Victim Blames Rishi Sunak Over Horizon IT Scandal Compensation

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London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – Deirdre Connolly, a victim of the Horizon IT scandal, accuses Rishi Sunak of empty promises after missing government compensation deadlines.

A Horizon IT scandal victim has blamed Rishi Sunak for making empty promises after she failed to acquire a compensation offer by the deadline imposed by the government.

Deirdre Connolly was charged with stealing thousands from her own Post Office and forced to compensate a discrepancy of over £15,000, which she did not owe.

Her family had to re-mortgage their residence and were proclaimed bankrupt. After applying for compensation at the end of last year, Ms Connolly is yet to listen back – despite the government’s commitment to respond within 40 days.

“It’s just constant fighting; you don’t know to talk to, who to push,” she said.

A month ago, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak presented a new law that would pardon victims of the Post Office scandal, in which hundreds of workers were wrongfully charged after faulty software showed discrepancies in the company’s finances. Sunak said former post office workers who were part of the company litigation in 2019 would be eligible for an upfront payment of £75,000 (around $95,000).

“This is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history. People who worked hard to serve their communities had their lives and reputations destroyed through absolutely no fault. The victims must get justice and compensation,” stated Sunak.

“Today, I can announce that we will introduce new primary legislation to make sure those convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal are swiftly exonerated and compensated.” 

Sunak’s statement during the Prime Minister’s Questions came after the Metropolitan Police confirmed they were exploring potential fraud offenses related to the years-long scandal where the Post Office wrongfully sentenced its employees because of faulty software. 

The Met Police had already been examining potential offenses of perjury and perverting the path of justice related to prosecutions and examinations by the Post Office. The force unlocked an investigation in January 2020 into matters concerning Fujitsu Horizon, the name of the company and its software, and the Post Office following a referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Met Police told the media.

The law enforcement agency says that the potential offenses come from inquiries and prosecutions carried out by the Post Office, for example, money retrieved from sub-postmasters due to the office’s prosecutions or civil actions. Two people had been questioned in the investigation, police said. 

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has named the scandal the “most widespread miscarriage of justice the CCRC has ever seen and represents the biggest single series of wrongful convictions in British legal history.”

The continuing fall-out resulted in former Post Office boss Paula Vennells replacing her CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) on Jan. 9. Vennells accepted the royal title in 2019, the same year she resigned. Following the premiere of the TV series established on the scandal, more than 700,000 people signed an online petition to strip Vennells of her CBE—compared to 1,000 signers before the TV show circulated, Sky News reported.

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“I am truly sorry for the devastation caused to the sub-postmasters and their families, whose lives were torn apart by being wrongly accused and prosecuted due to the Horizon system,” Vennells stated. 

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.