Hundreds of Post Office scandal victims set to be cleared as details of new legislation announced

22 February 2024, 15:01 | Updated: 22 February 2024, 15:27

Kevin Hollinrake announced the scope of the legislation today. The Horizon IT scandal saw more than 700 subpostmasters and subpostmistresses wrongly convicted
Kevin Hollinrake announced the scope of the legislation today. The Horizon IT scandal saw more than 700 subpostmasters and subpostmistresses wrongly convicted. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Hundreds of people wrongly convicted in the Post Office scandal are set to have their names cleared as details emerged of new laws to exonerate them.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

New legislation is expected to come in by the end of July and will apply to convictions in England and Wales.

Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake said the legislation will be brought forward "shortly".

He said the new law will ‘specify’ individual prosecutors who acted ‘egregiously’ and will “legislate to quash these prosecutions where the prosecutor is in effect, discredited.”

Crown Prosecution Service cases will be included within the Bill's scope, but no convictions from the Department for Work and Pensions as none have been overturned.

Convictions will need to relate to alleged offences during the period that the Horizon IT system was in use and to offences which relate to the scandal - for example theft and false accounting.

The convicted person will need to have been working in a Post Office that used the software and be either a subpostmaster, one of their employees, officers, or family members, or a direct employee of the Post Office, in order to be eligible.

The law will apply to convictions in England and Wales, but ministers will work with the Scottish and Northern Ireland governments to ensure compensation can be paid to victims there too.

Mr Hollinrake said the Government's legislation was likely to also clear the names of people "who were, in fact, guilty of a crime".

He said this was a "price worth paying" in order to quash convictions for many innocent people.

In terms of measures to mitigate the risk of clearing those guilty of offences, Mr Hollinrake said people will be required to sign a statement to the effect that they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted in order to receive financial redress.

If people are found to have signed the statement falsely in order to gain compensation, they "may be guilty of fraud", he said.

The minister said: "We are keen to ensure that the legislation achieves its goal of bringing prompt justice to all of those who were wrongfully convicted as a result of the scandal, followed by rapid financial redress."

Read more: Russian jets ‘simulate bombing raids’ on Britain as RAF faces monthly scramble to defend UK airspace

Read more: Grieving family of Robin Windsor tell of 'shock and grief' as star's cause of death remains unknown

Last month Rishi Sunak pledged to bring in a new emergency law to exonerate wrongly convicted postmasters.

They will have to sign documentation saying they are innocent in order to get their £600,000 compensation.

Any later found to have been guilty could still be prosecuted for fraud.

Those who go through the courts to clear their names can claim £600,000 under the Government’s compensation scheme.

The Horizon IT scandal saw more than 700 subpostmasters and subpostmistresses handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as Fujitsu's faulty Horizon system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Hundreds of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses are still awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US's commitment to defending Israel's security.

Biden reaffirms ‘ironclad commitment’ to Israel as he plans G7 meeting to coordinate ‘diplomatic response to Iran attack’

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

‘Together we will win’: Netanyahu vows to fight off attacks from Iran after over 300 drones and missiles fired at Israel

Israeli's military have fought off a massive Iranian drone and missile attack - downing more than 200 weapons launched by the hostile state with the help of ace RAF pilots.

Israel fights off massive Iran attack - downing over 200 missiles and drones with help of RAF

Plans have been drawn up for an evacuation of Brits from the Middle East. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (l) and protesters outside the British Embassy in Tehran (r)

Brits living in the Middle East could be rescued by the Royal Marines in 'Dunkirk-style' evacuation

The knifeman who killed six people in a rampage at a Sydney shopping centre has been named as 40-year-old Joel Cauchi (left)

Pictured: Sydney knifeman, 40, who killed six people before being shot dead by brave policewoman

Iranian drones and missiles have arrived in Israel with explosions in the skies - as officials warn of a "significant response" to the massive attack.

Explosions in skies and sirens across Jerusalem amid Iranian attack - as Israel warns of 'significant response'

USS Bataan which is heading to the Eastern Mediterranean (main) and Joe Biden (r)

US sends amphibious warship and 2,500 Marines into the Eastern Mediterranean after Iran attacks Israel

US and UK forces are helping defend Israel from Iranian drones and missiles after a massive attack was launched.

British and American jets 'shoot down Iranian drones' as Rishi Sunak slams Iran for 'reckless' attack against Israel

President Biden is holding an emergency national security meeting as the US prepares its response to Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel.

President Biden holds high-stakes emergency meeting as Iran launches full-scale attack on Israel

Iron Dome Rocket Interceptions of Hamas Rockets- Southern Israel- Night Attack On Ashdod City

Israel closes airspace as it braces for Iranian drone attack

Iranian attack drones are 'en route to Israel', according to an Israeli Defence Force spokesperson.

Iran launches massive drone and missile attack on Israel as war in Middle East escalates

A mother who was stabbed while trying to defend her baby from the Sydney shopping centre knifeman has been pictured for the first time.

Pictured: Mother, 38, killed defending her baby from Sydney shopping centre massacre

Exclusive
Nearly 18,000 police officers were hired virtually by forces, prompting fears of another Wayne Couzens, LBC can reveal.

Nearly 18,000 police officers hired without face-to-face interviews by forces prompting fears of new Wayne Couzens

Lee Anderson's wife has been suspended by the Conservative party after being allegedly spotted campaigning for her husband's party Reform UK.

Lee Anderson's Tory councillor wife suspended from party after appearing to campaign for Reform in Ashfield

Election 2024 Decision Notes Alaska Wyoming

Biden wins Wyoming’s caucuses as eyes turn to Alaskan democrats