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    Post Office IT scandal: Paula Vennells formally stripped of CBE

    Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells has forfeited her CBE for “bringing the honours system into disrepute” after the King officially stripped her of the gong today (23).

    Vennells received the honour in 2019 but was widely criticised amid the fallout from the Post Office scandal.

    She had previously said she would give up the honour, amid a recent uproar about her handling of the Horizon IT scandal which led to the wrongful prosecution of hundreds of subpostmasters.

    It comes after the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office set the scene for a petition to be started, demanding Ms Vennells be stripped of her honour. More than 1.2 million people signed it.

    In January she announced her intention to give up her CBE, saying, “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.

    MPs and victims of the scandal have for years called for Vennells to be stripped of the rank, which has the full title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

    While an individual can signal they want to renounce their honour, the only person who can sign off on the forfeit is the monarch, following advice from the Forfeiture Committee – something Charles has now done, in Ms Vennells’ case.

    More than 700 sub-postmasters and mistresses had their reputations ruined by allegations of theft and false accounting, with many left bankrupt or in prison, as a result of a computer system called Horizon.

    More than 700 sub-postmasters and mistresses had their reputations ruined by allegations of theft and false accounting, with many left bankrupt or in prison, as a result of a computer system called Horizon. In 2022, a statutory public inquiry began into what has been described as the “worst miscarriage of justice in recent British legal history”, with hearings still under way.

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