June 13, 2024

Post Office Horizon victims given average of less than £1,000 for damage to health

According to the Post Office data, £6 million has been paid out for “distress and inconvenience, £36 million for loss of earnings, and £2 million for “other loss types”. Overall, £110 million had been paid to HSS claimants by the end of March.

However, £57 million of this – 52 per cent of the total – comprises money that postmasters were wrongfully forced to hand over in the first place, to make up for the phantom shortfalls in the IT system supplied by Fujitsu.

‘It was our money to start with’

Jeremy Brown, who runs a Post Office branch in Hadleigh, Essex, said: “It’s sickening to see the executives boasting about how much so-called compensation they have paid out when those of us on the receiving end have always known that most of it was our money to start with.

“You can’t call it real damages if it’s just the money they forced out of us back in the day.”

At a select committee hearing on February 27, Nick Read, the current Post Office chief executive, and Simon Recaldin, the remediation matters director, were reminded by MPs to be clear in their meaning when they used the word “compensation”.

Mr Brown, 67, has now accepted payment of nearly £7,500. However, all of that was the money he wrongfully paid to make up for apparent Horizon shortfalls between 2007 and 2014.

“When I filed my claim, nowhere did they say, ‘This is how you can claim for damages for psychiatric injury,’” he said.
“If I’d known you could do that, I would certainly have claimed because of what we went through.”

An ongoing, uphill struggle

Last week, the public inquiry heard that the Post Office’s former top lawyer was refusing to cooperate with the statutory inquiry.

Jane MacLeod, who oversaw the legal battle with campaigner Alan Bates, is living in New Zealand and is refusing to appear, The Telegraph understands.

Mr Bates has rejected a second offer for compensation, it emerged last week. The campaigner and former subpostmaster said he was readying himself for an “ongoing uphill struggle”.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We’re acutely aware of the human costs of the scandal and are committed to full and fair redress. There’s no exhaustive list of types of individual losses being provided for,  nor caps on amounts. An independent advisory panel of experts assesses claims in the scheme and Post Office pays for postmasters to take independent legal advice, if they wish, on offers made.  Following a Government announcement in March, postmasters will have a voluntary option of £75,000 to settle their claim and those who have previously settled for a lower amount will have the difference paid as soon as possible.”

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