Former sub-postmistress says PM announcement on Post Office scandal 'too little, too late'

A former sub-postmistress in Northern Ireland says the Prime Minister's announcement of a new law to exonerate those caught up in the Post Office IT scandal is "too little, too late".

The Horizon scandal saw more than 700 Post Office branch managers handed criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software made it appear as though money was missing.

Rishi Sunak said they were victims of “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history”.

Fiona Elliott was accused of false accounting and suspended in 2007.

"I feel let down," she told UTV, after watching the Prime Minister's announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

"I thought it was very short and very blunt and there should have been more done.

"It is too little too late, but compensation will be a good help to everybody - but we still want accountability as well."

Rishi Sunak said a new law would be introduced so people wrongly convicted in the scandal are “swiftly exonerated and compensated”.

He also announced a new upfront payment of £75,000 for the “vital” group of postmasters who took action against the Post Office.

Mr Sunak said: “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 their reputations destroyed through absolutely no fault of their own. The victims must get justice and compensation.”

The new legislation will apply to convictions in England and Wales and Downing Street hopes they will be quashed by the end of the year.

The legislation will not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland because they have their own separate legal systems.

Downing Street will work with their governments to ensure sub-postmasters in those nations can also be cleared.

Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake told MPs the Government wants to see a consistent approach across the UK. He said: “We are very keen to make this a UK-wide scheme so everybody knows where they stand. “Despite the fact the legal system is different in Northern Ireland, the assembly of the cases was done by the Post Office in most cases so the same issues apply. We don’t want to see any delay. “We will be engaging with the Northern Ireland authorities. We are very keen to do that as quickly as possible.”

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "We want to work with relevant bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland on this matter, it's not something we can do cross-UK."

The announcement comes nine days after the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office first aired 25 years after the dodgy software was used.

Deirdre Connelly , who was accused of taking money from the Post Office in June 2010, said pressure needs to be kept up.

She said: "I think the pressure has to be kept on now after the drama last week it’s just been a media frenzy and the government has to act.

"It's surreal, watching the drama last week I could relate to a lot of the scenes. It's been tough."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.