A new government compensation scheme for postmasters who played crucial role in uncovering the Horizon IT scandal has been revealed.

Post Office

Announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the scheme will ensure the postmasters who were the first to take legal action against the Post Office over the failings of its Horizon IT computer system will be compensated fully and fairly.

Sunak said a new compensation scheme will be set up in the coming months targeted at the postmasters who brought and won the landmark High Court case against the Post Office over the failings. The 2019 ruling paved the way for millions of pounds worth of future pay-outs and led to the Court of Appeal quashing the convictions of postmasters who were wrongly accused of committing crimes.

These individuals were left financially disadvantaged after having to pay significant legal costs based on a “no win, no fee” agreement with Therium – the company which funded its litigation despite winning £43m in compensation. Due to the terms of their legal agreement each postmaster received a small fraction of the settlement - equating to around £20,000 each.

Their action meant they were also ineligible to apply to the Historical Shortfall Scheme (HSS) which was set up to by the Post Office following the scandal to compensate postmasters who had to personally cover shortfalls in their branch’s accounts caused by the Horizon IT.

It is hoped that the new scheme will “ensure that those who uncovered the injustice receive the same level of compensation as the postmasters who claimed through the HSS”.

The scheme comes after the government announced a separate scheme last year to provide funding for full and final settlements for eligible postmasters who have had their Horizon-related conviction overturned, with those eligible to receive an interim payment of up to £100,000 each.

More details of this new scheme, including how postmasters can submit compensation claims, will be set out by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy “in due course”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Whilst it cannot take away the years of distress, the postmasters who have suffered terribly over the Post Office Horizon scandal deserve to be fairly compensated. That’s why we’ll be introducing a new compensation scheme for those who led and won the landmark legal case over the failings, so they can receive their fair share.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak added: “The Horizon IT dispute has had a devastating impact on postmasters and their families, with many losing their livelihoods or being wrongly convicted for crimes they didn’t commit.

“Without the efforts of these postmasters, this terrible injustice may have never been uncovered so it is only right that they are compensated fully and fairly. That is why we have set up this new compensation scheme for those who played a crucial role bringing this scandal to light, which I hope provides a measure of comfort.”