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Parliamentary Select Committee orders Horizon scandal probe

05 Mar 2020, 14:49 ... dal-probe/

A House of Commons Inquiry onto the Horizon affair was announced yesterday morning by the Committee of MPs tasked with Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s Business, Enterprise & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department, in the strongest sign yet that this national scandal is being taken seriously at the highest levels.

MP Rachel Reeves (Leeds West), who chairs the BEIS Select Committee, told members that the Committee will hold two evidence-gathering sessions this month – next Tuesday (10th) and a fortnight later on Tuesday 24th – to which two affected postmasters, the CWU, the appropriate BEIS Minister of State, and both the current and former Post Office CEOs will be summoned.

In her statement announcing the Inquiry, Ms Reeves said: “Hundreds of sub-postmasters have suffered considerable distress, and many have had their lives ruined by the faults in the Horizon IT system.

“Following December’s High Court ruling in favour of the sub-postmasters, and the finding that Horizon was flawed, it’s right to examine what the Post Office Ltd and the Government have learned from this scandal and establish what steps they are taking to ensure something similar never happens again.”

Welcoming the investigation, CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “We, the CWU, have been informed that we are to attend the first session, next Tuesday, and we’re very pleased that the Committee has ordered this measure – which indicates the extreme seriousness with which they are treating this matter.

“As well as giving our verbal evidence to Ms Reeves and the other Committee Members, we will also be entering a formal written submission to the Inquiry.

“Clearly anger is growing across the normal party political divide over the disgraceful way in which hard-working postmasters were treated by Post Office and we fully appreciate the support being shown for their fight for full justice.”

Yesterday’s development followed last week’s statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who, in reply to a PMQ from Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, committed to a full independent inquiry into the scandal.

As well as the BEIS Committee of Inquiry, there are also two Post Office-related Westminster Hall debates coming up. The first of these – specific to the Horizon affair – takes place tomorrow (Wednesday 5th) and the next one – on the wider subject of the Post Office network – is scheduled for Tuesday March 10th.

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