Post Office to be Excluded from Horizon Compensation Process, Minister Confirms

Post Office to be Excluded from Horizon Compensation Process, Minister Confirms

17 Mar    Finance News, News

The Post Office will no longer be responsible for administering compensation for victims impacted by the flawed Horizon software.

Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake made this announcement in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon, indicating a departure from the previously held responsibility.

Acknowledging a recommendation from the Business and Trade Committee, Minister Hollinrake stated that the Department for Business and Trade, along with independent individuals, will now oversee the administration of redress for those affected. This decision comes in the wake of the Horizon system’s malfunction, which led to numerous individuals being wrongly accused of fraud, theft, and financial mismanagement.

Mr. Hollinrake elucidated, “I can announce today that it will be the Department for Business and Trade rather than the Post Office which will be responsible for delivery of this redress related to the overturning of these convictions. Final decisions on redress will be made by independent panels or independent individuals.”

While 102 falsely accused sub-postmasters have seen their convictions overturned, a significant number of the approximately 700 convicted individuals are yet to receive justice.

Furthermore, despite the acceptance of one recommendation from the Business and Trade Committee, another was dismissed. The rejected recommendation called for legally binding timeframes to be established for the delivery of redress, a move Minister Hollinrake deemed counterproductive.

Explaining the rationale behind this decision, Mr. Hollinrake expressed concerns that imposing financial penalties within specified timeframes could impede the compensation process rather than expedite it. He emphasized the potential repercussions, suggesting that such penalties might discourage forensic accountants and others assisting postmasters from participating in the claims process, thus slowing down the provision of redress.

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“We feel their proposed regime would have the opposite impact, it would mean potentially imposing penalties on forensic accountants or others who are helping postmasters to prepare their claims,” he remarked.

The minister underscored the need to avoid rushing postmasters into critical decisions about their claims and offered a perspective on ensuring a fair and thorough process.

The revelation comes amidst a backdrop of upheaval for sub-postmasters whose lives were marred by unfounded accusations and subsequent hardships arising from the Horizon debacle. While this decision marks a significant step forward in rectifying past injustices, it is clear that challenges persist in the pursuit of comprehensive redress for all affected parties.

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