The government on Monday announced that every postmaster who was wrongfully convicted and has had their conviction overturned as it was reliant on Horizon evidence will be offered an optional sum of up to £600,000 in compensation.
All reasonable legal fees will continue to be covered and any postmaster who does not want to accept this offer can of course continue with the existing process.
For those postmasters who have already received initial compensation payments or have reached a settlement with the Post Office of less than the £600,000, they will be paid the difference.
“This is about righting a wrong and providing some form of relief to those wrongfully caught up in this scandal,” postal affairs minister Kevin Hollinrake said.
“Too many postmasters have suffered and for too long, which is why the government remains committed to seeing this through to the end until it is resolved and ensuring this cannot ever happen again.”
The government has already set up the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry with the necessary statutory powers to ensure it can investigate what happened, establish the facts and make recommendations for the future.
To date, 86 convictions have been overturned and £21 million has been paid in compensation to postmasters with overturned convictions.
The Overturned Convictions process, Horizon Shortfall Scheme and Group Litigation Order have in total paid more than £120 million to 2,600 individuals affected by the Horizon scandal, the government has revealed.
Post Office has welcomed the government’s announcement.
“Post Office is making good progress to pay compensation to those affected as quickly as possible and therefore welcomes the news that the government has found a way to provide the option of concluding settlements through their upfront offer,” Post Office chief executive Nick Read said.
“This will be an entirely voluntary choice and so claimants should obtain specific advice from their independent legal and professional representatives in considering whether it is suitable in their individual case.”