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Thread: Will Paula Venells ever be held accountable?

  1. #1
    Master brigant's Avatar
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    Will Paula Venells ever be held accountable?

    Today PO sub postmasters appeals against conviction in the PO Horizon debacle will be announced.

    This disgraceful affair which resulted in hundreds of PO postmasters being imprisoned and or fined (I think there may also have ben suicides) as a result of software issues in a new IT system that was rolled out in the PO plus thhe appalling behaviour of the PO "police".

    The CEO at the time was Pauls Vennells who, up to this point has managed to wriggle out of accepting any responsibility.

    I wonder if, or when, there will be any accoountability for this affair.

  2. #2
    Master unclealec's Avatar
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    Heads should roll.
    Compensation should be bountiful.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Heads should roll.
    Compensation should be bountiful.
    Due to the complete lack of access to justice for those without deep pockets in this country, I'm afraid the compensation they were awarded was mostly swallowed up by the litigation funders who backed the original action which led to this. I think my colleagues had 47% of the award in return for their funding it.

    It is an utterly disgusting state of affairs and only getting worse.

  4. #4
    Grand Master jwg663's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unclealec View Post
    Heads should roll.
    Compensation should be bountiful.
    From following this saga in Private Eye, it appears that most of the compensation available to wronged postmasters has been spent on lawyers acting on their behalf. (Ooops, beaten to it!)

    Vennells (an ordained Anglican priest, I believe) carries on with her business career, seemingly unaffected.
    ______

    ​Jim.

  5. #5
    Grand Master number2's Avatar
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    In business as in politics those at the top are seldom held accountable - lessons will no doubt be learnt, until the next time.
    "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

    'Populism, the last refuge of a Tory scoundrel'.

  6. #6
    Master vagabond's Avatar
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    The Postmasters' names have been cleared....

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56859357

  7. #7
    Grand Master TheFlyingBanana's Avatar
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    Fantastic news - but this is truly one of the most heart-wrenching miscarriages of justice in British history in my view.

    Truly, the damage inflicted on these decent, honest, and totally innocent men and women is beyond comprehension.

    I hope they will receive extremely substantial compensation, but there does need to be actual accountability for the senior post-office officials who perpetrated this against them. It cannot be right that those individuals do not face action for the suffering they have caused.
    So clever my foot fell off.

  8. #8
    Master KavKav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingBanana View Post
    Fantastic news - but this is truly one of the most heart-wrenching miscarriages of justice in British history in my view.

    Truly, the damage inflicted on these decent, honest, and totally innocent men and women is beyond comprehension.

    I hope they will receive extremely substantial compensation, but there does need to be actual accountability for the senior post-office officials who perpetrated this against them. It cannot be right that those individuals do not face action for the suffering they have caused.
    I could hardly have put it better! It is a disgrace that this Vennells creature has not been prosecuted and her honours revoked! How Matalan and Morrison’s have the brass neck to keep her on their boards is absolutely beyond me! I can hardly imagine the anguish and damage that has been caused by this flood of malicious prosecutions and yet when the warning flags about errors in the Fujitsu systems surfaced, they were ignored and prosecutions proceeded with destroying the lives of many many innocent people!
    Absolutely monstrous!
    Last edited by KavKav; 23rd April 2021 at 12:22.

  9. #9
    Master Rinaldo1711's Avatar
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    A shocking and disgraceful business from the start. Vennels continues to deny any failings on her part. Doubtless an Inquiry will criticise some people but no real accountability. But we can take comfort from being assured the Ďlessons have been learnedí.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by vagabond View Post
    The Postmasters' names have been cleared....

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56859357
    This has been a truly shameful affair with hundreds of innocent people having had their lives ruined by the failings of the PO and the government - and the government should be responsible for compensating those victims rather than passing the buck to the PO.

    R
    Ignorance breeds Fear. Fear breeds Hatred. Hatred breeds Ignorance. Break the chain.

  11. #11
    Master Templogin's Avatar
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    Only the little people are held responsible for anything.

  12. #12
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    I would hope those in charge will be indicted but from experience they usually get away scot free and often ply their awful trade elsewhere.

