Post Office scandal victims to get interim payments
More than 500 subpostmasters wrongly suspected or accused of taking money by the Post Office are to get an interim payment worth around £40,000 each.
All were affected by faulty software which made it look like money was missing from their branches.
Despite winning £58m in compensation in 2019, the group’s funds were swallowed up due to a “no win, no fee” agreement.
Many have been left with no financial resources, while being excluded from other Post Office compensation schemes.
The Postal Affairs Minister, Paul Scully, announced in March that this group would be put on a level pegging to other victims in this scandal, but it has taken months to lay out the process for that to take place, after years of fighting to prove their innocence.
Now Mr Scully says an interim payment of compensation totalling £19.5m will be paid until a final agreement is reached, which he said he hopes would go some way to helping many postmasters who are still facing hardship.
Some of this group had been subject to wrongful criminal convictions and so are entitled to separate higher payouts, but the majority who lost their jobs, their businesses and their livelihoods have so far been excluded.
The minister says the latest payments will be made within weeks, but it is not yet a final amount.
Freeths solicitors, who represented the victims in the civil case, have now been brought in by the government to try to speed up the process of getting those full payments faster.
A Post Office spokesperson said that the chief executive of the Post Office, Nick Read, had been urging the government to take action on this for some time, and that “Ensuring full, fair and final compensation for all Horizon Scandal victims is a priority as we put right the wrongs of the past.”
There was also more information about progress for those who have had their convictions overturned. Despite having their names cleared, no final settlements have been reached.
Many are old, and some are still struggling financially after decades of bankruptcy for a crime they had not committed.
Legal teams had been at such loggerheads on how to financially quantify the impact of this scandal that a neutral party has been appointed to come up with a suggestion.
Mr Scully has announced that former Supreme Court Judge Lord Dyson is expected to make an announcement by the end of July.