Some compensation at last for Post Office managers

I reproduce below a letter from the Minister about compensation for those caught up in the Horizon software problems. I have been pressing for a long time for proper compensation.


Dear Colleagues,
Post Office Horizon Compensation
I know that colleagues will welcome an update on compensation for postmasters who were
wrongfully convicted on the basis of Horizon evidence and have seen or will see their
convictions overturned.
Members across the House are well aware of the longstanding Horizon IT system issues.
Starting in the late 1990s, the Post Office began installing Horizon accounting software,
but faults in the software led to shortfalls in branch accounts. The Post Office demanded
postmasters cover the shortfalls, and in many cases wrongfully prosecuted them between
1999 and 2015 for false accounting or theft. We now know that Horizon data was
unreliable. Government has provided funding to Post Office to make upfront interim
payments of £163,000 to eligible postmasters who have their convictions overturned as
well as funding for full and final settlements.
The Government and the Post Office have been clear that we want to see the victims receive
swift and fair compensation. I have been monitoring the delivery of compensation to those
with overturned convictions, where £21 million has been paid to date. While good progress
has been made in upfront interim payments and non-pecuniary (personal) damages,
progress on pecuniary (financial) damages has been slower. I announced in the House
yesterday that the Government has decided that postmasters who have their convictions on
the basis of Horizon evidence overturned should have the opportunity upfront to accept an
offer of £600,000 in full and final settlement of their claim. To be clear, this upfront offer is
available to those postmasters whose convictions were overturned as they were reliant on
Horizon evidence at the time. This payment will be made net of any sums already received,
such as interim payments and partial settlements, to settle the claim fully. Any postmaster
who had their conviction overturned as it was reliant on Horizon evidence and has already
reached a settlement with the Post Office for less than £600,000 will be paid the difference.
Post Office is contacting the legal representatives of eligible postmasters to inform them of
this offer. I appreciate some details will need to be worked through, such as how long the
upfront offer remains open for. I am committed to consulting the Horizon Advisory Board
on this matter to make sure we get this right but did not want to delay informing
postmasters that there will be an optional quick and straightforward route to settlement.

Those postmasters who have been wrongfully convicted have suffered severe impact on
their lives, as well as significant financial losses. It is right that Government recognises
that postmasters have suffered gravely in relation to the Horizon scandal, and for too long
and should be able to settle their claim swiftly, if they wish. Any postmaster who does not
want to accept this offer can of course continue with the existing process. It will therefore
be completely optional to accept the offer of £600,000 and Government will continue to
fund the legal costs of these postmasters to ensure they receive independent advice
ahead of making a decision. But we hope that the change that I announced yesterday will
provide more reassurance and quicker compensation to those postmasters who would
prefer this option.
Some postmasters may not wish to accept this offer upfront, in which case it remains open
to that individual to settle their claim via individual assessment with the Post Office.
Government and Post Office are committed to handling these claims as quickly as possible.
Post Office has been engaging with legal representatives on the principles and process for
assessing pecuniary claims to move to a remediation model of claim assessment involving
an independent assessor. This approach will bring greater transparency to the existing
process and aims to support swifter formulation and settlement of claims.
We know that there were hundreds of postmasters convicted during the period Horizon
was in use. Post Office has contacted over 600 postmasters to help them to appeal their
conviction and this work was later taken over by the Criminal Cases Review Commission
as an independent party. However, only 86 convictions have been overturned to date, we
recognise there are a number of postmasters who have not yet sought to appeal their
conviction. It is for the Courts to decide whether a conviction is unsafe but we encourage
all postmasters who think their conviction may be unsafe to come forward and start the
process. We hope that being transparent about the level of compensation available via a
straightforward route will make the appeal worthwhile.
I am committed to keeping Colleagues updated on progress made in delivering Post Office
compensation. With regard to compensation for those with overturned convictions, £21
million has been paid to date. The Post Office has made offers to all 73 formerly convicted
postmasters who have submitted a claim for non-pecuniary damages, which are nonfinancial personal losses. Awards for non-pecuniary damages are guided by Lord Dyson’s
Early Neutral Evaluation. With regard to pecuniary damages, which are financial losses,
only 21 claims have been submitted to date and Post Office has made offers to 12 of
these, 5 of which have been accepted. To date, £79 million has been paid under the
Horizon Shortfall Scheme, with offers made to 99% of the original cohort of applicants.
Post Office has made offers to 58% of eligible late claims. Then, under the Group Litigation
Order Scheme, the Department has paid £22 million to date. The Department announced
interim payments in June last year and 99% of claimants have received the share of the
£19.5 million they are entitled to. The scheme opened for full applications in March this
year – to date, 32 claims have been submitted and first settlements have been reached. I
am pleased to inform you that my Department will be publishing data online regularly on
the progress of compensation delivery online.