    What happened to those Postmasters is truly awful.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

  13. #13
    Goodness, this affair is truly shocking! The Revd Paula Vennells should, at the very least, comment on the matter.

  14. #14
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwg663 View Post
    From following this saga in Private Eye, it appears that most of the compensation available to wronged postmasters has been spent on lawyers acting on their behalf. (Ooops, beaten to it!)

    Vennells (an ordained Anglican priest, I believe) carries on with her business career, seemingly unaffected.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoughie0 View Post
    Goodness, this affair is truly shocking! The Revd Paula Vennells should, at the very least, comment on the matter.
    For the background have a listen to ep10 of The Great Post Office Trial...esp at 7 mins and later where they read a statements from Paula Vennells and the Post Office. Earlier on there is an explanation as to why the claimants accepted the amount that was forthcoming rather than going for more.

    NB There are two omnibus editions covering episodes 1 to 5 and 6 to 10.

  15. #15
    Grand Master Christian's Avatar
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    I see she got a CBE in 2019 for "services to the Post Office".

  16. #16
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    Someone should go to prison for the cover up.

    Incompetence is undesirable in a CEO, but deliberately covering up a mistake that had seen people imprisoned? I'm pretty sure that IS a crime... (If not, it damn well should be).

    M
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Someone should go to prison for the cover up.

    Incompetence is undesirable in a CEO, but deliberately covering up a mistake that had seen people imprisoned? I'm pretty sure that IS a crime... (If not, it damn well should be).

    M
    Totally agree - Vanells and all others who knew about what was going on should be tried and if found guilty - jailed. Just not sure what they would be tried for?

    I simply do not believe for one second that they didn't or couldn't have known what was going on.

  18. #18
    I have followed this for a while because I am quite friendly on a purely business basis with my local Post mistress, she has told me how it has ruined many of her colleagues lives and of how they suffered, really suffered, how is it possible that senior heads don't roll over this ?

  19. #19
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    I watched a documentary about this a while ago.

    This situation is utterly disgusting and has ruined the lives of many decent hardworking people.

    I struggle to comprehend how awful it will have been for those who suffered in this scandal.

  20. #20
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    Agree with all of the posts, truly shocking story and someone should be held accountable for damaging so many good peoples lives

  21. #21
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    Doubt anything will happen to her look what happens to politicians who get caught red handed for as long as I can remember this country is run by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful

  22. #22
    I hope they can get it together to sue the post office, there must be a long list of things they can go for.

    letís hope the cps get the appetite to go after the senior management

  23. #23
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    I have worked as a programmer in enterprise systems for decades, and I found it laughable that the senior management at the PO insisted that their Horizon system was infallible, therefore their Post masters and mistresses must be guilty theft. I bet the developers actually working on the code were well aware of all the bugs, shortcuts, compromises, workarounds, sticking plaster, crud and general crap that most large code bases accumulate over time, and that there was no way it was without fault.

  24. #24
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    I have worked as a programmer in enterprise systems for decades, and I found it laughable that the senior management at the PO insisted that their Horizon system was infallible, therefore their Post masters and mistresses must be guilty theft. I bet the developers actually working on the code were well aware of all the bugs, shortcuts, compromises, workarounds, sticking plaster, crud and general crap that most large code bases accumulate over time, and that there was no way it was without fault.
    If you read some of the Private Eye coverage there was a suggestion that Fujitsu Siemens staff were the only ones being investigated with a view to criminal charges being brought - but I'm not completely up to date with where that was going.

    About time Vennels was de-frocked (no giggling at the back) but I don't imagine that's going to happen either. Wretched woman.
    In the Sotadic Zone, apparently.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    I bet the developers actually working on the code were well aware of all the bugs, shortcuts, compromises, workarounds, sticking plaster, crud and general crap that most large code bases accumulate over time, and that there was no way it was without fault.
    If that were the case it is a sad indictment that they did not stand up and say as much.

    I'm pleased that have won but really wish there was the opportunity to hold the middle managers and CEO responsible today. They are all culpable in the destruction of good honest people's lives.



