UK’s Post Office scandal: Indian-origin woman rejects ex-boss’s apology for wrongful imprisonment


APRIL 12, 2024

Seema Misra.

An Indian-origin ex-manager of a Post Office in the UK, has rejected her former boss’s apology, pointing to how she had been pregnant for two months when wrongly imprisoned more than 12 years ago after being convicted for a theft.

“I was eight weeks pregnant. They need to apologise to my youngest son. I have not accepted the apologies,” Seema Misra, now 47, told BBC.

She was referring to her ex-boss David Smith’s written apology for sending a congratulatory email after the former’s conviction. The apology by Smith, now a former Managing Director at the Post Office, came during Thursday’s hearings for the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry, held in London.

“We had my conviction overturned, nobody came at the time to apologise. And now they just suddenly realised, that when they have to appear in a public inquiry, they have to apologise,” Misra said to BBC.

Misra also responded to Smith’s assertion that she was a “test case” for the faulty Horizon IT system and the “success” of her case led to “more confidence” in the system.

“How can they do a test on a human being? I am a living creature. I heard that my case had been used as a test case before, but hearing it again and against, it is just annoying. It makes me more and more angry, to be honest,” she remarked.

Her conviction for stealing GBP 75,000 for her Post Office branch in Surrey where she was a sub-postmistress, was quashed in April 2021. The Court of Appeal ruled that she was wrongly jailed.

By then, however, Misra had already spent four-and-a-half months at south-east England’s female-only Bronzefield prison, the largest such facility in Europe. She later gave birth to her second son while waring an electronic tag.

In March, a new law tabled in British Parliament introduced the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill to quash convictions brought about by the “erroneous” Horizon evidence. The ongoing public inquiry in the case, being conducted in a phased manner, is expected to conclude in July.

Developed by Japan’s Fujitsu, the Horizon system was first rolled out in 1999 to some Post Offices for variable tasks such as accounting and stocktaking. However, it appeared to have significant bugs, which could cause the system to misreport, sometimes involving large sums as in the case of these sub-postmasters.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times / PTI