I am committed to seeing these longstanding Horizon issues resolved, learning what went
wrong through the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, and ensuring something like this can
never happen again.
Yours ever,
Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Busines


  1. Martin Griffithh
    September 19, 2023

    I’d guess that those who have been severely impacted by this matter, including families whose loved ones committed suicide will want those responsible for the appalling miscarriages of justice to be punished are severely.

    1. Peter
      September 19, 2023

      Indeed. The culprits should also be punished. The main people are well known.

      However, it seems that they will all avoid taking any blame and thus escape justice.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 20, 2023

        Indeed it is obvious that many in the company, accountants and the software company must have know of the faults in the software, just the vast numbers of people (who had done no similar wrongs before being prosecuted) was very strong evidence that these prosecutions were extremely likely to be wrong. Surely they a guilty at least of wasting police time/malicious prosecutions/contempt of court or similar.

        Also a huge failure of the court system and justice, why were these people unable to or prevented from getting a fair trial by showing at the least that there was reasonable doubt and this being acquitted. Just the large number of similar cases being prosecuted (& people of good character) surely showed reasonable doubt?

    2. Lifelogic
      September 20, 2023

      Indeed gross failures by the company, the software company, the lawyers, judges, the legal system…

      So will those imprisoned have their prison “board and lodgings” costs deducted? Have historical cases of where this appallingly was done to people (later found innocent) been reversed yet? Is this going to be done.

  2. Hugh
    September 19, 2023

    The fundamental problem was the poor IT system supplied by Fujitsu to the Post Office. Why has Fujitsu not been made to pay for the costs and misery caused?

    1. forthurst
      September 20, 2023

      The Horizon computer system contract was awarded by the government to ICL (International Computers Ltd), the British champion created by politicians to take on the might of IBM. ICL was subsequently taken over by Fujitsu because it was incapable of designing the chips required by mainframe computers and therefore could not have survived as a mainframe manufacturer or as anything else.
      The Post Office as the customer was obviously incapable of acceptance testing or implementing a major computer system which was entirely their responsibility. ICL should never have existed as it was cobbled together from three British computer companies with entirely incompatible systems and software by Tony Benn.

  3. Bloke
    September 19, 2023

    It is appropriate that the innocent folk who have been treated so badly will at last be compensated. However, raising the postal rates for the normal user to pay for their bad ways is not right. Those who caused the massive fault and injustice should be forced to pay for their own wrongdoing.

  4. 451F
    September 19, 2023

    Great !
    Hooray for those who stood up for injustice.
    I think I heard Bridgen say those bankrupted havent got it
    So keep on keepng on.

  5. Mike Wilson
    September 19, 2023

    Did it never occur to anyone at the Post Office ‘hey, how come we’ve suddenly got hundreds of dishonest postmasters?’

    The whole thing is an absolute disgrace. Anyone been sacked?

    1. Geoffrey Berg
      September 19, 2023

      Very much agreed – this is all an awful monument to the sheer stupidity of Post Office managers, police, Crown Prosecution Service staff, lawyers and Judges. Was nobody among these diligent and intelligent enough to ask some basic questions and probe further into matters rather than just take everything on the sayso of people who seem to treat computer systems as infallible?
      Almost all people in responsible, well paid jobs just seem to be incapable of independent thought, as they should be. This terrible case shows it as do the Letby case and the Shipman case. Similarly those making decisions won’t challenge the views, however deficient, of the financial institutions or even supposed transport experts ( as with HS2).
      We need leaders ( like John Redwood and in fairness Suella Braverman) who have the calibre to challenge the orthodoxies of the ‘experts’, most especially when there seem to be fundamental anomalies between conventional expertise and reality.

      1. ChrisS
        September 20, 2023

        Exactly !

        Some of those responsible have to go to jail over this. By that I mean the most senior ones, not just the underlings.

        1. Geoffrey Berg
          September 20, 2023

          While it is proper grounds for removing people from jobs, I don’t believe congenital stupidity is an adequate ground (without bad intent or bad faith) for jailing people despite the consequences of their stupidity.
          If it were most officials and most public sector workers would soon be in jail. It would also nicely solve the problem of the ten billion pounds cost of refurbishing Parliament. One would instead build a big extension to the local jail to accommodate almost all M.P.s and use a small committee room in Westminster for the handful not in jail and sell off the Palace of Westminster to some commercial concern such as Disney for a change of use!

    2. Lifelogic
      September 20, 2023

      +1 it surely must have occurred to them, but they continued anyway and what about the defence lawyers could they not get this info and use it to show, at the very least, reasonable doubt to the courts.

  6. Lindsay+McDougall
    September 19, 2023

    How about vengeance against the people who commissioned and failed for years to acknowledge the severe flaws in the Horizon software? Should they have their lives ruined, if not with jail time then at least through severe fines? Should not they rather than the taxpayer pay the compensation?

