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Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells to return CBE ‘immediately’ over Horizon scandal | UK | News UK News

Paula Vennells will hand back her CBE “immediately” after the huge fallout over the Horizon IT scandal which led to hundreds of subpostmasters being wrongly prosecuted.

The former chief executive, who ran the Post Office while it routinely denied there was a problem with its Horizon IT system, was appointed a CBE in December 2018. It comes after demands for her to return the honour intensified after an ITV drama returned the widespread miscarriage of justice to the spotlight.

In a statement, Ms Vennells said: “I continue to support and focus on co-operating with the Inquiry and expect to be giving evidence in the coming months. I have so far maintained my silence as I considered it inappropriate to comment publicly while the Inquiry remains ongoing and before I have provided my oral evidence.

“I am, however, aware of the calls from subpostmasters and others to return my CBE. I have 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. I now intend to continue to focus on assisting the Inquiry and will not make any further public comment until it has concluded.”

Ms Vennells’ announcement comes after a petition for the Forfeiture Committee to consider removing the CBE passed a million signatures.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said he would “strongly support” the Honours Forfeiture Committee if it decided to look at stripping the gong.

Alan Bates, a subpostmaster who was accused of theft when his accounts did not match those of the Post Office’s Horizon digital accounting system, led the campaign group Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance to its High Court victory in 2019.

He was offered an honour, but refused to accept it while Ms Vennells continued to hold onto hers.

The news comes after Mr Sunak said earlier this week he wanted to speed up the compensation process for victims of the Horizon scandal.

It is understood Justice Secretary Alex Chalk met Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake on Monday (January 8) to discuss how to help the convicted branch managers clear their names.

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This notice was published: 2024-01-09 13:16:00

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