Ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells booed by subpostmasters for saying their circumstances ‘bored’ her | EUROtoday

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Wrongly convicted subpostmasters booed former Post Office boss Paula Vennells when it was revealed she had dismissed their tales of injustice as “hype and human interest”, saying she was extra bored than outraged by them.

The dramatic scenes occurred on the third day of her proof to the Horizon IT scandal inquiry, throughout which the ex-chief govt apologised to a number one campaigner – who was accused of stealing £36,000 – for being impolite to her.

Subpostmasters within the public gallery on the listening to in London groaned when Ms Vennells stated she didn’t bear in mind whether or not she took the recommendation of a public relations skilled to not overview 5 to 10 years’ price of previous prosecutions.

Paula Vennells admitted she had no one to blame but herself for what happened
Paula Vennells admitted she had nobody responsible however herself for what occurred (Reuters)

Ms Vennells, who ran the organisation from 2012 to 2019, stated throughout her proof there have been no phrases that may make the “sorrow and what people have gone through any better”.

And she admitted she had nobody responsible however herself for what occurred.

More than 700 subpostmasters had been prosecuted by the Post Office and given felony convictions between 1999 and 2015 when Fujitsu’s defective Horizon IT system made it seem as if cash was going lacking at their branches.

When the BBC’s The One Show featured subpostmasters combating to clear their names in 2014, Ms Vennells advised colleagues she was “more bored than outraged” at listening to about their circumstances, the inquiry was advised, prompting boos.

An e-mail from December 2014 was revealed by which the previous chief govt claimed former subpostmistress and main campaigner Jo Hamilton “lacked passion and admitted false accounting on TV”.

After the three days of proof, Ms Vennells, who can be an ordained priest, apologised on to Ms Hamilton on Friday, saying: “I’m deeply sorry that I was so rude to you in that email.”

But Ms Hamilton stated: “I accept anyone’s apology but whether she means it or not is another matter. I’m not sure.

“I’m in two minds as to whether it was genuine or that she was so publicly ashamed.”

Ms Vennells was pushed to tears multiple times during the inquiry
Ms Vennells was pushed to tears a number of occasions throughout the inquiry (AP Avg)

Sam Stein KC, on behalf of quite a few subpostmasters, accused Ms Vennells of setting a “let’s eliminate them” tone for the Post Office’s perspective in direction of the High Court case introduced by lead campaigner Alan Bates and others between 2017 and 2019.

The barrister stated: “The tone was, ‘Let’s eliminate them, let’s get rid of these bugs in the system – the subpostmasters’. That’s what you set in place, wasn’t it Ms Vennells?”

She replied: “I did not set a culture like that. I did not lead the litigation.”

Post Office communications chief Mark Davies had advised The One Show that convicted subpostmasters had confronted “lifestyle difficulties”.

Boos got here from the general public gallery as Tim Moloney KC, for Ms Hamilton, learn Ms Vennells’ response, which stated: “Not denying the fact it is unhelpful and inaccurate, (especially the focus on Horizon but see below re thoughts on that), Mark (Davies) has achieved a balance of reporting beyond anything I could have hoped for.

“The statements stamped across the screen with the PO (Post Office) sign as a backdrop were really powerful. They emphasised everything we have done, and came across as … fact! Very good.

“The rest was hype and human interest. Not easy for me to be objective but I was more bored than outraged.”

Boos came from the public gallery as Ms Vennells’ email was read out
Boos got here from the general public gallery as Ms Vennells’ e-mail was learn out (PA Wire)

She added within the e-mail: “There was nothing about intimidation, poor coaching and the message about not knowing how to use the system, in my eyes made the SPMRS (subpostmasters) look inadequate.”

Ms Vennells advised the inquiry on Friday: “I regret everything I said.”

She continued: “The pressure we were under at the time to try to manage – what we genuinely felt – was an imbalance of media coverage and representation about what was happening in the Post Office.

“I have no excuse for what I wrote, other than … I was under pressure and I was relieved that the programme hadn’t been perhaps as bad or as hard-hitting as I expected it to be.”

She broke down in tears greater than as soon as throughout her three days of proof and admitted she had let subpostmasters down.

On Friday she denied main the Post Office by “deception” and “manipulation”, saying: “I was trying to address a culture in the organisation which I had found to be command and control, where people couldn’t speak their minds and they couldn’t speak up.”

She claimed she was famous within the Post Office for caring about subpostmasters.

She added: “One of my huge regrets in this is that I did not do that for the subpostmasters affected in this way and that will be with me.”

Hundreds of subpostmasters are nonetheless awaiting compensation regardless of the federal government saying that these whose convictions had been quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.