THIS WEEK I was in the House of Commons for the Minister’s statement on the Post Office Horizon scandal.
ITV’s successful drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office, which tells the story of the postmasters and their appalling miscarriage of justice, has done its job and injected a renewed public desire for justice to be done and for the Post Office to be held to account.
I share this desire. I want to see more postmasters and their families receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
Each story is shocking and heartbreaking and my heart goes out to everybody who has been affected.
I’m sure many of you will be aware that a family from Astwood Bank has been affected by this scandal. Julian Wilson sadly died before his name was cleared, but his wife continued to campaign relentlessly for justice.
I have consistently raised Julian’s case with Ministers to make sure justice is finally done.
While we cannot undo the damage that has been done, we must establish what went wrong.
The public inquiry into the scandal has been put on a statutory footing which gives it the necessary powers and time to conduct an in-depth analysis of the decision-making processes that led to the scandal.
The Government is also determined to make compensation claims as soon as possible and by the current deadline of August 2024.
However, time needs to be taken to assess more complex claims, so postmasters receive full and fair compensation and are not unduly rushed into making a decision on their claims.
To date, more than £148million has been paid to 2,700 victims across all compensation schemes, 93 convictions have been overturned and, of those, 30 have agreed full and final settlements.
Just over £30million has been paid out in compensation to those with overturned convictions, including interim payments.
And when it comes to Paula Vennells, I was on the radio last weekend where I called for her CBE to be removed. I’m pleased to see she has now done the right thing and returned it herself. It’s the very least she can do.
The harm these prosecutions have wreaked on the affected families over the past 20 years is irreparable. Lessons should and will be learnt to ensure that an injustice of this magnitude never happens again.
Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch