The SNP has welcomed the news that the Post Office has agreed to pay hundreds of former staff £58m in settlement fees over a faulty accounting system which led to fines, sackings, prosecutions, bankruptcies and jail sentences over the last decade.

The SNP led the call for the UK government to step in and address the legal strategy, which saw over £18m of public funding pay the legal fees to defend the case.

This settlement was announced on 12 December – the day of the election – which the SNP MP Marion Fellows claims was an attempt by the UK government to “bury the story.”

Mrs Fellows warned that the cost of this settlement must not threaten the integrity of the post office network – which has been at risk owing to shockingly low pay levels. This year thousands of post offices have faced closure over cuts from the UK Government.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“I am glad that the UK Government heeded the SNP’s calls to review its legal strategy and reach a £58m settlement to compensate sub-postmasters for the hell they’ve been put through – they deserve justice.

“As the special shareholder of Post Office Ltd, the UK Government should have stepped in sooner. Workers have been hounded for over ten years due to a fault in Post Office Ltd’s own accounting system.

“It is disgraceful that they tried to bury this news on election day. This is yet another example of how the UK Government is failing our valued public services and the people who work in them.

“While sub-postmaster pay stagnates and thousands of branches have closed or will, tens of millions has been wasted in legal fees. Funds should have been used to re-open Crown branches, improve pay, and keep branches open so they can continue to serve communities.”