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MS questions suitability of former Post Office head to remain ordained minister

06 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Jack Sargeant

Jack Sargeant has questioned the suitability of former Post Office head, Paula Vennells, to continue in her role as an Ordained Minister of the Church of England.

Mr Sargeant is calling on the Church to reflect on her position ahead of the resumption of the Post Office inquiry following further revelations about she knew about the failed Horizon IT system and the convictions of innocent subpostmasters.

MPs are set to consider “sanctioning” the former Post Office chief executive after a further set of leaked recordings appeared to raise questions about her statements to Parliament on the Horizon scandal.

Covert recordings obtained by ITV and Channel 4 show Ms Vennells, who led the Post Office at the height of the scandal, was told in 2013 that there had been allegations the Horizon system could be accessed remotely, something she later told a committee of MPs was not possible.

It later emerged that sub postmasters’ Horizon accounts could be accessed remotely by staff working at Fujitsu’s headquarters in Bracknell.

Suitability

Mr Sargeant, the Senedd Member for Alyn and Deeside, said: “I have previously questioned organisations in Wales about the suitability of former Post Office execs for new roles and I believe the latest information makes it clear that the Church of England can no longer remain silent.

“Sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted and had their life savings taken from them when they were completely innocent. This is one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history.

“At the centre of all this was a Post Office leadership who failed in their basic duty of candour, keeping secret what they knew and pursuing Sub-postmasters they knew were innocent. Is this the sort of behaviour the Church are comfortable with?”

Ms Vennells has already handed back her CBE as a result of her role in the scandal. She was ordained in the Church of England in 2005 but stepped back from her role as an associate minister in the St Albans diocese in 2021 amid intensifying controversy about the

Devastation 

Following the release of the recordings, she said: “I continue to support and focus on co-operating with the inquiry and expect to be giving evidence in the coming months.

“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.”

In March 2021, the CEO of the Football Association Wales (FAW) stepped down after losing a no confidence motion triggered by the controversial appointment of an executive involved in the Post Office IT scandal.

Jonathan Ford left the organisation after 11 years in the role, following questions over the appointment of Angela van den Bogerd as the FAW’s head of people.

Van den Bogerd was a senior executive at the Post Office during a period when subpostmasters were being held responsible for accounting shortfalls caused by errors in the Horizon computer system.

Jack Sargeant raised the issued of the appointment of Ms Van den Bogerd at the FAW in December 2020.

What has become known as the Post Office Horizon scandal is often referred to as the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history, with about 900 subpostmasters prosecuted using computer evidence that has been proved to contain errors.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Do you think that the Arch Oil Man (Bishop) should stand down because he knew he was an enemy of the planet throughout his career too?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

People have served time and been branded thieves and had their lives ruined and taken away by the post office and its minions. But the people doing the wrong are still free.

Then we have the blood scandal and Windrush scandals and Hillsborough and many more still outstanding.

I am not holding my breath.

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