Former Postmaster General Paula Vennels to be handed CBE over scandal, Tory minister

The former Post Office boss should be handed her CBE over the scandal which saw postmen wrongly jailed, a Tory minister has said.

Paula Vennells, who was chief executive of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, will have to step down voluntarily, ITV's Kevin Hollinrake said. Good morning Britain.

The Business Secretary, whose brief includes postal services, said: “Paula Vennells got a CBE for services to the Post Office.

“Ultimately you are responsible for what happened here, you are the chief executive, if I were Paula Venells I would seriously consider handing it over voluntarily right now.”

Mistakes made by Horizon software, made by technology company Fujitsu and used by the Post Office, led to more than 700 people being wrongly convicted of false accounting and theft between 1999 and 2015.

Amid shock over the scandal, Mr Hollinrake said he “absolutely supported” criminal prosecutions for those responsible where there is evidence of criminality.

And he said an ongoing investigation should establish “who is responsible” at the Post Office and Fujitsu and “where possible those people should be held to account”.

Retired high court judge Sir Wyn Williams is presiding over an inquiry into the Post Office scandal, considered the worst miscarriage of justice in recent British history.

The renewed focus on the scandal comes amid a new ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

Alan Bates, played by Toby Jones, has spent two decades of his life fighting for justice after hundreds of postmen and postmen were accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to faulty computers.

In 1999, Horizon, a faulty Fujitsu IT system, began misreporting cash shortages at branches across the country. The charges have torn people's lives apart, with many losing their jobs and homes.

Several people committed suicide from stress.

To date, not a single Post Office or Fujitsu employee has been held accountable for the scandal, much less faces a criminal investigation. And 60 of the victims have died before finding justice.

Ms Vennells was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) “for services to the Post Office and to charity” in the 2019 New Year Honours.

Previous calls for her title to be removed include the Communications Workers' Union.