New legislation to quash Post Office Horizon convictions welcomed as exoneration ‘cannot come soon enough’ for victims


Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

4 min read time
13 Mar 2024

Solicitor Neil Hudgell has welcomed news of a new law being introduced by the Government to automatically quash convictions relating to the Horizon Scandal.

However, he says there are still ‘too many hurdles in place to full, fair and speedy compensation’ and says ‘renewed effort and focus is needed’ to ensure that challenge is met.

The Government says the new law will pave the way for blanket exonerations, delivered through the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill, quashing convictions brought about by erroneous Horizon evidence, clearing the names of many people who have had their lives ruined.

Under the proposed Bill, which will extend and apply to England and Wales only, convictions will be automatically quashed if they:

  • Were prosecuted by the Post Office or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
  • Were for offences carried out in connection with Post Office business between 1996 and 2018.
  • Were for relevant offences such as theft, fraud and false accounting.
  • Were against sub-postmasters, their employees, officers, family members or direct employees of the Post Office working in a Post Office that used the Horizon system software.

The legislation is expected to clear the majority of victims in England and Wales by the end of July.

The Department for Business and Trade will now be responsible for delivering the new Horizon Convictions Redress Scheme which will make redress payments to those who have had their convictions quashed by the new legislation.

The Government says the aim is to have the scheme open for applications as soon as possible once the legislation has been passed, but has warned there is ‘a risk that this legislation could quash convictions of people who were genuinely guilty of a crime’.

Therefore, before receiving financial redress, sub-postmasters will be required to sign a legal statement vowing that they did not commit the crime for which they were originally convicted.

The Government has warned that any person found to have signed a statement falsely in order to gain financial redress may be guilty of fraud.

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New £75,000 damages offer for Horizon Shortfall Scheme claimants

The Government has also confirmed a fixed sum payment of £75,000 is to be offered to former subpostmasters who were not convicted, or part of historic legal action against the Post Office, but who still suffered considerably due to Horizon failures.

Those who have already settled their cases for less money will be able to have their redress topped up to this level.

 ‘Renewed effort and focus needed on compensation’

Hudgell Solicitors is representing and advising hundreds of former subpostmasters in relation to the Post Office Horizon scandal, including more than 100 seeking the overturning of their convictions, as well as many who are applying for damages through the Horizon Shortfall Scheme.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell has welcomed the news, and the new £75,000 fixed compensation package for Horizon Shortfall Scheme claims, but says ‘renewed effort and focus’ to ensure all are fully and fairly compensated without further delay.

“We welcome the start of the passage of this legislation through Parliament to the eventual exoneration of many innocent people,” he said.

“For them, that day cannot come soon enough. Beyond that, we again welcome the Government’s intention to provide full, fair and speedy compensation.

“We are always open to working with them to see how that can best be delivered. At present, there remain too many hurdles in place to full, fair and speedy compensation and renewed effort and focus is needed to achieve that end.

“The £75,000 fixed compensation package for Horizon Shortfall Scheme claims is welcome and helpful, but only in relation to the relatively small number of the overall victim base it will effect.”

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New legislation to quash Post Office Horizon convictions welcomed as exoneration ‘cannot come soon enough’ for victims

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