The UK Government has today announced that every Postmaster who was wrongfully convicted and has had their conviction overturned as it was reliant on Horizon evidence will be offered an optional sum of up to £600,000 in compensation.
All reasonable legal fees will continue to be covered and any Postmaster who does not want to accept this offer can continue with the existing process.
For those postmasters who have already received initial compensation payments or have reached a settlement with the Post Office of less than the £600,000, they will be paid the difference.
Our aim is to ensure as many Postmasters involved receive this offer of compensation as fast as possible to help bring a resolution to the scandal. This includes any Postmasters who overturn their convictions in the future based on Horizon evidence – they too will be entitled to today’s compensation.
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.”
Starting in the late 1990s, the Post Office began installing Horizon accounting software, but faults in the software led to shortfalls in branches’ accounts. The Post Office demanded sub-postmasters cover the shortfalls, and in many cases wrongfully prosecuted them between 1999 and 2015 for false accounting or theft.
Postmasters who were wrongfully convicted have been forced to endure great hardships, losing clean criminal records, loss of liberty and huge financial losses – that is why the Government believes today’s announcement can finally bring the pain to a close.
The Government has already set up the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry and provided it with the necessary statutory powers to ensure it can investigate what happened, establish the facts and make recommendations for the future. The Inquiry is progressing and we will continue to cooperate fully to ensure that the facts of what happened are established and lessons learned.
To date, 86 convictions have been overturned and £21 million has been paid in compensation to postmasters with overturned convictions.
The Overturned Convictions process, Horizon Shortfall Scheme and Group Litigation Order have in total paid more than £120 million to 2,600 individuals affected by the Horizon scandal.