Govt offers “eligible” Postmasters £600,000 take-it-or-leave-it compensation

Janet Skinner called the offer a “complete and utter joke”

The government has tried to break the compensation impasse for “eligible” Subpostmasters whose convictions have been quashed.

The deal on the table is £600,000 to walk away. This is the transcript of the announcement and subsequent debate in parliament.

The maximum number of people who qualify for the deal are the 86 Subpostmasters whose convictions have been quashed. I have asked if this includes Vipin Patel, Teju Adedayo and Parmod Kalia, three Subpostmasters whose convictions have been quashed, but who the Post Office/government is refusing to compensate because they believe Horizon evidence was not essential to their prosecutions.

There is more information from the government here. At the time the news broke I happened to be with Edward Henry KC who represents several Subpostmasters at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry. Ed called the offer “cruel”, suggesting the government was displaying “ruthlessness and expediency”. He told me the government should say: “you are guaranteed £600,000 – whether you accept this or not. We are not going to play raw claw litigation with you. If you take us to court or take the Post Office to court and you get more – great. If you take us to court and you don’t, that £600,000 is safe and it’s waiting for you.”

Edward Henry KC

Here’s my studio live report featuring that quote on ITV News last night. Just before I went into the studio I had a quick chat with the Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake, who told me the sort of deal Ed Henry was espousing was something the Business Department was looking at, which, whilst I imagine it would be welcome, potentially adds to the confusion surrounding the compensation debacle.

I had various Subpostmasters contact me about the offer. One was delighted, telling me: “Just incredible… my heart is singing.”

Tim Brentnall

He was something of a outlier. Tim Brentnall, whose conviction was quashed in 2021 said:

“If this payment is available to all – then people with high claims should get it as an interim. Secondly – they have always taken the line that we have to fight and prove everything because it’s the “public purse”. Many claims will be below that figure so why has that now been abandoned? It’s not very “full and fair” for a lot of people! It’s also going to create pressure on the people who’s claims are just over that amount to settle for perhaps less than they are entitled to.”

TIm concludes: “It’s a good step that they’ve said they want to settle, but it sort of flies in the face of everything that’s gone beforehand.”

Janet Skinner, who went to prison, described the offer as a “complete and utter joke”. Seema Misra, who also went to prison, said “It might be okay for some. Some might be forced into it. [It’s] definitely not for me.”

Neil Hudgell, whose firm Hudgells represents the largest number of Subpostmasters with quashed convictions said:

“we are somewhat surprised by this sudden announcement. I expect the reaction of many of our clients will be that this move is another example of the Post Office trying to control the narrative. The Government has said these offers are optional, but my fear is that, due to the delays we have already faced, and the particular circumstances many Subpostmasters face, some may feel pressured to accept this offer even though their claims are worth much more. In isolation £600,000 may sound like a lot of money, and it is. But in many cases it is nowhere near enough to represent what has been lost over the last two decades.”

Last night on The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4, Lord Arbuthnot, a member of the Horizon Compensation Advisory Board, called the offer “a choice”, saying that “for some it will be a good way of putting this behind them and getting on with their lives.”

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7 responses to “Govt offers “eligible” Postmasters £600,000 take-it-or-leave-it compensation”

  1. I think that every convicted sub-postmaster should be offered a lifetime position in the house of lords – on the top of the compensation, as a sign that the country really apologizes for this misconduct

  2. I totally agree that £600k should be the guaranteed starting point for compensation, and certainly not the basis on which these SPMs surrender all future claim rights against POL. In the South this sum may just about buy you a modest 3-bed detached house and all these people have lost so much more than their homes. Tim Brentnall’s comments are spot on. Isn’t it interesting how POL’s Board are so keen to save the “public purse” when it comes to negotiating SPMs’ compensation, yet so casual with it when awarding their own bonuses?

    On another note, having just finished watching Helen Rose’s oral evidence to the inquiry, I was struck by how laughable it was at best (her middle names must be I, Can’t and Remember) and how contemptible it was at worst. Despite clear, concise questioning from Jason Beer KC and Flora Page (on behalf of former SPM, Lee Castleton) Mrs Rose repeatedly obfuscated to the point of incredulity. Although her two untruthful witness statements used in Mr Castleton’s prosecution were shocking enough (not to mention her appalling character assassination of him in private conversation with POL’s solicitor) what I found even more offensive was her apparent careless, callous dismissal of Mr Mann’s suicide as something her conduct had not contributed to in any way. Indeed, having watched almost all the inquiry evidence heard to date, I am left with the distinct impression that the only requirements to secure a job with POL is that you be a dullard with memory problems and sloping shoulders!

    On a final note Nick, I much enjoyed your description of getting the compensation offer story on last night’s BBC 6 o’clock news bulletin – real “down to the wire” stuff and you’re obviously a man who thrives on pressure! (Oh, and good luck to your eldest in their first weeks at uni’!)

  3. My mantra is why have the police done nothing when there are obvious cases of perjury and concealment of evidence and worse/

    1. Quite,
      It is a huge indictment of our so called “justice” system that there have still been no arrests on the basis of perverting the course of justice, perjury etc, etc.
      I’m pretty sure that any ordinary member of the public caught in these sorts of lies would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, whereas all through this enquiry over the years the people involved on the PO/Fujitsu side of things appear to be able to say and do anything, truthful or not without any of the consequences that the rest of us would face.

  4. This is so unfair yet again and it is very much Par for the course with Post Office Limited.
    It reminds me so much of the pay deals that POL imposed on Postmasters where some got an increase and others little or no increase at all. This was done to get a cheaper overall deal for the Post Office and used to infuriate me as an active member of the NFSP and I opposed these deals. It also benefits POL as it divides postmasters as a group and this is a tactic that they used in almost all circumstances. To me it is immoral.

  5. I assume – £600,000 for each victim?

    A bit on the low side, but it would do – for now.

    Thanks, Nick.

  6. In what world can all the victims be due the same amount?!
    Perhaps £600k is adequate for some, but those who suffered longer, and lost most, are due so much more.
    Their fight must go on, with our support.

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