A former post office worker who was wrongly jailed because of the Horizon scandal has described his experience as “absolute hell”.
Vijay Parekh, 62, ran a post office in Willesden, north-west London and was given an 18-month jail term after being accused of stealing £78,000 and admitting theft.
A court has now cleared the names of 39 former subpostmasters after the reliability of the Horizon accounting system was revealed to be defective.
He said: “The last 12 years have been absolute hell.”
Mr Parekh said he had moved to a post office 14 years ago after working in the rail industry.
“Three years later this happened,” he said after the ruling.
“I was given 18 months and spent six months in prison.
“Then I had a tag.
“In prison you are in a room with one other person.
“You don’t know what they’ve done.
“You cry, you cannot get to sleep.
“You ring home and everyone at home is crying.
“Afterwards you can’t work because of the CRB check.
“And, of course, nobody listens in prison.
“Because in prison everyone in innocent.”
His daughter Bhavisha, 38, is a barrister.
“I’d just qualified as a barrister when it happened – I work as an in-house lawyer now,” said Miss Parekh.
“I could see that my dad was innocent.
“You could see the gaps.
“But we couldn’t get the Post Office evidence.
“I felt so frustrated because it’s my trade.
“It disillusioned me about working in the law.
“I think it could happen again.
“The Post Office have investigation powers but they’re not investigators.
“Why do they have those powers?”
Miss Parekh said her father had not yet thought about compensation claims.
“It’s not something we’ve out our minds to yet,” she said.
“We’ve really just been focusing on today.
“I think it’s quite a complicated area – how many cases have there been like this?
“But going forward I think it is possibly something that we will think about.”