Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells stripped of CBE over Horizon IT scandal

February 24, 2024 - Reading time: 2 minutes

Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells has been stripped of her CBE for "bringing the honours system into disrepute", according to the Cabinet Office.

Ms Vennells said last month she would hand back her title following the Horizon IT scandal. Hundreds of sub-postmasters were prosecuted based on faulty data between 1999 and 2015. Some people went to prison while many were financially ruined. The scandal has been called the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history and earlier this year it was thrust back into the spotlight by the broadcast of the ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office. Following the drama, more than a million people signed a petition calling for Ms Vennells to be stripped of her CBE before she announced she would be handing it back.

At the time, Ms Vennells, who was Post Office chief executive between 2012 and 2019, said she had "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," she said.

Why were hundreds of Post Office workers prosecuted? More than 900 sub-postmasters and postmistresses were prosecuted for stealing money because of incorrect information provided by a computer system called Horizon. The Post Office itself brought many of the cases to court it prosecuted 700 people. On Thursday, the government set out plans for legislation to clear the names of hundreds of people wrongly convicted in the scandal. Criticism had been mounting that the current process for overturning convictions and getting compensation was far too slow.

Some sub-postmasters wrongly accused of stealing money from the Post Office have died or taken their own lives in the intervening years. On Friday, the Times reported that 251 postmasters wrongly accused of stealing money from the Post Office have died before receiving compensation.

DW Staff

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