More than 500 employees of the village post office sue the company after they have been accused of stealing missing money
More than 550 sub-postmasters branded thieves by their own bosses yesterday to bring the tables to court by the post office.
In a milestone in the classroom, they told the Supreme Court in London that their lives had been ruined by false accusations of theft.
Some had committed suicide while others died while falling for a dish in a dispute that lasted more than ten years, the court heard.
More than 550 under-postmasters branded scammers by their own bosses turned the tables by bringing the post office to court (photo). From left, Jasvinder Barang, Karen Wilson, Scott Darlington, Jo Hamilton, Sue Knight, Nigel Night and Tracey Merritt
A widow brought a part of the ashes of her deceased husband in a small box so that he could finally have his day in the courtroom & # 39 ;.
Post offices in village shops, sub-postmasters and mistresses formed the backbone of their communities until the post office persecuted them as thieves.
Many were imprisoned, bankrupt and had their good reputation shredded by thousands of kilos, supposedly missing; & # 39; from their bank accounts.
But later it appeared that failures in new computer terminals in their stores could be the cause of the shortcomings.
Ex-postion was 60 in prison
One of the plaintiffs in the High Court case is Noel Thomas, who spent his 60th birthday behind bars. He was sentenced to nine months after he was guilty of false accounting of more than £ 50,000 & # 39; missing & # 39; from his small post office in Anglesey.
The ex-postman's problems started when the Horizon computer system continued reporting as missing after 2000.
Noel Thomas (photo) was sentenced to nine months after he was guilty of false accounting of more than £ 50,000 & # 39; missing & # 39; from his small post office in Anglesey
Thomas, now 71, told a BBC documentary: & # 39; They said that I was the only person who had a problem. They do not know where the money is and I do not. I did not steal it. & # 39;
He was accused of theft and false accounting, but the first was dropped in exchange for the fact that he had admitted the latter.
The post office later in documents seen through Panorama admitted that even though it could not rule out theft, the missing money was probably caused by operational errors & # 39 ;.
The post office maintains that there is nothing wrong with its computers and has so far spent £ 5 million in tax money on lawyers to fight the claims of former sub-postmasters.
They came from all over the country for the first trial in their long search for justice yesterday. The post office gets a compensation account of up to £ 1 billion if it loses.
Jo Hamilton, 61, a former postmistress from Hampshire who now has a criminal record, said outside the court: "We came here today to seek justice. It's not about the money, it's about clearing our good names.
One widow, Karen Wilson (photo) put a part of her deceased husband's ashes in a small box so that he finally & # 39; his day in the courtroom & # 39; could have
& # 39; None of these people are thieves. They were hard-working pillars of the community that had never had a parking ticket until this miserable computer system came along. & # 39;
Karen Wilson, 64, whose postman husband Julian died of cancer two years ago after he had fought for justice for ten years, said: "I have some of his ashes with me because I promised him I would never give up to clear his name. & # 39;
About a dozen of the 557 claimants attended the court yesterday. Their QC, Patrick Green, told Mr. Justice Fraser that many claimants had been unjustly jailed for crimes such as false accounting, fraud and theft when the real culprit was the malfunctioning Horizon computer system that handles on-the-counter transactions in post offices. registered.
The sub-mail masters accuse the post office of the trouble of not examining errors in the IT system, while they ruthlessly pursue the money-court that the computers claimed was missing, & # 39; he added. The case lasts for months and is split into two or three tests. The first determines the contractual relationship between the claimants and the post office.
The post office denies the accusations and argues that the burden of proof rests on the plaintiffs to show that the Horizon computer was responsible.
It said that they simply tried to avoid their responsibility & # 39; for the losses and described the case as & # 39; an ambitious attempt to rewrite the contract & # 39; between it and the sub-postmasters.
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