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Kemi Badenoch Says Former Post Office Chair Allegations "Completely False"

(Alamy)

3 min read

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has said that claims made by the former former Post Office chairman Henry Staunton that he was asked to delay compensation to victims of the Horizon scandal are “completely false”.

Badenoch made a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, in which she addressed claims that were raised in an interview with Staunton in the Sunday Times over the weekend. 

Staunton, who had been in the job for little more than a year, told the newspaper that when he was sacked, Badenoch had told him that “someone’s got to take the rap” for the Post Office Horizon scandal. 

He had also claimed that a senior civil servant told him to stall on compensation payments to Horizon victims so the government could “limp into the election” with a lower financial liability.

Badenoch told the Commons that "several serious allegations were made against the government's my department and its officials” over the weekend and “these allegations are completely false.”

Badenoch said that she had gone to “great pains” to make her concerns about Staunton’s conduct “private” and that she had minuted notes of the phone call where Staunton was dismissed. 

She also said that there was “no evidence whatsoever” that he was asked to stall compensation.

Speaking on Monday afternoon, she said: “I would hope the most people reading the interview in yesterday's on the Sunday Times would see it for what it was; a blatant attempt to seek revenge following dismissal.”

She added: “I must say that I regret the way in which these events have unfolded. We did everything we could to manage this dismissal in a dignified way for Mr Staunton and others.  

“However, I will not hesitate to defend myself and more importantly, my officials who cannot respond directly to these baseless attacks.”

Staunton had told Sky News earlier on Monday that there had not been “any real movement” on the payouts until the ITV programme Mr Bates Vs The Post Office aired at the start of the year. 

He said: “It was in the interests of the business as well as being fair for the postmasters that there was faster progress on exoneration and that compensation was more generous, but we didn't see any real movement until after the Mr Bates programme.

"I think it is pretty obvious to everyone what was really going on.” 

Hundreds of subpostmasters were prosecuted using incorrect data from the Horizon IT system. Mr Staunton had been Post Office chairman since the end of 2022, but last month it was reported that he had left the position.

Last month, Rishi Sunak pledged to “right the wrongs of the past” by bringing forward legislation to exonerate and compensate people who were victims of the scandal. He described the scandal as “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our nation’s history” and insisted that victimes “must get justice and compensation”. 

“Today I can announce that we will introduce new primary legislation to make sure that those convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal are swiftly exonerated and compensated,” he said.“We will make sure that the truth comes to light, we right the wrongs of the past, and the victims get the justice they deserve.”

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