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    Vennells renounces CBE over Post Office scandal

    Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells is handing back her CBE with immediate effect after facing mounting pressure over the Horizon IT scandal, stated latest reports.

    More than a million people signed a petition calling for her to be stripped of her CBE. In a statement, Vennells said she had “listened” to the sub-postmasters and others calling for her to return her CBE.

    “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.”

    Vennells has long faced questions over her role in the scandal, which has been described as one of the most widespread miscarriages of justice the UK has seen.

    More than 700 Post Office branch owner-operators were wrongly prosecuted for theft, fraud and false accounting between 1999 and 2015 on the basis of faulty information from Horizon software. Vennells was Post Office chief executive between 2012 and 2019, and received the CBE for services to the Post Office and to charity.

    Many victims of the scandal – which began in 1999 – are still fighting to have their convictions overturned or to secure full compensation after being forced to pay out thousands of pounds of their own money for shortfalls that were caused by Horizon accounting software.

    During her tenure, the Post Office repeatedly denied there were problems with the Horizon system. She was included in the New Year’s Honours list in 2019 despite ongoing legal action against Post Office, which was launched by 555 sub-postmasters in 2017.

    The Post Office said the honour was given for her work on “diversity and inclusion”, and her “commitment to the social purpose at the heart of the business and her dedication in putting the customer first”.

    Despite her claim, Vennells will continue to hold her CBE as people can renounce their honour but doing so has no formal effect until the King is advised by the Forfeiture Committee and acts on its advice.

    Meanwhile, in the Commons today (9), former minister Nadhim Zahawi – who made an appearance playing himself in the recent ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office – called for a “simple bill” to quash all the remaining convictions based on “bad data”.

    “Until those convictions are overturned the victims cannot claim compensation,” Zahawi said.

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