UK to compensate Post Office scandal victims further

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By Andrew MacAskill

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain said on Tuesday it would increase compensation to postal workers wrongly convicted of fraud in one of England's biggest ever miscarriages of justices.

Hundreds of Post Office workers were prosecuted between 2000 and 2014 after a software glitch in the IT system Horizon left holes in accounts.

Some were sent to prison, others lost livelihoods and homes. Many went bankrupt, marriages were destroyed, and some died before their names were cleared.

The government said it would launch a new compensation scheme for those who were the first to take legal action against the Post Office over the failings.

In December 2019, the Post Office agreed to settle claims made by 555 sub-postmasters, but many of the victims found the amount paid in compensation was outweighed by legal fees.

Despite winning nearly 43 million pounds ($56.85 million) in compensation, many of the workers were left with about 20,000 pounds after legal costs based on a "no win, no fee" agreement with a company that funded the litigation.

The legal action meant some workers were ineligible to apply to a scheme by the Post Office to compensate workers. The new government compensation scheme will ensure they now receive the same level of payouts.

"Whilst it cannot take away the years of distress, the postmasters who have suffered terribly over the Post Office Horizon scandal deserve to be fairly compensated," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"That's why we'll be introducing a new compensation scheme for those who led and won the landmark legal case over the failings, so they can receive their fair share."

The Post Office maintained for years that data from the defective computer accounting system was reliable and accused branch managers of theft.

($1 = 0.7564 pounds)

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Andrew Cawthorne)

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