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  26. #26
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    I have worked as a programmer in enterprise systems for decades, and I found it laughable that the senior management at the PO insisted that their Horizon system was infallible, therefore their Post masters and mistresses must be guilty theft. I bet the developers actually working on the code were well aware of all the bugs, shortcuts, compromises, workarounds, sticking plaster, crud and general crap that most large code bases accumulate over time, and that there was no way it was without fault.
    The programmers / coders at Fujitsu were very much aware of the flaws in the system and they told Post Office management about it. The failure of PO to disclose such evidence to the defence when prosecuting their franchisees is surely grounds for legal grievance? It took a whistle-blower and a highly expensive law suite to reveal the depth of the PO's deception. Have a listen to the Radio 4 series I linked to above or, for a potted version without some detail, see BBC Panorama.

    PS My licence fee well spent...well done Nick Wallis.
    Last edited by PickleB; 23rd April 2021 at 21:35.

  27. #27
    Craftsman Fender's Avatar
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    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand any of this. Postmaster General always puts me in mind of Vincent Price.

    How can this woman have wreaked such havoc with some dodgy software?

    Potted history, anyone?

  28. #28
    Grand Master Christian's Avatar
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    I'm surprised a petition hasn't really taken off to at least strip that woman of her CBE.

  29. #29
    Master brigant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand any of this. Postmaster General always puts me in mind of Vincent Price.

    How can this woman have wreaked such havoc with some dodgy software?

    Potted history, anyone?
    Best thing iis to watch Scandal at the Post Office still available on bbc or there is a rerun of a series (the great post office trial) about all this on bbc sounds.
    Last edited by brigant; 24th April 2021 at 00:02.

  30. #30
    Master brigant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatters View Post
    I have worked as a programmer in enterprise systems for decades, and I found it laughable that the senior management at the PO insisted that their Horizon system was infallible, therefore their Post masters and mistresses must be guilty theft. I bet the developers actually working on the code were well aware of all the bugs, shortcuts, compromises, workarounds, sticking plaster, crud and general crap that most large code bases accumulate over time, and that there was no way it was without fault.

    Quite agree, I've been theretoo. I never knew a computer system that didn't allow access by programmers and authorised staff.

  31. #31
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand any of this. Postmaster General always puts me in mind of Vincent Price.

    How can this woman have wreaked such havoc with some dodgy software?

    Potted history, anyone?
    See link (TV and radio programmes are linked above) or else try the BBC News website.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand any of this. Postmaster General always puts me in mind of Vincent Price.

    How can this woman have wreaked such havoc with some dodgy software?

    Potted history, anyone?
    Get yourself a subscription to Private Eye to learn of general skullduggery like this.

    Was it here or in PE that I read of a £57m payout of which the postmasters got a mere £10k each?

  33. #33
    Grand Master PickleB's Avatar
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    Links:





    See also...Wiki link.


    Update: From the BBC link:

    What happens next?

    The ruling has also determined that these 39 convictions were also "an affront to the public conscience".

    That means the postmasters may pursue civil action against the Post Office for malicious prosecution, seeking significant sums in damages.

    Three more cases referred by the CCRC have yet to be heard.

    It is also reviewing 22 more cases, and inviting others to make an application, which could go directly to the Court of Appeal, if a conviction is believed to be unsafe.
    Last edited by PickleB; 24th April 2021 at 12:16.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand any of this. Postmaster General always puts me in mind of Vincent Price.

    How can this woman have wreaked such havoc with some dodgy software?

    Potted history, anyone?
    https://www.postofficetrial.com/?m=1

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't understand any of this. Postmaster General always puts me in mind of Vincent Price.

    How can this woman have wreaked such havoc with some dodgy software?

    Potted history, anyone?
    Some years ago THE P.O. introduced a new computer system in all outlets. Various errors in accounting began to show up and indeed snowball. It was assumed that the post masters/mistresses were fiddling the system. People were arrested, dismissed, committed suicide. There was an investigation and legal proceedings and the software company knew there were errors but thesevwerebignored and not given as evidence in the early hearings. The BBC report is genuinely shocking at how innocent people were hounded but when it came to showtime in court the P.O. were found out.

  36. #36
    Master Templogin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrushton View Post
    Some years ago THE P.O. introduced a new computer system in all outlets. Various errors in accounting began to show up and indeed snowball. It was assumed that the post masters/mistresses were fiddling the system. People were arrested, dismissed, committed suicide. There was an investigation and legal proceedings and the software company knew there were errors but thesevwerebignored and not given as evidence in the early hearings. The BBC report is genuinely shocking at how innocent people were hounded but when it came to showtime in court the P.O. were found out.
    Add jailed to that list too.

