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Solicitor Neil Hudgell tells parliamentary committee of ‘painful’ compensation process – and fears many subpostmasters have accepted offers ‘nowhere near’ true value

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Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

3 min read time
27 Feb 2024

Solicitor Neil Hudgell today told a parliamentary committee that ‘creative thinking’ is needed from the Government to prevent the process of fairly compensating former subpostmasters taking up to another two years.

Appearing before the Business and Trade Select Committee to discuss the Horizon scandal, Mr Hudgell outlined the continuing frustrations in seeking redress for hundreds of clients, saying ‘too much lawyering’ and bureaucracy’ continues to slow the process down.

Mr Hudgell said it had been a ‘very painful journey from April 2021 to February 2024’ in pursuing compensation for those who have their convictions overturned.

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He warned the ‘damage had been done’ with regards to the Historical Shortfall Scheme (HSS) – which is in place to compensate those who were not prosecuted but lost their livelihoods and reputations.

Mr Hudgell highlighted how more than 2,000 HSS claims had been settled without former subpostmasters having access to any legal advice as to the value of their claim, and that from close to 200 cases Hudgells have been asked to review, there was ‘not one’ he could approve.

There’s too much lawyering going on. Everything is over-engineered.

I think one of the keys to resolving all this is to think creatively like the minister did with the £600,000 proposal.

At the heart of all this is the victims who want closure, which means something which is fair to them and doesn’t involve a micro-analysis of every item of a claim that’s advanced.

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Psychiatric impact ‘self-evident’ – but still disputed

Mr Hudgell highlighted how his legal team has submitted more than 100 medical reports to the Post Office over the past three years to evidence of the psychiatric impact on people who had lost their jobs and homes.

It’s self-evident that if you have lost your job and home you will have those losses, yet we find the HSS panel in particular saying there’s a bit of distress and inconvenience but nothing in the medical records and therefore no medical injury.

Anybody who understands personal injury knows that in about half of cases people don’t go to the GP with a psychiatric diagnosis, they keep it to themselves.

Also with regards to the HSS the damage has been done. There have been over 2000 cases settled without any legal advice, and in many instances the application hasn’t captured anything like the heads of losses these people have. They go nowhere near the true picture.

We act for perhaps the biggest cohort of HSS claimants and I can’t find an offer I can sign off without further investigation or interrogation. We have 176 offers in play. I’d love to be able to sign them off and tell people they can get on with their lives but in every case there is something missing.

Asked if he believed the 2000 plus cases needed to be reopened, Mr Hudgell said they were ‘at least deserving of a proper review.

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Solicitor Neil Hudgell tells parliamentary committee of ‘painful’ compensation process – and fears many subpostmasters have accepted offers ‘nowhere near’ true value

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