February 26, 2024

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Postmaster Henry Staunton steps down

Postmaster Henry Staunton steps down
  • Written by Katherine Armstrong
  • BBC News

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Henry Staunton has been Postmaster General since December 2022

The postmaster has resigned amid ongoing tensions over the Horizon IT scandal which has seen hundreds of subpostmasters wrongly convicted.

The organization said that Business Minister Kemi Badenoch had asked Henry Staunton to leave the position.

She said the company was “rightfully” under intense scrutiny as public outrage over the scandal continued.

She said: “I felt there was a need for new leadership, and we parted ways by mutual consent.”

An interim president is expected to be appointed soon.

Mr Staunton has been in his role at the state-owned company since December 2022.

As part of the role, which was advertised with a salary of up to £150,000, he was tasked with leading the board and working to right the wrongs of the Horizon dispute.

Before that, he served on the boards of companies ranging from ITV to WH Smith.

A Post Office spokesman said: “On Saturday afternoon, the Post Office was informed that the Minister for Business and Trade had asked Henry Staunton to step down as Master Postmaster.

“The government has informed us that it will appoint an interim president soon.”

The government said the recruitment process will begin at the appropriate time.

Video explanation,

Watch: What is the reason for the dismissal of the post office? – Badenoch asked

Ms Badenoch told the BBC that she had been looking at the management surrounding the Post Office and that is what led her to decide that a new boss was needed.

“It wasn't working,” she said.

“It is very difficult to be asked to step down from a position,” she continued.

“But I decided — given all the difficulties the Post Office is facing, not just Horizon, but the whole business model, how to make it work — that we needed someone who could chair a board who could handle these things effectively.”

In an earlier appearance on Sky, Ms Badenoch did not rule out further staff changes at the organisation.

It comes as the Post Office reels from the fallout from the Horizon scandal, which has been described as the biggest miscarriage of justice in UK history.

More than 700 sub-postmasters and sub-postmasters were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 after faulty Horizon accounting software made it appear as if money was missing from their stores.

Many of those affected were financially devastated.

Senior figures from the Post Office and technology company Fujitsu, which developed Horizon, are facing questions at a public inquiry into what happened.

Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, who campaigned on behalf of sub-professors, told the BBC he was surprised that Staunton was leaving the post.

He said the departure was an opportunity to change the organization's culture and management.

Some fellow activists have accused the Post Office's leadership of being too slow to provide compensation and rushing to distribute bonuses to top managers.

They hope the appointment of a new president will signal the beginning of more widespread changes.

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