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MP calls for prosecution of executives to blame for Post Office fraud scandal

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Post Office executives who oversaw the wrongful convictions of dozens of staff for fraud because of a faulty IT system should face prosecution, according to an MP.

Gavin Newlands described how the life of one of his constituents was ruined after she was convicted of theft from her branch.

In England 65 sub-postmasters have had their convictions quashed while in Scotland the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) is looking into eight sub-postmasters’ convictions, three of whom were jailed.

The Paisley MP said: “They installed a faulty system, refused to accept any evidence which proved it was faulty and yet the sub-postmasters paid for this in broken and lost lives,” he said.

“The truly guilty must be brought to justice because the only people who were punished were the innocent sub-postmasters, some of whom worked punishing hours trying to prove their innocence but were not believed.”

Newlands’ constituent lost her home and marriage and was separated from her children after being convicted of theft and jailed for 13 months. On her release she had to move to a new area because she was too humiliated and shamed by her prison sentence to face anyone she knew again.

‘It is too late for Fiona, it is too late for justice’: Partner on how acquittals in Post Office fraud scandal have come too late to save victim wrongly accused

She is now appealing her conviction through the SCCRC. The woman, who spiralled into depression, has struggled to find work because of her criminal conviction.

“She is trying to get on with her life despite the conviction and the trauma of the entire process which has affected her greatly,” said Newlands.

Meanwhile, a Glasgow mum of four revealed she had to pay the Post Office more than £30,000 after its security officials threatened her with jail if she did not replace money the Horizon system claimed she owed.

“I could not leave my children and go to jail so my family rallied round to help me,” she said. “It was extortion by a government-owned body and I had no way to prove the Horizon system was wrong.”

The mum was one of hundreds of sub-postmasters convicted of fraud.

Former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells – at the helm from 2012 to 2019 – said she supported a government inquiry.