Post Office victims’ compensation payouts to be sped up

Legislation aimed at clearing wrongly convicted sub-postmasters is also expected to be brought forward.
Post Office victims' compensation payouts to be sped up
Post Office Minister Kevin HollinrakeUK Parliament

The government has announced new measures to speed up compensation to victims of the Post Office scandal.

An interim payment of £450,000 will be available to sub-postmasters who had convictions overturned, up from the current level of £163,000.

Legislation aimed at clearing wrongly convicted sub-postmasters is also expected to be brought forward.

Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake said the steps were “unprecedented, but the right thing to do”.

Announcing the measures to MPs, Mr Hollinrake confirmed hundreds of people wrongly convicted in the Post Office scandal would have interim compensation payments increase, once they had submitted a full claim.

The payments would be available to members of the Overturned Convictions Scheme and made while victims’ final settlements are processed.

Mr Hollinrake confirmed those part of another compensation scheme, the Group Litigation Order Scheme, would receive fixed sum award offers of £75,000, “helping claimants move on with their lives”.

He also told MPs that legislation aimed at exonerating wrongly convicted sub-postmasters is expected to be brought forward “as soon as possible next month”.

Reacting to the announcement, Chris Hodges, chair of the Horizon Compensation Advisory Board, said he anticipated the package would “lead to much swifter payments and less hassle in many cases”.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted due to faulty software.

Incorrect information provided by a computer system called Horizon, developed by Japanese firm Fujitsu, meant that sub-postmasters and postmistresses were prosecuted for stealing money.

Many of those convicted went to prison for false accounting and theft. Many were financially ruined.

Some sub-postmasters caught up in the scandal have died in the intervening years.

So far, 102 convictions have been overturned.

There is no single compensation scheme for sub-postmasters to apply to, and individual eligibility will depend on the particular circumstances of an individual’s case.

The three main schemes are aimed at groups of victims who had different experiences of the scandal and include:

  • The Overturned Convictions Scheme
  • The Group Litigation Order Scheme
  • The Horizon Shortfall Scheme

Victims whose convictions are overturned can choose to take a fast-tracked £600,000 settlement, or can enter into negotiations if they feel they are entitled to more. All eligible people are entitled to the “interim” payment, which the Post Office minister announced would increase.

A total of 93 people have already seen their convictions quashed via the courts as of 1 December 2023, but when the government’s promised law to overturn all convictions linked to the scandal becomes a reality, hundreds more people will be eligible.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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