Former Post Office Boss Paula Vennells Stripped Of CBE Over Horizon IT Scandal

The Cabinet Office said she had "brought the honours system into disrepute".
Paula Vennells at a post office when she was Chief Executive Officer.
Paula Vennells at a post office when she was Chief Executive Officer.
Anthony Devlin - PA Images via Getty Images

Former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells has been stripped of her CBE over her part in the Horizon IT scandal.

She lost her gong, which she was awarded in 2019, for “bringing the honours system into disrepute”, the Cabinet Office confirmed.

Vennells, who was chief executive between 2012 and 2019 handed back the gong voluntarily in January and said she was “truly sorry for the devastation caused” to hundreds of sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted of fraud.

Rishi Sunak had said he would “strongly support” moves to strip her of the honour.

A petition calling for the Chair of the Forfeiture Committee to remove her CBE received more than 1.2 million signatures.

The Post Office started to accuse sub-postmasters around the country of false accounting, fraud and theft, based on data from its Horizon IT system, in 2000.

That continued until 2015, even though serious accounting flaws were first discovered with the software back in 2010.

More than 700 ended up being prosecuted by the Post Office and received criminal convictions.

An independent inquiry is currently being held into the scandal, which hit the headlines again over Christmas thanks to the ITV drama ’Mr Bates vs the Post Office.”

In a statement at the time she handed back the CBE, Vennells said: “I have so far maintained my silence as I considered it inappropriate to comment publicly while the inquiry remains ongoing and before I have given my oral evidence.

“I am aware, however, of the calls from sub-postmasters and others to return by 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 focus on continuing to assist the inquiry and will not make any further public comment until it has concluded.”


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