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Telford post office clerk was a 'scapegoat', says MP

By Mark Andrews | Telford | Politics | Published:

A former post office clerk from Telford was used as a 'scapegoat' when she was jailed as a result of a computer glitch, a senior MP said.

Tracy Felstead

Tracy Felstead, who is battling to clear her name after being jailed for stealing £11,500 when she was an 18-year-old counter clerk, was giving evidence in Parliament yesterday.

A High Court judge ruled in December that she, along with, 554 other former post office workers, may have been falsely accused because of a glitch with the Post Office's controversial Horizon computer system.

Rachel Reeves MP, chairman of the parliamentary select committee called to investigate the alleged miscarriage of justice, said nothing would ever make up for the suffering Miss Felstead suffered as a result of the three months she spent in Holloway Prison in 2001.

After hearing Miss Felstead's evidence, Miss Reeves said: "You, Tracy were the scapegoat, and in a well-functioning organisation, and an organisation where people on the frontline are trusted, you would expect to see more of a dialogue to understand the issues rather than jumping to conclusions."

Miss Felstead, who is now 37 and living in Brookside, told the hearing how she returned from holiday while working as an 18-year-old post office worker in 2000.

"I had been away with my family on holiday, I had come back, an £11,500 shortfall had been found on the till that had been used by somebody else," she told the hearing.

"It was some days later that I was then called into the office, and was told that I was going to be questioned by the investigation team."

Miss Felstead said the Post Office appeared convinced of her guilt from day one, and no attempt was made to look for an alternative explanation for the discrepancy.

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"They had access to bank accounts, to my home, and they found nothing," she said.

"At no stage was it 'could this have happened?', from day one they were heavy-handed with me, it was my fault, I had taken this money, and even though they couldn't find it, there was no money in my bank account, no money in my house, nothing, I had taken that money, that was from the day dot, I had stolen that money and they wanted to prosecute."

Miss Felstead said that in future the Post Office needed to investigate financial shortfalls thoroughly, instead of heavy-handedly pointing the finger.

"I didn't take any money, but from day one I was made to feel that's what they thought, that's exactly what they'd done, and they just went full steam ahead, and didn't care about anybody's feelings or anything."

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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