Paula Vennells award of a CBE continues to bother me significantly for many reasons, but one is that when you are nominated for an award and the panel approves it, you still have to go through the formal process of accepting it. In accepting the award Paula not only acknowledges the work she has done in the past that has led to the nomination but also affirms to the panel that she has no knowledge of any possible misdemeanours or unsavoury acts of hers that may come to prominence in the future. In her situation she may very well believe that to be the case and that would tie in with her board’s decision to challenge the JFSA Group Litigation Order. However she is certainly not party to any knowledge of what the court may decide in March and beyond but she MUST be aware that findings against her would lead to significant disgrace, humiliation and of course the sack, notwithstanding possible criminal charges.
The right thing in her position would be at least to advise the awards panel that while the trial is in progress she feels unable to accept the award. Of course if this admission were to be made public (which it would have to be now) that could be an embarrassment in its own right but she has chosen not to do this.
On the other hand, there is a body of widely respected figures, who sit on the Criminal Case Review Commission, who have decided in their wisdom to wait until the trial decisions are handed down (it is inconceivable now that they will not adjourn their decisions until after the Horizon Trial in March). While the delay in reaching their decision is very regrettable and requires further investigation why it took so long, nevertheless I can understand their position. However the very slim chance that the outcome of the Horizon trial will have a significant effect on their final decision is not worth considering and Paula Vennells must now know for God’s sake, that with the evidence produced in court in the first trial, there is absolutely no doubt that criminal behaviour took place within her organisation in order to secure convictions.
Paula – it is done and dusted. The very least you can do is to delay acceptance of the award until after the trial is over and the CCRC have confirmed they are returning the convictions to the Appeal Court. Your organisation has let you down and you have let yourself down by not getting to the bottom of it. You don’t deserve an award for ignorance. The establishment doesn’t deserve the embarrassment you are about to bring upon them and most importantly the subpostmasters and their families whose lives you have ruined and whose claims are about to be affirmed in court do not deserve to see you be recognised for abject failure.
Shame on you….