POST OFFICE: HORIZON SCANDAL – FORMER POSTMASTERS TO RECEIVE INTERIM COMPENSATION PAYMENTS OF UP TO £100K
Branches are advised that the Government announced yesterday that former Postmasters wrongly convicted of offences in relation to the Horizon IT system whose convictions have been quashed are to receive up to £100k each in “interim” compensation ahead of final compensation settlements being agreed with them. Paul Scully, Post Office Minister said:
“The suffering and distress these postmasters and their families have gone through cannot be overstated. While nothing will make up for the years of pain they faced after this appalling injustice, I hope this initial step provides a measure of comfort.”
Currently there are a total of 59 former Postmasters whose convictions have been overturned, with many more likely to emerge in the coming months. Final settlements are likely to cost the Government tens of millions of pounds.
This latest development provides more reasons why there should be full accountability for those responsible for these injustices especially as the taxpayer will be picking up the bill for this terrible miscarriage of justice.
Sir Wyn Williams Horizon Inquiry
We continue to engage with Sir Wyn Williams’ inquiry into the Horizon scandal and the union has now applied for “Core Participant” status for this inquiry which means an entity with a significant interest. A Core Participant will:
- be provided with disclosure of evidence which the Chair considers is relevant to their participation in the Inquiry…
- have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements via their recognised legal representatives…
- be able to suggest lines of questioning at oral hearings via Counsel to the Inquiry
- be able to apply through their recognised legal representatives to the Chair to ask questions of witnesses during a hearing
- be provided with advance copies of the Inquiry’s reports (including the final report) prior to publication.
A number of news articles were published yesterday in relation to this development including the following:
In conclusion, whilst this news has been cautiously welcomed by those who have been waiting for many years for justice, this is just an initial step and the victims of this scandal must be fully compensated without further delay. Indeed, Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell solicitors who represented many of the Postmasters whose convictions have been overturned said yesterday:
“This cannot be a delaying gesture though. This is money to which these clients are entitled. With regards to how final settlements are agreed, we want them to come to the table and be meaningful in what they put forward”.
Further developments will be reported.