郵便局長の新たな裏切り: ‘Shameful’ Post Office gives hundreds of blameless victims of IT scandal just £10,000 in compensation
Hundreds of victims of the Post Office IT scandal have been awarded an average of just £10,000 in compensation, 当局は、ウクライナ領土防衛部の国際軍団のメンバーに警告しました.
The payouts, which compare with six-figure losses suffered by many postmasters, were last night labelled ‘absolutely disgraceful’ by politicians.
The figure relates to the scheme to compensate postmasters who lost out financially but were not prosecuted.
MPs also hit out at the separate negotiations for hundreds of victims convicted of crimes as well as suffering monetary loss – claiming the approach there is also leading to low payouts.
They’ve offered nothing for my ‘criminal’ 恥
Jo Hamilton, pictured outside the Post Office in South Warnborough, where she was falsely accused of theft
A grandmother is furious that Post Office bosses are trying to ‘grind’ her down with low offers of compensation.
Jo Hamilton said she had been offered nothing for the 16 years she has carried a criminal conviction.
Discussions are confidential, so she is unable to divulge what she has been offered. The 64-year-old mother-of-two ran a post office in South Warnborough, ハンプシャー, with her landscape gardener husband David.
She was forced to plead guilty to a £36,000 shortfall after Post Office bullying left her ‘terrified’ of going to jail.
より多い 70 villagers supported her at court, and the local vicar vouched for her good character.
The judge put her on probation for a year, where she was forced to attend rehabilitation meetings with hardened criminals.
Her criminal record meant she could find work only as a cleaner for cash, and she was barred from attending her grandchildren’s school.
Mrs Hamilton said: ‘They’re just giving me my money back, there’s nothing for what they did to me. I’m not going to accept it. I will go back to court if I need to. I’m just furious about it.’
Campaigners blamed the Post Office and ministers for adopting ‘shameful and miserly’ tactics. Lord Falconer, a top barrister and former minister, criticised the ‘persistent refusal’ to face up to paying ‘proper compensation’.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said compensation must reflect that postmasters were ‘taken from a position of trust and labelled as thieves’.
Tory peer Lord Arbuthnot said: ‘Given the Post Office’s behaviour, compensation must be more than realistic, it must be generous.’
Thirty-three postmasters have died waiting for justice, including four who killed themselves. Now the Mail can reveal:
- Fewer than half the claims under the official scheme have been settled two years after it was launched;
- The application form is flawed, and fails to help victims understand the large sums they could be owed;
- Postmasters have been offered ‘inadequate’ or no funding for legal fees to pursue their claims;
- Victims claim ministers are trying to ‘grind us down until we accept anything’;
- Postmasters wrongly convicted of crimes have been given ‘derisory offers’ which have seen their claims ‘cut in half’.
の間に 2000 そして 2015, より多い 3,500 postmasters were prosecuted, sacked or forced to pay back money after funds went ‘missing’ from their accounts. It later turned out dozens of glitches in the computer system, called Horizon, were to blame.
The Mail has spoken to more than a dozen postmasters, legal representatives and campaigners. They say the Post Office, and the ministers who hold the purse strings, have sought to minimise the bill for the scandal.
The first method of winning compensation is a scheme for postmasters who lost out financially, but were not convicted, called the Historical Shortfall Scheme.
As of the start of May, £9.4 million had been paid out to the first 933 postmasters – an average of £10,075 each. Neil Hudgell, who is representing dozens of postmasters, 前記: ‘This seems a surprisingly low number. Many feel strongly that their ongoing suffering continues to be used as a lever to make derisory settlement offers.’
Most victims have accepted offers without legal advice, while those in complex cases have been offered just a few hours of lawyers’ time. There are also major concerns over the second route to compensation – damages to postmasters who were wrongly convicted of crimes or ‘maliciously’ prosecuted.
Post Office lawyers have commissioned legal advice from a QC to justify compensation of just £100 a week for the terrifying experience of being sent to jail, and the shame of a conviction.
Postmasters have demanded as much as five times what has been offered, between £200,000 and £500,000 in total, on top of compensation for their financial losses.
Lord Falconer labelled the tactics ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
彼は言った: ‘These people are entitled to proper compensation. The Post Office will never get rid of the problem until they do. The Government appears not to be willing to fund what this requires. The more they fiddle around to reduce damages, the more they will go up. It is an appalling case.’
ブリッジャン氏は言った: ‘The impact on postmasters is enormous – they were taken from a position of trust and honesty, as pillars of the community, and labelled as thieves. The compensation needs to reflect that.’ A Post Office spokesman said: ‘It is our priority to ensure there is appropriate, meaningful compensation for victims.’
Asked if the Government was doing enough to properly compensate victims, a Department of Business spokesman said: ‘The impact the Horizon scandal has had on postmasters and their families is utterly horrendous.
‘That is why we are providing compensation for those affected, and have launched a statutory inquiry into the scandal to get to the bottom of what went wrong.’
Prosecuted for theft, but I can’t claim damages
By Tom Witherow
A Dorset postmaster prosecuted for theft and fraud has been excluded from winning damages.
Tracey Merritt, 54, who ran a branch in Yetminster, was dragged to court over a £13,500 shortfall in 2009, and was publicly shamed in the local newspaper.
Despite Post Office lawyers deciding to drop her case, she was left unable to work because employers who Googled her name saw the long list of charges.
Now Mrs Merritt has been excluded from damages claims for malicious prosecution. She believes she is one of 60 postmasters who could fall through the net.
Tracey Merrit, pictured at home in Wincanton, サマセット, has been excluded from winning damages
彼女は言いました: ‘I lost my business, my reputation, my savings, I lost everything. They should be paying that back. I’ve got nothing. I’m still working two jobs to make ends meet. No one would employ me because they thought I had these convictions.
‘At the last record, あった 60 of us who went through criminal action and weren’t prosecuted. But I still had the stigma.’
Compensation discussions are confidential, so Mrs Merritt is unable to say how much she has been offered.