Ex-Post Office boss cries after admitting false evidence

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By Creative Media News

  • Former Post Office head admits inaccurate testimony on Horizon IT
  • Tears shed during public inquiry into wrongful Horizon prosecutions
  • Accusations of cover-up, skepticism over Vennells’ ignorance claims

Paula Vennells, the former head of the Post Office, has acknowledged that the evidence she provided to MPs investigating issues with the Horizon IT system in 2012 was inaccurate.

During her first public appearance in nearly a decade, Ms. Vennells was questioned about the scandal and broke down in tears. She stated that her previous assertion that there had been no failed Horizon prosecutions was incorrect.

Ms Vennells was questioned in a crowded inquiry room, where sub-post managers and postmistresses gathered to observe her provide evidence. This was the most eagerly anticipated appearance of the long-running Post Office scandal inquiry.

Mr Beer enumerated several cases that had yet to be successful when inquiry lead counsel Jason Beer inquired about the evidence she provided to MPs in June 2012, in which she informed them that every Horizon case brought against sub-post managers had been successful.

Ms. Vennells paused and began to cry, saying, “I fully accept now that the Post Office – excuse me.”

She stated, “The Post Office was aware of that. “I wholeheartedly concur.” I was unaware of this information, and I deeply regret it occurred to those individuals and so on.

Throughout the day, Ms. Vennells broke down in sobs four times and repeatedly apologized.

Nevertheless, a few individuals in the room expressed their scepticism, shook their heads, and laughed at the points made by chief counsel, Mr Beer.

Horizon, a defective computer system, caused over 900 post office operators to be prosecuted between 1999 and 2015. Horizon created the illusion that money was missing from their branches.

Several sub-post managers were incarcerated, and a significant number of them encountered financial difficulties. Some have since passed away.

Ms Vennells served as the Post Office’s chief executive from 2012 to 2019, when sub-post managers were still being prosecuted. However, the organization continued to deny that Horizon IT software malfunctions were responsible for account deficits.

This occurred despite the accumulation of accumulating evidence regarding wrongful convictions.

She was escorted into Aldwych House amid a sea of cameras, photographers, and crowds. Subsequently, she was subjected to inquiries and several critical points.

She began with an apology, which was greeted with silence. She expressed her “sorrow” for “all the sub-postmasters and their families who have suffered.”

She initially wept as a list of sub-post managers and postmistresses who had been acquitted of accusations of diverting money from the Post Office was read.

Ms Vennells stated that she was unaware that the Post Office conducted its prosecutions until 2012.

The former chief executive also experienced emotional distress when responding to inquiries concerning the death of Martin Griffiths, a former sub-postmaster who attempted to commit suicide on September 23, 2013. Griffiths was accused of a £100,000 shortfall at his Cheshire branch. He passed away in the hospital several weeks later.

Involved in the concealment

Jo Hamilton, a former sub-postmistress, stated to the BBC that Ms Vennells had been on a “charm offensive” and was sceptical that she had not been aware of Horizon’s faults earlier than she had acknowledged.

Ms Vennell’s denials of knowledge were part of a “cover-up,” according to Seema Misra, who was wrongfully convicted of false accounting and robbery and sentenced to prison while eight weeks pregnant with her second child.

Some former sub-postmasters were also incensed.

Harjinder Butoy, who was wrongfully convicted of stealing £208,000 and served an 18-month prison term, stated that he was unable to believe “anything that comes out of her mouth” and did not think her tears were authentic.

The inquiry also showed text messages from January of this year, in which former Royal Mail chief Moya Greene expressed her belief that Ms Vennells was aware of Horizon’s faults earlier than she had previously disclosed.

The text message exchange occurred after screening an ITV drama that reintroduced the scandal to the public eye.

Dame Greene stated that the [Post Office] should have raised a red flag, halted all proceedings, refunded the money to the individuals, and subsequently attempted to compensate them for the harm caused to their lives when it became apparent that the system was at fault.

Ms. Vennells responded, “I concur.” Moya, this is taking an excessive amount of time. The impact on all individuals is catastrophic. I trust that you had a pleasant break and are in excellent health. BW Paula.

Then, Dame Greene composed, “I am uncertain as to what to say.” I believe you were aware.

Ms. Vennells responded, “That is not the case, Moya.”

“How could you have been unaware?”

Mr. Beer asked Ms. Vennells, “How could you have been unaware?”

Ms Vennells indicated: “This is a situation that is so complex; it is a question I have asked myself as well.”As a consequence of the inquiry, I have acquired knowledge that I was previously unaware of, and I anticipate that we will discuss several of the specifics. I regret not being informed.

As she apologized to sub-postmasters, campaigners, and the inquiry itself, individuals, some of whom were sub-postmasters, maintained silence, with a few shaking their heads.

She stated that the human impact statements provided by those affected by the scandal profoundly impacted her.

“Unlock your financial potential with free Webull shares in the UK.”

Ms Vennells also apologized to Alan Bates, a campaigner, and Second Sight, forensic accountants who the Post Office terminated after discovering bugs in Horizon. She also apologized to Lord Arbuthnot, who has advocated for sub-postmasters.

Mr Beer inquired of the former Post Office boss whether she believed she had been the “unluckiest” chief executive in the UK, as she was denied access to certain documents, not informed about Horizon, and, as per her witness statements, assured about the IT system by Post Office staff.

“I was given much information, and as the inquiry has heard, there was information that I wasn’t given, and others didn’t receive,” according to her.

She also stated that she had been “overly trusting” and was “disappointed” that information had not been disclosed.

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