Post Office

New legislation to quash convictions surrounding the Horizon Post Office scandal has been announced by government.

Put forward in a ministerial statement by Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake, it is hoped that this new legislation will achieve Royal Assent “as soon as possible before Summer Recess” with financial redress “delivered as swiftly as possible”.

The legislation will quash all convictions which are identified as being in scope of a set of clear and objective criteria.

The criteria includes specific prosecutors, offence dates, offence types, he contractual or other relationship of the convicted individual to Post Office Ltd and if the convicted person was using the Horizon system at the date of the offence

The new legislation will only be applicable to England and Wales and not in Scotland and Northern Ireland with the government stating that victims in those jurisdictions are best served by local decisions tailored to their judicial systems.

Although the minister warned that such legislation is likely to exonerate a number of people who are actually guilty of a crime, the “government accepts that this is a price worth paying in order to ensure that many innocent people are exonerated”.

He added that the Government will seek to mitigate the risk that such people will receive financial redress when they have not been wronged and that mitigation will require, as a condition of access to financial redress, that the individual signs a statement to the effect that they did not commit the crime for which they were originally convicted.

Financial redress for quashed convictions will be paid on the same basis across the UK, regardless of where or how the conviction was quashed. Claimants receive an interim payment of £163,000 within 28 days of applying. They can then choose between an up-front settlement offer topping up their redress to £600,000, or having their financial redress considered on an individual basis, with reasonable legal costs being met.