Pauline Stonehouse on injustice, scandal and survival

December 17, 2021. Series 5. Episode 35

Pauline Stonehouse found herself at the centre of what is one of Britain’s biggest miscarriages of justice.  Between 2000-2015, the post office bullied and prosecuted more than 700 innocent sub post masters and post mistresses. Those prosecutions carried out by the post office’s criminal law division were based on evidence gathered from a recently installed but as it turned out fatally flawed computer system.  Some went to prison following convictions for false accounting and theft.  Many were financially ruined and shunned by their communities. Others died before their names were cleared.  Pauline was forced into bankruptcy, lost her home and in 2007 was convicted of six counts of false accounting.  Convictions which were formally overturned only very recently.

This is an appalling story of an entirely unnecessary crisis, driven by a misguided, institutional belief that hundreds upon hundreds of sub post masters were not pillars of their communities but instead that they were all, individually and quite independently – sophisticated criminals.  In Pauline’s case, the post office decided to trust a machine over a mum and an employee who was both respected and experienced.  And then they set out to ruin her life, with her husband and two daughters as collateral damage.

This was a very British scandal, uncovered with thanks to journalists like the brilliant Nick Wallis and those victims are now set to get compensation.

Pauline handled the unravelling of her happy life with incredible strength, without a hint of self-pity and as you’ll hear, with a heavy reliance on her sense of humour – a much undervalued crisis tool.

This is the story of an ordinary woman thrown into the centre of a truly extraordinary crisis and it’s packed with lessons for anyone who has lost or fears they might lose control of their lives.

 

Pauline’s Crisis Cures: 

1 – Sense of humour

2 – Reading – I love the sense of escaping into another world.  I read anything and everything on my kindle.  I download books constantly. Whatever spikes my fancy.  From love stories to thrillers, to historical.. whatever floats my boat at the time

3 – Jigsaw puzzles – I love them.   A big 2000 piece on my dining table!  I’ve been doing them since before my daughter was born.  It’s another form of methodical escapism.  It occupies your mind in a different way.

 

Links:

Justice For Sub postmasters Alliance https://www.jfsa.org.uk/

Pauline Stonehouse twitter https://twitter.com/PaulineStoneho2/status/1466494526655283207

Nick Wallis’ book – https://bathpublishing.com/products/the-great-post-office-scandal

Horizon Scandal Fund https://www.horizonscandalfund.org/ 

 

Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm 

Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk