Sub-postmasters who were victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal have seen their hopes raised by the line of questioning adopted by the public inquiry’s chairman.
Former judge Wyn Williams has confirmed the victims’ compensation agreements would be revisited, after the inquiry’s terms of reference didn’t mention a specific financial redress for the sub-postmasters, reported trade magazine Computer Weekly.
“I want to understand whether the interim scheme, which is apparently being applied as we are going along, so to speak, is being fair to everyone who might take advantage of it,” he said. “I would not want a category of potential claimants to be disadvantaged if, as my understanding is, that is a possibility.”
According to the chairman, those sub-postmasters that were prosecuted but not convicted were excluded from the compensation scheme, de facto putting them at a disadvantage.
More than 700 branch managers were given criminal convictions between 2000 and 2014 following a glitch in Horizon – the accounting software used by Post Office – that made it seem as if money was missing.
After proving in 2019 that fault lied with the software, the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) – the initial campaign group of 555 victims – received a mere £11m between them, after litigation fees were deducted.
The settlement sparked a wave of criticism, with MPs recently coming in support of the victims and calling for full compensation to all those affected, City A.M. reported.
A cross-party Business Department Select Committee said last week it was “unacceptable” for victims to have lost all their money in legal bills, calling for “full, fair and final compensation” to be awarded also to the families of those sub-postmasters that have died since the action was brought to court.