Horizon probe | Post Office CEO under HR investigation, ex-chairman reveals

Post Office CEO under HR investigation, ex-chairman reveals

The Post Office’s CEO is being investigated by HR, the firm’s ex-chairman revealed to a shocked panel of MPs.

Politicians have been quizzing senior members of the Post Office and Fujitsu in recent weeks over the Horizon IT scandal, which saw as many as 900 sub-postmasters wrongly convicted of theft.

The Post Office’s former chair, Henry Staunton, was being grilled by the select committee in the past few days, and made a handful of shocking revelations.

The MPs had heard from earlier witnesses that Staunton’s behaviour was the subject of an internal investigation. However, Staunton, who was removed from his role last month, revealed that it was the current chief executive, Nick Read, who was actually at the centre of an HR probe.

Staunton sought to back up his claims by presenting a heavily redacted 80-page document as evidence, which reportedly included claims that Read had fallen out with the company’s HR Director.

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"This was a big investigation into Nick. And I didn't realise you weren't aware of that," he told the MPs.

Staunton said there was only one paragraph in the report relating to him - alleging he had made ‘politically incorrect remarks’ - but the ex-boss ‘strenuously denied’ such allegations.

He told the committee: “Mr Read fell out with his HR director and she produced a 'speak up' document which was 80 pages thick.

"Within that, was one paragraph... about comments that I allegedly made. So this is an investigation, not into me, this is an investigation made into the chief executive Nick Read.

"That one paragraph you could say was about politically incorrect comments attributed to me which I strenuously deny."

The Post Office itself has since confirmed that Read is indeed under investigation following a complaint, but insisted there was no evidence of Read planning to quit.

The company did not reveal the nature of the complaints against Read.

In an open letter to Post Office employees, Senior Independent Director Ben Tidswell explained: “I know that Nick Read has at times felt the weight of Post Office’s awful history on his shoulders. It is no surprise, and is entirely appropriate, that he will have discussed this, in confidence, with the former chairman.

“However, to my knowledge he has never tendered his resignation and he continues to accept leadership responsibility for the challenges that we are all working on each day.”

Tidswell went on: “Post Office has received a complaint against a number of people within the organisation – Nick is one of those employees – and I am sure you will all agree that Post Office should investigate every complaint with due process. Nick accepts this and has cooperated fully with the investigation.

“In spite of the distractions happening around us, the Board asks that we all remain focused on supporting the government to bring about faster justice and redress to victims, and helping build a Post Office that supports the Postmasters of today.”

The Department for Business and Trade said that it was aware that Read was under investigation but it had not seen the 80-page report Staunton had revealed at the hearing.

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