Government to compensate subpostmasters who helped uncover Horizon IT scandal

The scheme will ensure those who brought the landmark High Court case will see the same level of recompense as others affected by the scandal.

22 March 2022

The Government is to compensate hundreds subpostmasters who helped expose the Horizon IT scandal but lost out after seeing their compensation payments swallowed up in legal fees.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said ministers will be setting out details of the scheme in the coming months to ensure the subpostmasters receive the same level of recompense as others wrongly accused of financial crimes due to the faulty software.

The group of 555 subpostmasters brought the case which resulted in a landmark High Court ruling in 2019, paving the way for millions of pounds in future payouts and which led to the Court of Appeal quashing a series of wrongful criminal convictions.

But, because of of a “no win, no fee” agreement with their legal funders, Therium, they received only a fraction of the £43 million they were awarded – about £20,000 each.

Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the group will be compensated ‘fully and fairly’ (Peter Byrne/PA)

At the same time, they found they were ineligible to apply to the Historical Shortfall Scheme (HSS) which was set up to by the Post Office to compensate those who had to personally cover shortfalls in their branch’s accounts due to the problems with Horizon.

The Treasury said the new scheme would ensure the 555 would see the the same level of compensation as those who claimed through the HSS.

In a statement, Mr Sunak said: “The Horizon IT dispute has had a devastating impact on postmasters and their families, with many losing their livelihoods or being wrongly convicted for crimes they didn’t commit.

“Without the efforts of these postmasters, this terrible injustice may have never been uncovered so it is only right that they are compensated fully and fairly.

“That is why we have set up this new compensation scheme for those who played a crucial role bringing this scandal to light, which I hope provides a measure of comfort.”

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