Post Office Horizon scandal: Derbyshire Times backs calls for judge-led public inquiry - and justice
“Jail was horrible – I spent every single day thinking ‘I shouldn’t be in here, I’m innocent’. It ruined me.”
Those are the words of Chesterfield dad-of-three Harjinder Butoy.
He was one of 39 former subpostmasters who had their convictions quashed at the Court of Appeal on Friday.
Harjinder – who was wrongly accused of stealing £206,000 from the accounts of the post office he ran – spent 18 months behind bars.
He is not a criminal – in fact, it was the Post Office’s defective Horizon accounting system that failed to add up the numbers.
For Harjinder and his family, this nightmare has gone on since auditors entered his branch in 2007 and said more than £200,000 was missing – 14 years ago.
They will always be haunted by this episode in their lives.
“Some justice has now been done – but we’ll only get complete justice when those responsible are behind bars,” said 44-year-old Harjinder.
“People at the Post Office need to be held accountable and sent to jail like I was.”
Announcing the court’s ruling, Lord Justice Holroyde said the Post Office ‘knew there were serious issues about the reliability of Horizon’ and had a ‘clear duty to investigate’ the system's defects.
He said the Post Office had ‘consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable’, and ‘effectively steamrolled over any subpostmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy’.
The Derbyshire Times is backing calls for the UK Government to launch a judge-led public inquiry into this scandal – and for those responsible to be held to account and, where appropriate, justice to be served.
Some of the former postmasters – like Harjinder – had to spend many months in a prison cell.
A number of them have experienced the breakdown of their relationships.
Many have seen their mental health decline.
Some have tragically taken their own lives.
What these people and their families have been through is an abomination.
There are still questions to be answered – how could this happen in a country that prides itself on the rule of law? Who is responsible? What lessons can be learned to ensure something like this never occurs again?
Our thoughts are with Harjinder and the other ex-subpostmasters as they try and get over this disgrace.
They are all innocent.