President Muhammadu Buhari tells the Portuguese Parliament Speaker that Nigeria will continue to seek consensus on the full resumption of democratic governance throughout the West African subregion

President Muhammadu Buhari tells the Portuguese Parliament Speaker that Nigeria will continue to seek consensus on the full resumption of democratic governance throughout the West African subregion

Paul Scully, the minister responsible for postal affairs, has announced that an additional £19.5 million in compensation will be given to postmasters involved in the Horizon computer system scandal.

The compensation will increase to about £30 million with the award, which will be given to qualified members of a group that represents subpostmasters.

These postmasters and their families have displayed incredible bravery in the face of terrible circumstances, according to Mr. Scully.

“I hope this first step brings some solace to these pioneering postmasters while reaffirming our commitment to seeing to it that they get their fair share of compensation,” the letter reads.

Lord Callanan, the minister for business, stated in the House of Lords that the Government hopes to have all offers of interim payments for Post Office Horizon scandal victims made “before the end of the year.”

For those who have passed away, he continued, they will be “engaging with their next of kin and with their estates” regarding the compensation they are due.

The Post Office started putting in Horizon accounting systems in 1999, but the program’s bugs caused accounts at branches to be shortchanged.

In many instances, between 1999 and 2015, the Post Office wrongfully prosecuted sub-postmasters for theft or false accounting while demanding that they make up the shortfalls.

In a settlement in 2019, a number of postmasters who had brought the initial legal action against the Post Office over Horizon were awarded £43 million plus legal fees, but a large portion of this money was consumed by the costs of pursuing their case in court.

They were not qualified for the Historical Shortfall Scheme (HSS), which was later established to provide compensation to other impacted postmasters.

The interim payment on Thursday will serve as support while the new scheme is being developed. The government announced in March that it would develop a new program to ensure that the group does not lose out.

Further, I can confirm that members of the GLO group (High Court Group Litigation Order) will be eligible to submit claims for reasonable legal fees as part of taking part in the final compensation scheme, Mr. Scully continued.

“I hope that this will allay any concerns that they might have about covering the costs of seeking legal advice and support when applying to the scheme,” said the speaker.

Lord Callanan, a conservative peer, also promised that the £19.5 million would not affect the Post Office’s primary funding.

According to Lord Callanan, anyone who participated in the wrongdoing would have nowhere to hide during the public investigation into the scandal.

Additionally, he asserted that Nick Read’s new leadership at the Post Office was causing a shift in the organization’s culture and level of complacency.

He also gave Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, a leading advocate on the issue, assurances that the ‘inevitable delay’ brought on by the public inquiry won’t render any necessary legal action against those at fault time-barred.

Faulty accounting software gave the impression that money was missing from their locations, leading to the criminal conviction of more than 700 branch managers.

Numerous convictions have been overturned, and many more are expected to receive compensation, making it the largest legal error in UK history.

A Post Office spokesman stated: “As we right the wrongs of the past, ensuring full, fair, and final compensation for all Horizon scandal victims is a priority.

The Historical Shortfall Scheme has offered compensation to almost two-thirds of the postmasters, the majority of which have already been paid.

“We welcome the Government’s action on final, equitable compensation for the postmasters who participated in the group litigation settlement and those whose convictions related to Horizon are reversed.”

According to a minister, those in the Horizon computer system scandal who caused harm will be “truly held accountable.”

The people accountable for the harm brought on by the Horizon scandal will be “truly held accountable,” according to Telford’s Conservative MP Lucy Allan.

She said in the Commons, “I continue to be extremely concerned about the role of Fujitsu, UK Government Investments, and all those who sent ministers to this House even after the Justice Fraser judgment to say “nothing to see here.”

“That was wrong, and I know Sir Wyn Williams is looking into it, as the minister rightly stated, but will he personally guarantee that those people are held accountable?”

Paul Scully, the business minister, responded, “Absolutely, I will. After establishing the statutory inquiry, there is nothing I can do at this despatch box right now to order Sir Wyn to make any specific findings.

“It is up to him to do; I want to keep him as the independent chair, but without a doubt, we want to ensure that lessons are learned and that people are really held accountable.”

Since “we are losing post offices up and down our high streets,” Conservative MP Duncan Baker has encouraged Paul Scully to consider the “compensation structure” for the current postmasters.

The North Norfolk MP and former postmaster stated in front of the Commons, “I say this as a former postmaster, I suppose the only one in the House, those who are responsible for this, including Fujitsu and the senior individuals inside the Post Office, have to be called to account.”

The new thing I want to say to the minister is, “Please, please look at the compensation structure for the existing postmasters out there.” All throughout our high streets in our towns, we are losing post offices.

We are doing that because operating a post office alone as a stand-alone unit is occasionally not financially sustainable.

“When communities lose them, we struggle to win them back,” the statement reads. In order to get this magnificent institution back on our high streets—which, by goodness, we need—we must look at paying them fairly after this horrible scandal is resolved.

The minister of business retorted, “We are not waiting till this is ended. The Post Office regularly discusses compensation with sub-postmasters and their representatives, as I mentioned.

This is related to that post office’s future that I mentioned earlier.

For this reason, he continued, “we must cooperate to ensure that we can have that workable method for the post offices, not just for commercial value, but for social benefit as well.”

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 30, 2022