  37. #37

    Will Paula Venells ever be held accountable?

    I was aware of this story, ex-sub postmasters regularly appeared on BBC R4 Today to state their cases. What they described as the issue and the rough treatment they received seemed odd. I assumed the cases were sporadic. What absolutely floored me this week and hadnít sunk in was the sheer magnitude. I think it was something like 700 to 900 prosecutions and as others have pointed out suicide, imprisonments, destitution.

    How did this not register as something going wrong? 700 postmasters canít have suddenly become criminals. I can only conclude orchestrated maleficence by the Post Office and HMG.


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  38. #38
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    It's a pity we don't have anybody on the forum who might have some senior management experience in the Post Office from around the time of the introduction of the Horizon system. Oh wait...
    In the Sotadic Zone, apparently.

  39. #39
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    It's a pity we don't have anybody on the forum who might have some senior management experience in the Post Office from around the time of the introduction of the Horizon system. Oh wait...
    Oh no, you didn't....
    Cheers,
    Neil.

  40. #40
    'Central to his allegation is that Horizonís Epos system was initially built with ďno design documents, no test documents, no peer reviews, no code reviews, no coding standardsĒ.'

    I'm not sure there's been much improvement in the last 20 years.

  41. #41
    Grand Master dkpw's Avatar
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    I agree with the points made so far.

    As an ex-member of the CPS, the point I'd like to make is, the importance of having independent prosecutors. The PO had / has it's own prosecution department. They were clearly not interested in finding the truth but in vengeful "debt" recovery. Nor were they interested in disclosure, when they clearly knew their systems were fallible.

    The whole affair is shabby and disgraceful, as is the current government's refusal to have an independent judicial review.
    David
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  42. #42
    See she's stood down from her current roles. Hopefully the start of her collapse

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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkpw View Post
    I agree with the points made so far.

    As an ex-member of the CPS, the point I'd like to make is, the importance of having independent prosecutors. The PO had / has it's own prosecution department. They were clearly not interested in finding the truth but in vengeful "debt" recovery. Nor were they interested in disclosure, when they clearly knew their systems were fallible.

    The whole affair is shabby and disgraceful, as is the current government's refusal to have an independent judicial review.
    Is it possible for principal players in the PO at the time - to now be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice?

    That is what I would like to see happen.

  44. #44
    Master draftsmann's Avatar
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    It looks like the Revd Venal has hung up her dog collar too.

    https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/th...la-vennells-2/

  45. #45
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    She should hang...her head in shame. Give her entire savings and future pension to those who suffered.

  46. #46
    Grand Master dkpw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackal View Post
    Is it possible for principal players in the PO at the time - to now be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice?

    That is what I would like to see happen.
    I'm not sure but it should be looked into. Disclosure rules were different at the time. I believe some of the victims have considered taking action against the PO for malicious prosecution. I would like to see the PO prosecution unit disbanded and their ability to prosecute independently removed.
    David
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  47. #47
    Grand Master TheFlyingBanana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by draftsmann View Post
    It looks like the Revd Venal has hung up her dog collar too.

    https://www.stalbans.anglican.org/th...la-vennells-2/

    I'm pretty sure she won't have been given much option on that... moral authority gone.
    So clever my foot fell off.

  48. #48
    Master draftsmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingBanana View Post
    I'm pretty sure she won't have been given much option on that... moral authority gone.
    Apparently her Bishop is the son of a sub-postmaster... 😀

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by draftsmann View Post
    Apparently her Bishop is the son of a sub-postmaster... 
    Yet heís only just taken this action ... typical church set up protecting its heads until it absolutely canít any longer.

  50. #50
    The similarities between her and an old boss of mine are striking: not only are they physically very similar in appearance (rat like), they both possess that air of infallibility and superiority that so many in the top civil service seem to have - perhaps why/how they elevated themselves to those positions in the first place?

    Unfortunately, I doubt she will be made to suffer in the way that her 'victims' have.

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