Seema Misra

Years in prison:
.5
Year of crime:
2008
Year conviction was overturned:
2021

Seema Misra 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 Misra pleaded guilty to six counts of false accounting, and was found guilty of theft following a trial in the Crown Court. She was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for the theft and six months’ imprisonment concurrently on each count of false accounting. She was ordered to pay compensation of £40,000 to the Post Office. She served four months in prison while pregnant.

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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