St Keverne postmistress cleared of false accounting charges
THE case against a St Keverne postmistress accused of false accounting involving sums of up to £22,500, has been dropped as part of a nationwide review into allegedly inaccurate Post Office accounting systems.
A verdict of not guilty was officially recorded against Susan Knight, 58, who has worked for the company for a total of 32 years, when she appeared at Truro Crown Court today.
Michelle Clarke, for the prosecution, said that each case involving post office employees and allegations of dishonesty was being looked at individually but that in Ms Knight’s case it was decided that proceeding would not be in the public interest.
She said: “The Post Office is reviewing all cases presently under prosecution.”
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She added Ms Knight, whose contract with the mail carrier has been terminated, had given more than £20,000 to the Post Office to cover the alleged shortfall.
Last year the Post Office appointed external investigators to examine allegations of deficiencies in the Horizon computer system used in all its outlets.
It came after many sub-postmasters said they had been wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting, some of whom say they have been forced to pay back many thousands of pounds’ worth of money which they did not take.
Many of them were stripped of their post office contracts and bankrupted, and a handful have served prison sentences.
In a statement read outside court by Ms Knight’s solicitor Russell Wood, on her behalf, she said: “Before I was audited I had already spent all my savings trying to meet accounting errors alleged through reliance upon Horizon and those savings having run out, was left with little option but to hope that the errors in the system would come to light.
“They did not and after audit I borrowed over £20,000, which I gave to the Post Office to meet what I now believe to be false figures that were produced.”
Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance is an action group for ex-subpostmasters accused of theft, fraud or false accounting
In her statement, Ms Knight said she was delighted that the prosecution had decided to offer no evidence against her, adding that she would, with the help of the Alliance, continue to fight for the “repayment of all that has been wrongly taken” from her and for others in similar circumstances.
She added: “I am grateful that I will now not face a prosecution that arises from reliance upon the accuracy of the Post Office Horizon computer.
“This computer system is clearly producing inaccurate accounts which the Post Office have relied upon for far too long to prosecute innocent subpostmasters throughout the country, some of whom have given them decades of loyal and honest service.”
A spokeswoman for the Post Office said the company would not be commenting on individual cases.