Postmasters subject to gagging orders because of the Horizon scandal should not be scared to come forward for compensation, a business minister has said.

Kevin Hollinrake said it was the Government’s position that subpostmasters who had signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the Post Office should feel “completely at liberty” to discuss their situation with MPs and other authorities.

The Post Office minister’s claims came as MPs debated the management culture of the Post Office, which has come under increased scrutiny since the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office was aired in January.

Hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongly convicted of stealing after the company’s defective Horizon accounting system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Some signed NDAs in the course of settling with the Post Office over their treatment.

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green highlighted the case of a Chesham and Amersham constituent who worked for the Post Office for more than 30 years but was subject to an NDA.

MPs heard that information about the scale of the problem with Horizon would have been available 'much earlier' if such agreements were not in place.

Ms Green read out her constituent’s words, in which he said: “As a member of the Post Office project team that delivered Horizon I, like many of my ex-project colleagues, was aware of the truth behind many of the points that the Post Office has been at great pains to hide or deny.

“The Post Office were very careful to ensure that their employees with links to Horizon were unaware of how the system was operating or the volume of subpostmasters that were being prosecuted.”

The former Post Office employee added: “I’m still staggered that someone at a senior level didn’t question the huge rise in prosecutions after the system was implemented.

“The Post Office has used these non-disclosure agreements to ensure that current and ex-employees are effectively silenced.”