Sub-postmasters who assisted in the investigation of the Post Office IT scandal but were not fully compensated will be compensated under a new government scheme. In 2019, the 555 workers won a landmark civil case against the Post Office, but the majority of their settlements were eaten up by legal fees.
They will now receive the same level of compensation as other wrongfully convicted sub-postmasters. The announcement comes as the public investigation into the scandal is still ongoing.
Hundreds of sub-postmasters and mistresses were wrongfully accused of theft, fraud, and false accounting between 2000 and 2014 as a result of flaws in the Horizon computer software used at branches across the UK.
A group of 555 subpostmasters and mistresses successfully sued the Post Office in the High Court in 2019 over the accusations.
That case established a legal precedent, paving the way for 72 people to have their criminal convictions overturned in a series of cases.
The Postal Service launched a historic shortfall scheme to compensate over 700 wrongfully convicted former branch managers who had personally covered branch account shortfalls caused by the Horizon software.
However, the 555 people who won the High Court case were not eligible for the scheme, and despite receiving nearly £43 million in compensation in 2019, the group’s funds were depleted due to a “no win, no fee” agreement with Therium, the firm that funded the litigation.
According to the Treasury, the group received only a “small fraction” of the settlement, amounting to around £20,000 per person. Therium has agreed to relinquish its claim to the new compensation pool.
Mr Scully said the compensation scheme would run alongside the historic shortfall scheme “on the basis of losses, and looking at ongoing losses as well” in the House of Commons on Thursday.
“I’d like to say I’ve received a blank check from the Treasury, but that’s not going to happen here – but the Treasury is aware that we need to resolve this.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, stated: “While it will never be enough to make up for the years of agony caused by the Post Office Horizon scandal, the postmasters who have suffered greatly as a result of it deserve to be fairly compensated.
“That’s why we’ll be introducing a new compensation scheme for those who led and won the landmark legal case over the failings, so they can receive their fair share.”