A BRADFORD man who was wrongly convicted in the Post Office Horizon scandal has welcomed the announcement that former boss Paula Vennells is to hand back her CBE.

The ex-chief executive, who ran the Post Office while it routinely denied there was a problem with its Horizon IT system, was appointed a CBE in December 2018.

More than 700 Post Office branch managers were convicted after faulty Fujitsu accounting software Horizon made it look like money was missing from their shops.

Demands for Ms Vennells to return the honour intensified after an ITV drama brought the widespread miscarriage of justice back into the spotlight.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Paula VennellsPaula Vennells

More than one million people signed a petition calling for her to be stripped of the CBE, which she said she was handing back yesterday.

Gregory Harding ran the Post Office at Hipperholme, Calderdale, until he was accused of stealing more than £20,000 in 2010.

Mr Harding was handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 200 hours' community service when he was convicted at Bradford Crown Court.

But in 2021, aged 61, his conviction was overturned.

Reacting to the news that Ms Vennells had handed back her CBE, he said: "It's the least she could do.

"It will be interesting to see what she has to say to the public inquiry later this year."

He added: "Everyone responsible for this scandal, this mess, should be ashamed of themselves.

"They should be brought to justice."

A public inquiry into the scandal is ongoing.

In a statement, Ms Vennells said: "I continue to support and focus on co-operating with the inquiry and expect to be giving evidence in the coming months.

"I have so far maintained my silence as I considered it inappropriate to comment publicly while the inquiry remains ongoing and before I have provided my oral evidence.

"I am, however, aware of the calls from sub-postmasters and others to return my CBE.

"I have listened and I confirm that I return my CBE with immediate effect.

"I am truly sorry for the devastation caused to the sub-postmasters and their families, whose lives were torn apart by being wrongly accused and wrongly prosecuted as a result of the Horizon system.

"I now intend to continue to focus on assisting the inquiry and will not make any further public comment until it has concluded."