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Treasury pledges to 'fully compensate' Post Office scandal victims

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says he hopes the compensation scheme will provide “a measure of comfort” for the ‘555’.

The 555 sub-postmasters who were the first to take the Post Office to court in 2019 over its faulty Fujitsu Horizon software will receive “their fair share of compensation”, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced today.

Despite winning the landmark High Court case, the group, also known as ‘the 555’, were prevented from benefiting from the Historic Shortfall Scheme – a fund created by the Post Office to compensate another group of 181 victims following the original court case.

Last month, Sunak was urged to adequately compensate the ‘555’, who were facing “financial ruin” after being forced to use the 2019 compensation to cover high legal fees as well as financial losses sustained in the years following their wrongful convictions.

“There is no valid reason to exclude the 555 from being fully compensated and the Chancellor must come forward with the required funding now,” said Darren Jones, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

Five weeks after Jones’ appeal, Sunak expressed hopes that the newly announced compensation scheme will provide “a measure of comfort” for the ‘555’.

“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,” he added.

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Commenting on the news, Postal Affairs minister Paul Scully said that “the pain and distress that the Horizon scandal has inflicted on hundreds of postmasters over the years cannot be overstated”.

“Without the efforts of the 555 pioneering postmasters who brought this to court, this injustice may never have seen the light of day nor would the statutory inquiry have been set up, which is why I made it my priority to ensure they are all fairly compensated. While we can’t right the wrongs of the past, I hope this important compensation package is a turning of the page, as we continue working with the Post Office to ensure something like this can never happen again,” he added.

The amount of compensation they will receive is due announced “in due course” and will be set out by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA) and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee wasn't immediately available to comment on Sunak’s announcement.

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