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Post Office to defend system blamed for postmistress's jail term

By Mark Andrews | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

The Post Office will this week give its response to claims that glitches with its computer system led to a Shrewsbury sub-postmistress being wrongly jailed following claims of fraud.

Rubbina Shaheen is one of hundreds of former post-office managers fighting to clear their names, claiming they were falsely accused as a result of problems with the controversial Horizon computer system.

Mrs Shaheen, who kept Greenfields Post Office in the town, was jailed for 12 months in December 2010 after being accused of stealing £43,000 from the business.

The Post Office agreed to drop a charge of stealing the money on condition that she admitted a lesser charge of false accounting.

Mrs Shaheen is one of more than 1,000 sub-postmasters and postmistresses across Britain who are taking part in a joint legal action to clear their name.

The Post Office is this week due to present its defence to the lawyers representing Justice For the Sub-postmasters Alliance (JFSA), which represents those who claim they have been affected.

The High Court gave the JFSA the go-ahead for its legal action against the Post Office in March.

James Hartley of Freeths Solicitors, which is representing the postmasters, said it was now too late for anybody else to sign up the existing group action. But he said there was a possibility of further actions in future, and urged anybody who felt they had been affected to get in touch.

The Post Office has consistently denied there has been any problem with the Horizon computer system, which records all transactions carried out at sub-post office branches.

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The company insists that the system reliably handles six million transactions a day.

It appointed forensic accountants Second Sight to investigate the claims, but while Second Sight said there was no evidence of "systemic flaws", it said the system was "not always fit for purpose".

Second Sight also accused the Post Office of misrepresenting its findings.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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