South Tyneside MPs grill the Government over handling of 'the largest legal miscarriage of justice in our history'
The MPs for South Tyneside took Ministers to task over their handling of the historic Horizon scandal that saw false allegations of theft and fraud brought against hundreds of post office workers.
The scandal has been described as “the largest legal miscarriage of justice in our history" by Newcastle Central MP, Chi Onwurah.
Around 900 prosecutions were brought against post office workers as a result of a newly-installed Horizon IT system that erroneously showed money had gone missing from branch accounts across the country.
The MP for Jarrow, Kate Osborne, spoke of the trials experienced by a constituent who was investigated as a result of the faulty software.
“Earlier this year, I asked the Minister about the 555 sub-postmasters who took the Post Office to court and won the original litigation,” said Ms Osborne.
"Many of them, such as my constituent, Christopher Head, were left with nothing after court costs.
"How can the Minister possibly not agree with me and the current CEO of the Post Office that if proper justice is to be served for every single victim of this scandal, they must have their claim validated under the historical shortfall scheme, to prevent two tiers of justice?
"It seems to me that it is only this Minister and this Government who believe that that is okay.”
South Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, pressed the Government over the question of a statutory public inquiry – with the approach over investigation of Post Office bosses having been a subject of disagreement among lawmakers.
She said: "Convicted, jailed, persecuted, taken their own lives, made bankrupt, reputational damage and mental and physical anguish for years, yet still no one at all at the Post Office or Fujitsu has been held to account for this horrendous injustice.
"There are also those in Government who became acutely aware of this scandal, yet remained completely passive in their duties on the board of the Post Office.
"Is it the Post Office, Fujitsu, or some Government Members that the Minister is protecting by resisting a statutory public inquiry?”