The government has announced that it will be handing out £600,000 to postmasters whose wrongful convictions have been overturned, in its latest efforts to recompense for its Horizon IT system failings.
The flawed Horizon computer system led to 700 postmasters being prosecuted by the Post Office (PO) between 1999 to 2005. They were accused of theft, fraud and false accounting, with some being imprisoned and shunned by their communities.
Postmasters who have already received initial compensation payments, or have reached a settlement with the PO of less than £600,000, will be paid the difference.
PO minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “This is about righting a wrong and providing some form of relief to those wrongfully caught up in this scandal.
“Too many postmasters have suffered and for too long, which is why the government remains committed to seeing this through to the end until it is resolved and ensuring this cannot ever happen again.”
All ‘reasonable legal fees’ will continue to be covered, the government revealed, and any postmaster who does not want to accept this offer can continue with the existing process.
The government said it believes this announcement can finally bring the ‘pain to a close’ for postmasters caught up in the scandal.
The government added that its aim is to ensure as many postmasters involved receive this monetary offer ‘as fast as possible’ to help bring a ‘resolution’ to the scandal. The compensation will also be granted to any postmasters whose convictions are overturned in the future based on Horizon evidence.
Convictions of 39 former postmasters were quashed by judges in 2021. To date, 86 convictions have been overturned, and £21m has been paid in compensation to 2,600 individuals. This has been handed out by The Overturned Convictions process, Horizon Shortfall Scheme and Group Litigation Order.
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