Skip to main content

Post Office scandal

A computer error sent us to prison

Seema Misra was jailed when she was pregnant. ITV News

This is the story of how the Post Office, a trusted British institution, “abused its responsibility and shattered the lives of hundreds of ordinary people”, says Nick Wallis in The Great Post Office Trial. In the early 2000s, the Post Office began accusing hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters of falsifying accounts and stealing money. The true culprit was a new computer system, Horizon, but the PO insisted that “computers don’t go bad. Postmasters do.” Many sub-postmasters were fired and left financially ruined. More than 900 were prosecuted, with some even sent to prison.

Seema Misra, a pregnant woman sent to jail for theft, recalls: “I never had even a parking penalty, and then I’m being charged with a criminal conviction.” In a harrowing interrogation, Sarah Burgess-Boyd says through sobs: “I am really proud to be a postmaster. I love my shop. I love my customers… I’ve done nothing wrong.”

In this 10-part BBC podcast, split into 15-minute episodes, we meet the people whose lives were devastated by the Post Office and follow their David and Goliath battle for justice. This week, dozens of former sub-postmasters began a court appeal to challenge their convictions, after the Post Office settled a civil claim for £57.75m in 2019.

Listen to The Great Post Office Trial here.