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Justin Welby says Church should have asked 'more questions' over former Post Office boss' role

by Donna Birrell

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said more questions should have been asked about the former CEO of the Post Office's involvement in the Church of England.

Paula Vennells who is an Anglican priest, has been strongly criticised for her handling of the Horizon software scandal in which hundreds of branch managers were prosecuted for theft and fraud as a result of faulty computer software.

A month before Vennells resigned from the Post Office in February 2019, she was appointed to the C of E’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group. She also held three other senior advisory Church positions, including reporting on the implementation of the Church Buildings Review. She is also believed to have been short-listed to become Bishop of London in 2017.

The Archbishop’s comments were in response to a question submitted ahead of this weekend’s meeting of the General Synod in London. Most Rev Justin Welby was asked whether the Church Nominations Commission had been informed of a High Court claim by sub-postmasters against the Post Office when it considered Ms Vennells’ application to become a bishop. He replied:

“As has been said more generally about Paula Vennells' involvement in various committees and working groups in the Church of England, by 2019 and 2020, it is clear that more questions should have been asked about the appropriateness of that involvement when more had come to light about the Horizon scandal. We recognise this and will need to reflect on it.”

Between 1999 and 2015 more than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted because of the faulty Horizon software.  

Vennells was awarded a CBE for services to the Post Office, which she handed back in January. She has been contacted for comment.



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