How Kate Middleton supported wrongly convicted Post Office worker through scandal
10 January 2024, 17:26
Postmaster Hasmukh Shingadia reflects on how The Princess of Wales and the rest of the Middleton family treated him during the Post Office scandal.
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Hasmukh Shingadia, 63, is one of the postmasters campaigning for justice after he was wrongly convicted of false accounting and given a suspended jail term due to the Horizon IT error.
As ITV's drama Mr Bates VS The Post Office continues to drive public support for victims of the scandal, Hasmukh has reflected on how Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, and her family supported him through the difficult time.
Hasmukh and his wife Chandrika, 55, have known the Middleton family for over 25 years now and used to serve sweets to a young Kate and Pippa Middleton at their local Spar shop in Upper Bucklebury.
He explains that over the years, Kate and Pippa would pop in for Doritos and Haribo, and that later he served Prince William himself when the royal romance started - the Prince of Wales would drop by for an ice cream or a newspaper.
In 2001, the Horizon system was installed in Hasmukh's shop and he was later convicted of false accounting and given a suspended jail term after the faulty computer system reported £16,000 in missing funds.
While Hasmukh was facing this difficulty - which came the same year he was diagnosed with cancer and lost his mother - he said that the Middletons would still visit his shop and spend their money, while others from the local area had shunned him.
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He told The Sun: “They continued to come into my shop and spend money here. Even after Kate got engaged she’d still pop in. Not everybody did that and some locals shunned me.”
In July 2021, the wrongful conviction against Hasmukh was quashed and the Middleton family attended a celebratory tea party at Bucklebury Memorial Hall.
He said: “After my conviction was overturned and it was in the media, Michael Middleton came in and asked what had happened.
“He was overjoyed and said, ‘Well done’. I know I couldn’t ask them for help directly because of the position they were in. But I am really grateful to the wider family for standing by me. They are really good people.”
Hasmukh and his wife Chandrika were invited to attend the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2011.
"It meant so much to us," the shop owner said: "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which they gave me despite the charges. For them to have done that for us, it was tremendous."
Hasmukh added: “I’ve known them more than 25 years, and they have always been such kind and welcoming people."