Like so many, I have been outraged by the Post Office scandal – and I welcome the mass public outcry, and the outpourings of support for those affected sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses, since the airing of the excellent TV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office over recent weeks.

My own support for the sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses dates to October 2010, when I was first contacted by Seema Misra and her husband, Davinder, shortly after Seema had been found (wrongly) guilty of theft. Seema was the sub-postmistress in West Byfleet and she had an outstanding and unblemished record of service in her local community. However, she was accused of stealing £75,000 from her own branch and was taken to court by the Post Office.

I immediately wrote to the then-Post Office minister (and now Liberal Democrat leader), Ed Davey, and asked for a proper independent investigation into Horizon, the Post Office’s computer system, to find out whether it might be at fault. After some chasing by me, Ed Davey wrote back to me expressing full confidence in the Horizon system and declining any investigation into it.

We now know that such an investigation would have found the Horizon system to be faulty and would, in turn, have stopped this massive miscarriage of justice in its tracks. I am amazed that Sir Ed Davey has refused to apologise for his failure to grant that crucial investigation that MPs like myself were demanding in 2010. 

Throughout the past 13 years, I have worked with a small number of other MPs to raise the alarm that a potential scandal was in the making. In February 2011, I joined BBC Radio Surrey for what they now believe was the first broadcast programme about the Post Office scandal. 

On this programme, I called once again for a robust and independent investigation into the Horizon system. And over the subsequent years I have accumulated an enormous file of correspondence fighting for justice for Seema Misra.

Like so many members of the public in recent days, I have been asking what the government can do to speed the flow of compensation and to address the large number of remaining wrongful convictions.

I am pleased that the government has announced that it intends to bring forward legislation to overturn the convictions of all those convicted on the basis of potentially faulty Horizon evidence.

In terms of compensation, the government has now made an upfront offer to those on the Group Litigation Order scheme. This will allow the department to focus its resources on the larger cases, and it will allow claimants’ lawyers to do the same. It is my understanding that the pace at which we can get claims into the scheme is the key constraint on how quickly the government can settle them.

In November, the government announced a £600,000 upfront offer for those claimants with overturned convictions. The Group Litigation offer is smaller due to that cohort’s claims generally being much smaller.

I gave this quote to the Daily Mail: “The Post Office’s decision not to investigate its own computer system for fear of what it might uncover is one of the most craven acts of corporate cowardice I’ve ever come across. The Post Office has taken over ten years and spent hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in obfuscating, stonewalling and trying to defend the indefensible. They were effectively hiding the truth all along. It’s completely outrageous.”

These damning words from me about the behaviour from the Post Office were given no less than three years ago.

So let’s get our sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses properly attended to as a matter of urgency and then let’s make sure that the key perpetrators of this scandal face the justice that they deserve.

Above all, let’s make sure that a scandal like this can never happen again.