Henry Staunton

Ministers are under pressure to explain claims by the former Post Office chairman that he was told to delay paying compensation to victims of the Horizon IT scandal.

Henry Staunton told The Sunday Times a senior civil servant asked him to stall the payments so the government could “limp into the election” with the lowest possible financial liability.

He was appointed chairman in December 2022 but then sacked by business secretary Kemi Badenoch in January 2024.

It came amid huge public outcry over the Horizon IT scandal which saw hundreds of Post Office workers wrongly accused of fraud.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said Staunton’s allegations were “incredibly serious”.

“Under no circumstances should compensation to victims be delayed and to do so for party political purposes would be a further insult to sub-postmasters,” he said.

“The Labour Party has called for all sub-postmasters to be exonerated and compensation paid swiftly so that victims can begin to draw this awful chapter to a close.”

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “These allegations are deeply disturbing and Ministers must come to Parliament and explain exactly what has happened at the earliest opportunity.

“The victims of this horrific miscarriage of justice need swift and fair compensation. It is the least they deserve.”

Michael Tomlinson, the illegal immigration minister, told Times Radio it was “not right” that Staunton had been told to slow walk payments.

“That’s not something that I accept or recognise,” he said. ’We’re encouraging postmasters to come forward and claim the compensation that they deserve.

Davey, as a business minister in the coalition had oversight of the Post Office, has said he is “deeply sorry” for his role in not preventing the scandal.

The Post Office prosecuted more than 700 workers for fraud and false accounting based on data from its faulty Fujitsu computer system between 2000 and 2015.

Hundreds received criminal records, and had to do community service, wear electronic tags or serve jail time.

Some sub-postmasters had even been trying to top up any losses showing up Horizon’s system with their own money.

The Post Office can investigate and prosecute without the police’s help.

For years, it stood by its accusations, and tackled queries about its management or its IT system through legal means, maintaining that Horizon was “robust” and that its monetary losses were not due to the faults in the system.

The stress – and sometimes bankruptcy – brought on by the case left many victims struggling with illness. Families broke down and people were cast out of their communities. There have been at least four suicides linked to the scandal.

A public inquiry is also being held into the scandal, which hit the headlines again over Christmas thanks to the ITV drama ’Mr Bates vs the Post Office.”

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QOSHE - Ministers 'Must Explain' Claim Post Office Was Told To Delay Horizon Scandal Payments - Ned Simons
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Ministers 'Must Explain' Claim Post Office Was Told To Delay Horizon Scandal Payments

9 9
18.02.2024

Henry Staunton

Ministers are under pressure to explain claims by the former Post Office chairman that he was told to delay paying compensation to victims of the Horizon IT scandal.

Henry Staunton told The Sunday Times a senior civil servant asked him to stall the payments so the government could “limp into the election” with the lowest possible financial liability.

He was appointed chairman in December 2022 but then sacked by business secretary Kemi Badenoch in January 2024.

It came amid huge public outcry over the Horizon IT scandal which saw hundreds of Post Office workers wrongly accused of fraud.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said Staunton’s allegations were “incredibly serious”.

“Under no circumstances should compensation to victims be delayed and to do so for party........

© HuffPost


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