Postmistresses name cleared following 12-year dispute

By Jon Walker   |   Senior reporter   |
Monday 12th October 2020 1:50 pm
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Former postmistress Jo Hamilton ()

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A FORMER sub-postmistress accused of stealing after a Post Office IT system falsely generated a debt has been told her appeal against the conviction won’t be contested.

This means after 12-years of fighting for justice, Jo Hamilton of South Warnborough will have her criminal record removed and be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Jo, who ran the village sub-post office, said: “It’s been a long fight and this is just incredible, amazing, I am totally overwhelmed, over the moon, I can’t express my relief.”

Her nightmare began when the Post Office’s IT system, Horizon, showed there was £36,000 missing from her sub-post office accounts.

The Post Office refused to believe the error was an IT glitch, or investigate further, and took Jo to court.

To avoid prison on charges of theft she admitted 14-charges of false accounting.

In her Post Office contract it said she had to pay back any financial shortfalls.

So she and husband David had to re-mortgage their home and borrow to repay the debt.

To survive she took on cleaning jobs in the village and her elderly husband had to continue landscape gardening in all weathers.

Meanwhile hundreds of other sub-post masters and mistresses found themselves in a similar position; facing criminal charges after Horizon generated false shortfalls in their accounts.

As a result some were sent to prison and others made bankrupt.

Many couldn’t get jobs because they now had a criminal record, and all had to repay their alleged debts.

Since 2009 the group has been campaigning for justice.

And last December the Post Office finally announced it was making £58m available in compensation to them.

Jo and the others then launched appeals to clear their names, and they are set to be heard in November.

But now the Post Office has said it won’t contest their appeals, allowing the appeal judge to dismiss the convictions and clear their names completely.

Jo said: “What the Post Office did was criminal. It behaved appallingly knowing exactly what it was doing at the time.

“And we aren’t taking it lying down, there’s more to come, as we are about to start a joint action on the grounds of malicious prosecution – so watch out, here we come.”

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