Susanna Reid confronts minister over Post Office scandal

Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain
Susanna Reid challenged the minister for Post Offices over the Mr Bates scandal. (ITV)

What did you miss?

Susanna Reid vowed to hold the government to task on their compensation deadline promise to sub-postmasters and took a hard line with minister for post offices Kevin Hollinrake when he appeared on the show to discuss the scandal highlighted in hit new ITV drama Mr Bates Vs the Post Office.

The Good Morning Britain said she could not believe how few sub-postmasters had received full compensation or had their convictions overturned after the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

Mr Bates Vs The Post Office stars Toby Jones.
Mr Bates Vs The Post Office has shone the spotlight back on the Horizon IT scandal. (ITV)

What, how, and why?

Reid took the lead in interviewing minister Hollinrake over the Horizon scandal which saw 700 sub-postmasters falsely prosecuted between 2000 and 2014 of of theft, fraud and false accounting based on incorrect information from the Post Office's Horizon computer system.

The spotlight has been shone on the scandal once again by the airing of ITV drama Mr Bates Vs the Post Office starring Toby Jones as trailblazer Alan Bates.

On Wednesday, Reid challenged Hollinrake: "There has been progress made for the 500 trailblazing postmasters who took the post office to court and exposed the Horizon Scandal. You've paid out £27m across 475 payments. The total number of accepted full and final settlements [is] 21; 21 out of 500 in that particular scheme?! Let's just focus on that one..."

She then interrupted the minister as he tried to respond, saying: "You talking about the Horizon shortfall scheme which is to try and set right the circumstances of those who lost money, and in many cases tens of thousands of pounds, because of this IT error. How many full and final settlements in that scheme have their been? I'm not talking about offers. I'm talking about settlements."

Hollinrake replied that it was 80% of thousands.

Reid said: "So hundreds of people have still not had full and final settlement in that particular scheme. And then the group litigation order scheme, and this is the Mrs Bates vs the Post Office scheme, out of that only 21 full and final settlements have had full and final settlement, so again hundreds of people have not received full compensation. We're talking about a scandal that began in 1999."

Hollinrake explained: "These people were originally compensated through the court case. I was one of the backbenchers who stood up in the House of Commons and said this is not enough. £20,000 per person went through that claim because the majority was taken up in legal fees."

He went on to say all compensation claims are different.

Alan Bates, former Sub-postmaster, Founder, Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, giving evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee of the subject of the Post Office and Horizon scandal. Picture date: Tuesday December 14, 2021. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates is founder of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images) (House of Commons - PA Images via Getty Images)

Reid said: "No one is doubting that they're complex. The fact of the matter is it shouldn't have taken 25 years. You've put a deadline on this - 7 August - right we will hold you to that. It will have to be an offer the person thinks is a reasonable offer.

"More than 700 Post Office workers were wrongly prosecuted. I can't believe this. How many have been overturned? 93! And yet there were 700... One of the things that came out in the drama is people don't trust the legal system anymore."

Richard Madeley attends the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards at The Royal Festival Hall on May 08, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Richard Madeley asked the minister what he was doing to speed things up. (Getty Images) (Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)

What else happened on Good Morning Britain?

Co-host Richard Madeley joined in during the interview to ask why the process has taken so long. He told Hollinrake: "I'm going to interrupt you here because what you're doing and what you've done so far is give us an explain to us the status quo.

"You've defended your position and you've tried to explain what you've done so far. The fact is the money needs to be paid out. What are you going to do to speed the process up and you haven't answered that. Have you got any ideas in speeding the process up."

Hollinrake responded: "Of course, we've made commitment that anybody who compiles their full claim will get an offer in 40 working days. That is a new commitment." A public inquiry into the Horizon IT scandal is ongoing, with sub-postmasters claiming that senior Post Office staff either knew about the system's failings or "shut their eyes" to them.

Toby Jones in Mr Bates Vs the Post Office. (ITV)
Julie Hesmondhalgh and Toby Jones star in Mr Bates Vs the Post Office. (ITV)

Lawyers for those wrongly accused said the inquiry has produced enough evidence for police to investigate senior staff at the Post Office. They want Sir Wyn Williams, chairman of the inquiry, to pass files to the director of public prosecutions once the inquiry is completed next year.

It emerged last month that the Post Office has almost halved the amount it has set aside for payments to those wrongly convicted, from £487m to £244m.

Good Morning Britain airs on ITV from 6am to 9am from Monday to Friday.

Read more: Mr Bates Vs the Post Office

Watch: Postal workers fought for compensation after being wrongly convicted due to an ITV error

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