THE Justice Secretary is meeting with judges today as minsters scramble to clear hundreds of Horizon scandal victims.
Rishi Sunak would ‘support’ any honours committee probe into the CBE given to ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells[/caption]
Cabinet Minister Mel Stride said today the Justice Secretary Alex Chalk is meeting with “senior members within the justice system to see what can be done to expedite and accelerate” appeals.
“My understanding is that they are happening now, he told Sky News.
“So this is something that is happening hour by hour. It’s not something that’s going to happen next week. It is happening right now. And we intend to move quickly.”
Mr Stride added: “It’s really important that we do this because a lot of people clearly have suffered not just financially, but in terms of their mental health and relationships and their standing in the local communities and so on.”
“So this is something that is happening hour by hour. It’s not something that’s going to happen next week. It is happening right now and we intend to move very quickly.”
Mr Stride also rejected claims the Government have been “asleep at the wheel” over the scandal.
“I wouldn’t accept that,” he said, pointing to the public inquiry examining what went wrong being set up some years ago and the payout of £138 million of compensation.
Asked whether Rishi Sunak as chancellor was slow to pay out compensation to subpostmasters, Mr Stride said: “No, I don’t think that is a fair charge at all.”
Last night the Postal Affairs Minister announced plans to fast-track appeals and compensation for 750 Post Office workers hit with criminal convictions.
Kevin Hollinrake vowed to compensate “every victim” and said the government has a “clear moral duty” to act.
Ministers met on Monday for talks on how to help the convicted sub-postmasters clear their names.
Options include new legislation and the removal of the Post Office’s prosecution powers.
More than 700 branch managers were hit with criminal convictions after faulty Horizon IT software, developed by Fujitsu, made it seem money was missing.
Mr Hollinrake told MPs overturning convictions is “key to unlocking compensation”.
He insisted the government had devised options to achieve that aim “much more quickly” but noted Justice Secretary Alex Chalk will have to speak to “senior figures in the judiciary” before they are unveiled.
He expects to update the Commons this week.
Mr Hollinrake said ministers recognise “we have a clear moral duty to right these wrongs to the best of our ability”, adding: “Our aim is to ensure that every victim is fully recompensed for their losses and the suffering they have had to endure.”
Meanwhile, a petition calling for Ms Vennells, 65, to be stripped of her CBE had reached one million signatures yesterday.
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey also faces renewed questions over his role as postal affairs minister from 2010 to 2012 at the height of the scandal.