Former Hogsthorpe postmaster wrongly accused of theft and false accounting ‘welcomes’ £600,000 compensation offer from government
Yesterday, it was reported the Government was offering the compensation to dozens of sub-postmasters prosecuted between 2000 and 2014 after a bug in the computer system Horizon led to financial shortfalls in branch accounts. Some were imprisoned for crimes they never committed.
Tom Hedges was suspended, dismissed, convicted at Lincoln Crown Court, given a seven-month suspended prison sentence, ordered to do 120 hours community service and had to pay £1000 costs.
The convictions were eventually quashed by the Court of Appeal in April 2021 but the accusation nearly made Mr Hedges bankrupt and cost him his reputation. In the end he and his wife were forced to moved away from the village.
In response to the offer, Mr Hedges told Lincolnshire World: “"No amount of money is going to make up for all the stress, strain and heartache that we all suffered.
“Needless to say I am pleased that this offer is being made – finally someone is showing some sense.
"Since my conviction and 38 others were quashed in April 2021, we have been fighting tooth and nail with the PO lawyers and it has been a long war of attrition.
"The only winners have been the lawyers receiving fees for all the work. Once our convictions were quashed and ruled "an affront to justice", the PO was liable to pay compensation, but have fought us tooth and nail over just about everything.
"I am glad this madness is being brought to an end.
"As Noel Thomas, who I sat next to in the Appeal Court, said on BBC News, ‘no amount of money is going to make up for all the stress, strain and heartache that we all suffered’.
"I agree and I am sure the other victims do too.
"However, the only thing that can be done is to pay hard cash and I welcome the offer.
"I am in consultation with my lawyer to decide whether I accept this offer or fight on, which the minister acknowledged was an option.
“This will take some time.”