Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells stripped of CBE

The former chief executive has forfeited the honour following the Horizon IT scandal.
Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells stripped of CBE
Paula VennellsGetty Images

Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells has been formally stripped of her CBE for “bringing the honours system into disrepute”, according to the Cabinet Office.

Ms Vennells said last month she would hand back her title following the Horizon IT scandal.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters were prosecuted based on faulty data between 1999 and 2015.

Some people went to prison while many were financially ruined.

The scandal has been called the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history and earlier this year it was thrust back into the spotlight by the broadcast of the ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

Following the drama, more than a million people signed a petition calling for Ms Vennells to be stripped of her CBE before she announced she would be handing it back.

At the time, Ms Vennells, who was Post Office chief executive between 2012 and 2019, said she had “listened and I confirm that I return my CBE with immediate effect”.

“I am truly sorry for the devastation caused to the sub-postmasters and their families, whose lives were torn apart by being wrongly accused and wrongly prosecuted as a result of the Horizon system,” she said.

More than 900 sub-postmasters and postmistresses were prosecuted for stealing money because of incorrect information provided by a computer system called Horizon.

The Post Office itself brought many of the cases to court it prosecuted 700 people.

On Thursday, the government set out plans for legislation to clear the names of hundreds of people wrongly convicted in the scandal.

Criticism had been mounting that the current process for overturning convictions and getting compensation was far too slow

Some sub-postmasters caught up in the scandal have died or taken their own lives in the intervening years.

On Friday, the Times reported that 251 postmasters wrongly accused of stealing money from the Post Office have died before receiving compensation.

On Thursday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that “more questions should have been asked” about the involvement of Ms Vennells in the Church of England.

Ms Vennells is an ordained Anglican priest and last month sources told the BBC that she had been shortlisted to be Bishop of London in 2017.

In response to a written question to the General Synod, Mr Welby said he was “not able to confirm or deny whether Ms Vennells was interviewed” for roles due to confidentiality.

However, he added: “As has been said more generally about Paula Vennells’ involvement in various committees and working groups in the Church of England, by 2019 and 2020, it is clear that more questions should have been asked about the appropriateness of that involvement when more had come to light about the Horizon scandal.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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