No.10 Denies Claims Post Office Was Told To Stall Horizon Scandal Compensation Payments

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch has accused ex-Post Office chairman Henry Staunton of lying.
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Downing Street has denied allegations the Post Office was asked to delay paying compensation to victims of the Horizon IT scandal.

Henry Staunton, the former chairman of the Post Office, 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.

Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said on Monday: “We refute his allegations over the weekend.

“We have sped up compensation to victims. Any suggestion otherwise is not correct.”

Henry Staunton has claimed he was told to slow down compensation payments to victims of the Horizon IT scandal.
Henry Staunton has claimed he was told to slow down compensation payments to victims of the Horizon IT scandal.

Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, sacked Staunton from his job in January amid accusations about his conduct.

Staunton also claimed she told him he was being removed as someone had to “take the rap” for the Horizon affair.

But in a series of angry tweets, Badenoch said she had evidence that Staunton was lying - although she has yet to produce it.

No.10 said: “The business secretary asked Henry Staunton to step down over serious concerns over his conduct and his ability to deliver justice to postmasters.”

The Horizon IT scandal saw hundreds of Post Office workers wrongly accused of fraud. More than 4,000 people are in line to receive compensation.

Staunton, who was made Post Office chairman in December 2022, told The Sunday Times: “Early on, I was told by a fairly senior person to stall on spend on compensation and on the replacement of Horizon, and to limp, in quotation marks - I did a file note on it - limp into the election.

“It was not an anti-postmaster thing, it was just straight financials. I didn’t ask, because I said: ‘I’m having no part of it - I’m not here to limp into the election, it’s not the right thing to do by postmasters’.”

When he was removed from the post in January 2024, he said Badenoch told. him: “Well, someone’s got to take the rap for this.”

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.


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