Former South Warnborough sub-postmaster Jo Hamilton has told MPs she found it "sickening" to think her money may have been paid out as bonuses to Post Office executives.

Ms Hamilton answered questions about the personal impact of the Post Office Horizon scandal on Tuesday, January 16 at the Business and Trade Select Committee in Westminster.

Also there to face MPs questions were Fujitsu Europe director Paul Patterson and Post Office CEO Nick Read, after the ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office recently shed more light on the hundreds of sub-postmasters wrongly prosecuted because of the faulty Fujitsu 'Horizon' IT software.

Ms Hamilton, 66, was falsely accused of stealing £36,000 because of IT errors and wrongly convicted in 2008.

Post Office chief Mr Read was grilled by MPs on what had happened to the money paid by victims, and whether it could have added to executives' “rumination packages”.

After initially avoiding the question, Mr Read conceded it was “possible” the money had been paid to executives as bonuses.

Mum-of-two Ms Hamilton said it was “sickening” to think this is where her money could have gone – rather than just being “hoovered into profit and loss” by the Post Office, as she initially believed.

She said: “The fact that we were shouting so loud at one point and everything was known, and yet our money was just being played with. You know, they look profitable at one point and it was our money."

Mr Read admitted the way Ms Hamilton was treated was “appalling” after she told MPs a “financial gun” had been held to her head.

Giving evidence in 2021, Ms Hamilton told MPs she had been pressured into pleading guilty to a charge of false accounting as part of a plea bargain.

“I have enormous empathy for what Jo went through,” Mr Read said, adding: “I have to say we have all listened to what’s occurred in the inquiry and it’s appalling.”

Ms Hamilton was forced to remortgage her house and borrow money from her parents to pay the money demanded by the Post Office, and her parents died in significant debt before she was exonerated in 2021.

It was no surprise therefore to hear Ms Hamilton's response on Tuesday when asked if she believed justice will ever truly be achieved.

"It will never let my mum and dad see me have my conviction quashed,” she said.

Ms Hamilton was also scathing of drawn-out process of having her conviction quashed in 2021, and claiming compensation.

“It’s almost like you are a criminal all over again. You have to justify everything,” she told MPs.

“It’s like you’re being re-tried because everything you say you would like they say ‘well justify that and justify that’ and it just goes on and on.

“Everything has to be backed up with paperwork.”

Former MP for North East Hampshire, Lord James Arbuthnot, has been instrumental in helping victims of the scandal seek justice and is now part of the unpaid body Horizon Compensation Advisory Board.

He told the committee: “You have people who have been convicted or pleaded guilty of crime up against the most trusted brand in the country. I think that's at the heart of it.

“What the Post Office failed to realise was that the most trusted brand in the country was the most trusted because of the relationship the sub-postmasters had with the community.

"It wasn't the most trusted because of the brilliance of its management or the price of its stamps or the sparkling nature of its publicity machine; it was the relationship between the sub-postmasters and their communities.

"When they were vilified and humiliated the brand then rolled into overdrive.”

Lord Arbuthnot also called on Fujitsu to “accept that they have played a part in the devastation”.

He added: “And they might also like to accept that they should play a part in the redress that those sub-postmasters need now.”

Responding, Fujitsu boss Mr Patterson apologised to sub-postmasters, telling the committee: “To the sub-postmasters and their families, Fujitsu would like to apologise for our part in this appalling miscarriage of justice.

“We were involved from the very start. We did have bugs and errors in the system. And we did help the Post Office in their prosecutions of sub-postmasters. For that we are truly sorry.”

Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake admitted the issue could have been resolved earlier had the Government grasped the scale of the Horizon scandal quicker, but refused to blame any predecessors including Lib Dem leader Ed Davey.

He told the committee: “I don’t think we’ve been sufficiently challenging, no. I mean, I think this wouldn’t have happened or it would have been resolved earlier if we’d been more challenging earlier.

“I’m not going to blame any one of my predecessors specifically, but clearly we could have done better.”

Committee chairman Liam Byrne concluded the sessions by telling Post Office boss Mr Read his evidence had left members “fairly shocked”.

He said: “You’ve not been able to supply the committee with key events in the timeline, such as when the Post Office first knew that remote access was possible.

“You’ve told us that you haven’t kept evidence safe about what money was paid to you inappropriately and therefore is owed back.

“And you can’t estimate the scale of compensation.

“We are grateful for the moral commitment from Fujitsu that they will share in the compensation payment.

“But that leaves us many questions which we need to put to the minister, which is the subject of our next session.”