Law to exonerate subpostmasters expected in Parliament 'next month'

ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports on what is expected in the new law

A law aimed at exonerating subpostmasters caught up in the Horizon scandal is expected to be brought forward "as soon as possible next month."

Post Office Kevin Hollinrake minister said he hopes all the convictions will be "overturned by July” and that he “very much hopes” compensation will be paid before the next general election, although he joked: “I can’t tell when the general election is going to be so I can’t specifically say yes to the question.”

He was speaking as he updated MPs on the Government’s plans, also telling the Commons that convictions would be quashed as soon as the proposals become law “without the need for people to apply to have their convictions overturned”.

Mr Hollinrake’s appearance in the Commons comes after he announced further details of the planned legislation in a written statement to MPs.

Kevin Hollinrake said the legislation would be brought to Parliament next week. Credit: PA

As well as requirements relating to people eligible for exoneration under the legislation, Mr Hollinrake said those affected would have to sign a statement to the effect that they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted before they could receive financial redress.

If they were subsequently found to have signed the statement falsely, Mr Hollinrake said they “may be guilty of fraud”.

In the Commons, the business minister said: “We continue to develop our response to this scandal, and on Thursday I made a written statement detailing the way in which we plan to legislate to overturn Horizon-related convictions en masse.

“We expect to introduce that legislation as soon as possible next month.”

Elsewhere, Liam Byrne, Labour chairman of the business and trade committee, said there was a “toxic culture of disbelief” of subpostmasters in the Post Office leadership, adding: “The bottom line is that redress is too slow and the offers are too low.”

Mr Hollinrake said he agreed the compensation is “being delivered too slowly”.

He added: “That’s something we’re seeking to accelerate every single day, and we’re doing good work I think with the advisory board in terms of trying to make sure that’s the case.

“I don’t think set offers are too low, I’m not saying there aren’t cases where that is not the case, certainly in terms of some of the cases in any compensation scheme will not be 100% perfect.”

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