Lisa Nandy MP: ​Everyone must get justice they deserve after Post Office scandal

Nobody watching the recent ITV series “Mr Bates v The Post Office” could have failed to be moved by its portrayal of the shameful treatment of sub-postmasters, and the continued suffering they are enduring due to the Horizon IT scandal.
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This is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British history. Due to failures in the Post Office Horizon IT accounting system over 900 sub-postmasters were prosecuted for theft, false accounting and fraud and thousands more accused of wrongdoing.

People lost their livelihoods, their liberty and their lives and then when trying to find justice, were delayed at every turn.

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I know first-hand from ex-sub-postmasters from Wigan who were caught up in this scandal what a devastating personal impact it has had on their lives and continue to raise their ongoing concerns with the Government.

Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

It is totally unacceptable that many who were affected are still waiting to be exonerated from any wrongdoing (only 93 have had their conviction overturned) and fairly compensated.

Last week the Government finally moved to introduce long overdue measures to exonerate all sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted and ensure those affected by this scandal receive the compensation they are due. While we must wait to see the details, I, of course, welcome these announcements.

Many constituents who have contacted me about this issue also wish to see further consequences for those they feel may have been responsible for this scandal such as senior figures in the Post Office at the time, and the developers of the Horizon system, Fujitsu.

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The Government has stated that it will have to wait until the conclusion of the independent public inquiry into this matter in order to be able to assess more clearly who is actually responsible for what actions.

I appreciate that people may be frustrated with the length of time the inquiry is taking. Ministers originally said that it would report back in the summer of 2021, this was pushed back to autumn 2022 and now it is expected “by the end of the year”.

It is important that the inquiry reports back as soon as possible so that any individuals or corporations found to have knowingly contributed to the scandal face swift justice.

More broadly I am concerned that that this scandal shares clear similarities with other miscarriages of justice such as Hillsborough with ordinary people sounding the alarm being ignored and crushed by systems they can’t possibly compete with. Families of those unlawfully killed at Hillsborough have long campaigned for a “Hillsborough Law” to help prevent further miscarriages of justice from occurring.

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This would enforce a “duty of candour” on public officials to tell the truth, while also ensuring victims of injustices have a parity of legal funding.

The Government has rejected calls to introduce such a law, but Labour is committed to bringing in such legislation in government. It shouldn’t have taken a TV drama to force the Government to quash the convictions of innocent sub-postmasters and ensure people are compensated. We must use this opportunity to ensure everyone gets the justice they deserve while taking action to ensure something like this can never happen again.