The Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 13 May 2024. The bill seeks to give effect to a government commitment made on 10 January 2024 to quash the convictions of those sentenced as a result of the Horizon scandal. The bill would extend and apply to England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its provisions would come into force at royal assent. During committee stage in the House of Commons the bill was extended to Northern Ireland. There have also been calls for it to be extended to Scotland.

The Post Office introduced the Horizon computer system into branches from 1999. The system, used for accounting and stock-taking, inaccurately recorded losses and money missing in branches. The Post Office was resistant to repeated assertions that the Horizon system was flawed and IT glitches were causing the issues. Between 2000 and 2014, the Post Office prosecuted over 730 individuals leading to bankruptcies, imprisonments and in some cases suicides. In 2019, following many years of repeated attempts to expose the problems, the High Court ruled that the original Horizon system had not been sufficiently robust and had suffered from a number of bugs and errors.

Several compensation schemes for the victims of the system have been established since the judgment, although none of these are accessible to those whose convictions have not been quashed. In April 2021, the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of 39 postmasters whose cases had been referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). The Horizon Compensation Advisory Board (HCAB) has argued that all of the affected sub‑postmasters’ convictions are unsafe and should be swiftly overturned. Over 900 convictions are associated with evidence from Horizon, including those prosecuted by the Post Office itself and other authorities. To date approximately 100 convictions have been overturned.


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