Victory in Post Office battle

News that sub-postmasters and postmistresses have won a legal battle against the Post Office has been welcomed by a Wallasey councillor.

A legal challenge this month concluded with a £58 million settlement after the long-running dispute, which saw post offices around the country, including Wallasey Village, closed.

The closure of the branch saw more than 1,000 residents back a campaign for it to be re-opened

The Horizon IT system used to manage local post office finances, introduced 1999, saw discrepancies and errors in accounting which led to many postmasters being wrongly accused of fraud.

The group of 550 claimants joined a civil action to win compensation last year, but their complaint goes back much further.

They alleged that the Horizon IT system - which was installed between 1999 and 2000 - contained a large number of defects.

Councillor Ian Lewis said: “Having raised these issues with the Minister, and with the support of more than 1,000 residents, we campaigned to have the post office in Wallasey Village re-opened.  Had the Post Office listened, this whole situation could have been avoided.”

“Post Offices such as the one in Wallasey Village are an essential part of the local community. 

While the settlement that has been agreed with the Post Office is welcome, it’s a shame it has taken so long for them to recognise that the problem was with their system and not postmasters. 

“Some of these people have had their lives had been ruined when they were pursued for funds which managers claimed were missing. Some even went to jail after being convicted of fraud.”

The claimants were half way through a series of four trials when the Post Office sought mediation. It could take several weeks for individual compensation payments to be worked out.

The Post Office apologised to the claimants, saying it was grateful to them "for holding us to account in circumstances where, in the past, we have fallen short."

Nick Read, the new Chief Executive of the Post Office, said: "I am very pleased we have been able to find a resolution to this longstanding dispute. Our business needs to take on board some important lessons about the way we work with postmasters, and I am determined that it will do so. We are committed to a reset in our relationship with postmasters, placing them alongside our customers at the centre of our business."

The Horizon system, which is provided by Fujitsu, is still being used in all 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

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Letter from Minister for Small Business 124.76 KB

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