A petition calling for former Post Office boss Paula Vennells to lose her CBE over the Horizon scandal has attracted more than one million signatures.
Demands to remove Ms Vennells CBE emerged again after ITV aired a new drama into the scandal, Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which tells how former subpostmasters and subpostmistresses were held liable by the Post Office for financial discrepancies thrown up by its computerised accounting system.
At the time, Ms Vennells oversaw the organisation and routinely denied problems with the system.
The true story behind drama on Horizon IT scandal
The petition, which is addressed to Sir Chris Wormald, the chair of the Forfeiture Committee, says: “Evidence has been produced that the Post Office engaged in a mass cover-up which led to the wrongful prosecution of 550 Post Office Staff many of whom were subsequently jailed, bankrupted and in some cases, sadly took their own lives.
“Having been handed a CBE for services to the Post Office, and moved out into other senior positions in government and healthcare, it is only right that this award is now withdrawn through the process of forfeiture.”
The petition surpassed one million signatures four days after the final episode of the ITV series was broadcast.
It comes as Rishi Sunak said the government is “looking at” the option of exonerating the Post Office branch managers involved in the scandal.
The prime minister confirmed that Justice Secretary Alex Chalk is considering ways of helping to clear the names of those convicted in what has been called the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.
PM: ‘Appalling miscarriage of justice’
‘Net may be closing’ on those responsible for Horizon IT scandal
The Metropolitan Police also confirmed that it is investigating the Post Office over potential fraud offences after the handling of the Horizon IT scandal.
The organisation’s pursuit of branch managers led to more than 700 prosecutions, criminal convictions and, in some cases, prison sentences.
Reports suggest that since Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, 50 new potential victims have approached lawyers.
A public inquiry into the scandal is also ongoing.
Ms Vennells has previously said she is “truly sorry” for the “suffering” caused to subpostmasters who were wrongly convicted of offences.
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