Thank you for contacting me about the Post Office mediation scheme for subpostmasters.
It is deeply troubling that the treatment of those accused of theft based on evidence from the Horizon IT system. I do not underestimate the stress this has caused to many affected by the long-running case, and from my time as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee I remember how easy it is for massive technical systems to go wrong.
Although owned by the Government, the Post Office operates at arm’s length as an independent commercial business and as such the Government does not play any role in operational matters. All the same, it’s right that the Post Office should be held to account in circumstances where it has fallen short and I welcome that it has finally apologised and agreed to pay compensation to those affected.
Therefore, following the findings from BBC Panorama’s 'Scandal at the Post Office', which uncovered potential evidence that Post Office managers were aware of faults with the Horizon system but continued to prosecute employees, the Government is committed to establishing an independent review to consider whether the Post Office has learned the necessary lessons and to provide an independent and external assessment of its work to rebuild its relationship with its postmasters.
This review will be chaired by someone independent from the Government and the Post Office. The review will make sure that there is a public summary of the failings that occurred at the Post Office. More broadly, it will establish who is to blame, if it could ever happen again and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Furthermore, it will establish how the wrongs were done and how to right them.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
EDWARD LEIGH MP