Rishi Sunak supports ex-Post Office CEO investigation committee

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By Creative Media News

  • Vennells’ CBE reconsidered
  • Post Office scandal fallout
  • Calls for honours revocation

Rishi Sunak would “strongly support” an honours committee that reconsiders the CBE bestowed upon Paula Vennells, the former head of the Post Office.

Ms. Vennells faces pressure to relinquish her honour following the Horizon IT scandal, leading to wrongful prosecutions of Post Office personnel.

The Forfeiture Committee may suggest revoking honours in cases where an individual tarnishes the system’s reputation.

Ms. Vennells has expressed regret to Post Office personnel.

The official spokesman for Mr. Sunak stated, “The prime minister concurs with the general public’s indignation regarding this matter. His support for the Forfeiture Committee to conduct a review of the case would be unequivocal.

The committee, comprising a Treasury solicitor and four independent members, has the authority to recommend forfeiture to the King, the sole individual capable of annulling an honour, via the prime minister.

The committee’s sole concern is whether the honours system has been tarnished, not whether an individual is culpable for a specific offence.

Vennells’ Career and Resignation

On Monday, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk met with Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake to deliberate on strategies to assist in the expungement of the identities of the convicted branch managers.

The Queen inducted Ms. Vennells into the 2019 New Year’s Honours as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE), an honour bestowed upon individuals who have made noteworthy or distinguished contributions in a particular domain, in recognition of her “services to the Post Office and to charity.”

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Before joining the Post Office in 2007, Paula Vennells worked at Whitbread and L’Oréal.

After becoming group network director, Ms. Vennells became managing director in 2010 and CEO in 2012.

She was CEO until February 2019, when she resigned amid public outcry over the Horizon disaster.

In April of the same year, Ms. Vennells assumed the role of chair of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. However, she subsequently resigned following a High Court ruling that a group of Post Office operators had prevailed in, which declared their convictions erroneous and placed Horizon at fault.

Horizon Scandal Fallout

Between 1999 and 2015, over 700 proprietor-operators of Post Office branches were erroneously prosecuted. The charges included larceny, fraud, and false accounting due to inaccurate data provided by Horizon software.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, joined the chorus of voices demanding that Ms. Vennells’ CBE be revoked.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson stated that commenting on a specific recipient of honours would be inappropriate.

Generally, only individuals convicted and incarcerated for an offence have their honours revoked. Former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Fred Goodwin lost his knighthood in 2012 for his part in the bank’s failure.

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