    1. Hope
      September 19, 2023

      How about the offence of Misconduct in public office?

  7. margaret campbell-white
    September 19, 2023

    Too little, too late. When are the Post Office Managers responsible for this fiasco going to be brought to Court?

    1. Lifelogic
      September 20, 2023

      +1 and those responsible for all the many false verdicts by the courts. Why on earth did they decided in so many similar cases that there was not even “reasonable doubt”?

  8. Alan Paul Joyce
    September 19, 2023

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    738 sub-postmasters wrongly prosecuted by the Post Office for theft or fraud and bankrupted, their lives ruined, sacked or jailed. No one found responsible at all except the UK taxpayer.

  9. Chris S
    September 19, 2023

    It,’s been long overdue, but at last a settlement is in sight.

    BUT why has the government not laid legislation before parliament to annull all the convictions ?

    And of equal importance, why has nobody yet gone to jail for this scandal ? Top People at the Post Office had to know this was wrong and defended the system to the bitter end and there were certainly others at the system developers why lied when they maintained Horizon was safe and secure.

    The net needs to be cast wide to include civil servants as well.

  10. JohnK
    September 19, 2023

    £600k is not enough for people who have lost everything.

  11. iain gill
    September 19, 2023

    Re “It is for the Courts to decide whether a conviction is unsafe” that is absolute BS, the government could and should issue immediate pardons to all of them.

    And the government should also insist that some people who were the senior execs of Fujitsu at the time are investigated and prosecuted, as a very high priority.

    1. Aden
      September 19, 2023

      Spot on. How is someone who is dead going to make any effort.

  12. Lynn Atkinson
    September 19, 2023

    If this was the only rubbish software, the output of which was accepted without question. Wait until computers start specifying and programming themselves.
    No justice though, those in charge should be punished appropriately.
    The worst is yet to come!

  13. IanB
    September 19, 2023

    Sir John
    With respect, the Government is doing nothing other than forcing the Taxpayer to pay!. While at the same time those 100% responsible get massive rewards.
    That is not any form justice, that is rewarding continued irresponsible Conservative Government failure.

  14. Aden
    September 19, 2023

    What’s the compensation? The Net is the weasel world.

    Lost pensions
    Lost properties where they were force to sell. Does that cover rebuying the equivalent property?
    Legal costs?
    Lost income?

    Compound interest on all of that

    That’s before we get into the damages for time in prison, damage to reputation, Stress.

    The compensation is very very low.

  15. Mark+Thomas
    September 20, 2023

    Sir John,
    This has been a long time coming. I read reports about the failures of the Horizon system for years in Private Eye. What always struck me was the degree of zealotry with which post office managers with their Horizon advisers pursued these hapless sub-postmasters through the courts. Often resulting in the most severe punishments. It was as though the courts had predetermined the outcome. Horizon was without fault, and anyone who claimed otherwise was guilty of fraud and theft. I can only hope that those responsible for this disgraceful policy will one day find themselves in court.

  16. Bryan Harris
    September 20, 2023

    Why the heck did it take so long to come to this point?

    Was the government waiting for the offended people to die off?

  17. Martin+Spooner
    September 20, 2023

    With reference to the Post Office Managers Horizon scandal why does the taxpayer (through the Post Office) have to pay the compensation bill and not the software manufacturers Fujitsu?

  18. BW
    September 20, 2023

    None for the WASPI women. £50,000 loss of pension payments to my wife. No matter though I get comfort knowing all the illegals are well looked after. What a joke

  19. mancunius
    September 20, 2023

    “To date, £79 million has been paid under the Horizon Shortfall Scheme…Then, under the Group Litigation Order Scheme, the Department has paid £22 million to date.”

    The use of the passive mood ‘has been paid’) and of the phrase ‘the Department has paid’ help politicians to conceal the fact that taxpayers are being dunned – in effect stolen from – to pay for managerial and government incompetence and for Fujitsu’s shoddy software. Why has Fujitsu not been prosecuted and fined? Why has nobody on the board of the PO – particularly its ex-CEO – ever faced a court? What on earth motivated the government to make her a member of the Cabinet Office in 2019, while the scandal was still coming to light?
    And why is the PO Plc treated as a commercial company with regard to its profits, but as the responsibility of the taxpayer for its losses and responsibilities?

  20. Linda Brown
    September 22, 2023

    The firm who have not installed the computer system correctly should be paying this. Also, what about the bad management who have all walked off with fat pensions and lump sums? They should be jailed and have their bonuses and pensions reduced and paid back. This is a firm which is partly owned by the tax payer and it seems very unfair they should have to shelve out the payments for these people who have been very mistreated.

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