Magic circle firm told Post Office it had 'limited liability' on financial redress

Another major law firm has been drawn in to national media coverage of the Post Office scandal, as previously undisclosed minutes emerged of a meeting from 2014.

The BBC reported today that magic circle firm Linklaters was present to advise a Post Office board sub-committee codenamed Project Sparrow in talks about the stance on future claims.

The group had been convened as questions about the reliability of the Horizon computer system mounted, and discussions began to take place about possible compensation to sub-postmasters who may have been affected.

The minutes, released in heavily redacted form in 2021 but now seen in full, show that the Post Office planned to pay a total of £1m in ‘token payments’ to victims.

It is reported that the meeting heard advice from Linklaters lawyers that the Post Office had only ‘very limited liability in relation to financial redress’.

There is no suggestion that the firm or its lawyers were involved in any attempts to cover up or supress information about Horizon. But the estimate about limited liability and £1m costs proved to be wide of the mark: the Post Office is expected to pay compensation to at least 700 sub-postmasters, with the final bill expected to reach at least £1bn.

Linklaters declined to comment. The firm has not said anything publicly on the Post Office scandal but did publish a blog in November 2020 discussing whether the affair might raise the need for further safeguards for private prosecutions. The link to the blog is no longer working.