Post Office Horizon scandal: Rishi Sunak's compensation announcement 'won't give back what was lost'

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No compensation "will give back what was taken away" in the Post Office Horizon scandal, a former sub-postmistress has said.

Janine Powell, who lives in Trimdon County Durham, spent five months in jail after she was wrongly convicted of theft and false accounting.

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak announced that those falsely accused and convicted in the Horizon scandal would be "swiftly exonerated and compensated."

While the announcement was welcomed by Ms Powell, she admitted compensation would not change the impact the scandal has had on her, and her family's lives.

"It is brilliant that everyone can now get their name cleared and their convictions overturned but it has been a long time coming," she told ITV Tyne Tees. "It really shouldn't have happened in the first place.

"No compensation will give back what was taken away from me with being away from my children and family."

The Post Office Horizon scandal had a major impact on former sub-postmistress Janine Powell and her daughter Sophia. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Ms Powell's conviction was quashed in 2022 but she is among those awaiting compensation. Her daughter Sophia was just 10 years old when she was imprisoned in 2008 and the scandal continues to affect her.

"Not having her there just crushed me," she said. "It was devastating and it was horrible and you are always going to be reliving it.

"Despite all of this coming out and my mum's conviction being quashed it is always going to be a part of me and nothing can get rid of that really."

The Prime Minister's announcement follows ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office which tells the story of a two-decade campaign by sub-postmasters and mistresses who sought to expose faults to the digital accounting software that made it look like money had gone missing.

The computer system, by Fujitsu, replaced previous paper systems in 1999 but it was only ruled by the High Court in 2019 that Horizon was to blame.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters are still awaiting compensation despite their convictions being overturned but for some like, Peter Holmes, justice comes too late.

Marion Holmes husband Peter died before his conviction was quashed.

Mr Holmes, from Newcastle, was convicted of false accounting and died before his name was cleared by the courts in 2021.

His wife Marion had mixed feelings over the Prime Minister's announcement.

"Some people will welcome it because the thought of going through the courts or anything," she said. "Personally, I'm glad that Peter's case was done individually because I know that it was overturned.

"I think the problem with doing it en masse is just some people will think it was done automatically".

Asked whether the Prime Minister's announcement moves things forward, Mrs Holmes said: "It's whether they act on their words.

"We've had so many statements, every time there's something else cropped up, suddenly, somebody announces something but it doesn't come to anything, so unless they act on what they are saying they might as well save their breath on standing talking".

Mr Bates vs The Post Office is available to stream on ITVX.

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