Asian origin woman among others who receive £57.75m Post Office compensation The Post Office has the government’s department for business as its sole shareholder. (Photo: iStock).
Radhakrishna N S
AN ASIAN origin woman sub-postmaster is one of the claimants who will receive a settlement package of £57.75 million from the Post Office.
The 550 claimants were wrongly accused of theft and false accounting by the Post Office.
Seema Misra was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2010 akin to other claimants after she was wrongly found guilty of stealing £78,000 from the post office she ran in West Byfleet, Surrey.
On Wednesday (11) Post Office said that it had agreed with the subpostmasters to a settlement package of £57.75m, to be divided between the 550 claimants.
The sum will be divided among the claimants on the merits of each of their cases.
The sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft and false accounting by the Post Office, which was actually caused by a defective computer network system.
Over 550 sub-postmasters brought the group action against the Post Office over the Horizon IT system, which it introduced between 1999 and 2000.
The sub-postmasters alleged the Horizon system caused shortfalls.
The shortfall resulted in financial accounts inadequacy, which led to some being jailed for offences, including false accounting, fraud and theft, while others were made bankrupt.
According to the claimants the Post Office was not provided necessary training to use Horizon, to probe the reasons for the alleged shortcomings, and finally misled them about the reliability of the system.
However, the Post Office had strongly defended the case and claimed that the Horizon worked properly.
Misra was sent to prison on her son’s 10th birthday and was eight weeks’ pregnant.
She was released from jail for good behaviour after four months of jail. However, following a series of abuse in their street, the Indian origin woman and her family relocated.
Misra was quoted by the Telegraph: “ If I hadn’t been pregnant I would have killed myself. I can’t work because of the conviction – we are living on one income with two kids. I lost everything. My job. My house. My reputation.”
She added: “When you are inside you lose faith in the justice system. Even today I have an insurance claim that is two months’ old but they won’t pay because there is a fraud case in my name. This judgement is a relief. It’s closure and I hope it means we can move on.”
Tim Parker, the Post Office chairman, said: “We accept that, in the past, we got things wrong in our dealings with a number of postmasters and we look forward to moving ahead now, with our new chief executive currently leading a major overhaul of our engagement and relationship with postmasters.”
Earlier this year, the high court ruled in the first of at least three planned trials in the litigation, resolving most issues in favour of the sub-postmasters.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has been reviewing the conviction of Misra and others as a possible miscarriage of justice.