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Shrewsbury postmistress's case over conviction to be considered in March

By Mark Andrews | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A former Shropshire sub-postmistress who says she was wrongly jailed because of a computer glitch is set to have her case considered by a body which investigates miscarriages of justice.

Rubbina Shaheen with husband Mohamed

Rubbina Shaheen was jailed for 12 months at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 2010 after she was accused of stealing £43,269.

Mrs Shaheen, who kept Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury, is seeking to have her conviction overturned, insisting the shortfall was caused by a fault with the Post Office's controversial Horizon database.

Last year the Post Office agreed to pay out more than £57.75 million in damages and legal costs after more than 550 former post office workers claimed they were falsely blamed for shortfalls called by the system.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), an independent public body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, said it was now looking into more than 50 cases involving the Post Office.

In December, Mr Justice Fraser found in favour of the 550 workers who brought the group action in the High Court. He concluded that the Horizon system contained a number of bugs, errors and defects that could cause financial discrepancies.

Mrs Shaheen, 54, was not part of that action, but believes the judgment will prove crucial in clearing her name.

Appeal

The CCRC has now written to Mrs Shaheen telling her that the committee now plans to meet in March to consider her case. If it rules in her favour, she will be granted leave to appeal her conviction.

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The letter told Mrs Shaheen that the commission had begun its assessment of Judge Fraser's findings.

It added that the CCRC had received a further 20 applications relating to the Post Office, taking the number seeking to have convictions overturned to more than 50.

Following his judgment, Judge Fraser said he would be referring the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions, inviting him to consider whether senior employees of Fujitsu, the company which developed the Horizon system, should face prosecution over their evidence.

The judge said: "Based on the knowledge that I have gained both from conducting the trial and writing the Horizon Issues judgment, I have very grave concerns regarding the veracity of evidence given by Fujitsu employees to other courts in previous proceedings about the known existence of bugs, errors and defects in the Horizon system.

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"These previous proceedings include the High Court in at least one civil case brought by the Post Office against a sub-postmaster and the crown court in a greater number of criminal cases, also brought by the Post Office against sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses."

Mrs Shaheen said she had lost her business and her home as a result of her conviction.

She was originally charged with stealing the money, but the Post Office – which served as the prosecuting authority in her case – agreed to drop the theft charge if she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of false accounting.

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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