POST OFFICE: BEIS SELECT COMMITTEE MEETING & WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATE – HORIZON SCANDAL
I wish to advise Branches that there will be two parliamentary meetings held tomorrow, 14thDecember, in relation to the Horizon Scandal – these are as follows:
- BEIS Select Committee Meeting – 10.30am – Oral Evidence Session. Witnesses include Alan Bates, founder of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA), Dr Neil Hudgell, Executive Chairman, Hudgell Solicitors, Jo Hamilton and Paul Harry, former Postmasters. The event can be viewed live on parliament TV:
- Westminster Hall Debate – 11am: The Historic Shortfall Scheme – put forward by Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael. The Historic Shortfall Scheme (HSS) is the compensation scheme offering redress for current and former Postmasters who may have experienced shortfalls related to Horizon. The HSS is estimated to potentially cost over £300m, which came to light via a Freedom of Information Request and a resultant BEIS “Partner Organisation Risk Analysis” document. Seemingly, Post Office had privately budgeted just £35m to cover this matter.
The CWU’s strong view is that the 555 claimants (former Postmasters who were wrongly convicted due to faults in the Horizon system) in the Group Litigation Order settled out of court in 2019 should receive fair and reasonable compensation. As the court settlement was deemed “full and final” they were not eligible to claim compensation via the HSS and as such are the biggest losers in this scandal. We believe the Government must provide the £46m they are seeking to cover their legal costs. Alternatively, the Government should compensate them properly through the HSS.
Post Office has stated it cannot afford to compensate victims of the Horizon scandal. Nick Read, CEO has called on the Government to compensate victims of the Horizon scandal, saying that Post Office “simply does not have the financial resources to provide meaningful compensation.”
If the Government refuses to properly fund compensation for victims, this could put the future of the Post Office network at risk. The BEIS response to the July FOI request mentioned above stated that, in assessing the sum of claims: “There is a risk that this would impact POL’s ability to operate as a going concern.” The Government has written down the value of the Post Office to zero due to compensation payouts over Horizon.
Bill Taylor, Head of Research, has prepared a paper in relation to the HSS which is attached to this LTB for your information. I would like to thank Bill for this quality document that summarises our concerns & objectives.
An LTB containing further detail will be published following the meetings tomorrow.