Since the incredibly moving ITV drama about former sub-postmaster Alan Bates, Westminster has rightly focused on how to accelerate measures to help those who were wrongly accused due to the Horizon scandal.

This is something that the government has been working on for some time – a public inquiry into the scandal was announced in 2020 and nearly £150 million has been paid in compensation so far to more than 2,500 victims. 

But it was ITV’s poignant highlighting of stories that really focused minds across political parties, commentators, and the public as to just how shocking the miscarriages of justice have been. 

Not featured in the TV show, but just as unfair, is the story of Chirag Sidhpura in Farncombe who as local MP I have been supporting over many years. Like in many other cases, an auditor from the Post Office alleged there was a discrepancy at his branch of £57,000. 

Chirag was told he had to pay back the amount or face prosecution. He paid the £57,000 but was still sacked over alleged breach of contract. 

However, in 2022 Chirag bravely gave evidence to the public inquiry about his experience and continued his fight for compensation in court. 

This week, the government has made three important announcements, which will work for further justice towards sub-postmasters with cases like Chirag’s as well as for hundreds others who were criminally convicted.

Firstly, legislation will be introduced within weeks to overturn the wrongful convictions. This is a really significant measure and not one the government has decided to take lightly, but I do think it is the right call.

Most importantly, it ensures that those sub-postmasters will not have to wait years to appeal their convictions through courts. 

Once these convictions have been quashed, those innocent people will be entitled to at least £600,000 in compensation.

Similarly, for the trailblazers who did not receive criminal convictions but first took legal action for the amount of money they were forced to pay the Post Office, compensation of at least £75,000 will be awarded. 

This of course adds up to a significant bill for the taxpayer, so my ministerial colleagues are working to see how we can hold the Post Office to account and speed up those payments for everyone entitled to one. 

In the meantime, the public inquiry will continue its vital work to figure out how this horrific miscarriage of justice took place. 

The stories that have come out of the Post Office scandal are truly heart-breaking and completely unfair – and there are hundreds of them.

But it is right that the government last week took these important steps towards finally achieving justice for them.