It’s hard to overstate the extent of the miscarriage of justice caused by the Post Office Horizon scandal.
Between 2000 and 2014, more than 700 branch managers across the UK were given criminal convictions because a faulty computer system made it appear as if money was missing.
The lives and reputations of wholly innocent people were ruined. Some of the postmasters went to prison and some died before they had a chance to clear their names.
Yesterday, in Glasgow, the inquiry into the scandal heard from Scottish victims including Vinod Sharma, who was wrongly accused by his bosses of stealing almost £30,000.
Vinod , known to his customers as Victor, told of the “devastation” of the accusations made against him and said the price he paid was “horrendous”.
The victims’ testimonies are heartbreaking and there are hundreds of them, from people who did nothing wrong.
The inquiry, which is set to run for the rest of the year, will get to the bottom of how this scandal was allowed to unfold and why so many red flags were either ignored or missed.
The postmasters will receive compensation, but nothing will make up for the lost years, broken marriages and stress caused by the wrongful accusations of criminality.
What was done to these good people is unforgiveable and as yet no one at the Post Office or Horizon developers Fujitsu has been held accountable.
A line can only be drawn under this scandal when those who are responsible are named, shamed and brought to justice.
Time for truth
Governments must be transparent when it comes to matters that are in the public interest.
The outcomes of investigations into ministers, whether serving or departed, fit squarely into this category. Voters are entitled to know the findings of probes when serious allegations are made.
The Scottish Government, by contrast, is refusing to say how a complaint of bullying against ex-minister Fergus Ewing was resolved. When asked, the First Minister referred to “GDPR privacy issues” as a reason for not answering the question.
This argument will not stand much scrutiny. Ministers and cabinet
secretaries are public figures who are paid handsomely from the public purse.
The Government cannot simply hide behind data protection laws and hope no one bothers to pursue the matter.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant and the Government must say how the Ewing probe was resolved.
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