THE leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey is being urged to hand back his knighthood due to his connection to the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Davey served as postal affairs minister in the UK Government between 2010 and 2012.

He has since been accused of turning down a meeting with former sub-postmaster and stalwart campaigner Alan Bates, who is the subject of a new ITV drama about his 25-year fight for justice for the victims of the Horizon systems scandal.

The Post Office relentlessly pursued operators of sub-post offices in the UK for alleged theft, fraud and false accounting between 1999 and 2015.

However, they did so based on information from its Horizon IT system, which was installed in the late 1990s.

Yet, from at least 2010 onwards, there were known faults in the centralised accounting software.

Bates – who took over a shop which included a Post Office counter in Llandudno in 1998 – avoided prosecution due to his own careful record-keeping.

But many others faced prosecution, imprisonment and bankruptcy.

So far, Davey has refused to apologise and blasted the Post Office managers for creating a “conspiracy of lies” around the scandal.

He said: “It’s really important that we get to the bottom of this, that we get the truth, that the people in the Post Office who were perpetrating this conspiracy of lies, that they are held to account.

“We were reassured time and again that the Horizon system was working.

“We were told there weren’t that many postmasters affected. We were just told so many lies.”

The National: A still from the ITV series Mr Bates Vs The Post OfficeA still from the ITV series Mr Bates Vs The Post Office (Image: ITV drama / Mr Bates vs the Post Office)

Following the broadcast of the ITV drama, former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells said she would be handing back her CBE.

Now, SNP MP Amy Callaghan is calling on Davey to give back the knighthood he was awarded in 2016 for “political and public service”.

“It would be entirely inappropriate for Ed Davey to retain his knighthood given the questions surrounding his role in this appalling miscarriage of justice and subsequent cover-up,” she said. 

“He should follow in the footsteps of Paula Vennells and hand back his honour immediately.

“Countless lives were destroyed by this scandal, and many more are still dealing with the consequences of wrongful convictions and having to hand over money they didn’t have after being wrongfully accused of stealing.

The National: Amy Callaghan said Ed Davey should hand back his knighthoodAmy Callaghan said Ed Davey should hand back his knighthood

“The involvement of Davey and the LibDems throughout their time in the coalition government proves that this is down to no one party or government, but rather that the entire Westminster system has been complicit in this scandal.

“It falls on those involved to take responsibility for their actions, and for the UK government, and all parties at Westminster, to urgently resolve this issue, come clean over their involvement, and work to exonerate and ensure compensation is paid to those wrongfully convicted.”

Davey maintains that he was “one of many ministers who was misled and lied to by the Post Office" and has refused to hand back his knighthood.

On Wednesday, seven SNP MSPs backed Alba MSP Ash Regan's motion calling on Ed Davey to be held to account. 

Regan said: "The Post Office Horizon scandal is a grievous miscarriage of justice that has had devastating consequences on Postmasters across the UK and in Scotland. 

"To date not a single person has been held to account. Reports that decisions by UK Government Ministers exacerbated the scandal and that concerns raised directly with Sir Ed Davey were dismissed must be investigated.

"Ministers in the Tory Lib Dem Coalition Government must be held to account for their failings.”