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FORMER Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells quit as a non-executive director of high street chains Morrisons and Dunelm today in the wake of the postmaster miscarriage of justice scandal.
Ms Vennells, who ran the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, pursued prosecutions against hundreds of subpostmasters, accusing them of theft and false accounting.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of 39 former subpostmasters, saying that bosses knew there were “serious issues” with the Horizon IT system developed by Fujitsu but continued to bring criminal charges using data taken from it.
In a statement today, Morrisons chairman Andrew Higginson said that he wanted to thank Ms Vennells for her “significant contribution” to the supermarket giant, while Dunelm chairman Andy Harrison said that he “respected” her decision to resign.
Ms Vennells, who was awarded a CBE for “services to the Post Office and to charity” in 2019, has also stepped back from her duties as an unpaid priest in the diocese of St Albans, calling the scandal a “distraction.”
In a statement on Sunday, she said that she was “truly sorry” for the suffering it had caused.
A Communication Workers Union spokesperson told the Morning Star: “Our members won’t accept gestures, they need justice.
“Hundreds of postmasters were criminalised and harassed through the legal system down to no fault of their own.
“[Ms] Vennells oversaw this great injustice. She must be stripped of her CBE, as well as a full criminal investigation being opened into one of the most disgraceful workplace sagas in the history of the Post Office and our country.”
Whether jailed or not, all those falsely accused suffered shame, humiliation and financial loss, while some faced bankruptcy, long-term unemployment, failed relationships and ill health.
A government inquiry set up to establish “whether lessons had been learned” will report in the summer.
But the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance campaign group has refused to take part, describing the probe as a whitewash and calling for a full public inquiry instead.
Post Office chief executive Nick Read said: “The quashing of historical convictions is a vital milestone in properly addressing the past as I work to put right these wrongs as swiftly as possible, and there must be compensation that reflects what has happened.”
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