Post Office worker Tracy Felstead 'over the moon' to clear name

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Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Tracy Felstead (R) pictured with fellow subpostmaster Janet Skinner outside the Royal Courts of Justice

A Post Office worker who was jailed when she was just 19 said she was "over the moon" to clear her name.

Tracy Felstead, from Telford, is one of 39 former workers whose convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal.

"I'm angry that it even got this far," she said outside court. "There's a rollercoaster of emotions going through me right now."

The Post Office said it recognised the "deep pain" of workers who have fought to clear their names for years.

In 2002, Ms Felstead was sentenced to six months in a young offenders institution after being wrongly accused of stealing £11,503 while working at Camberwell Green Post Office in London.

"We have been prosecuted for something that we actually didn't do, so hopefully the right things will happen to the people that did know," she said, calling for a public inquiry into the scandal.

"My hope is that somebody will be held accountable, that they will get to the bottom of who knew what, where and when," the 38-year-old said.

Image caption,
Rubbina Shaheen was jailed for a year in 2010

Rubbina Shaheen, 56, from Shrewsbury, was also among those who had her conviction overturned.

"I'm starting to believe it's finally happened," she said.

"I've waited 11 years for this and I'm really, really grateful."

In 2010 she was jailed for a year, as a result she was forced to sell her home and live in a van. The stress has led to her living with a number of physical and mental health conditions.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Former post office workers celebrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, after having their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal

Her husband, Mohamed Hami, spoke of how their lives had been "low after low" since the conviction, and both suffer from acute depression after being left homeless and struggling for money and work.

"We're literally scrounging to buy a paper, that's how low we are," Mr Hami said.

The ruling was "momentous", he said. "The light is getting brighter for us at the end of the tunnel."

Post Office scandal: What happened?

Between 2000 and 2014, the Post Office prosecuted 736 sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses based on information from a recently installed computer system called Horizon.

Some went to prison following convictions for false accounting and theft, many were financially ruined and have described being shunned by their communities. Some have since died.

After 20 years, campaigners won a legal battle to have their cases reconsidered, after claiming that the computer system was flawed.

It's said to be the UK's most widespread miscarriage of justice and 39 former postmasters have today had their convictions cleared.

Julian Wilson owned and ran the Astwood Bank village post office branch near Redditch in Worcestershire.

He was convicted following a Post Office prosecution in 2008.

His widow Karen said she would "never forgive" the Post Office after Mr Wilson died in 2016 before he could clear his name.

Media caption,
"How do you die knowing that you've done nothing wrong?"

Outside court on Friday, she said: "I'm crying with one eye and happy with the other."

"I can't explain it, when you've taken on a fight like this for 13 years and a big institution is telling you you're wrong... it's finally happened that all the judges have said that my husband was right."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
"I promised him I would keep on fighting," Karen Wilson said

Both she and their daughter, Emma Jones, were at the Court of Appeal to hear the verdict.

"This is a bittersweet day for us," she said. "Very unjust, very unfair."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Emma Jones joined her mother Karen Wilson to see her father's conviction overturned

Lucy Allan, the Conservative MP for Telford, said the failings of the Post Office were "an affront to the conscience of the court" and called for compensation to be paid for workers who were wrongfully jailed and those who used their own money to pay for alleged shortfalls on their tills.

Ms Shaheen has never received compensation - she said that will be her next battle.

Post Office chief executive Nick Read said he was "very moved" by the courage of the postal workers.

"The quashing of historical convictions is a vital milestone in fully and properly addressing the past as I work to put right these wrongs as swiftly as possible and there must be compensation that reflects what has happened," he said.

In the meantime, this is a chance to move on for Ms Felstead.

"It will never go away," she said. "There's been too much trauma.

"However I can try to lay it to rest now and get on with my life."

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