Petition for Post Office boss to lose CBE over Horizon scandal hits one million
Calls for Paula Vennells to be stripped of her honour have re-ignited following a recent ITV drama
A petition calling for former Post Office boss Paula Vennells to lose her CBE over the Horizon scandal has attracted more than one million signatures.
Demands for the Honours Forfeiture Committee to remove her CBE have emerged again after ITV aired a new drama into the scandal, which has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.
Ms Vennells oversaw the organisation while it routinely denied there were problems with its Horizon IT system.
The petition, which is addressed to Sir Chris Wormald, the chair of the Forfeiture Committee, says: “Evidence has been produced that the Post Office engaged in a mass cover up which led to the wrongful prosecution of 550 Post Office Staff many of whom were subsequently jailed, bankrupted and in some cases, sadly took their own lives.
“Having been handed a CBE for services to the Post Office, and moved out into other senior positions in government and healthcare, it is only right that this award is now withdrawn through the process of forfeiture.”
It comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed a report that Justice Secretary Alex Chalk is considering ways of helping to clear the names of convicted subpostmasters caught up in the scandal.
More than 700 Post Office branch managers were given criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software called Horizon made it appear as though money was missing from their shops.
Reports say Mr Chalk is set to meet with the Minister for the Post Office Kevin Hollinrake on Monday to discuss how to help the convicted branch managers.
There has been fresh public backlash to the scandal after ITV aired a drama starring actor Toby Jones last week about the scandal.
Reports suggest since Mr Bates Vs The Post Office was broadcast, 50 new potential victims have approached lawyers.
The Post Office is wholly owned by the Government and a public inquiry into Horizon is ongoing.
Speaking during a visit to Oxford on Sunday, the Prime Minister said the UK Government was “keen to do everything we can because this was absolutely appalling” and should “never have happened”.
He said: “It has been an appalling miscarriage of justice and appalling treatment of all the people affected and it is right that they get the redress that they deserve.
“That is why the Government has put in place three different compensation schemes that have already paid out almost £150 million to thousands of people who are affected, and are keen to go as quickly as possible.
“More broadly, the Justice Secretary is also looking at other options for how we can provide support for people.”
On Thursday, Mr Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer resisted to back calls for Ms Vennells to lose her CBE.
Ms Vennells said she was “truly sorry” for the “suffering” caused to subpostmasters who were wrongly convicted of offences.
Scotland Yard said on Friday that officers are “investigating potential fraud offences arising out of these prosecutions”, for example “monies recovered from sub-postmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions”.
The Metropolitan Police had already been looking into potential offences of perjury and perverting the course of justice in relation to investigations and prosecutions carried out by the Post Office.
The petition, named “Post Office Scandal: Strip Paula Vennells of her CBE” reached one million signatures just after midnight on Monday.
Published: by Radio NewsHub