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UK ministers should take ‘concerted action’ over Horizon scandal – Mark Drakeford

08 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Photo Tim Ireland PA Images

UK ministers should be taking “concerted action” over the Horizon scandal, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

The outgoing Welsh Labour leader said ministers have taken up the issue with their UK counterparts when people in Wales were affected.

He told a press conference in Cardiff: “It’s an entirely non-devolved matter but Welsh ministers have taken this up with their UK counterparts where there have been Welsh individuals who have been directly affected.

“We need to see some concerted action on the part of the UK Government to deal with the things that they can deal with already.”

Labour has called for prosecution powers to be stripped from the Post Office and previous convictions looked at again, amid growing anger over the wrongful prosecution of subpostmasters and postmistresses for alleged fraud.

It comes as MPs plan to raise the Horizon scandal in the Commons as Parliament returns this week, with Conservative backbencher David Davis and Labour MP Kevan Jones pushing for an emergency debate after an ITV drama returned the widespread miscarriage of justice to the spotlight.

CPS

Sir Keir Starmer, speaking during a visit in Loughborough, said: “I think that the prosecution should be taken out of the hands of the Post Office and given to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“I used to run the Crown Prosecution Service, we’ve prosecuted for other departments, we can do it here – that should be done straight away.

“And these convictions, the remaining convictions need to be looked at en masse.”

He added: “The Government could pass legislation, so obviously we’d support that if they did.

“It might be possible to get these cases back before the Court of Appeal quickly – I’ve done that when I was a prosecutor – but whichever way it’s done, these convictions need to be looked at.”

Compensation

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended the UK Government’s response to the scandal but said he wanted to speed up the compensation process.

At a PM Connect event in Lancashire he said those caught up in it had faced an “absolutely appalling miscarriage of justice” and “we should do everything we can to make it right”.

“I would say that over the last few years my predecessors started the process of doing that, had theinquiry. Actually, as chancellor, I approved the compensation schemes for the first time which are now in the process of being paid out and almost £150 million has been paid out to thousands of people.

“So people should know that we are on it and we want to make this right, that money has been set aside.

“What we are now looking at is how can we speed all of that up?”

He confirmed Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and the Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake were meeting to see if there is “more we can do to speed up some of those processes”.

“We will do everything we can to make this right for the people affected. It is simply wrong what happened, they shouldn’t have been treated like this.”

Inquiry

Reports suggest since Mr Bates Vs The Post Office was broadcast, 50 new potential victims have approached lawyers.

The Post Office is wholly owned by the UK Government and a public inquiry into Horizon is ongoing.

Scotland Yard said on Friday that officers are “investigating potential fraud offences arising out of these prosecutions”, for example “monies recovered from subpostmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions”.

The Metropolitan Police had already been looking into potential offences of perjury and perverting the course of justice in relation to investigations and prosecutions carried out by the Post Office.


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Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

At least three years this has batted around Parliament (see Hansard). ITV air a show and now the PM acts.

Last edited 5 months ago by Jeff
hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Makes one sick. Now they have a bandwagon rolling these shallow politicians will jump on it. However we have to make sure that they stay on and don’t jump off when a different soundbite opportunity pops up elsewhere. Justice for these abused, badly wronged sub postmasters must be delivered without dilution.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Don’t forget there are more people involved than just the lady they want to strip the CBE from. There is someone else involved who I think is now employed by government (Fujitsu also sues the NHS over a contract)? Then there is Mone (not post office involved but honour needs pulling). And they will see this as an opportunity to slip out bad legislation and bad news. And then people that had their cases thrown out at the courts still went through hell and still suffering, they are outside some payments. Then there are all the people that have been… Read more »

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
5 months ago

Time for Wales to have its own Postal
service and control all direct to postal address delivery services

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