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Post Office minister says ‘people should go to jail’ over Horizon scandal

08 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Protestors outside the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry in December 2022, PA Images Kirsty O’Connor

The Post Office minister has said people responsible for the Horizon scandal “should go to jail”.

Kevin Hollinrake met dozens of those affected by the IT scandal in Fenny Compton, Warwickshire, where subpostmasters gathered to start their campaign for justice in 2009.

The Horizon inquiry is resuming this week and former subpostmaster Alan Bates, who organised the first Fenny Compton meeting, is to give evidence on Tuesday.

On BBC Breakfast, the MP for Thirsk and Malton told victims that the Government is trying to “streamline” the compensation process.

Mr Hollinrake said: “The inquiry is unearthing the evidence, what you see now is a result of the inquiry, the statutory inquiry.

“The Metropolitan Police are undertaking an investigation – the Government doesn’t do that, the police do that.

“When evidence has been established, people should be prosecuted – that’s my view.

“And I think you, and other people I’ve spoken to, and I certainly feel, people within the Post Office, possibly further afield, should go to jail.

Rule of law

He added: “We have to go through a process, we believe in the rule of law – lots of people in this room, and other people, have not had the benefit of the rule of law.

“It has failed, failed these people, inexcusably.

“We do believe in process, that’s the country we are very proud to live in.

“But if the threshold is met, the evidence is there, where criminal prosecutions can be undertaken – and that those people are found guilty – I have no reservation in saying people should go to jail.”

One man told Mr Hollinrake that in 2001 he “proved” to Post Office and Fujitsu managers that “the system was faulty, and that they did have remote access to postmasters’ accounts”.

He asked if the minister believes evidence of the meeting was “deliberately suppressed”.

Mr Hollinrake said: “I can’t say it was deliberately supressed because I wasn’t there and I wasn’t party to the conversations afterwards, but somebody knew something at a very early stage.

“If you look at your case, it’s 23 wasted years that this information could have come to light – all these prosecutions could have been stopped, should have been stopped, we need to find out who knew what and hold those people to account.”

Mistakes

Asked if having 20 Post Office ministers in that period was “part of the problem”, Mr Hollinrake responded: “I can’t speak for previous ministers but we should all apologise for where we are, for what happened – we’ve all made mistakes, we all should have acted more quickly, seen things more quickly and acted more quickly”.

Those who have been wrongfully convicted can seek fixed-sum compensation of £600,000 “pretty immediately”, Mr Hollinrake said.

However, he added the Government is looking at streamlining the alternative option of a full assessment including by removing the need for detailed medical assessments that take longer to complete.

He said: “Nobody can ever make up for what happened to these people’s lives, and people have passed away in this process – too many people.

“But we can compensate them and their families, and we can hold people to account.”

He later added: “We need to simplify the process, take the common sense view.

“I’ve said to our officials, and to legal representatives, ‘if it looks right, it is right, just settle it’ – that’s what we need to do.”


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Oh yeah? The way class divide Britain works is this. INNOCENT sub postmasters are thrown in jail for no reason whatsoever and the GUILTY scam masters who put them there go free and will never hear the jangling of the screws keys.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Hound every “bar steward” that is identified as being in any way responsible for this gross injustice. That witch Vennells is well identified but now lying as low as a limbo dancer. Ed Davey, a prize wanchor if there ever was one, so quick to find fault with others now making a bad mealy mouthed job of “repositioning ” himself. Loads of others lurking in the UK’s business and political spheres. Root them out as they are all very replaceable and should be as soon as possible.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Yes and lets not forget this scandal would still be operating under the radar if it wasn’t for a tv programme. Many of those politicians etc now decrying this terrible PO injustice were happy to say nothing up tonow

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago

If there were any justice in this backward country, those responsible for the Horizon scandal would be in jail already.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Fujitsu have the new contract for an ID card scheme, OK, it was started before the Gov tried to look sensible and parties said they will no longer bid.

Guess what will happen to the people involved in putting people in jail.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jeff

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