Post Office petition to strip ex-chief executive Paula Vennells of CBE smashes 1 million | UK | News

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Post Office petition to strip ex-chief executive Paula Vennells of CBE smashes 1 million | UK | News

More than one million people have now signed a petition calling for former Post Office chief Paula Vennells to be stripped of her CBE as anger swells over the Horizon IT scandal.

Between 1999 and 2015 more than 700 Post Office managers were handed criminal convictions in what has been described as the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history after the faulty Fujitsu accounting software made it wrongly appear as though money was missing. At the time Post Office bosses refused to listen to subpostmasters who said their was an error with the software, with many being told incorrectly that no one else had reported a glitch.

Ms Vennells oversaw the organisation whilst it routinely denied there were problems, and after it emerged there were serious issues she later said she was « truly sorry » for the « suffering » caused to those who were wrongly convicted of offences.

However, just months before she stepped down from the organisation Ms Vennells accepted a CBE in the 2019 New Year Honours List for services to the Post Office and to charity.

ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which concluded on Thursday, highlighted the real-life battle of Post Office workers to clear their names in court.

The series, starring Toby Jones who plays Mr Bates, has sparked anger once more from the public and a petition calling for Ms Vennells to lose her CBE award has smashed one million.

On Thursday Sir Keir Starmer resisted backing calls for a former Post Office boss to lose her honour. Speaking on the Laura Kuenssberg show on the BBC this morning the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed a review of Post Office prosecutions

However, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed it hs launched an investigation into « potential offences » in relation to the « prosecutions carried out by the Post Office ».

A statement said: “The Met is investigating potential offences of perjury and perverting the course of justice. These potential offences arise out of investigations and prosecutions carried out by the Post Office.

« The investigation was launched in January 2020 following a referral from the DPP. Two people have been interviewed under caution. Nobody has been arrested.”

The campaign group behind the petition, 38 Degrees, said that many signatories had been inspired after watching the ITV drama highlighting the scandal.

Robin Priestley, the group’s campaigns director, said in a statement: « Paula Vennells keeping her CBE while many victims of the Horizon Scandal are still waiting for justice flies in the face of the fairer country we all want to see. The huge surge of public support for this campaign in the aftermath of Mr Bates vs the Post Office makes that very clear. »

In 2019, the High Court ruled the Horizon software contained “bugs, errors and defects” and there was a “material risk” it had caused shortfalls in Post Office branch accounts.

So far 93 convictions have been overturned and compensation payouts have so far totalled £138million.

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