Former Post Office Chief Steps Aside From Church Ministry

xMs Paula Vennells, former Post Office Chief and Church of England NSM cleric, has “stepped aside from ministry” in the Diocese of Oxford after the convictions of dozens of former local Postmasters were over-turned recently by the courts.

Vennells headed the Post Office from 2012 and 2019 and was in charge when a series of prosecutions were brought against postmasters alleging accounting irregularities. Dozens were convicted and some were sent to jail. One of those charged and sent to jail before being acquitted was Mr Harjinder Butoy. After his conviction was overturned and having served 3 years and 4 months in jail, Mr Butoy told the Telegraph: “that those responsible need to be punished, seriously punished”, adding: “They’re just bullies, that’s all they are. Somebody needs to really, really sort this out and charge them for this.”

The problem came from a faulty accounting software program named Horizon which was purchased from Fujitsu Corporation and used in post offices across the country.

According to press reports, Lord Justice Holroyde said in court, “the Post Office knew there were serious issues with the IT system but they continued to claim that Horizon (the software program from Fujitsu) was robust and reliable and effectively steamrolled over any sub-postmaster who sought to challenge its accuracy.”

After leaving the Post Office, Ms Vennells became Chair of the Imperial College NHS Trust and held non-executive directorships in other companies.

In a statement released after the convictions were squashed, Ms Vennells said; “I was deeply saddened by the sub-postmaster’s accounts. I am truly sorry for the suffering caused to them as a result of the convictions which the Court of Appeal has overturned.”