Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie has praised her constituent Nichola Arch after the government announced a compensation scheme for deputy postmasters wrongfully accused of theft in the Horizon scandal.
Minister Paul Scully told the House of Commons yesterday that the group, known as 555 which Nichola is part of, will be eligible for a new compensation scheme.
Nichola, who worked at the Chalford Hill Post Office branch, was awarded damages in 2019, but most of it was swallowed up in legal fees. She was one or more of 700 postmasters wrongfully sued due to a faulty post office computer system called Horizon.
Although acquitted of the charges, her reputation was destroyed and she lost her job. Since then, she has been campaigning for justice.
Siobhan lobbied ministers on the issue on Nichola’s behalf and raised the issue in the media.
Yesterday she told MPs after the announcement: ‘This scandal continues to shock, and I thank campaigners and MPs in this House with grayer hair than I, perhaps caused by this horrific situation.
“I echo calls for interim payments and more information on practical steps to manage expectations, but it’s understandable that victims like my compatriot Nichola Arch want to see the details.
“They are also looking to see if things like mixed malicious prosecution are included. For those who are found not guilty, can the minister provide some comfort from the dispatch box today?
In response, the minister said: “I thank my honorable friend for the work she has done representing Nichola Arch and others.
“I saw her on GB News the other day talking with Nichola in the constituency casebook section. They both talked about it very well.
“I can confirm that our intention is to allow people who have been prosecuted but not convicted full access. We have to work on this detail, but I have full confidence that we will get there.
Nichola added: “I think this is real progress and we are now on the right track. understanding and genuine support she has shown in my story.
“His contribution was really profound and I am really grateful to him. Paul Scully also shows determination to go all the way, which is to be applauded.
Speaking afterwards, Siobhan added: “I would like to pay tribute to Nichola who bravely continued the campaign for just compensation for victims, like her, of this horrific scandal.
“She’s a woman of impeccable character and I think it’s really important to say that. Lives like hers have been put on hold for too long when they were completely innocent.
“I’m glad I played a small part in getting to this point, but really all the accolades should go to activists like Nichola. They’re the heroes.”