Post Office row: The claims made by Henry Staunton and Kemi Badenoch

The row between Kemi Badenoch and the former Post Office chairman has deepened after he claimed he had been told to delay payouts to postmasters affected by the Horizon scandal.

In a lengthy statement to the Commons, the Business Secretary said allegations made by Henry Staunton on the weekend were a “blatant attempt to seek revenge” following his dismissal.

She issued a series of counter-accusations, including that he was being investigated over bullying allegations during his tenure.

Here is a list of the claims made and responses given by Mr Staunton and Ms Badenoch:

– Weeks after being sacked as Post Office chairman, Mr Staunton made a series of allegations about the Government’s handling of both his dismissal and the Post Office scandal.

Claim: He said Ms Badenoch had told him “someone’s got to take the rap” for Britain’s most widespread miscarriage of justice when she fired him.

Response: In a statement to MPs the following day, the Business Secretary acknowledged that claim and said “that wasn’t the reason at all” for his dismissal. She cited “significant governance issues”.

Claim: Mr Staunton, who was only appointed chairman of the company in December 2022, suggested he had been told by a senior civil servant to stall spending on compensation for Horizon victims to allow the Government to “limp into the election”.

He said he had made a note of the alleged remark at the time and emailed it to colleagues so it would be “traceable on the Post Office server.”

Response: Ms Badenoch told MPs there was “no evidence whatsoever” that the process had been dragged out and said it was a “disgrace” for Mr Staunton to suggest otherwise.

She said she hoped readers would see the account in the Sunday Times “for what it was: a blatant attempt to seek revenge following his dismissal”.

On Tuesday, Downing Street encouraged the Post Office to share the note referred to by Mr Staunton “if such a note exists” so that it can be investigated.

– In a post on X after the Sunday Times interview was published, the Business Secretary accused the former chairman of giving an account “full of lies” and providing “made-up anecdotes and a series of falsehoods” about their interaction.

She extended her attack in a statement to the Commons on Monday, claiming there had been “serious concerns about his behaviour”.

Claim: Addressing MPs, Ms Badenoch said Mr Staunton had been subject to a formal investigation over bullying allegations during his tenure.

She said concerns were also raised about his “willingness to cooperate” with the probe.

Number 10 suggested on Tuesday that “it was right” for the Business Secretary to make this statement in the Commons but insisted it could not “get into more detail about HR matters”.

Asked whether the Government would provide evidence that an investigation had been launched, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists he would not elaborate on the claim “beyond what the Business Secretary said”.

“They were certainly not raised by the Secretary of State at any stage and certainly not during the conversation which led to Mr Staunton’s dismissal. Such behaviour would in any case be totally out of character.”

They also said the former chairman stands by his account of the interactions surrounding his departure and the Post Office scandal.

Claim: The Business Secretary told MPs that Mr Staunton had “apparently wanted to bypass” the public appointment process for a new senior independence director at the Post Office.

She said he had “failed to properly consult” the board and “failed to consult the Government as a shareholder – which the company was required to do.”

Response: Mr Staunton’s spokesperson dismissed this claim as a “mischaracterisation”, saying an external candidate had been proposed but that the board ultimately voted 6-2 in favour of an internal candidate who was “in their view better qualified”.

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