• Monday, June 17, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Vennnels should come clean: Post Office victim

A Post Office sign next to the venue for the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry at Aldwych House on January 11, 2024, in London, England – Representative Image (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

By: Shajil Kumar

A VICTIM of the Post Office Horizon scandal has called upon former chief Paula Vennells to apologise and come clean during her appearance before the inquiry commission.

Vennells, who was chief executive of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, will be providing evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday.

The victim, Jo Hamilton, who was falsely accused of stealing £36,000 from the Post Office branch she ran in South Warnborough said the Vennells had perverted the course of justice.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 900 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted after faulty software said money was missing from Post Office branch accounts.

Jo Hamilton was featured in the ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office.

Hamilton told The Telegraph that if she were in Vennells position, she would “just put my hands up” and say: “I’m really sorry and this is what happened.”

She observed that Vennells resigned during the initial days of the trial because she knew what was coming.

During the evidence of Post Office’s current chief financial officer Alisdair Cameron on Friday, the probe heard that Vennells did not believe there had been miscarriages of justice.

Hamilton feels Vennells knew of the wrongdoing but carried on.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, whose firm represents Hamilton and 74 other sub-postmasters, said his clients have waited very long to hear Vennells’ evidence.

He said they get ‘re-traumatised’ whenever they hear a denial, untruth or subterfuge and “can’t begin to move on without answers, accountability and genuinely expressed regret and sorrow”.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters are still awaiting full compensation despite the Government announcing that those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

Vennells is now facing increasing scrutiny of how she dealt with the investigation into the Horizon software. She had earlier claimed that the Horizon computer system was “robust”.

Vennells joined the Post Office in 2007 and was promoted to the top job in 2012. Ever since the ITV drama was aired, she has been keeping a low profile, and rarely seen in public.

 

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