Post Office scandal: 'We would pray things would balance out'

Selina Rashid, who took over New Stevenston Post Office in 2014, said her father was put into a panic after money started 'vanishing overnight'.

A subpostmaster from North Lanarkshire has said her family would pray every week that the books would balance out as they were accused of stealing from their branch due to the faulty Post Office IT system Horizon.

Selina Rashid has said her mental health has suffered amid the ongoing scandal which saw hundreds of subpostmasters across the UK wrongly convicted as the computer system made it appear as though money was missing from their branches.

She said £10,000 went missing over the course of a decade at her branch.

Ms Rashid took over the New Stevenston Post Office with her dad in 2014 and said it was “exciting” at first – until money started to go missing, causing her and her father to panic.

“We were excited…but money started going missing, accused of stealing… dad shouted at”, she told STV News.

“You just pray things will balance.”

On Friday, Selina said she was ‘sickened’ as the boss of Fujitsu, the company which made the faulty Horizon software, apologised for its role in the scandal.

Paul Patterson said the company had “clearly let society down”.

“It’s sickening,” Selina told STV News. “It makes you sick thinking that you knew all that time what you were doing to people.

“You knew you were putting them in jail for your mistakes, your problems, and you think ‘sorry,’ is going to help? We were excited to take it on because it was something new.

“But then we had a few issues. Money was vanishing overnight. When the auditor came, I told her, I said, ‘There’s something wrong with your system. There’s money vanishing.’

“And she kept saying, ‘No, the computer doesn’t make mistakes. You stole it.’ They told my dad, he’s a 60-year-old man, ‘You’re a thief’. They were shouting at him.”

Despite subpostmasters up and down the country being put through what’s been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British legal history, the faulty horizon system remains in operation.

It means that as subpostmasters wait for the outcome of the inquiry and the full compensation of those wrongly prosecuted and mistreated, many are still dealing with mystery shortfalls on a regular basis.

“Every postmaster in the UK on a Wednesday, is sitting saying, ‘Please, God, let this balance’,” Ms Rashid added.

The Post Office has said postmasters encountering issues with the software should get in touch.

It comes as Fujitsu’s European boss Paul Patterson told the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry on Friday that the technology giant apologised for the “appalling miscarriage of justice” that saw hundreds of subpostmasters wrongly convicted.

Paul Patterson apologised at the inquiry on Friday.

He said the company came to its recent decision to offer to help with compensation after gathering its own evidence and after it “considered our moral obligations to the victims of this crime”.

Mr Patterson offered to meet with subpostmasters and their legal representatives but said he had not met any yet as he “didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to do that”.

He said: “This is a decades-old miscarriage which started a long, long time ago and involves many, many people in organisations in that.

“I think Fujitsu more recently, as we’ve understood more, we have clearly let society down and the subpostmasters down.

“I think we had our obligations to the Post Office to be at the front of everything we were doing and that was wrong.

“I think subsequently we’ve now seen where the evidence is taking us and the investigation is taking us and that’s why you’ve had the statements from Fujitsu more recently.

“I can only tell you my honest view today, which is we have come to this conclusion as we’ve gone through the inquiry and gathered our evidence and considered our moral obligations to the victims of this crime, and that is why you’ve heard what I’ve said most recently.

“Again, I don’t know why in the past we didn’t say those things.”

At the start of his evidence, Mr Patterson once again offered his apologies to subpostmasters.

He said: “To the subpostmasters and their families, we apologise.

“Fujitsu apologises and is sorry for our part in this appalling miscarriage of justice.

“This inquiry is examining those events forensically over many, many decades, which involve many parties, not least Fujitsu and the Post Office, but other organisations and individuals.

“We are determined to continue to support this inquiry and get to the truth wherever it lays and at the conclusion of the inquiry and the guidance from this inquiry, engage with government on suitable contribution and redress to the subpostmasters and their families.”

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