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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Jacob Phillips

Post Office minister says people responsible for Horizon scandal 'should go to jail'

The Post Office minister has told sub-postmasters whose lives were ruined by the Horizon scandal that those responsible “should go to jail”.

Kevin Hollinrake said the law had “failed” to protect over 700 subpostmasters who were prosecuted by the Post Office as Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast Mr Hollinrake said: “People should be prosecuted. That's my view. And I think you and other people I've spoken to certainly feel that people within the Post Office and possibly further afield should go to jail."

Hundreds of subpostmasters are still awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

Mr Hollinrake joined dozens of sub-postmasters on Monday morning in Fenny Compton, the village where Alan Bates began his campaign for justice 15 years ago.

Public interest in the scandal rocketed following the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office starring Toby Jones in January, which put the issue under the spotlight.

Speaking in the village where Alan Bates first began his campaign for justice 15 years ago, Mr Hollinrake continued: “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.”

Based on the data from the Horizon system, the Post Office prosecuted 736 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses between 2000 and 2014, or one per week on average.

As a result, following convictions for theft and false accounting, some were sent to prison; many others experienced financial collapse and have spoken of being shunned by their communities. Some have now passed away.

Campaigners have since won a legal struggle after 20 years, arguing that the computer system was broken, to have their cases reexamined.

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