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    Labour peer calls on ministers to sack entire Post Office board

    Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

    Labour peer and member of the House of Lords Lord Prem Sikka has called on government to take urgent actions against entire board of Post Office, saying “current board’s ability to handle this matter in a fair way” is questionable.

    Speaking to ministers in Lords chamber on Jan 16, Lord Sikka also asked ministers to confirm that there will be no upper limit on the amount of compensation.

    “Paragraph 14 in the Explanatory Notes states that the scheme will be ‘administered by the Post Office’. Why? Who on earth could have any confidence in it being fair? Surely the entire board needs to be sacked and a new board needs to handle this, or an independent body needs to be created. I do not think many people will have any confidence in the current board’s ability to handle this matter in a fair way,” he said.

    “There are press reports—the Minister may have seen them—that one postmaster got compensation of £15.75. Could he look into this please? I have looked at the 14-page form that this sub-postmaster filled in, and I would not like to complete it.

    “It effectively asks them to give up their rights for any future claim. That is utterly inappropriate, and it is another reason why the Post Office is not a suitable body to handle the compensation claims. I hope the Minister will attend to that as a matter of urgency.”

    Lord Sikka also stated that  between 2002 and 2023, there were 83 directors of the Post Office and despite full inside knowledge, not one of them went on the public record to say that something was wrong.

    “They were complicit, they lied and they committed fraud—83 of them. The Post Office also had several non-executive directors, who are supposed to challenge what the executive board does. None ever spoke up, despite some also being heads of the audit committee and the risk management committee. There has been a conspiracy of silence, injustice and fraud, and they all need to be held to account,” he said.

    The plight of affected subpostmasters was first reported in 2009, when Computer Weekly revealed that the lives of subpostmasters had been turned upside down after being fined, sacked, made bankrupt and even imprisoned due to accounting shortfalls shown in Post Office’s new accounting software Horizon.

    Post Office denied the claims but went on to lose the legal battle in December 2019 to 555 subpostmasters. This victory triggered the next phase of their battle, which has seen hundreds of wrongful convictions overturned, a statutory public inquiry and the government committing over £1bn towards the financial redress of victims.

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