Paula Vennells must ‘take ownership and accountability for what went on’ when giving evidence to Post Office Inquiry

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Dr Neil Hudgell

Executive Chairman

3 min read time
20 May 2024

Solicitor Neil Hudgell says Subpostmasters want former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells to keep to her promise to ensure they ‘get the answers they deserve’ when she gives evidence at the Public Inquiry this week.

Hudgell Solicitors represents 75 former Subpostmasters who have had their wrongful convictions overturned at the ongoing Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, which has now been running for more than three years. Mr Hudgell says this week’s evidence is ‘of monumental significance’ to all of his clients.

Ms Vennells will be questioned over three consecutive days from Wednesday to Friday. She was Chief Executive Officer of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, a period during which Subpostmasters were still being prosecuted, and the Post Office continually denied there was a problem with its Horizon IT accounting system, despite many concerns being raised over its reliability.

In April 2021, when 39 Subpostmasters had their convictions overturned in a landmark ruling at the Court of Appeal, Ms Vennells issued a statement in which she promised to ‘focus fully on working with the ongoing government inquiry to ensure the affected Subpostmasters and wider public get the answers they deserve’.”

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‘Buck passing, spin and serial amnesia’ from witnesses

Mr Hudgell says this is the week where Ms Vennells can make good on that promise.

“Our clients have waited a very long time to hear Ms Vennells’ evidence, and it goes without saying that the week ahead is of monumental significance,” said Mr Hudgell, whose legal team instructs Tim Moloney KC, of Doughty Street Chambers, to question Ms Vennells at the Inquiry.

It is not for me to speculate on what evidence Ms Vennells may give to the Inquiry, but as the operational head of the organisation it is for her to take ownership and accountability for what went on during her term of office.

Witness after witness to this Inquiry have failed to shed any meaningful light on what went wrong and why. Instead, we have had a consistent pattern of stories of regret, buck passing, spin and serial amnesia.

Victims of this scandal are re-traumatised every time they hear denial, untruth or subterfuge and can’t begin to move on without answers, accountability and genuinely expressed regret and sorrow.

We sincerely hope that Ms Vennells will deliver on her promise to bring much needed clarity and understanding to these proceedings.

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‘Fingers crossed she will give us the truth’

Hudgells’ client and former subpostmistress Jo Hamilton, who was prosecuted by the Post Office and had her story told in the TV drama Mr Bates v The Post Office, said: “Having fought so long and hard to get to this huge day, I really hope Paula Vennells just tells all she knew, when she knew it and what she did or didn’t do about it.

The Subpostmasters deserve to know and have had to wait for far too long.

In my opinion, with the exception of Alisdair Cameron, nobody from Post Office, or anywhere else for that matter, has given a straight answer to a straight question.

As she said at the 2015 Select Committee, the buck stops with her, so fingers crossed she will give us the truth.

Hudgell Solicitors’ legal team will also be representing three more former Subpostmasters at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday – the same day Ms Vennells begins evidence – as they seek to have longstanding convictions overturned.

If you’ve suffered as a result of the post office scandal and want to speak to us, contact our Horizon team today by email or request a callback.

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Read more: Post Office Horizon Legal Representation


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Paula Vennells must ‘take ownership and accountability for what went on’ when giving evidence to Post Office Inquiry

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