North Durham MP Kevan Jones calls for full inquiry into postmasters scandal

North Durham MP Kevan Jones has welcomed the news that 39 former sub-postmasters who were convicted of theft, fraud, and false accounting due to the Post Office's defective Horizon accounting system have had their names cleared by the Court of Appeal.

The Labour MP, who has campaigned on the issue for a number of years, has called for a "full public inquiry" to be launched into an affair he described as a "national scandal".

In a statement Mr Jones said:

After years of cover-ups and denials from the Government and from the Post Office, I am pleased to see that today, 39 subpostmasters, wrongly accused have had their convictions overturned. This whole affair is a national scandal which has led to innocent people being jailed and hundreds of other hard-working individuals losing their livelihood and good names.

Kevan Jones MP, North Durham, Labour

The Post Office prosecutions "irreparably ruined" the lives of scores of sub-postmasters causing them to lose their jobs, homes and marriages, the Court of Appeal heard last month.

Last year, the Post Office confirmed it would not oppose most of the appeals and apologised for "historical failings". 

Former post office workers celebrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, after having their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal. Credit: PA images

Announcing the court’s ruling, Lord Justice Holroyde said the Post Office "knew there were serious issues about the reliability of Horizon" and had a "clear duty to investigate" the system’s defects.

But the Post Office “consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable”, and “effectively steamrolled over any sub-postmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy”, the judge added.

That is something which Mr Jones, the Labour MP for North Durham, now wants to see addressed.

Even when the Post Office and Government Ministers knew the Horizon System was flawed, they covered it up and spent hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to defend the indefensible whilst allowing individuals to go to prison and others having their lives ruined. A full public enquiry now needs to be launched into this scandal rather than the sham inquiry that has been announced by the Government.

Kevan Jones MP, North Durham, Labour

The Prime Minister said it was clear an "appalling justice has been done" after 39 subpostmasters were wrongly convicted because of the Post Office's defective Horizon accounting system.

Speaking on a visit to a farm in Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire, on Friday, Boris Johnson said: "I know the distress many subpostmasters and their families have felt for a very long time now through the Horizon scandal and I'm pleased that we've got the right judgment.

"Our thoughts are very much with the victims and we'll have to make sure that people get properly looked after because it's clear that an appalling justice has been done.

"Everybody in my profession knows somebody in the Post Office world who has suffered from this and it's very sad what has happened.

"I think the Horizon thing has been really terrible for many families and I'm really glad the judgment has come, in I think, the right way.

"I hope that that will now be some relief for those families and for those people who, I think, have been unfairly penalised and suffered in an appalling miscarriage and we've got to make sure we look after them."

Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Post Office "must continue to reform" after the Court of Appeal's ruling.

He tweeted:

The Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates potential miscarriages of justice, encouraged any other former Post Office employees to consider challenging their convictions following the ruling.

Nick Read, Post Office chief executive, said: "The quashing of historical convictions is a vital milestone in fully and properly addressing the past as I work to put right these wrongs as swiftly as possible, and there must be compensation that reflects what has happened."