'Paula Vennells bears her share of blame but it’s not just her' Calls for government ministers to be held to account over Horizon scandal

Monday 8 January 2024

Blame for the Post Office Horizon scandal cannot lie solely with former CEO Paula Vennells according to Lord James Arbuthnot.

Speaking to TalkTV's Jeremy Kyle and Rosie Wright, the former MP who led the campaign in parliament for justice on behalf of the sub-postmasters has called for the net to be cast wider.

One million people have called for Ms Vennells to lose her CBE. Lord Abuthnot told Jeremy: "Vennells bears her share of the blame… but it’s not just her.”

More than 700 Post Office branch managers were given criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software called Horizon made it appear as though money was missing from their shops.

Lord Arbuthnot remarked: "Let’s not forget though that we need to go through a process of fairness if we’ve learnt anything from this horrendous saga. It is the need for justice to be done properly.

“I am a little uneasy about concentrating on one woman when there are so many people who have behaved so very badly.

"We won’t resolve the problem of calling people to account by focusing just on her. She bears her share of the blame and she must bear her share of the retribution, but it’s not just her."

There has been fresh public backlash to the scandal after ITV aired a drama starring actor Toby Jones last week about the scandal.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has faced scrutiny over his role as postal affairs minister during the coalition government.

Reports suggest since Mr Bates Vs The Post Office was broadcast, 50 new potential victims have approached lawyers.

There has been public backlash to the scandal after ITV aired a drama starring Toby Jones about the scandal.

The Post Office is wholly owned by the Government and a public inquiry into Horizon is ongoing.

Asked who else involved in the scandal needs to be under the spotlight, Lord Arbuthnot said: “The government was there overseeing the Post Office, or in theory overseeing it, there were principal accounting officers who need to be held to account.

"There were other managers in the Post Office. There was Fujitsu which was the company that was actually altering the sub-postmasters’ accounts without their knowledge and without keeping any record that they were doing it while denying that they were doing it.

"There are so many people. It may well be that there are government ministers who bear some blame as well."

Postmasters Tim Brentnall, Janet Skinner, Chris Head, and Nick Wallis, who lifted the lid on the scandal also appeared on today’s programme to talk about the scandal.

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