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    Sub-postmasters could own Post Office in long term

    Between 1999 and 2015, more than 700 Post Office branch managers received criminal convictions, and some were sent to prison, when a faulty computer system called Horizon made it appear that money was missing from their sites. To date, 93 of these convictions have been overturned, leaving many others still fighting their convictions or to receive compensation. A recent television docudrama has thrust the issue back in the spotlight. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

    Sub-postmasters could own the majority of Post Office shares in the long term, minister Kevin Hollinrake has suggested as he vowed to prioritise compensation for Horizon victims.

    Hollinrake is set to meet union figures on Wednesday (7) who will make the case for shifting control of the Post Office from state ownership to branch managers.

    Responding to a report in Bloomberg he is considering mutualisation, meaning that Post Office staff would own most of the shares in the company, Hollinrake told The Telegraph, “That’s not a position we’re at right now.

    “We’ve always said mutualisation is one of the options for the Post Office in the longer term. But there are some very big-ticket items hanging over the Post Office right now, not least the compensation scheme and the rebuilding of the IT systems.

    “Our position has been in the past and will remain so in the immediate future that it would be the wrong time to go down that route. That’s not to say it can’t be done at a later stage.

    “I’m always happy to talk to people, certainly people who represent postal workers and sub-postmasters, but to suggest that the meeting is anything but an exploratory meeting to talk about a number of issues would be wrong.”

    Sir Edward Leigh, a Tory MP and former minister, urged Mr Hollinrake to consider the mutualisation of the Post Office in a Commons debate last month.

    “We should pass control of this body to the people who do all the work who are in the front line. I hope the minister won’t dismiss that idea,” he said.

    Last week, Alan Bates, a former sub-postmaster who has fought a two-decade battle for justice for his fellow Horizon victims, revealed he will reject a “cruel” and “derisory” compensation offer that he said amounts to around one-sixth of the sum he requested.

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