Wrongfully convicted postmasters still awaiting compensation a year later

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Postal workers involved in the Horizon computer scandal said they were no closer to getting compensation a year after the first convictions were overturned.

Neil Hudgell, the lawyer leading the compensation negotiations, has called for the cases to be settled by the end of the year to prevent victims from facing further financial ruin.

Thirty-nine long-standing convictions were overturned by the Central London Court of Appeal on April 23 last year, and the number has since risen to 73.

I may not be a criminal anymore, but I’m still a victim. La Poste continues to control my life and cause me stress and sleepless nights

former postmaster

Mr Hudgell said: ‘We need to close these cases in this calendar year so these decent, honest people can get on with their lives and finally enjoy some peace of mind.

“Many feel strongly that their continued suffering continues to be used as leverage to make paltry settlement offers.

“For some poor postmasters, time has beaten them, they have died or lost their ability. For others, time is running out too.

“Perhaps the words of a deputy postmaster best sum up the current position.

“They said, ‘I’m worried now that the interim payment is running out, just to settle personal loans, debts and essential home repairs – my freezer, washer and microwave have all packed up these last months, and now my boiler.

“I may no longer be a criminal, but I am still a victim.

“La Poste continues to control my life and cause me stress and sleepless nights”.

Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, at the Royal Courts of Justice (Hudgell Solicitors)

Mr Hudgell added that although most deputy postmasters have received interim payments from the post office, they believe that these payments were only made so that the institution could feel “that they did them a favour” instead of returning the money wrongly taken.

He called for another round of interim payments to settle agreed losses and a speedy resolution of disputes with Post Office lawyers to resolve ongoing issues, adding: “We are poles apart in how we assess some of the losses suffered by the sub-positions.”

The Court of Appeal has already heard that the lives of many sub-postmasters have been ‘irretrievably ruined’ as they lost their jobs, homes and marriages after being sued by the post office – who knew the system Horizon developed by Fujitsu had “flaws and bugs from the early days of its operation”.

Hundreds of people who ran Post Office branches were convicted of offenses – including theft and false accounting – during the system’s period of use.