Hundreds of post office managers across Britain, wrongly accused of theft and fraud because of a computer hiccup, were thrown a lifeline by the government on Monday.
This incident, described as one of the most significant miscarriages of justice in British history, involved over 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses who faced prosecution by the Post Office between 1999 and 2015. Many of them have spent years asserting their innocence, citing issues with a new accounting and stocktaking software program known as Horizon, developed by a Japanese company.
Some of the managers served prison sentences after being convicted of false accounting and theft. Many of them were financially ruined, and some killed themselves.
So far 93 convictions have been overturned by judges, but hundreds more are waiting to be cleared.
In an urgent House of Commons debate on Monday night about the scandal, Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake told lawmakers: "This scandal was one of greatest miscarriages of justice in the nation's history."
He said options have been devised to dealing with the outstanding convictions against the postmasters and postmistresses.
"All of us on these benches and across the house are united in our desire to see justice done. I hope the government will be able to announce these proposals to the house very shortly."
The issue has been propelled into the public limelight after a television drama focused on the impact of people wrongly accused of crime.
A public inquiry into the scandal is currently underway, and recently London's Metropolitan Police have also opened a new investigation into the Post Office over potential fraud offences.
(Cover: Union flags flutter next to a Poundbury Post Office sign in Poundbury, England, UK, April 24, 2023. /CFP)