‘Too trusting’ former boss of UK Post Office rolls out the ‘know nothing’ defence

Planet Business: Inter Milan’s new owner, the hybrid-working bank boss and OpenAI’s legal skirmishes

Image of the week: Memory issues

Two types of waterworks were on display at the public inquiry into the UK Post Office’s Horizon IT miscarriage of justice scandal this week as the ceiling started dripping on to the inquiry chairman in the middle of an appearance by former Post Office chief executive, Paula Vennells.

An ordained vicar, Vennells had minutes earlier cried after it was put to her that she had been aware as early as 2012 that the prosecutions of hundreds of sub-postmasters for theft and false accounting were flawed.

“Personally, I didn’t know that,” she said of the fact that sub-postmasters had reported a string of bugs and flaws in the Fujitsu Horizon software.

“My memory was not very good at the start of this process,” she also claimed in the course of insisting that nobody had told her anything about anything, she was “disappointed” that information was not shared with her and that she was “too trusting”.


Texts sent by former Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene to Vennells earlier this year were read out. “I think you knew,” messaged Greene, coming to a conclusion that many others had reached some years before. Vennells, who broke down in tears on two further occasions during her first day of testimony, stuck to her line that she didn’t.

Earlier she had been asked if she was the “unluckiest CEO” in the UK. Later on Wednesday, however, she became the luckiest former CEO as Rishi Sunak wiped her performance off the front pages.

In numbers: Inter Milan takeover

€395 million

Size of a missed payment from Inter Milan’s majority shareholder, the Chinese conglomerate Suning, to US investment fund Oaktree Capital Management. As the loan was guaranteed by its stake in the football club, Oaktree has now taken control of Inter Milan.


Years since Suning bought its majority stake in the 116-year-old club, marking one of the highest-profile advances by a Chinese business into the world of European football.

€807 million

Total debts at the club as of the end of the 2022/23 financial year, in which it made a loss of €86 million. It has since won its 20th Serie A league title, the second and apparently final such title under the Suning era.

Getting to know: Mike Regnier

Mike Regnier, now two years into his reign as chief executive of Santander UK, took the job when the practice of working-from-home was perhaps more entrenched than it is now. But while other banking bosses have restored their pre-pandemic egos by reinstituting old ways of working, the Spanish lender’s UK office-based workers are only required to be on site twice a week. More unusually, Regnier told the Guardian that he himself continues to work from home once or twice a week – rather than do Monday to Friday commutes to London – and would not have accepted the position if he couldn’t.

“I don’t think it’s absolutely vital that people spend all five days a week in the office as they did pre-Covid,” said Regnier, who moved to Harrogate in Yorkshire with his wife to raise their family 20 years ago.

Although his own father was “amazing” and “not absent”, his daily commutes inevitably led to lost family time. As a result, Regnier didn’t see as much of his father as his two teenage kids see of him now. Time, as they say, is money.

The list: OpenAI’s legal skirmishes

It has not been a vintage May for ChatGPT company OpenAI following the resignation of its co-founder and chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who was followed swiftly and tersely out the door by co-team leader Jan Leike. Then things really kicked off, with a high-profile celebrity joining the list of people to lawyer-up in response to the company’s technology.

1. Scarlett Johansson: The actor, who voiced a virtual assistant in Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her, says she twice turned down an OpenAI offer to do the same for its software, only for OpenAI to release a flirty – ugh – voice assistant called Sky that sounds “eerily similar” to her.

2. The New York Times: The company announced in December that it was suing OpenAI and its backer Microsoft for copyright infringement, saying the existence of ChatGPT threatened its ability to provide the material that has been used to train it.

3. US newspapers: A group of eight other US newspapers, including the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune, filed a lawsuit last month saying that OpenAI and Microsoft were “purloining millions” of copyrighted news articles without permission or payment.

4. Sarah Silverman: The comedian is suing OpenAI for allegedly violating the copyright on her memoir The Bedwetter. Other writers with similar complaints have joined her as co-plaintiffs.

5. Authors Guild: George RR Martin, John Grisham and Jonathan Franzen are among well-known writers behind a separate Authors Guild of America lawsuit that accuses OpenAI of “systematic theft on a mass scale”. Time to start forming an orderly queue?