Paula Vennells live: ex-post office CEO back under investigation after ‘crocodile tears’

Paula Vennells broke down in tears during her testimony on Wednesday

Ex-Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells will give evidence for a second day at the inquiry into the Horizon IT scandal after being accused of crying ‘crocodile tears’ and admitting evidence she gave to MPs was incorrect used to be.

Ms Vennells struggled to answer questions in the first of three days of testimony on Wednesday, insisting she did not know the Post Office was conducting its own private criminal investigations until 2012, despite having joined the organization in 2007 .

She broke down in tears when asked about her response to the death of former sub-postmaster Martin Griffiths, who died after a suicide attempt in 2013, and took a long time to respond to some of the points put to her.

The CWU union, which represents post office workers, captioned a video of her posted on X: “Crocodile tears Paula Vennells must be held to account.”

Ms Vennells also said she accepts that the statements in her letters to MPs in response to questions about Horizon were wrong – but she claimed at the time “that these statements were true”.

More than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted and criminally convicted between 1999 and 2015 as a result of Fujitsu’s flawed Horizon IT system – which made it appear as if funds were missing from their branches.

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The Post Office’s former CEO will give evidence at the inquiry for a second day

Ex-Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells will give evidence for a second day at the inquiry into the Horizon IT scandal after being accused of crying ‘crocodile tears’ and admitting evidence she gave to MPs was incorrect used to be.

More than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly prosecuted and criminally convicted between 1999 and 2015 as a result of Fujitsu’s flawed Horizon IT system – which made it appear as if funds were missing from their branches.

Tara CobhamMay 23, 2024 8:47 AM

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Alan Bates says he has ‘no sympathy’ for tearful Paula Vennells

Lead campaigner and former sub-postmaster Alan Bates has said he has “no sympathy” for Paula Vennells after she failed twice during her first day of evidence for the Horizon IT inquiry.

Mr Bates said he met ‘senior’ Metropolitan Police officers on Wednesday morning to discuss possible prosecutions following the Post Office Horizon scandal.

He said: “They will definitely look into it. I have had that certainty and I think the group (of sub-postmasters) needs that certainty and it is something that we have never been sure of until today.”

Tara CobhamMay 23, 2024 08:14

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Former sub-postmaster says Vennells will never shed as many tears as he did

Lee Castleton has said Paula Vennells will “never” shed as many tears as he does. Mr Castleton, from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, was found to have a £25,000 deficit at his branch in 2004. He was declared bankrupt after losing his legal battle with the post office.

Speaking about Ms Vennells’ evidence, he said: “She has a huge opportunity to reveal what she sees as the truth.

“I think it’s a huge stage for her, I think the paperwork is fantastic, to see what was written at that moment, it’s very important for us to see that. And what she remembers is actually kind of background for me; the actual verbal evidence is not that important.

Asked about Ms Vennells breaking down in tears, he added: “She will never lose as many as I have, I’m afraid, or my family, or the rest of the victims or the wider group.

“Not that I don’t have empathy for that, because I do, I understand it completely.

‘I can imagine that there are also a lot of nerves and trying her best. I think she has a need or wants to do the right thing.”

Andy GregoryMay 23, 2024 6:59 AM

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How the distinguished career of post office manager and ordained priest fell apart

The distinguished business career of former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells collapsed after the Horizon scandal.

She faced heavy criticism over her handling of the scandal and ultimately resigned from her role as CEO in February 2019. Questions have been raised about the timing of her departure – with lawsuits being filed by sub-postmasters such as chief campaigner Alan Bates. around the same time.

Despite mounting pressure over the Horizon scandal and a petition that attracted more than 1.2 million signatures, Ms Vennells returned her CBE earlier this year.

She has since also resigned from her directorships at retailers Morrisons and Dunelm when the subpostmasters’ convictions were quashed. Ms Vennells also stepped down from her role as chair of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in 2021, having taken up the job in April 2019, shortly after leaving the Post Office.

Andy GregoryMay 23, 2024 5:51 AM

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Paula Vennells apologizes to the victims of the Horizon scandal

Paula Vennells apologizes to the victims of the Horizon scandal

Andy GregoryMay 23, 2024 03:42

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‘Completely unfair’ for Post Office to claim there were no ‘systemic issues’ with Horizon

Paula Vennells has said it was “completely dishonest” for the Post Office to claim there were no systemic faults in Horizon.

Counsel to the inquiry, Jason Beer KC, asked whether a “frequent refrain” from the Post Office in 2014 was that there were no systemic faults in Horizon.

Ms Vennells responded: “It was, and it was wrong… it was completely unfair to use it in the industry.”

Andy GregoryMay 23, 2024 02:35

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Vennells asked why ‘folklore’ about Horizon was circulating within the Post Office

Counsel to the inquiry, Jason Beer KC, asked Paula Vennells why a number of ‘false statements’ or ‘folklore’ about Horizon were circulating within the Post Office.

Mr Beer told her that the Post Office wrongly believed that it won every time it went to court, that there were no errors in Horizon and that Fujitsu did not have remote access. Ms Vennells responded: “At the time they were not considered false statements. I don’t remember clearly the source of these statements, but with something like this the only possible source of this statement would have been through the Post Office legal team.

“So the answer for all of them would be to look for where the expertise sat within the organization regarding the genesis of what we now know to be false statements.”

Mr Beer asked whether it is a ‘serious issue’ if ‘folklore develops’ that ‘has no basis in fact’.

Ms Vennells said: “I agree.”

Mr Beer also asked whether it says anything about the culture of the post office if “such folklore developed or was perpetuated and no one checked the real facts?”

Ms Vennells replied: “That is a difficult question to answer because, in retrospect, it is entirely fair. I believed at the time, certainly for me, that I was getting information from the people employed to give me the best advice because of their expertise. I didn’t believe these things were folklore at all.”

Andy GregoryMay 23, 2024 01:24

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The convictions of six former post office employees have been quashed

A further six former post office workers have had their convictions for offenses including theft and fraud quashed in the Horizon IT scandal, lawyers say.

One of the six, Sushma Blaggan, attended the nearby inquest shortly after her 2004 theft conviction was quashed and saw former Post Office boss Paula Vennells testify.

The convictions of Assad Alli, Marion Chapman, Thomas Mulhall, Kimberly Connors and Seema Rahman were also quashed on Wednesday at a Southwark Crown Court hearing, which took place at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Andy GregoryMay 23, 2024 00:27

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Paula Vennells showed a scathing text from ex-Royal Mail chief about the Post Office scandal

Paula Vennells has been confronted with a damning text from the former CEO of Royal Mail suggesting she was aware of flaws in the Horizon IT system used by the Post Office.

“I think you knew,” the ex-post office boss was told by Canadian-born Moya Greene, who ran the Royal Mail for eight years.

Ms Vennells responded and told Ms Greene: “No Moya, that is not the case.”

But in an exchange of messages to Post Office Horizon’s official IT inquiry, Ms Greene told Ms Vennells she could no longer support her “after what I have learned”.

Andy GregoryMay 22, 2024 11:41 PM

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Watch: Paula Vennells claims she was ‘too confident’ when asked if she was Britain’s ‘unluckiest CEO’

Paula Vennells claims she was ‘too confident’ when asked if she was Britain’s ‘unluckiest CEO’

Andy GregoryMay 22, 2024 10:57 PM

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