Shropshire Star

Wrongly accused Post Office workers speak of their ordeals

A former sub-postmistress who was wrongly jailed in the Horizon post office scandal is still awaiting compensation, almost three years after her conviction was quashed.

Mohamed and Rubbina Shaheen

Rubbina Shaheen. 58, was jailed for 12 months in 2010 after a computer glitch caused a £40,000 shortfall in accounts at Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury.

She is one of 93 former post office workers who have had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal after the Post Office's computer database, known as Horizon, was found to be faulty.

Tracy Felstead, from Telford, and Carl Page, who kept a post office in Rugeley, also had their convictions overturned. But more than 600 other post-office workers are still waiting to have their cases heard by the Court of Appeal.

Tracy Felstead from Telford

Mrs Shaheen's husband, Mohamed, said his wife had been offered £600,000, but turned it down believing it was insufficient for what the couple had been through.

"What is this £600,000 going to buy us? We lost everything," he said. "We lost our home, our business, our reputations, and we lost our health."

Mr Shaheen said the couple had a four-bedroom house before the case, but ended up living in the back of a van and having to use the toilets at Tesco to wash in.

Mrs Shaheen was initially charged with the theft of £40,000, but the charge was reduced to false accounting if she agreed to plead guilty.

Mr Shaheen said his wife had received interim [compesation] payments, but negotiations were still going on regarding a final settlement.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he will look at drawing a plan to exonerate the post-office workers in the wake of the television drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office, starring Toby Jones as campaigning sub-postmaster Alan Bates.

But Mr Shaheen, who now lives with his wife in Brockton, near Shrewsbury, said it was annoying that it had taken a television drama to stir the Government into action, when it had been aware of the situation for a number of years.

He said Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey also had questions to answer about his time as Post Office minister when the prosecutions were still taking place.

"He has said he did not know what was going on, but he needs to name names about who he spoke to, and who told him everything was all right," said Mr Shaheen.

"The good thing is that the nation is now on our side."

The TV series featured the character of Walsall sub-postmistress Saman Kaur, who was accused of theft, before eventually being cleared. Her character was based on Jess Kaur, who kept a post office in Aldridge.

Mrs Kaur has told how she tried to take her own life before putting herself through electric shock therapy.

She said while the therapy was successful, it came at a price in that it wiped out all memories she had of her childhood.

Mrs Kaur said how the publicity surrounding her court case led to her receiving considerable abuse from people convinced she had committed a crime.

"They spat on the floor in the shop, they smashed my car windows.

"While I was in hospital, the Post Office didn't believe I was there.

"They sent their own doctors, and got them to examine me."

Tracy Felstead, who lives in Bournside Drive, Telford, was an 18-year-old counter clerk at a post office in London when she was arrested in February 2001 on suspicion of stealing £11,500. She was jailed for six months, but cleared last year.

Carl Page, who kept the Anson Road post office in Rugeley, said he too tried to take his own life after being accused of stealing more than £500,000 in 2001. He protested his innocence, but was advised to plead guilty to the theft of £94,000 to avoid a seven-year prison sentence.

He was jailed for two years in January, 2007.