Post Office Horizon scandal victims to be offered £600,000 in compensation each

18 September 2023, 21:36 | Updated: 3 January 2024, 14:30

Victims who have had their convictions overturned will be able to claim the £600,000 sum.
Victims who have had their convictions overturned will be able to claim the £600,000 sum. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal who had their convictions overturned are to be offered £600,000 each in compensation, the government has said.

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The Horizon scandal led to more than 700 post office operators being convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting between 1999 and 2015 because of faulty accounting software.

Ministers announced on Monday that postmasters who can prove their conviction was overturned can take a fixed sum payment of £600,000 instead of going through the full assessment process to claim compensation.

The fixed sum is “a much quicker way to compensation”, business minister Kevin Hollinrake said.

"If you think your claim is worth more than £600,000 then you can still go through the normal route.

"The good thing about this is because some people will inevitably take this route, it will take more people out of the queue so the full assessment will take less time as well. It's a really win-win on every level for people who have suffered."

He added that ordinarily the compensation process would involve “months” of assessments and engaging lawyers.

It comes after a statutory inquiry into the scandal was launched in 2021 and those affected were advised to apply for compensation.

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Victims who had their convictions overturned will be offered a £600,000 fixed sum.
Victims who had their convictions overturned will be offered a £600,000 fixed sum. Picture: Getty

The government has yet to calculate a timeframe for victims to take advantage of the new offer.

It also said the compensation offer was in addition to covering all reasonable legal fees.

The scandal resulted in the IT system at the Post Office filing shortfalls in their returns, making it appear money was missing from their sites.

After the inquiry was launched in 2021, which is expected to be completed next year, the government announced initial interim payments of £100,000 to victims before raising the amount to £163,000.

At present, 86 postmasters have had their wrongful convictions overturned but more are being encouraged to seek an overturning of their conviction.

Post office operators who have already received initial compensation payments or reached settlement agreements with the Post Office will be paid the difference if their agreements amounted to less than the new £600,000 offer.

"Too many postmasters have suffered and for too long, which is why the government remains committed to seeing this through to the end until it is resolved and ensuring this cannot ever happen again," Mr Hollinrake said.

"If you’ve suffered, if you’ve spent time in jail, if you’ve lost your house, if your marriage has failed, all those things – if those things have happened to you, no amount of money will ever be enough."

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