A letter signed by nearly 100 MPs requesting that ministers pay all compensation for postmasters who were victims of the Post Office IT fraud.
Many postmasters found guilty of taking from their personal funds were jailed, bankrupted and even driven to suicidal behavior between 1999 – 2015.
In fact the money that appeared to be ‘missing’ from their branch accounts was the result of glitches in the company’s Horizon computer system.
After two blistering judgments condemning the Post Office’s behaviour in the witch-hunt, bosses have apologised and set up a Government-backed compensation scheme.
In a letter sent to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday, MPssaid the victims had suffered ‘deep distress and trauma’ and must be able to obtain ‘justice and redress’
However, MPs are now concerned that the scheme excludes 555 Postmasters. Many of these men lost hundreds of thousands of Pounds and were sentenced or suffered from stress-related illnesses or suicide.
In a letter sent to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday, they said the victims had suffered ‘deep distress and trauma’ and must be able to obtain ‘justice and redress’. The MPs added that ministers blocking action ‘will inevitably lead to further bankruptcies, potential further suicides, and death of those already at an advanced age before they are able to obtain justice’.
They said: ‘We urge you to recognise that it is wholly unfair and immoral to exclude this group from full and fair compensation for their suffering.
‘The Government must put in place a compensation scheme… [that] provides this group with the redress they not only deserve but are entitled to.’
Although the compensation scheme has been submitted with over 2000 applications, it does not apply to the 555 postmasters that exposed the scandal through a successful collective action before the High Court.
They won a legal settlement of £58million, but after legal fees they were left with less than £20,000 each for their years of hurt.
In one appalling case the husband of Fiona McGowan, a mother of two young boys, was given just £21,000 compensation following the suicide of his wife, who had been charged with false accounting.
Ministers have maintained that the terms of the settlement stated it was ‘full and final’.
In one appalling case the husband of Fiona McGowan (pictured), a mother of two young boys, was given just £21,000 compensation following the suicide of his wife, who had been charged with false accounting
It was a row that erupted a week following the Daily Mail’s revelations about four possible suicides in connection to the scandal.
According to the Justice for Sub-Postmasters Alliance, 15 more people died before they received full compensation.
75 fraud convictions have been overturned by the courts for theft, false accounting and fraud. Many others are likely to be overturned.
Post Office issued an apology to postmasters. In response, the Government initiated a public judge-led inquiry. It held its inaugural session in live sessions last year.
A Post Office spokesman said: ‘We are fully and transparently engaging with the Government’s statutory inquiry.’ The Department for Business said last night: ‘The Government is committed to seeing these long-standing Horizon issues resolved… and ensuring something like this cannot happen again.’