Mr Bates versus The Post Office has increased support for a petition to remove Paula Vennells’ CBE, which currently has over one million signatures.
The four-part ITV drama stars Lia Williams as the former Post Office chief who led the company’s prosecution of hundreds of employees.
Viewers were surprised to learn that 700 Post Office branch managers were accused of fraud between 1999 and 2015 as a result of malfunctioning accounting software that made it look as if money was disappearing from their locations.
Dozens of innocent individuals have been imprisoned for theft and fraud, while others have gone bankrupt after being compelled to repay money they were accused of stealing, or have committed suicide.
This was despite indications that its Horizon computer system was faulty and might misrepresent financial differences.
Toby Jones’ character, Alan Bates, pursued justice by locating wrongfully accused individuals and challenging the Post Office in the High Court.
In 2019, Bates and the Justice For Subpostmasters Alliance won their case. A High Court judge determined that the Post Office’s stance is the “21st-century equivalent of maintaining that the earth is flat.”
David Smith initiated a petition to withdraw Vennells’ CBE for services to the Post Office and charity. Smith argued that Vennells’ refusal to apologise for the cover-up has brought the Post Office, honours system, and government into disrepute.
The petition had 1000 signatures till the beginning of last week, but the controversy has resulted in an avalanche of signatures in support of having Vennells, 65, removed.
‘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 declined an OBE, stating that he did not want to receive the accolade while 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.’
In the same year Smith filed the suit, the Post Office agreed to settle with 555 plaintiffs and pay £58 million in damages as compensation for the fraudulent prosecution. However, after paying their legal fees, the group was left with only £12 million, which amounted to around £20,000 per person, significantly less than some had lost.
On Tuesday, Bates appeared on Good Morning Britain and attacked Vennells for receiving the award during the incident.
‘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, the Post Office’s CEO from 2012 to 2019, apologised in 2021, saying, ‘I am genuinely sorry for the agony given to the 39 sub-postmasters as a result of their convictions which were reversed last week.’
Metropolitan Police stated last week that they were investigating ‘possible fraud crimes’ related to the Horizon incident. For example,’monies recovered from sub-postmasters as a consequence of prosecutions or civil lawsuits’.
Mr Bates vs the Post Office and Mr Bates vs the Post Office: The Real Story are available to watch on ITVX.
Source My Celebrity Life.