Following the Government statement on the Post Office and compensation for the Horizon scandal, Andrew Bridgen asks why it has taken eight years to get to a position where convictions have been overturned and compensation is now beginning to be paid, and how will we hold to account those who are responsible for this prolonged injustice against the sub-postmasters.
Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Ind)
I thank my hon. Friend for his statement. I started campaigning on this issue only weeks after being elected to the House in 2010 when I was approached by two of the victims of this scandal, my constituents Mr and Mrs Rudkin. Thanks to the diligent work of Ron Warmington and his team of forensic accounts at Second Sight, by 2015, I and other Members of this House with an interest, the Post Office and, importantly, the Government were well aware of the overwhelming evidence produced that showed these convictions were at least unsafe and that there had been a huge miscarriage of justice. That was in 2015. Will the Minister tell the House why it has taken a further eight years to get to a position where convictions have been overturned and compensation is now beginning to be paid out to the victims? How will we hold to account those who are responsible for this prolonged injustice against the sub-postmasters?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Trade (Kevin Hollinrake)
I thank my hon. Friend for his work; he is a long-standing campaigner on this issue. He is right to point to the work of Second Sight, which was pretty critical to our getting to this point. The work of Members across the House in drawing attention to these issues shows Parliament at its best and what it is capable of doing, and I pay tribute to all Members of this place and of the Lords who have done that.
As I said, it took too long initially for the Post Office to hold its hands up and say that things were wrong. It had to be held to account in a court, which resulted in the settlement in December 2019. I agree that we need this as quickly as possible. It is also important that we get these schemes right. We want to make sure we get the compensation right the first time, and that is why it has taken a little bit of time, but we are in a much better place now. We are keen to get these payments out by August 2024, and ideally a lot quicker than that.