Former Hampshire sub-postmistress gives evidence for first time in Post Office IT scandal

140222-jo hamilton post office
Jo Hamilton, a former sub postmistress from South Warnborough, who was wrongly convicted of fraud. Credit: ITV News

A former sub-postmistress from Hampshire has given evidence for the first time in an inquiry into the Post Office IT scandal, describing the 'horrible' impact it has had on her life.

The inquiry, which got underway on Monday (14 February), will look at whether the Post Office knew about the faults in the Horizon computer systems and how staff took the blame.

Many postmasters were made bankrupt, received criminal records and have suffered ill health.

Credit: PA

Among those giving evidence is Jo Hamilton, a former sub postmistress from South Warnborough. Ms Hamilton was accused of stealing £36,000 from her branch and was wrongly convicted of fraud. Years later, her conviction was eventually quashed.

The inquiry heard she was forced to remortgage her house and borrow money from friends, and that people in her village donated money to help.

Before giving evidence on Monday she said: "It's the first chance I've had to actually stand in front of a judge and say my bit.

"Having a criminal conviction for 13 years that you didn't deserve is awful. It limits what work you can do and everything.

"We will find out who knew what and when, and we'd like some people to face the consequences for what they've done."

What is the Post Office IT scandal?

The Horizon computer system was first installed into post offices back in 1999. However, by the early 2000s, money had started disappearing from accounts.

Over the next 15 years, around 900 postmasters and mistresses were charged with fraud and theft, with some jailed.

The problems were caused by the Horizon computer system which turned out to be flawed.

In December 2019, after a lengthy legal battle, Post Office paid out in a £58 million pound settlement.

The Post Office has previously said it 'sincerely apologises to postmasters affected by historical events' and has taken 'determined action to provide both redress for the past and fundamental reform for the future'.

Post Office computer scandal: Interim compensation payouts for those wrongfully accused

39 postmasters have fraud and theft convictions quashed at Court of Appeal