FIRST day of the New Year back at Parliament for our politicians yesterday, and while they were all desperate to get their election messages out there, all the public want to see is justice for the postmasters and postmistresses who were oppressed and broken by the Post Office.

The ITV drama, brilliantly written, acted and scheduled for over the holiday period, has really planted the David versus Goliath story, which many journalists have been working on for years, in the public imagination, and yesterday the petition demanding that Paula Vennells be stripped of her CBE passed the million mark.

Ms Vennells was the Post Office chief executive during the critical period from 2012 until she was forced to stand down over the scandal in 2019 and yet, bizarrely, she was made a CBE “for services to the Post Office and charity”.

The object of the current furore should be able getting justice and compensation for the 736 wrongly convicted postmasters. It should not be a vengeful witch-hunt and, besides Ms Vennells, lots of organisations and people, from computer-makers Fujitsu to former postal minister Ed Davey who now leads the LibDems, have questions to answer.

However, Ms Vennells was paid £4.5m, including £2.2m in bonuses, to carry the can at the Post Office, and she failed to serve it well, plunging it into an enormous crisis which has united the country against it. Her honour, therefore, makes a mockery of the honours system.

Perhaps all 736 convicted postmasters – who are often described as “pillars of the community” unlike most of the political donors who buy their way to honours – should be given an honour as a way for the state to acknowledge that it was an arm of government that wrongly ruined their businesses and undeservedly ruined their reputations. It would show there is no stain on their names and, unlike the legal system which takes forever, it could be done with a stroke of the pen whenever Rishi Sunak dissolves parliament.