Post Office scandal: Petition nears 600k for compensation of affected people

A petition demanding compensation for people affected by the Post Office Horizon IT scandal is nearing 600,000 signatures, as campaigner Alan Bates gives evidence to the public inquiry into the system’s failures.

The petition was created in 2020 by Christopher Head, who was among those wrongly convicted, to “ensure the people responsible face not only the court of public opinion but also a court of law”.

As of 2pm on Tuesday, more than 576,000 people had signed the petition.

Mr Head witnessed a surge in support for his petition in January 2024, with hundreds of thousands of people signing up after the airing of ITV’s drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office.

The former sub-postmaster said he does not want to see workers “scapegoated” over the scandal, which saw more than 700 Post Office branch managers convicted after faulty Fujitsu accounting software called Horizon made it look as though money was missing from their shops.

He added: “Once all the facts have been established, we can ensure the people responsible face not only the court of public opinion but also a court of law. If they are found guilty, they must face the consequences.”

More than 65 petitions have been launched on relating to the scandal, ranging from advocating for Alan Bates to be knighted – a cause supported by nearly 150,000 people – and another urging for the removal of ex-Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells’ CBE, an honour she has since returned.

Political activism group, 38 Degrees, delivered 10,000 postcards to the inquiry to show that the public has not forgotten about the “innocent people whose lives were destroyed”.

Post Office Horizon Enquiry
As the Post Office Horizon inquiry reopens, campaign group 38 Degrees delivers postcards from 10,000 members of the public, demanding full compensation for victims paid for by those responsible for the scandal (Nigel Howard/PA)

Robin Priestley, the campaigns director at the group, said: “Back in January we saw an incredible display of people power in action, as 1.2 million of us forced Paula Vennells to hand back her CBE.

“That was an important first, symbolic step – now it’s time to deliver real justice.

“These messages show the public haven’t forgotten the Horizon scandal or the innocent people whose lives were destroyed.”

Postcard writers urged inquiry chair Sir Wyn Williams to take every possible action to recommend that the government provides full compensation without additional delays.

Helen Grove-White, who signed a postcard, said: “Our local Post Office and village stores was a victim of this scandal so I have followed this story very closely.

“It is right to compensate the victims but it is essential that this does not come from the public purse. Fujitsu have a moral and legal responsibility to pay up.”