Post Office

The government’s compensation package for subpostmasters that were wrongly convicted as part of the Horizon scandal, has had a lukewarm reception from those affected.

It is offering £600,000 in compensation to every postmaster whose conviction relied on Horizon evidence and has now been overturned. To date, 86 convictions have been overturned relating to the Horizon software which created shortfalls in branch accounts leading to subpostmasters having to cover them or in many cases being wrongfully prosecuted for false accounting or theft. 

Announcing the package, Post Office 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.”

The announcement was welcomed by the Post Office. Chief executive Nick Read said: “Post Office is making good progress to pay compensation to those affected as quickly as possible and therefore welcomes the news that Government has found a way to provide the option of concluding settlements through their upfront offer. This will be an entirely voluntary choice and so claimants should obtain specific advice from their independent legal and professional representatives in considering whether it is suitable in their individual case.”

There was less of a welcome from some of the subpostmasters who were falsely accused.

Janet Skinner, a subpostmistress who was jailed for nine months, appeared on Channel 4 news to say she wouldn’t be settling for that amount.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, which represents 70 former subpostmasters, said the amount wouldn’t cover what some subpostmasters have lost.

“The Government has said these offers are optional, but my fear is that, due to the delays we have already faced, and the particular circumstances many subpostmasters face, some may feel pressured to accept this offer even though their claims are worth much more,” he said. “In isolation £600,000 may sound like a lot of money, and it is. But in many cases it is nowhere near enough to represent what has been lost over the last two decades.”