Paula Vennells Post Office

Paula Vennells (middle) is to hand back her CBE

Former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells is to return her CBE.

Vennells was awarded the CBE in 2019 for “services to the Post Office and to charity” however her part in the Horizon technology scandal led to a public outcry and calls for her to be stripped of the honour.

She stood down from her role at the Post Office in 2019 and has largely stepped back from any positions she has held since then in the wake of the Horizon situation.

A petition launched three years ago reached more than 1.2m signatures following the airing of the ITV drama, Mr Bates versus the Post Office, which brought the issue to the attention of the wider public.

In a statement, Vennells said: “I continue to support and focus on co-operating with the inquiry and expect to be giving evidence in the coming months. I have so far maintained my silence as I considered it inappropriate to comment publicly while the inquiry remains ongoing and before I have provided my oral evidence.

“I am, however, aware of the calls from sub-postmasters and others to return my CBE. I have listened and I confirm that I return my CBE with immediate effect.

“I am truly sorry for the devastation caused to the subpostmasters and their families, whose lives were torn apart by being wrongly accused and wrongly prosecuted as a result of the Horizon system. I now intend to continue to focus on assisting the inquiry and will not make any further public comment until it has concluded.”

Earlier this week, the Met Police confirmed it had interviewed two people in relation to the Horizon/Post Office situation, and the government is currently examining ways for victims to be compensated and cleared of charges against them as quickly as possible.