Post Office boss Paula Vennells to return CBE over Horizon scandal

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 brought the widespread miscarriage of justice back into the spotlight.

More than 1.2 million people have signed a petition calling for her to be stripped of the honour.

More than 700 Post Office branch managers were convicted after faulty Fujitsu accounting software Horizon made it look like money was missing from their shops.

A public inquiry into the scandal is ongoing.

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 was chief executive of the company from 2012 to 2019.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he wanted to speed up the compensation process for victims of the scandal.

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

Reading Chronicle | West Berkshire