Boris Johnson has said former subpostmasters wrongly convicted due to the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system will be “properly looked after”.
On Friday, 39 former subpostmasters convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting, with some jailed, had their names cleared by the Court of Appeal.
The court previously heard that the subpostmasters’ lives were “irreparably ruined” as they lost their jobs, homes and marriages after they were prosecuted by the Post Office which knew the system had faults from near the beginning.
In a judgment on Friday, Lord Justice Holroyde said the Post Office “consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable”, and “effectively steamrolled over any subpostmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy”.
The Prime Minister welcomed the ruling.
Speaking on a visit to a farm in Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire, Mr Johnson said: “I know the distress many subpostmasters and their families have felt for a very long time now through the Horizon scandal and I’m pleased that we’ve got the right judgment.
“Our thoughts are very much with the victims and we’ll have to make sure that people get properly looked after because it’s clear that an appalling justice has been done.
“Everybody in my profession knows somebody in the Post Office world who has suffered from this and it’s very sad what has happened.
“I think the Horizon thing has been really terrible for many families and I’m really glad the judgment has come, in I think, the right way.
“I hope that that will now be some relief for those families and for those people who, I think, have been unfairly penalised and suffered in an appalling miscarriage and we’ve got to make sure we look after them.”
In a tweet on Friday afternoon, he also said: “Lessons should and will be learnt to ensure this never happens again.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Post Office “must continue to reform” after the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
He tweeted: “The court’s decision to overturn 39 postmasters’ convictions is welcome and marks another milestone for those affected by the Horizon IT scandal.
“The tragic impact this has had on postmasters and their families cannot be overstated.
“The Post Office must continue to reform.”
In September 2020, the Government announced a judge-led inquiry into the scandal, however this has been criticised as it is unable to summon witnesses or cross-examine them.
On Friday, many of the cleared former subpostmasters repeated calls for a full public inquiry.
Echoing the calls, Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said: “This is a huge victory in the fight for justice for the subpostmasters affected by this appalling decades-long scandal, in the face of inaction from Government.
“But there are so many other names to clear.
“For some who lost their homes and their reputations, it’s too late.
“We’re pushing for a proper inquiry with teeth to get the bottom of how this scandal can have happened, and who was responsible, to deliver the justice those impacted need and deserve.
“The Government’s inquiry risks being a whitewash.”
Shadow justice secretary David Lammy also tweeted: “Justice is finally being served.
“We now need a full inquiry into how this happened in the first place.”