An announcement of the government’s plan to help the victims of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal is “imminent”, it has been confirmed this morning.
Kevin Hollinrake, the Post Office minister, told Sky News that the government believes it now has the “solution”. However, he added that he could not be specific on when it will be unveiled.
It comes amid speculation that Rishi Sunak could make an announcement at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions today.
Hollinrake said: “An announcement is imminent. We believe we have a solution. But I said at the despatch box this week it would be this week, we felt, and I think it will be this week. But I can’t promise you any particular timescale.”
The comments came after former cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi, who appeared playing himself in the ITV drama Mr Bates vs. The Post Office, called on the government to bring forward a “simple bill to quash all 800” Post Office scandal convictions immediately.
Chalk later added, in response to a question from former justice secretary Robert Buckland: “[The scandal] is truly exceptional. It is truly unprecedented and it will need an appropriate result”.
Speaking this morning, Post Office minister Hollinrake said the government is “very, very tempted” by the prospect of “overturn[ing] all the convictions on bloc, and then people can decide to have a full assessment of their loss, or they can take a fixed sum aware of £600,000”.
However, he clarified that a decision has not yet been finalised. “We’re still in the detail discussions, but we’re very, very close”, he said, while adding: “It will be this week”.
Meanwhile, a new poll has showed that an overwhelming majority of people believe the government should pass a new law to quash the convictions of subpostmasters caught up in the Post Office scandal.
The survey, conducted by YouGov yesterday, found 66 per cent of respondents believe a new law should be passed to clear all of the convicted subpostmasters at once.
Only a quarter, or 26 per cent, said each case should be looked at individually by the courts so they can be cleared.
Seven per cent were unsure and one per cent picked neither option.
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