Post Office Accused of Offering Bonuses for Convictions in Horizon Scandal, Triggering New Clash with Victims Over £75k Compensation Offer
Reports suggest that the Post Office allegedly incentivized convictions in the Horizon scandal by offering cash bonuses to investigators for each sub-postmaster found guilty. The controversial scheme is described as a “part of the business.” The Horizon scandal saw numerous sub-postmasters wrongly convicted due to false losses recorded by the IT software.
Gary Thomas from the Post Office security team revealed during an inquiry that there were “bonus objectives” tied to successful convictions. He acknowledged that this practice influenced decisions, stating it was ingrained in the business culture.
In a 2021 email to Post Office boss Nick Read, Thomas outlined that his yearly bonus objectives were based on the number of successful prosecutions and the recovery amounts of money to the business.
The revelation has sparked outrage, with former postmaster Alan Bates, featured in the ITV drama “Mr Bates vs The Post Office,” calling the offering of financial incentives for prosecutions “appalling.”
This revelation emerges amid Rishi Sunak’s confirmation of new legislation to “exonerate and compensate” wrongly convicted postmasters. However, discontent lingers among victims, as an initial compensation offer of £75,000 for those who repaid cash without being convicted is deemed insufficient.
Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake acknowledged the inadequacy of the £75,000 offer for many, despite providing immediate help for a third of claimants with smaller claims. The decision follows Wednesday’s announcement by Sunak, promising justice for the victims and addressing the “huge injustice.”
Leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, praised the plans but urged scrutiny of the details. Post Office minister Hollinrake admitted that some postmasters found guilty could have their convictions overturned. The debate over whether Fujitsu, the firm behind the faulty Horizon software, should contribute to the compensation scheme adds another layer to the ongoing saga.
The recent “Mr Bates vs The Post Office” drama has reignited public interest in the scandal, bringing key figures, including former CEO Paula Vennells, back into the limelight. Vennells led the Post Office during a campaign of wrongful prosecutions in the Horizon scandal.