Post Office Horizon IT inquiry: Paula Vennells to be questioned by lawyers representing victims – live

Key events

During yesterday’s session Paula Vennells admitted it was “possibly” her hope that a mediation scheme with subpostmasters would “minimise compensation”.

Vennells accepted that an email she sent in August 2013 which said “the hope of mediation was to avoid or minimise compensation” sounded like subpostmasters were only welcome on the scheme if they agreed to receive a “pat on the head and a token payment”.

PA Media reports she told the Horizon IT inquiry she did not believe the mediation scheme, set up for people who believed they had been wrongly prosecuted by the Post Office, was for paying out “substantial figures”.

In 2011 she set out the a “goal” of hers that all press “should be scoured for negative comment and refuted” in an email she sent. She made the comments after she was notified about a Private Eye article on the Horizon IT system and criticism from subpostmasters.

The inquiry also heard the ex-chief executive followed a “grossly improper” suggestion to not review all subpostmaster prosecutions after her communications chief said it would end up “front page news”.

The public gallery at the inquiry, made up of mainly subpostmasters, groaned loudly after Vennells said she did not remember if she took the “advice of the PR guy” to review past prosecutions. Lead counsel Jason Beer KC put it to Vennells that in her witness statement she said legal advice was being withheld from her, but she appeared to taking legal advice from the heads of PR and of IT.

Our chief reporter, Dan Boffey, was watching the session yesterday. Here is his report.

Welcome and opening summary …

The former CEO of the Post Office, Paula Vennells, will face a third day of questioning in London today at the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry.

Unlike the previous two days, when she was questioned by lead counsel for the inquiry Jason Beer KC, today she will be quizzed directly by legal teams representing some of the victims of the scandal, which has been described as “the biggest single series of wrongful convictions in British legal history” by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9.45am, and you will be able to watch it here. The feed has a three minute time delay.


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