The scandal has been called the “worst miscarriage of justice” in recent legal history. Between 2000 and 2015, roughly 3,500 postmasters were accused of stealing money from their businesses, but it was in fact a glitch with the computer system Horizon that was causing the discrepancies.
It emerged during the inquiry that at least 33 of those accused had died while waiting to be compensated for their horrendous treatment.
Inquiry chairman Sir Wyn Williams heard that “lives were ruined, families were torn apart, made homeless and destitute, and reputations were destroyed”.
Almost 700 postmasters were wrongfully convicted of theft and fraud, serving prison terms for crimes they did not commit.
Four of those who died are believed to have taken their own lives.
Since May 2020, 14 have died when a scheme offering them compensation was introduced.
The Post Office initially set aside £35 million to cover compensation costs, however, so many applied that figure has now reached £153 million.
The taxpayer may now have to foot a bill of £1 billion in legal fees and compensation.
There have been calls for the Post Office executives who oversaw the disaster to face criminal charges, as subpostmasters accused them of having “blood on their hands”.
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