The Horizon Post Office Scandal is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in this country



Chi Onwurah 

(Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)

Nine hundred prosecutions—all the postmasters involved have their own stories of dreams crushed, careers ruined, families destroyed, reputations smashed and lives lost. Innocent people have been bankrupted and imprisoned. This may well be the largest miscarriage of justice in our country’s history, and I pay tribute to Members on all sides of this House who have worked for justice, none more so than my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones). I also thank the advisory board and Sir Wyn for their work, as well as the Minister for the constructive approach he has taken on this issue to date.

However, as Sir Wyn’s interim report makes clear, the compensation schemes for postmasters are a mess. The commitment to give fair compensation should apply to all postmasters. Sir Wyn specifically recommends that terms of reference should enable the monitoring of individual cases. Can the Minister say that he will act on that recommendation, and when can we expect him to respond in full to the report’s recommendations, including maximising the use of the Horizon compensation advisory board and providing clarity about the tax status of compensation payments? Can he also provide a final figure for claims that have been made to the historical shortfall scheme and how much the Government anticipate the final compensation will cost?

I also ask the Minister what he is going to do about Post Office management. As the only shareholder in the Post Office, does his Department take responsibility for addressing those management issues? The leadership team accepted bonuses for their work on the inquiry, which is just unacceptable. When will the Minister deal with this? Sub-postmasters have had their lives ruined: they must be confident that lessons will be learned from those failures. Sadly, it seems that the Post Office has failed to do so.




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