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Post Office and Horizon Software — [Steve McCabe in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Lucy Allan Lucy Allan Conservative, Telford 1:30 pm, 5th March 2020

The hon. Lady is right and I fully endorse what she says. One direct benefit of the settlement and the conclusion of the litigation is that, as the representatives of postmasters who have been so grotesquely wronged, we now have the opportunity to correct that. I am thankful that the day has come.

I say to all those postmasters affected by this injustice that this debate is just the beginning. The Prime Minister has promised to get to the bottom of what happened, and I understand from what I heard at Prime Minister’s questions last week that he has agreed to an independent inquiry. Regrettably, in my experience, those responsible will have long since retired before any such inquiry even gets under way, but it is in any event a welcome first step.

What is hugely to be welcomed—I think all sub-postmasters affected will welcome this—is that next week the BEIS Committee will begin holding its inquiry and taking evidence. My constituent, Tracy Felstead, will be giving evidence next Tuesday. She is perhaps one of the most tragic cases, having only been a young 18-year-old girl in her first job straight out of school, delighted to be going to work for the Post Office. She ended up in Holloway Prison for six months and is still struggling to come to terms with the reality of what happened to her. The BEIS Committee inquiry is a fantastic opportunity for all the issues of the Horizon accounting system to be explored, in-depth and in public, and that is very important. Rachel Reeves is a very thorough Chair, and she will hold those responsible to account through her Committee. I know that all of us here today will welcome that.