‘Arguably the biggest miscarriage of justice in modern history’ - Northampton South MP describes Post Office scandal

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“It is decades of trauma, some people are desperate, can’t pay their rent, traumatised or need money for hardship funds”

MP for Northampton South, Andrew Lewer has spoken out about the Post office Scandal and the possible resignation of Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey.

The scandal has become the centre of public opinion due to the hit ITV series ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’. Not only has it created political divide, but has brought forward more potential victims.

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Individuals involved in the Horizon company and Post Office have also come under fire.

Mr Lewer MP appeared on GB News on Monday (January 8) to discuss the sandal.

He said: “If you are a serial 'calling for people to resign' type of guy, that does make it much more difficult to hold on”, in reference to the Lib Dem leader.

Ed Davey was the Post Office minister between 2010 and 2012.

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Mr Davey defended his role in a Sky News broadcast, he stated: “I wish I had known then what we all know now, the Post Office was lying on an industrial scale to me and other ministers.”

Former Post Office Chief Paula Vennels has handed in her CBE after over 100 new victims have come forward since the show aired.

The Horizon Scandal Fund works “on behalf” of sub-postmasters and families that have suffered. When they began the charity in 2021 they planned to be active for one year, however, due to the demand they have continued.

Helen Lacey, a trustee for the Horizon Scandal fund said: “The ITV drama has been phenomenal for donations and we have got to know a lot of postmasters.

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“It is decades of trauma, some people are desperate, can’t pay their rent, traumatised or need money for hardship funds.”

Postmaster outside the High Court in 2019.Postmaster outside the High Court in 2019.
Postmaster outside the High Court in 2019.

Helen described how a lot of people are still not coming forward to “claim compensation” as they “don’t want to revisit that time” or are “too proud to admit they’re struggling”.

The Communications Workers Union in Northampton took to Facebook to announce their support. Suggesting that “local sub-post masters in Northampton had been affected”.

What is the scandal about?

Between 1999 and 2015 over 700 sub postmasters and sub postmistress were blamed for financial losses due to the faulty software. It is alleged that the Horizon IT financial software, used by the post office since 1999, had problems.

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Employees were said to have reported the issues from the beginning but it is claimed that the Post Office ignored these concerns instead calling fault to individual branch managers.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission, which reviewed the wrongful convictions, said: “Horizon appeared to have significant bugs which could cause the system to misreport, sometimes involving substantial sums of money which sub-postmasters found difficult to challenge as they were unable to access information about the software to do so.”

In total, 736 were found guilty of crimes, 236 were sent to prison and four subpostmasters took their own lives. Many attempted to reimburse the monetary debts out of their own pocket.

The court of appeal has now overturned 93 wrongful convictions and a public inquiry is currently underway; however, 18 subpostmasters died without ever seeing justice or any compensation, as per PrivateEye investigation.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the scandal as "appalling", he said: "It's important that all those affected get the support they need, which I am pleased is happening and we will keep going as quickly as possible."

According to the Post Office, the number of individuals with overturned convictions who have received full and final compensation is 25. The Metropolitan police are investigating the Post office and the public inquiry is ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Post Office said: “We are acutely aware of the human cost of the scandal and are doing all we can to right the wrongs of the past, as far as that is possible. Both the Post Office and Government are committed to providing full, fair and final compensation for the people affected.

"To date, offers of compensation totalling more than £138 million have been made to around 2,700 Postmasters, the majority of which have been agreed and paid. Interim payments continue to be made in cases which have not yet been resolved.

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“We fully share the aims of the current public inquiry, set up to establish what went wrong in the past and the accountability for it.”

West Northamptonshire Council offered their support.

A spokesperson for West Northamptonshire council said: “Any residents in West Northants who are in financial difficulty are welcome to access our Money and Debt advice either through us, our voluntary sector partners or Northampton Partnership Homes if they are a council tenant in Northampton.