyn, Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough.

Last year, Corbyn’s supporters criticised the decision by Glastonbury to ban a film about the former Labour leader titled Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie, which set out to challenge allegations of antisemitism made against him throughout his political career.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Glastonbury in 2017 (Getty Images)
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Glastonbury in 2017 (Getty Images)

It was narrated by Jewish comedian Alexei Sayle and included contributions from writer Jackie Walker and filmmaker Ken Loach.

After the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BDBJ) expressed “deep concern” over the film, Glastonbury announced on 19 June that Oh, Jeremy Corbyn would no longer be screened at the event.

This year’s festival will take place less than a week before the general election, which is set for 4 July.

Glastonbury 2024 takes place between 26 to 30 June, and will be headlined by Coldplay, SZA and Dua Lipa, with Shania Twain taking the Sunday Legends’ slot.