THE MP for North East Hampshire has described the Post Office as “duplicitous” over its running of a mediation scheme involving aggrieved sub-postmasters.

James Arbuthnot made the comment in an adjournment debate he called for at Westminster Hall, to discuss the plight of hundreds of sub-postmasters accused of fraud.

As reported in The Gazette, the Post Office has terminated the contracts of more than 150 sub-postmasters over accusations of false accounting.

But the sub-postmasters argue that any discrepancies in their accounts might be down to the Horizon computer software provided by the Post Office.

Earlier this month, Mr Arbuthnot and other MPs said they had lost faith in the Post Office mediation scheme, set up to address the sub-postmasters’ concerns.

In the adjournment debate, Mr Arbuthnot said the Post Office’s working party was now trying to exclude 90 per cent of cases from going through the mediation scheme, and had deleted crucial case documents. He said the Post Office will not tell MPs of the details of the scheme, citing confidentiality.

Mr Arbuthnot added: “The Post Office has sought to build up the hopes of sub-postmasters that the scheme should have their support.

“They have broken their word to MPs in so many different respects that it is fairly bewildering.

“I think the best word (to use) is that the Post Office has been duplicitous.”

He cited the case of Jo Hamilton, the former sub-postmaster in South Warnborough, who admitted 14 counts of false accounting in 2008 and was sentenced to a community order.

The debate heard she had received little training in the use of the system, and only pleaded guilty to save herself from going to prison.

Mr Arbuthnot said she received support from villagers, but also from her parents, who have both since had a stroke. He added: “Was that connected? I suspect it was.”

The MP called for a review by the Government “entirely independent of the Post Office”, an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, and a fund to be set up for sub-postmasters who want to take legal action.