Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer have both resisted backing calls for a former Post Office boss to lose her CBE over the Horizon scandal.

Demands for the Honours Forfeiture Committee to remove the honour from Paula Vennells have emerged again after ITV aired a new drama into the scandal, which has been described as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history.

Ms Vennells oversaw the organisation while it routinely denied there were problems with its Horizon IT system.

The Prime Minister on Thursday declined to say whether she should lose her honour, while Sir Keir Starmer stressed that compensation for victims is “overdue”.

“There’s an independent process for honours forfeiture, which is done by an independent committee, so that’s a separate process from Government,” Mr Sunak said.

He added: “But, more generally, my job is to make sure that we’re putting in place the compensation schemes and all those people who were awfully treated, suffered an appalling miscarriage of justice, get the justice that they deserve, and that’s what we’re delivering.

“I’m pleased we’re delivering that and I’d urge anyone affected to come forward and make sure that they can benefit from those schemes.”

Protesters outside the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry in London
Protesters outside the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry in London (PA)

The scandal saw more than 700 Post Office branch managers handed criminal convictions after faulty Fujitsu accounting software made it appear as though money was missing.

A public inquiry into the scandal is ongoing.

Ms Vennells later said she was “truly sorry” for the “suffering” caused to sub-postmasters who were wrongly convicted of offences.

Sir Keir Starmer told ITV News: “I thought that programme was really powerful in exposing a scandal, a miscarriage of justice on a very wide scale.

“I actually know some individuals who’ve been caught up with this, and I know the impact it’s had on their mental health as much as anything else.

“Whether she hands back her award is really a matter for her.

“But I do think there’s a more important point in many senses here, compensation for these victims is overdue. It was due in December. The Treasury have… set the money aside, but the Government hasn’t paid it.

“So I say to the Government, get on and do the right thing and pay the compensation to the victims of this miscarriage.”

Postal services minister Kevin Hollinrake this week added to calls for her to lose her CBE, telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain she should “seriously consider handing that back voluntarily” .

Actor Toby Jones stars in Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which aired on New Year’s Day.