Hounded postal staff who won £3.7million payout demand apology from former ...

Sub-postmasters demanded an apology from former Post Office boss Paula Vennells over a £32m legal case against staff who were branded crooks

Sub-postmasters demanded an apology from former Post Office boss Paula Vennells over a £32m legal case against staff who were branded crooks

Sub-postmasters last night demanded an apology from former Post Office boss Paula Vennells over a £32million legal case against staff who were branded crooks.

They said the executive – who earned £3.7million during her six-year tenure – should also pay back her bonuses over the debacle.

Miss Vennells presided over the decision to go to court to challenge 550 postmasters who said they had been falsely accused of stealing from the till.

Some postmasters were jailed, made bankrupt or hounded out of their jobs as fraudsters because glitches in a new computer system had caused shortfalls in their accounts.

On Wednesday the new chief executive Nick Read capitulated after the lengthy court fight and apologised for the torment caused. He also announced the Post Office would pay out close to £58million to settle the case.

But postmasters yesterday directed their ire at Miss Vennells, who left this year. In her final year in the job, she was handed £720,000 – nearly five times the Prime Minister’s £150,000 salary – including two bonuses totalling £390,000 on top of her £255,000 wages.

Miss Vennells presided over the decision to go to court to challenge 550 postmasters who said they had been falsely accused of stealing from the till. It emerged that in her final year in the job, she was handed £720,000 – nearly five times the Prime Minister’s £150,000 salary

Miss Vennells presided over the decision to go to court to challenge 550 postmasters who said they had been falsely accused of stealing from the till. It emerged that in her final year in the job, she was handed £720,000 – nearly five times the Prime Minister’s £150,000 salary

In January the ordained priest was awarded a CBE for services to the Post Office and to charity, and a month later she was appointed as a non-executive board member to the Cabinet Office. She is now also chairman of Imperial Health NHS Trust.

Last night Michael Hill, 79, who ran a branch in Sheffield from 1994 to 2001 and was left £200,000 out of pocket, demanded she apologise for her role in the Horizon IT system debacle. He said: ‘Paula Vennells should stand up and in public and say, “I’m so sorry. It has been proved that terrible life-changing mistakes were made and I was at the helm when we decided to fight these people, and I apologise”. She won’t of course.’

Mother-of-two Seema Misra, 44, who was sentenced to 15 months in jail while she was eight weeks pregnant, said: ‘Paula Vennells should definitely apologise and give back some of her bonuses.

‘We have been though so much pain, pain she can not imagine.

Mother-of-two Seema Misra, 44, who was sentenced to 15 months in jail while she was eight weeks pregnant, said: ‘Paula Vennells should definitely apologise and give back some of her bonuses'

Mother-of-two Seema Misra, 44, who was sentenced to 15 months in jail while she was eight weeks pregnant, said: ‘Paula Vennells should definitely apologise and give back some of her bonuses'

‘I can’t find the words – how can they compensate what we’ve been through?

‘Everyone at the Post Office who was involved in this case should apologise individually.’ Three years before the case went to court, the Post Office ignored a report by independent forensic accountants, who said there was ‘only limited evidence’ for charges of theft.

Miss Vennells told MPs investigating the Horizon IT system in 2015: ‘[The buck] does stop with me... As chief executive, I am responsible for the reputation of and what happens for the Post Office.’

Yesterday it also emerged that ‘hundreds’ more former postmasters, who missed the deadline for the group action, are considering making a claim. It

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