Rubina Shaheen

Year conviction was overturned:

Rubina Shaheen 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.

Ms Shaheen pleaded guilty to one count of false accounting. There was an indicted shortfall of £43,269.10.
Ms Shaheen was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. Her sentence was shorter than it could have been as a result of “exceptional” references from the local community. As a result of her prosecution, she was forced to auction her home so that, upon release from prison, she and her husband had to sleep in a van for six weeks and were dependent on a food bank before they were provided with bedsit accommodation.

The basis of each of the prosecutions of the “Post Office 39” was that money missing from the branch account had been a result of theft by the sub-postmaster or mistress, or had been covered up by fraud or false accounting by the sub-postmaster or mistress. 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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