Former postmistress tells inquiry she considered taking her own life after wrongful prosecution

  • Video report by David Wood

A former postmistress from Cheltenham who was wrongly prosecuted for stealing £26,000 from the postal service has told an inquiry she considered taking her own life.

Wendy Buffrey went on to lose her business as a result of the prosecution, eventually pleading guilty to charges against her to avoid being sent to prison.

Speaking at an inquiry in Cardiff, Wendy said she feels like "one of the lucky ones" because she is now likely to receive some compensation while many of the 700 workers wrongly charged are not in the same position.

Her criminal record was officially overturned a year ago, but she told ITV News at the time that she was devastated that both her father and her son had passed away without the verdict being completely removed.

Wendy Buffrey has said that she is devastated that her father and son never lived to see her verdict overturned.

Speaking at the inquiry she said: "I am absolutely gutted because I knew that a job that I loved was gone.

"There was the one auditor on one side and one on the other and they stood over me until I signed saying I was guilty.

"I did have one man spit at me in the street and I did get spat on when I did community service as well.

"It had a huge impact on my mental health. The doctor gave me some medication. It didn't stop me feeling as though I had let my family down.

"I will be alright and I will get compensation but please we

need to help those who were convicted and lost everything."

What caused the issues with the Post Office?

The scandal was caused when the Post Office implemented a new system called Horizon.

Sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting after the Fujitsu-developed IT system was introduced to branches in 1999.

Around 700 individuals were then found to have 'defrauded the company' and were ordered to pay money back.

The Post Office made an official apology in 2021, 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."

Managers have said that they are working to ensure that this doesn't happen again after lawyers described the scandal as the "most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history".