Former Post Office Postmaster 'devastated' as father and son die before conviction overturned

  • Wendy Buffrey spoke to ITV West Country about her experience.

A former postmaster from Cheltenham says she was "devastated" to be given a criminal record which has today been overturned.

Wendy Buffrey is one of many former Royal Mail employees who had cases heard by the Court of Appeal.

Thirty-nine former sub-postmasters who were convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting due to the Post Office's defective Horizon accounting system.

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

Wendy ran Hatherley Post Office in Cheltenham before being accused of misappropriating £26,000 of takings in 2008.

Credit: ITV

She was sentenced to a 12-month community order and was made to complete 150 hours of unpaid work. The sentence also included repaying the ‘missing’ £26,256.63 to the Post Office, and paying £1,500 in costs.

Wendy lost her business, her house and her reputation; but for her the most heart-breaking thing was also losing her father, and her son who died in a cycling accident while living in Norway.

Speaking in October, Wendy said: "He will never know that his mother has just been told she is among 44 postmasters who have just been informed that her conviction is set to be overturned in the Court of Appeal.

"I've lost my son and my father and I can't tell them, now, that this is all sorted."

Credit: ITV

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 Court of Appeal also allowed 39 of the appeals on the basis that their prosecutions were an "affront to the public conscience".

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."

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