Post Office scandal: Petition to strip former Post Office boss Paula Vennells of CBE reaches more than 1 million signatures

MPs must now consider whether to debate the issue in Parliament.

Paula Vennells

A petition demanding that the former Post Office chief executive, Paula Vennells, be stripped of her CBE over the Horizon scandal, which saw hundreds of subpostmasters wrongly prosecuted for false accounting, theft and fraud, has reached more than 1 million signatures.

Vennells oversaw the Post Office while it accused around 700 subpostmasters and mistresses of fraud and theft, denying that its Horizon IT system was to blame for the financial discrepancies in the company’s finances.  Between 1999 and 2015 the Post Office relentlessly pursued operators, despite knowing that from at least 2010 onwards that there were faults in the centralised accounting software.

Hundreds of sub-post office operators ended up with criminal records and punishments as a result, with the scandal frequently described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

Public interest in the subject has risen after an independent inquiry into the scandal, which is still ongoing, made fresh revelations and also after an ITV drama, Mr Bates v the Post Office, based on the scandal, was broadcast last week.

The petition demanding that Vennells lose her CBE, is addressed to Sir Chris Wormald, the chair of the forfeiture committee, and 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Office, and moved out into other senior positions in government and healthcare, it is only right that this award is now withdrawn through the process of forfeiture.”

MPs must now consider whether to debate the issue in Parliament.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister said that the government was “keen to do everything we can because this was absolutely appalling” and should “never have happened”.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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