Post Office Horizon’s victims offered £600,000 in compensation

The Government has announced a new lump sum for victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal in a bid to provide faster compensation.

A £600,000 reward is being offered to the postmasters who have had their convictions overturned after faulty Horizon software made it appear they were stealing when money appeared to be missing.

Anyone who proves they have been falsely imprisoned as part of the scandal can take the payment instead of going through the full assessment of their losses. The only requirement is that the victim must prove that they have had their conviction overturned.

An investigation into the scandal began last year, and affected postmasters have been asked to seek compensation.

But that process “may take time because these things are complicated”, Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said in the Commons on Monday.

Sir. Hollinrake added that this is “a much faster route to compensation”.

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“If you think your claim is worth more than £600,000 then you can still go through the normal route.

“The good thing about this is because some people will inevitably take this route, it will take more people out of the queue, so the full assessment will also take less time. It’s a real win-win on all levels for people who have a little.”

Accepting the offer will avoid “months” of appraisals and engaging lawyers, Mr Hollinrake said. Instead, it will be “a quick and easy process”.

How long the offer is open has not yet been determined by the government.

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Black Post Office workers falsely accused in the Horizon scandal were classified using a racial slur, according to documents obtained by campaigners.

Sir. Hollinrake was asked by Sarah Jones, shadow minister for industry and decarbonisation, whether compensation would be higher if victims go through the full scheme.

No amount would be enough for what the accused staff went through, Mr Hollinrake said. “If you’ve suffered, if you’ve spent time in jail, if you lost your house, if your marriage has failed, all those things — if those things have happened to you, no amount of money will ever be enough.”

Many postmasters have not yet sought an overturn of their convictions. More than 700 postmasters, who ran post offices, were wrongly prosecuted in one of the most widespread miscarriages of justice in British history.

Just 86 postmasters have had their convictions overturned, although more are being encouraged to come forward.

An interim report from the chair of the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry, Sir Wyn Williams, made recommendations in July about the three schemes set up by the Post Office and the Government to compensate postmasters.

Sir Wyn said the timeframe to make payments to postmasters who sued the Post Office – August next year – will “not be met” as 550 claims must be dealt with within 20 months.

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