Post Office scandal: The harrowing ordeal of innocent Telford woman

"Prison isn't somewhere I would wish upon my worst enemy, and I shouldn't have even been there."

Tracy Felstead
Tracy Felstead

Those are the words of a former Post Office worker from Shropshire who was wrongly jailed because of a computer glitch that suggested she stole £11,500 from her employer as a teenager.

Tracy Felstead from Brookside in Telford spent 26 weeks locked inside HMP Holloway for a crime she did not commit.

Now – among the dozens to have their convictions of theft, fraud and false accounting quashed by the Court of Appeal – the 38-year-old has shed some light on her harrowing experience inside the former women's prison, which was the largest in western Europe until its closure in 2016.

Dozens of former post office workers have had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal

"I've seen things, been through things and dealt with things at the time that no teenager should have to go through – it was awful," she said.

"I went into prison as a young girl, obviously now I'm an older lady and it's made me who I am today, but I never gave up hope, I never stopped fighting to clear my name."

Twenty years after being first accused, Ms Felstead had her name cleared along with 38 others – including Rubbina Shaheen from Shrewsbury.

Dozens of former post office workers have had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal

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She said her time inside the London prison had taken its toll on her mental wellbeing, and it was something she dealt with "day by day".

"I had to just get on and deal with it," she said. "At that time when you're in prison you can't defend yourself or prove your innocence.

"It brought on a lot of mental health issues but I never gave up hope on the inside.

"Prison was tough and I dealt with it day by day.

Tracy Felstead

"The thought of coming home to my family got me through it and having that support network on the outside.

"[Throughout] the fight through all the court cases, prison, everything – you hang on to that one glimmer of hope that it will all come out and be okay one day."

Following the Court of Appeal's ruling, in which it said the Post Office's defective Horizon computer system made their prosecutions "an affront to the public conscience", immediate calls for a public inquiry into the scandal were made.

Ms Felstead said: "Still now I don't think what's happened has hit home and sunk in.

"I can move on with my life, although it's still a rollercoaster of emotions.

Tracy Felstead

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"When I was first convicted the judge told me I had stolen from OAPs and that I'd taken a lot of money from vulnerable people.

"At the time I was asked by the judge to apologise for that, to which I point-blank refused – I wasn't going to apologise for something I hadn't done.

"I was angry and [last] Friday brought a lot of those feelings back towards the Post Office.

Tracy Felstead

"Now my conviction's been overturned and it's finally come to light none of this should have happened in the first place.

"It's been a long wait and I never thought this day would come.

"Now we need to see a full investigation into who knew what and when.

"They've ruined people's lives and someone needs to be held accountable."

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