Further forensic investigation to come
A former sub-postmistress has secured the funding she needs to take a civil action against the Post Office, having been jailed in 2010 for false accounting. Rubbina Shaheen has always protested her innocence and is also seeking to get her conviction overturned.
She is one of dozens of sub-postmasters across the country who claim to have been wrongly accused of false accounting or theft because of problems with the Post Office’s Horizon system. She pleaded guilty at the time to false accounting as part of a plea bargain that saw the Post Office drop the more serious charge of theft.
Mrs Shaheen is part of a group civil action being brought by Justice For The Sub-postmasters Alliance (JFSA), which represents post office managers who claim they have been falsely accused of dishonesty because of faults with Horizon. She was one of eight to be jailed and said that news of the funding is crucial to clearing her name, which she hopes a further forensic investigation will do.
At the time, the Post Office brought in a firm of forensic accountants to investigate reports that there were glitches with Horizon, which logs all transactions carried out at each branch. The firm agreed that faults with the system could have led to the discrepancies that resulted in Mrs Shaheen being jailed. However, the Post Office pressed on with the cases, which led the firm to write to the Government last August claiming its report into the computer system had been misrepresented. In addition, a spokesman for the firm said he wondered whether the Post Office used the threat of theft to put pressure on postmasters to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Hiring forensic accountants and then disregarding their reports is strange as these investigations are rigorous in the extreme and in several of these cases the firm involved stated clearly that they were unable to find any evidence of theft or inflated figures in the accounts.
NIFA members have previously acted for a number of individuals accused of theft and have reported to the court on the deficiencies of the Horizon system. For further advice on our forensic accountancy services please contact us.
Author: Roger Isaacs, 9 March 2016
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