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Post Office scandal - live: Rishi Sunak announces new law to quash convictions of Horizon victims

More than 100 others involved have come forward since ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office aired

Maryam Zakir-Hussain,Adam Forrest,Jane Dalton
Wednesday 10 January 2024 19:06 GMT
Rishi Sunak says Post Office horizon scandal an 'appalling miscarriage of justice'

Rishi Sunak has announced new legislation to exonerate wrongly convicted Post Office branch managers after one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history.

The prime minister also said there would be a new upfront payment of £75,000 for some of those affected.

Mr Sunak said a new law would be introduced so people wrongly convicted in the Horizon scandal are “swiftly exonerated and compensated’’.

He told the Commons: “This is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history.

“People who worked hard to serve their communities had their lives and their reputations destroyed through absolutely no fault of their own. The victims must get justice and compensation.”

Another 130 people affected by the scandal have now come forward since a new TV programme dramatising the miscarriage of justice aired, postal services minister Kevin Hollinrake said.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) would normally look at individual convictions and send them to the Court of Appeal. But only 93 of at least 700 convictions have been overturned to date.

See below how our coverage unfolded:


Government will announce ‘solution’ to Post Office scandal imminently, says minister

Postal minister Kevin Hollinrake said Rishi Sunak’s government believes it has a “solution” to the Horizon scandal convictions and an announcement is “imminent”.

“An announcement is imminent. We believe we have a solution,” Mr Hollinrake told Sky News on Wednesday.

However, the minister refused to “speculate” as to whether an announcement might come as soon as Wednesday afternoon as he said a decision “has not been finalised”.

Justice secretary Alex Chalk revealed on Tuesday that Mr Sunak is “actively considering” an emergency bill to quash all 800 Horizon scandal convictions at once.

No 10 said the judiciary had not challenged the government’s proposal to overturn the convictions, after crunch meetings were held on Tuesday – and suggested that a legislative plan would be announced in the coming days.

(PA Media)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 08:10

Around 130 Post Office victims have come forward since ITV drama

Some 130 people affected by the Horizon scandal have come forward since a new TV programme dramatising the miscarriage of justice aired, the postal services minister has said.

Kevin Hollinrake told Sky News: “I think 130 people have come forward to one of the key solicitors in this ... so it’s good that people are coming forward .

”The minister urged anyone affected to make themselves known to the compensation scheme itself or the government – promising processes would be “quick”.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 08:10

Post Office chief executive did ‘right thing’ in handing back CBE, says minister

Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake said former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells has done the “right thing” by handing back her CBE.

He refused to be drawn on whether she should return her bonuses from the role, telling Times Radio that he did not agree with “trial by media”.

However, Mr Hollinrake said it was “certainly possible” that some individuals are guilty of criminal offences and that action should be taken where there is evidence of that.

Andy Furey of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), said it would “only be right” for her to return any bonuses she received from the Post Office – believed to amount to around £2.2m.

The union leader has also said that the relevant authorities must give “serious consideration” to bringing criminal proceedings against her.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 08:12

Powers in place to ensure witnesses appear before the statuory inquiry, Hollinrake says

Postal services minister Kevin Hollinrake said there are powers in place to make sure witnesses appear before the statutory inquiry into the Horizon scandal.

It comes after the Telegraph reported that an engineer understood to be connected to the development of the faulty software involved is demanding immunity for their testimony.

“That’s absolutely the wrong approach for that person to take if those reports are true,” the minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

He added: “The statutory inquiry does have the power to make sure that witnesses do give evidece, but clearly our crime agencies and police definitely have that power.”

(PA Wire)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 08:14

The Post Office scandal: What is it and has anyone been held accountable?

The wrongful convictions of hundreds of subpostmasters due to faulty digital accounting software has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

The scandal has recently come back into the spotlight following ITV’s four-part drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

– What is Horizon?

The Horizon IT system is accounting software, owned by Japanese company Fujitsu, which saw accounts automated after subpostmasters entered their sales figures via a touchscreen.

The Post Office scandal: What is it and has anyone been held accountable?

The scandal has resurfaced following the release of the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 08:17

Sunak urged to suspend Fujitsu contracts after IT giant won billions despite Post Office scandal

Rishi Sunak is facing calls to suspend new public contracts with Fujitsu, after it emerged that the IT giant has won billions in deals with the government despite knowing about its involvement in the Horizon scandal.

Postal minister Kevin Hollinrake said the government believes it has a “solution” to overturn the wrongful convictions of Post Office staff – promising an “imminent” announcement.

It comes as the spotlight turns on the company at the centre of the scandal, after Fujitsu’s faulty accounting software Horizon helped lead to the conviction of more than 700 Post Office branch managers.

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest reports:

Sunak urged to suspend Fujitsu contracts over Post Office IT scandal

PM under pressure to end ‘VIP’ treatment for IT giant – with almost £5bn handed over in deals since landmark court ruling on software scandal

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 08:48

Government was considering law to quash convictions before ITV drama, says minister

Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake has said the government is “definitely not ruling out” emergency legislation to quash all the convictions that arose during the Horizon scandal.

“We are definitely not ruling that out, but I can’t confirm that is the solution we will adopt right now,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

And he insisted that the government had been considering such an approach before the ITV drama thrust the issue back into the spotlight.

Asked whether there is evidence of that, Mr Hollinrake said: “It’s not something we’d put in public – the kind of deliberations we have in government about different options – and clearly this is not an option where the postal affairs minister can make a decision on his own.”

He added that if legislation was brought forward to overturn convictions “en bloc” it could be seen to be “interfering with the independent courts process”.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 09:07

Government considering mass pardons to clear names of subpostmasters, minister says

The government are considering mass pardons to clear the names of hundreds of subpostmasters wrongly accused of fraud by the Post Office. Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake told Good Morning Britain that a “blanket overturning of all convictions” is one solution that could be adopted. “What it means is parliament interfering with the independent judicial process, which is something we don’t want to do,” Mr Hollinrake said. “Ideally, we don’t want to do [that]... But we’re not in a perfect world here at all so we know we need to do something potentially very significant.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 09:19

Tories accused of criticising Davey over Horizon scandal due to Lib Dem advances

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has come under attack from Conservatives over the Horizon scandal because of the “advances he is making in the blue wall”, his party’s leader in Scotland has said.

Sir Ed served as postal affairs minister while in coalition government between 2010 and 2012 and has been accused of having “fobbed off” sub-postmasters impacted by the Horizon scandal.

On Wednesday, current postal affairs minister Kevin Hollinrake told Times Radio that 980 people had been convicted following a fault in the Fujitsu-made IT system.

Tories accused of criticising Davey over Horizon scandal due to Lib Dem advances

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the UK party leader should not stand down.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 09:49

Number of Post Office staff calling lawyers ‘rises by the day’

Solicitor Neil Hudgill told that BBC that he has now received more than 100 of new calls from Post Office sub-postmasters caught up in the Horizon scandal since the ITV drama.

He said he was “inundated” with calls. “It’s a number that rises by the day,” Mr Hudgill said – explaining many were from sons and daughters for former subpostmasters who had died.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain10 January 2024 10:20

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