Post Office scandal: Wrongfully convicted Telford woman receives personal apology from Boris Johnson

A Telford woman who was wrongly jailed as a teenager thanks to the Post Office's faulty accounting system has received a personal apology from the Prime Minister for her "20 years of hell".

Tracy Falstead's online meeting with Boris Johnson
Tracy Falstead's online meeting with Boris Johnson

Tracy Felstead, 38, was among 39 former Post Office workers exonerated last week, having suffered through years of baseless convictions hanging over them.

Ms Felstead was one of hundreds of workers prosecuted for theft, fraud and false accounting because of the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system.

She was wrongly jailed because of a computer glitch that suggested she stole £11,500 from her employer as a teenager. She spent 26 weeks locked inside HMP Holloway for a crime she did not commit.

Tracy Felstead was among those wrongfully convicted

Last week, she and 38 fellow former Posat Office workers, who were convicted and even jailed based on Horizon data had their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal.

And it was followed up by an invitation to a virtual meeting with the Prime Minister and two other subpostmasters, to explain their ordeals and push for an expanded inquiry.

Ms Felstead said: "I had an email from my MP, Lucy Allan, saying the Prime Minister would like to speak with me,"

"It was all done by Zoom of course, with the Prime Minister and Paul Scully [Business Secretary] as well as two other postmasters.

"He knew about me and what had happened but he wanted to hear it from me. It's easy to hear it from the newspapers and MPs but he wanted to speak to a human being that had been affected by this.

"I explained what had happened to me in my own words. He apologised profusely, he just kept apologising for the whole of the meeting.

Full investigation

"It was nice for us to get our points across for what happened to us and what we want to happen.

"We all want somebody to be held accountable for what happened, and we want a full inquiry.

"A full investigation needs to happen.

"I think [the ministers] did take on board what we were saying and took the time to listen. It did mean a lot."

The Government launched its own inquiry into the prosecutions, but some of those affected have called for a full public inquiry with the power to compel witnesses to attend or hand over evidence.

Mr Scully rejected those calls earlier this week.

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Ms Felstead said that the wrongly-convicted Post Office workers had received financial compensation for "20 years of hell" but that much of it had been eaten up by legal fees.

"It's not just about the money – for me, my conviction being quashed was the most amazing thing that could have happened.

"I needed that piece of paper that says 'no matter what anybody thinks, you didn't do this'."

After the meeting Telford MP Lucy Allan said: “I am very grateful to the PM for taking the time to meet Tracy and hear first-hand about her experience and her views on what needs to happen now.

"Monies taken from sub-postmasters to make up for the ‘phantom shortfalls,’ caused by the faulty computer system must now be returned to all sub-postmasters. In some cases they had to sell their homes to pay monies that we now know was not missing. Then there is compensation for the wrongful convictions.

"For justice to be done, those responsible must be held to account. There are so many questions to be answered. Who knew what when?

"The Post Office was still fighting sub-postmasters in 2019, still claiming the computer system was robust, still claiming that the postmasters were dishonest, when they knew they were not. This is not an historic issue.

"In addition to the hundreds of lives ruined, the Post Office used millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in 2018 and 2019 to aggressively fight a legal defence of the indefensible, when they could have used that money to reimburse and compensate the sub-postmasters. Who authorised this approach and the related expenditure?

"The CEO was given a CBE in 2019 and took up an appointment at the Cabinet Office. How was that possible? And what about the software provider Fujitsu, they too have serious questions to answer.

"There is currently a review underway which will report in the summer, but it is clear that for an industrial scale miscarriage of justice of this kind a full independent inquiry is required.”

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