May 31, 2023

Black postal workers falsely accused in the Horizon scandal were classified using a racial slur, according to documents obtained by campaigners.

More than 700 former post office employees were wrongfully prosecuted for theft and false accounting in what has been described as “the most common miscarriage of justice in British history”.

Post office prosecutors charged with investigating deputy postmasters were asked to group suspects by racial characteristics.

The document, believed to have been published in 2008, asked investigators whether the suspects were “N*****d Types” — a 19th-century colonial-era racist term referring to people of African descent.

Other categories on the document include “Chinese/Japanese Types” and “Dark European Types”.

Seema Misra, who was pregnant with her second child when she was jailed after being wrongly convicted of stealing from the post office she ran in Surrey, said she was angry at the new revelations.

Ziema Misra
Ziema Misra

“Now I think because they had something racist in mind, my case could have been different if I wasn’t an Indian,” she said.

“Maybe they didn’t suspend me, maybe they didn’t take the case, I don’t know.

“We had to move. We lost everything, to be honest – we lost the company, we lost everything. We lost our dignity, lost our pride, everything.”

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Seema Misra and other victims speak to Sky News

The documents came to light through a request for freedom of information (FOI) obtained by campaigner Eleanor Shaikh.

She is a supporter of the more than 700 office managers who were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 for theft, fraud and false accounting.

In response to the FOI, a Post Office spokesman described it as a “historic document” but said the organization “will not tolerate racism in any form” and condemned the “abhorrent” language.

They added: “We fully support investigations into the Post Office’s past mistakes and believe the Horizon IT investigation will help ensure that today’s Post Office has the trust of its postal workers and the communities that it supports.”

Read more:
What is the Post Office Scandal?
Victims must receive ‘full, fair and definitive compensation’

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Compensation for post office victims

In 2022, a legal, independent investigation was launched to investigate how the Horizon scandal happened.

The sub-postmasters were falsely accused of theft and false accounting after a computer system called Horizon was introduced by the Post Office in 1999 and falsely showed shortfalls in company accounts.

In 2000, the Post Office began taking legal action against sub-postmasters who used Horizon data as evidence. In 2014, 736 had been prosecuted.

Some ended up in prison, others went bankrupt trying to repay money they didn’t owe, and a few even took their own lives before their names could be cleared.

However, in December 2019, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the system contained a number of “bugs, errors and defects” and that there was a “material risk” that it was in fact causing deficits in the postal affiliates’ accounts.

Many sub-postmasters have had criminal convictions overturned.