Postmasters: End this compensation injustice now over Horizon IT scandal and biggest ever miscarriage of justice– The Yorkshire Post says

THE wrongful conviction of hundreds of sub-postmasters in the decades-long Horizon IT scandal was already Britain’s biggest miscarriage of justice before a public inquiry started this week.

Former subpostmaster Gary Brown from Rawcliffe near Goole, was among the hundreds of subpostmasters who fell victim to the Post Office's Horizon computing scandal and lost their house, business and an estimated £250,000 as a result.
Former subpostmaster Gary Brown from Rawcliffe near Goole, was among the hundreds of subpostmasters who fell victim to the Post Office's Horizon computing scandal and lost their house, business and an estimated £250,000 as a result.

Regrettably, its remit does not extend to another injustice – compensation – now compounding the misery suffered from those postmasters who lost their livelihoods, reputations and savings through no fault of their own.

And the inadequacy of current processes are set out in a damning report by Parliament’s cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee which challenges the Government to set up an independent body to oversee the payment of compensation.

Former post office worker Janet Skinner (centre) speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, after having her conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal.

It is a recommendation that the Treasury must honour if postmasters – pillars of the communities that they were proud to serve – are to recoup their financial losses, including the use of private savings to balance their books when the Horizon system went awry, and legal costs.

For, while some individuals have received redress, the 555 litigants whose collective court action exposed the scale of the scandal are out of pocket despite being awarded £57.75m by the High Court. When legal fees of £46m are subtracted from this sum, it leaves each postmaster with £20,000 when they each lost in excess of £100,000.

That isn not justice. It’s an injustice. And so, too, is Post Office Ltd’s obstructiveness over the processing of claims through the Historic Shortfall scheme. Not only will victims suffer financially due to these delays, warn MPs, but “more may die before they receive justice because of their age profile”.

If this warning isn’t sufficient to force the Government’s to accept and implement today’s report, and underwrite compensation until the Treasury reaches an agreement with the Post Office, then Ministers, too, will be complicit in this unforgivable scandal.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app, receive exclusive members-only offers and access to all premium content and columns. Click here to subscribe.