The Post Office has issued an apology to those affected by the Horizon IT system, following the broadcast of the ITV drama, Mr Bates versus The Post Office, which highlighted the impact on subpostmasters.
In the statement, Post Office chief executive Nick Read said: “We sincerely apologise to victims for the devastating impact of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal on the lives of so many. We are doing all we can to provide redress and urge anyone affected who has not yet come forward to do so.”
In a video addressing the drama, Read added: “As chief executive, I have met of the victims and heard first-hand many of their personal stories. Today, I reiterate and extend an apology on behalf of Post Office.
To all those affected, it’s imperative we listen and acknowledge these stories, understanding the profound impact the scandal has had on lives. The ITV drama, Mr Bates versus the Post Office features some of the deeply personal and moving accounts of postmasters and their families, highlighting again the human aspect of this scandal. The statutory inquiry led by Sir Wyn Williams is ensuring every aspect of this scandal is thoroughly examined.
“We hope that the ITV drama will raise further awareness and encourage anyone affected who has not yet come forward to seek their address and compensation they deserve. We also urge anyone who believes they were wrongly convicted in a Post Office prosecution to pursue an appeal.”
The barrister representing victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal has said there is enough evidence for the authorities to consider prosecuting former Post Office executives.
Speaking to The Guardian, Paul Marshall said: “On the face of it, the material is sufficient for the police to investigate whether, over a substantial period of time, the Post Office was engaged in perverting the course of justice or a conspiracy to pervert the courses of justice. In my view, the Post Office was engaged in a sustained attack on the rule of law itself.”
Failings of the Horizon IT system led to subpostmasters being falsely accused of theft, with many imprisoned. It was only after extensive campaigning brought awareness to the situation leading to convictions being quashed and a public inquiry into the issue.
The Post Office recently published the latest compensation data relating to victims of the Horizon IT scandal for the year-end 2023.
The number of individuals with overturned convictions who have received full and final compensation is 25 while the total of all compensation to date for people with overturned convictions (including interim, partial and final payments) is £30.9m.
It added that offers have been made to all 2,417 current or former Postmasters in the Horizon Shortfall Scheme. The Scheme remains open and this figure excludes late applications.
The total value of Horizon Shortfall Scheme offers made to date £107.93m. The majority are agreed and £85.98m has been paid.
The number of eligible late applications that have been received is 328 and there have been 228 settlement offers made to date and the total amount paid to late applicants is £5.80m.
Commenting on the compensation, Read said: “Our efforts to rectify the wrongs of the past include paying full and fair compensation supported by our shareholder, the UK Government. To date, we have paid over £120m in compensation. We hope that the ITV drama will raise further awareness and encourage anyone affected who has not yet come forward to seek the redress and compensation they deserve.”