CWU to Paul Scully: ‘Postmasters had sleepless nights for years!’

Postal, Post Office (PO)

Andy Furey responds to Post Office Minister Paul Scully’s comment to the Commons yesterday that the Horizon scandal ‘keeps him up at night’…

“It’s good to hear that this matter is at the forefront of Mr Scully’s mind – but please Minister, get a move on with the compensation,” said Andy today.

“You told MPs that this is the one area of your portfolio that ‘keeps you up at night’, but with respect, hundreds of postmasters endured many years of sleepless nights while their good names were trashed, their livelihoods wrecked and, in some instances, even their liberty was taken away.

“They have been fighting for justice and some have waited nearly two decades for this wrong to be righted – so please let’s at least make sure they’re all compensated fully and fairly, without further delay,” he added.

Understandably, amidst the shock of yesterday’s dramatic international developments, Mr Scully’s Ministerial Statement to the House on the Horizon Inquiry received little attention, but his update to MPs on the current situation was noteworthy in that it showed once again that support for our postmasters goes right across the normal party divides.

And it also provided further evidence of the growing pressure for justice sooner rather than later.

Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen put the Minister on the spot by reminding him that the Government had shown no interest in the scandal for many years, described Post Office bosses as having been “too arrogant” and “feudal” in their attitude towards postmasters, while Mr Scully’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was also “partly culpable” for the situation.

There was no excuse for further delays in compensations, Mr Bridgen insisted, and he asked whether BEIS has yet put in a formal request to the Treasury for funding for sub-postmasters’ compensation.

Replying, Mr Scully (Sutton & Cheam) said that Horizon was an aspect of his Ministerial role that “keeps him up at night,” promised to “work at speed” to resolve the compensation issues and reported that he had written to the BEIS Select Committee with relevant costings and had been in contact with the Treasury.

His Labour Opposition Shadow Seema Malhotra (Fulham & Heston) emphasised that some victims were still “painfully far” from receiving compensation and highlighted the fact that 33 of them have now sadly passed away while awaiting recompense.

She asked Mr Scully for a timeline of when all outstanding claims would be finalised.

The Minister told Ms Malhotra that he “wants to make sure that the 555” (the postmasters who brought the initial court case against the Post Office and Fujitsu, but who have not been adequately compensated) receive appropriate compensation and that his office is currently working on how to make this possible.

And on the historical shortfall scheme, Mr Scully said that the Post Office had assured him that it is working through earlier cases to benchmark what compensation is owed. He added that he has been told that the Post Office “hopes” to have the process “95 per cent finished” by the end of the year, but that he will be “pushing for 100 per cent.”

Andy Furey told CWU News that, “the pressure is clearly mounting for real and meaningful action now – and it’s coming from all sides, which is good to see.

“Mr Scully is saying all the right words and that’s good to hear – but what we need is action, and this action must be taken urgently.

“There must be full recompense for all and we must not allow this to be delayed any further.”

  • Andy has written an article about the Horizon scandal for the research organisation and think-tank CLASS, which can be read here
  •  An Early Day Motion (EDM 822) sponsored by Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, demands full and prompt compensation for all victims and has, so far, been signed by 121 MPs. Has your MP signed it? If not, please can you contact your MP and ask?
  •  A full report of yesterday’s House of Commons statement and Q&A on Horizon can be read here