The man who has led the campaign for justice for sub-postmasters has told Sky News his overriding priority now is sorting out the compensation for victims of the Post Office scandal.
Alan Bates is due to appear before MPs on Tuesday and has confirmed he will continue to push for the money families deserve after one of the worst miscarriages of justice seen in the UK.
Speaking to Sky News ahead of the hearing, Mr Bates said: “I have one concern – and it’s to get the compensation right – that’s it.
“They should be moving heaven and earth to get it done and get it done fast.”
The Post Office Horizon IT scandal saw more than 700 sub-postmasters and mistresses convicted after faulty Fujitsu software made it appear that money was going missing from branches.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed last Wednesday that all victims of the IT scandal will have their convictions quashed under fast-tracked legislation after growing pressure to take more serious action.
The move was prompted by the TV drama, Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which tracked the campaigners’ two-decade fight for justice and laid bare the appalling treatment victims had suffered at the hands of the organisation.
The public outcry that followed the programme has led directly to the government’s intervention – it is a highly unusual move that has come midway through a long-running independent inquiry into the scandal.
Mr Sunak said last week “we’ve paid almost £150m in compensation to over 2,500 victims” and pledged that victims would be “swiftly exonerated and compensated”.
Number 10 confirmed that sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses would be eligible for a £75,000 upfront payment with the new law, but acknowledged that would not be sufficient for everyone.
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Speaking ahead of his next appointment with MPs in Westminster on Tuesday, Alan Bates said: “I have no idea if it will help but they [MPs] have previously done a good job for the victims, but I will be concentrating on one thing.
“They will get sick and fed up of me saying it, but it’s the compensation.”
Another of those wrongly convicted, Jo Hamilton from Hampshire, will give evidence – along with the current bosses of the Post Office and the tech firm Fujitsu.
Ministers have said that the government will pursue Fujitsu, the manufacturer behind the Horizon system, to help pay for the compensation, if the independent inquiry into the scandal finds the firm is at fault.
The public inquiry is expected to conclude and publish its findings in 2025.