Kashmir Gill

Year conviction was overturned:

Kashmir Gill was one of the “Post Office 39,” a group of former sub-postmasters and post-mistresses who were convicted of offences including theft, false accounting, and fraud, based on information from a computer system called Horizon which suggested that money had gone missing from post-office branch accounts.

The Post Office alleged an unexplained shortfall of £57,306.20 in Ms Gill’s accounts. She initially denied she had taken the money, and agreed for her house to be searched. However, she was told that she was the only person in this situation, and has said that she was fearful of the damage the accusations would do to her reputation. She as a first generation immigrant from India, and said she had risked everything to move to the UK and find a job that she would be proud of. She was one of the top-performing workers in Oxford and didn’t want to lose respect. Due to this fear, and a feeling of helplessness against the allegations, she agreed to ‘pay back’ the amount of the alleged shortfall to the Post Office using money that she and her husband had been saving for their retirement.

Despite her agreeing to pay back the alleged, shortfall, the Post Office pressed charges against Ms Gill. She pleaded guilty to two counts of false accounting, and as a result the Post Office did not proceed with theft charges. She received a fine of £485 and was ordered to pay £1,500 towards the costs of the prosecution – in addition to the £57,306.20 that she had already paid to the post office.

As a result of her criminal record, she struggled to find a new job. She spent the next five years pot washing in the back of an Indian takeaway.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal accepted findings that bugs, errors, and defects in Horizon could, and did, cause discrepancies and shortfalls in branch accounts. The court concluded that if the Horizon data was not reliable then there was no basis for the prosecution, and the convictions were quashed. The court noted that failures of investigation and disclosure in the cases prevented the appellants from challenging, or challenging effectively, the reliability of the Horizon data.

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