Post Office inquiry chair calls on government to resolve compensation issues
By Law News
The chair of the inquiry into the Post Office Horizon scandal, Sir Wyn Williams, has called for "action and legislative change" to enable full and fair compensation for the sub-postmasters affected by the matter.
According to a news release by the inquiry, Williams has also called for a strengthening of the Horizon Compensation Advisory Board and more clarity around the tax treatment of compensation.
The inquiry news release says:
"The Chair of the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry decided to bring forward his investigation of compensation issues from Phase 5 of his Inquiry, after hearing human impact testimony from former sub-postmasters and others around the UK* about the suffering and financial loss that they endured. In a foreword, he writes: “Such evidence left me in no doubt that there was a compelling need to provide compensation to all those who had suffered loss and damage which properly reflected their pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses.”
"The recommendations made today under s24(3) of the Inquiries Act 2005, follow four hearings the Chair has convened on the issue of compensation, and two written updates. Sir Wyn acknowledges progress by the Government in response to concerns he has raised previously but makes formal recommendations today due to persisting concerns.
"In his report, the Chair points to commitments by numerous representatives of the Post Office and Government over a period of nearly three years to provide compensation which is “full and fair”. He said he does not consider there is any valid legal reason why the Government and the Post Office cannot give effect to these commitments.
"Sir Wyn says the commitment must apply with equal force to the compensation payable under all three schemes – the Historical Shortfall Scheme (HSS), the Overturned Historic Convictions Scheme (OHCS), and the Group Litigation Order Scheme (GLOS).
"He writes: “The object of each scheme is to put the sub-postmaster into the position in which he/she would have been had he/she not been the victim of unlawful tortious behaviour and/or the position in which they would have been had the various breaches of contract which they may prove had not occurred.”
"Sir Wyn says concerns he has previously set out about delays in the administration of the schemes remain valid, adding: “My definitive view upon whether the schemes have delivered compensation which is full and fair must await my investigation under Phase 5 of the Inquiry.”"