Core Participants asked to respond to Inquiry on issue of compensation
The Chair of the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, Sir Wyn Williams, has today invited Post Office Limited, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and other Core Participants to the Inquiry to write to him addressing the issue of former subpostmistresses’ and subpostmasters’ eligibility to claim compensation.
This request is made by the Chair following receipt of a submission on the issue from Howe and Co, lawyers of former subpostmistress, Susan Hazzleton, who has been unable to claim compensation in relation to her prosecution by the Post Office. The submission has been published today by the Inquiry.
This announcement follows the Human Impact Hearing of 17 February 2022 in which, during the evidence session of Ms Hazzleton, Sir Wyn Williams said:
“My understanding of the settlement in the Bates litigation is that those who might have a claim for malicious prosecution, those rights were preserved, I think I'm right in saying that, notwithstanding the full and final nature of the settlement in other respects. First question: can a person who has been acquitted sue for malicious prosecution? I'm not going to make any definitive legal rulings but the answer, I think, is yes. If that is correct, it appears to me that there may be a loophole or a lacuna, in the sense that those who have been convicted and had their convictions quashed are entitled to an interim payment but those who may have been acquitted may fall into a hole, so to speak. I must say, I'm reasonably unhappy about that state of affairs, given that their rights to sue for malicious prosecution have been preserved, apparently.
“Accordingly, I would like at some point in the not too distant future for your legal team to write me a short note explaining the position that I've set out with some answers to it and my own legal team will do its research as well, because I want to understand whether the interim scheme, which is apparently being applied as we are going along, so to speak, is being fair to everyone who might take advantage of it.”
The full transcript of the evidence session can be found here.
Notes to editors:
- The Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry is an independent public inquiry examining failings surrounding the Post Office’s Horizon IT system which led to the suspension and termination of contracts, and the wrongful prosecution and conviction of subpostmasters and subpostmistresses. Read the List of Issues the Inquiry is examining here.
- The Chair will publish a report, setting out his findings and recommendations, on conclusion of the Inquiry. The Inquiry is expected to conclude next year.