Mr Bates vs The Post Office leads to more signatures on petition (Pictue: ITV/Shutterstock)
Viewers were left shocked that 700 Post Office branch managers were accused of wrongdoing between 1999 and 2015 due to faulty accounting software making it appear as though money was missing from their outlets.
Dozens of innocent people were sent to jail for theft and fraud, while others were driven to bankruptcy, after being forced to pay back money they were accused of stealing, and sadly, suicide.
This was despite evidence that its Horizon computer system was unreliable and could incorrectly show financial discrepancies.
Lia Williams played the ex-Post Office chief(Picture: ITV/Shutterstock)
Paula Vennells was CEO of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019 (Picture: PA Archive/PA Images)
In 2019, Bates and the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance won their battle. A High Court judge concluded that the approach of the Post Office ‘amounts to the 21st-century equivalent of maintaining that the earth is flat’.
The petition calling for Vennells, who was given the CBE in 2019 for services to the Post Office and charity, to lose her honour was set up by David Smith, who said it was ‘only right that this award is now withdrawn through the process of forfeiture’ as Vennells had ‘refused to apologise for the cover-up, misery and trauma caused which has brought not only herself but the Post Office, the honours system and government into disrepute’.
The petition was at 1000 signatures up until the start of last week, but the drama has caused an influx of signatures of support, to have Vennells, 65, stripped.
Alan Bates doesn’t want to accept an OBE (Picture: Roland Hoskins/ANL/REX/Shutterstock)
‘Mr Bates you are a Gentleman of high moral standing and totally deserve your OBE and the only way you’ll accept it is for the former CEO of the post office to lose her CBE. Let’s all hope she loses it very soon,’ wrote supporter Rob W.
Last year Bates turned down an OBE, citing the fact he didn’t want to accept the honour whilst Vennells still had her CBE.
Jonathan S added: ‘Actions have consequences and as CEO of the Post Office Paula Vennells must be held to account for her actions as the head of the organisation that failed so many. Failure to strip her of her CBE would undermine public confidence.’
The same year Smith created the petition, the Post Office agreed to settle with 555 claimants and agreed to pay £58m in damages in compensation for the false prosecutions. However, after their legal costs were paid, the group were left with only £12million, which totalled around £20,000 each, far less than some had lost.
Toby Jones played Alan Bates (Picture: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
On Tuesday Bates appeared on Good Morning Britain and criticised the fact Vennells was given the honour during the scandal.
‘I mean it would have been a slap in the face to the rest of the group because Paula Vennells, the CEO for many years of Post Office, received a CBE for her services to Post Office. Well, what service has she actually done?’ he said.
‘She’s caused devastation to a major British institution that was at the heart of communities. She’s ruined thousands of lives over the years.
‘What on earth has she done to deserve that? It should be taken away now!’
Vennells, who was CEO of the Post Office from 2012 to 2019, apologised in 2021: ‘I am truly sorry for the suffering caused to the 39 sub-postmasters as a result of their convictions which were overturned last week.’
Last week, Metropolitan Police confirmed they were looking at ‘potential fraud offences’ committed during the Horizon scandal. For example, ‘monies recovered from sub-postmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions’.
Metro.co.uk has contacted the Post Office and the Honours and Appointments Secretariat for comment.
Mr Bates vs the Post Office and Mr Bates vs the Post Office: The Real Story are available to watch on ITVX.
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