A former Hampstead post office manager says he still avoids the area due to the “shame and embarrassment” he felt after being wrongly jailed for theft.

Kamran Ashraf bought the post office in South End Road in 2001 alongside his sub-postmistress wife Siema Kamran.

After £25,000 seemingly went missing from the branch, Kamran was sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay back the supposed losses in 2004.

The couple, who now live in Winchmore Hill, lost their home after it was repossessed, and had to borrow money from family members to make ends meet.

Kamran was one of more than 900 sub-postmasters across the country who were prosecuted for money they had not stolen, a scandal that has since been described as the “biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history”.

It was not until the end of 2020 that Kamran’s conviction was overturned, and both Kamran and Siema are yet to have their compensation claims settled.

Kamran, 46, told Ham and High that he has PTSD as a result of an ordeal that has lasted more than 20 years, and that he and his wife both suffer with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

He said: “I’m a broken man. I can’t function the way I used to. I’m not half the man I was back then.

“When I was falsely accused and wrongly sent to prison – they made me feel like a criminal.

“I still feel the effects of that today. I cannot go to Hampstead Heath without feeling embarrassed, without feeling shame.

“I avoid the area altogether, I still feel like people will judge me.”

Kamran says he has received interim payments to cover the cost of his medical treatment since the Mr Bates vs The Post Office - the ITV drama about the scandal - was released last month, but that his wife's claims were initially refused. 

He said: “We’re not asking for anything unreasonable; the treatment is absolutely necessary and vital for us to function.

“Siema describes it as a lifeline and without which she would really struggle."

Siema added: “It is absolutely ridiculous because they’re expecting us to use our own money for the damage they’ve caused.”

As it currently stands, Kamran is part of the overturned convictions compensation scheme run by the Post Office, while Siema is part of the Department for Business and Trade’s group litigation scheme.

This means both have to submit separate interim compensation claims, which they suspect has resulted in the different outcomes.

Since speaking with Ham and High, Siema has had her treatment costs authorised.

Kamran said: “We don’t know how our claim is going to be looked at. If they will link them up, make further interim payments or settle the claim under one of the schemes.

“Hopefully, they will find a quick and simple way of dealing with our claim. But we’re not sure. Unfortunately, this would be down to them.

“It’s extremely frustrating and annoying. How is it fair that the perpetrators are pulling the strings?

"The process should be expedited as much as possible and it needs to be an independent body so we can trust it to make the right decisions."

The couple said that they hope to submit their claim for losses in the next few weeks and that they would prefer their cases to be linked to ensure the process is practical, and to avoid delays.

So far, the couple have received more than £200,000 in compensation while they wait to reach a final settlement, but they point out this does not make up for what they have been through.

Kamran said: “There is a lot of talk about compensation and redress and restoring our lives, but practically speaking what does that mean?

“No amount of money will make up for the last 20 years and what me and my family have had to go through."

Both the Post Office and the Government said they do not comment on individual cases, but that if agreement cannot be reached on a claim, it will be overseen by independent experts.

They also confirmed that related claims should be linked so that a combined assessment of losses can be given, but that each is considered in its respective scheme due to differing eligibility criteria.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the events of the Horizon IT scandal have brought to so many people and their families.

"Both Post Office and Government are committed to providing full, fair and final compensation for the people affected."