Updated April 13th, 2024 at 00:20 IST

‘Terrible, I Was 8 Weeks Pregnant’: Indian Origin Woman Rejects Apology For Wrong Imprisonment in UK

Indian origin former-manager of a Post Office in England, Seema Misra (47) rejected the apology for wrongly imprisoning her while she was pregnant.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Former Post Office Manager in England Seema Misra | Image:X/ Seema Misra
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London: An Indian origin former-manager of a Post Office in England, Seema Misra (47) has outright rejected the apology of a former boss of the government-owned entity for wrongly imprisoning her while she was pregnant. Misra was jailed over 12 years ago during an ongoing public inquiry into the accounting scandal. Rejecting the apology she said that she was eight weeks pregnant and they, who wrongly imprisoned her, need to apologise to her youngest son.

Seema Misra, had her conviction quashed in April 2021 as the Court of Appeal ruled that she had been wrongly imprisoned over 12 years ago after being accused of stealing GBP 75,000 from her Post Office branch in Surrey where she was the sub-postmistress.

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Former Post Office MD David Smith apologised for a congratulatory email he sent after Misra’s conviction

During Thursday’s hearings for the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry in London, former Post Office Managing Director David Smith apologised for a congratulatory email he sent after Misra’s conviction.

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“It was intended to be a congratulatory email to the team, knowing that they had worked hard on the case,” Smith said in his written evidence to the inquiry.

“However, knowing what I do now, it is evident that my email would have caused Seema Misra and her family substantial distress to read and I would like to apologise for that… Even if this had been a correct conviction, I would never think that it was ‘brilliant news’ for a pregnant woman to go to prison and I am hugely apologetic that my email can be read as such,” he said.

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“However, seeing this email in the light of what I know now, I understand the anger and the upset that it will have caused and sincerely apologise for that,” he added.

But, speaking to reporters later, Misra rejected the apology which came many years after her ordeal.

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Misra reportedly stated, "It was terrible, I was eight weeks pregnant. They need to apologise to my youngest son. I haven't accepted their apologies."

"We had my conviction overturned, nobody came at that time to apologise. And now they just suddenly realised that when they have to appear in a public inquiry, they have to apologise," she said.

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Misra was sent to Bronzefield prison in south-east England and served four-and-a-half months, later giving birth to her second son wearing an electronic tag.

Smith told the inquiry that Misra had been used as a "test case" and the success of the case led to more confidence in the faulty Horizon IT accounting system.

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"How can they do a test on a human being? I'm a living creature. I heard that my case had been used as a test case before. But hearing it again and again, it's just annoying. It makes me more and more angry, to be honest," he asserted, while talking to a media personnel.

The UK government, which formally owns Post Office Ltd, has paid out millions in compensation to hundreds of sub-postmasters – many of them of Indian heritage – impacted by the faulty Horizon software.

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Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged action in the historic scandal which wrongly accused sub-postmasters of fraud.

Last month, a new law tabled in Parliament introduced the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill, a blanket exoneration to quash convictions brought about by erroneous Horizon evidence. A public inquiry in the case, underway in a phased manner, is expected to conclude in July.

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The controversial Horizon system, developed by the Japanese company Fujitsu, was first rolled out in 1999 to some post offices for variable tasks, including accounting and stocktaking. However, it appeared to have significant bugs, which could cause the system to misreport, sometimes involving large sums as in the case of these sub-postmasters. 
 

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Published April 13th, 2024 at 00:20 IST