Post Office refuses to comment on pregnant sub-postmistress jailed over Horizon scandal

Photo: Nick Wallis/Twitter

The Post Office has refused to comment on the case of Seema Misra, a sub-postmistress who was jailed for theft in 2010 while pregnant with her second child.
Mrs Misra is one of hundreds of Post Office workers accused of theft after using the Post Office Horizon IT system, supplied by Fujitsu.
At the Horizon Issues trial, second of a series of trials brought out by 557 current and former sub-postmasters, Justice Fraser, the presiding High Court judge, ruled in favour of the sub-postmasters.
The victory comes a week after the Post Office and claimant sub-postmasters have agreed to settle the long-running trial.
The Post Office apologised to those affected as part of the settlement, and reportedly agreed to pay £58 million to the litigants.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is also investigating whether some of the convictions were miscarriages of justice.
Mrs Misra, who had been a sub-postmistress in West Byfleet, Surrey since 2005, was suspended in 2008 after an audit found a £74,000 discrepancy in her accounts.
“The Post Office asked us to balance the till at the end of every day so I had to take money from the shop and put it into the Post Office,” she told the BBC.
“Instead of helping me, the Post Office gave me a warning,” she added. “They said Mrs Misra, any time you are £500 short we will take your Post Office away.”
Mrs Misra and her husband had bought the business as a whole equity with a Post Office and a shop floor.
They knew if they lost the Post Office, it would be the end of the story.
“I was in the Post Office until 2am going through each and every transaction,” she continued. “I couldn’t find any mistake.”
After two years, Mrs Misra was sent a court summons.
At that time she already had a son and was pregnant with a second child.
“It was the worst experience,” she commented. “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.”
She pleaded not guilty, despite her solicitor advising her to plead guilty so she would receive a lesser sentence.
“I said why should I plead guilty to a crime I haven’t committed?” she added.
“When the jury came back with a guilty verdict, my life shattered in front of me,” she commented. “I couldn’t imagine something like that could happen. Luckily I was pregnant, otherwise I definitely would have killed myself.”
Pregnant with her second child Mrs Misra went to prison for something that wasn’t her fault. She had very little support and nowhere to turn to.
“I was so scared for my child’s safety in prison,” she added. “It was the worst experience. I thought I wouldn’t leave the prison alive.”
For Mrs Misra, the fight to clear her name continues but the High Court judgement brings her a step closer.
“The Post Office can’t even imagine what they put us through,” she said. “I have no words for them.”
Asian Trader contacted the Post Office which refused to comment on Mrs Misra’s case.
Post Office Chairman Tim Parker said: “In reaching last week’s settlement with the claimants, we accepted our past shortcomings and I, both personally and on behalf of the Post Office, sincerely apologised to those affected when we got things wrong. We have given a commitment to learning lessons from these events, and today’s judgment underlines the need to do so.
“Whilst the judgment does recognise improvements we have made and that our current Horizon system is robust relative to comparable systems, it makes findings about previous versions of the system and past behaviours which further demonstrate the importance of the changes we must make in our business, particularly the ways in which we support our postmasters. Importantly, our new CEO has made clear the need to reset our relationship with postmasters and started the process to build a much better relationship with them.”
Chief Executive Nick Read added: “We are now working to shape a modern and dynamic Post Office, with changes at every level of the organisation placing our postmasters and our customers at the centre of the business.
“The task ahead is to improve, be clear about our direction and purpose, and to give all of those who work for and with us the guidance and support they need to help us build a Post Office fit for the future, serving in communities throughout the UK.”