'Never thought this day would come' - Former Hull postmistress on having conviction overturned

A former postmistress from Hull has said that she "never thought this day would come" after having her conviction for false accounting overturned.

Janet Skinner was wrongly jailed for nine months in 2007 after the faulty Horizon IT system made it appear that accounts were haemorrhaging thousands of pounds.

Janet was one of 39 postmasters who had their convictions overturned in the High Court today.

She said that as soon as she heard her name read out in court today she just started crying tears of "joy and relief".

Money started going missing from Janet's former Post Office in Bransholme in Hull in 2006.

By the time she was prosecuted the following year - there was a £59,000 black hole in her accounts. 

"It's just that initial shock of being sent to jail for something you know you haven't done," she said.

She was so heartbroken at the false conviction - she refused to allow her two children to visit her in prison.

She added: "I didn't want them with that memory of me being in jail. It was hard, so it was bad enough me going to jail without making them have that memory, you know I didn't want them to have that lasting memory of seeing me in there so I refused to see them."

Last year, the Post Office confirmed it would not oppose most of the appeals and apologised for "historical failings". 

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.

But the Post Office “consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable”, and “effectively steamrolled over any sub-postmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy”, the judge added.

The Post Office has previously said it will not seek retrials of any of the appellants if their convictions are overturned.

In a statement after the ruling, Post Office chairman Tim Parker said: “The Post Office is extremely sorry for the impact on the lives of these postmasters and their families that was caused by historical failures.

“Post Office stopped prosecutions soon after its separation from Royal Mail a decade ago and has throughout this appeals process supported the overturning of the vast majority of convictions."The Communication Workers Union has called for a criminal investigation into Senior Post Office figures over the scandal.

CWU National Officer for Postmasters Andy Furey said: "At long last, 39 innocent people have been exonerated for crimes they did not commit.

"This has been one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history."