‘Full of lies’: Kemi Badenoch hits back at former Post Office boss in Horizon row

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch has hit back at the former chairman of the Post Office, accusing him of lying in a row over the handling of the Horizon scandal.

Badenoch launched the attack on Henry Staunton, who was ousted by the business secretary last month, after he claimed that he had been told by a senior government official to slow down the payment of compensation for sub-postmasters to allow the Conservative Party to “limp into”  the next election.

Staunton told The Sunday Times that the alleged request from a senior Whitehall civil servant was linked to concerns about the cost of the payouts.

He claimed he was told “by a fairly senior person to stall on spend on compensation and on the replacement of Horizon”.

He added: “It was not an anti-postmaster thing, it was just straight financials. I didn’t ask, because I said ‘”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’.

“The word ‘limp’ gives you a snapshot of where they were.”

Badenoch hit back at Staunton on Sunday, saying his comments were “full of lies”.

She said her call with the former Post Office boss “was with officials” who took a “complete record”.

In a series of messages on X, formerly known as Twitter, she also revealed there had been allegations about his conduct by whistleblowers.

In full, Badenoch said: “The Henry Staunton Sunday Times interview is a disgraceful misrepresentation of my conversation with him and the reasons for his dismissal. 

“This was all explained to the journalist who chose to ignore the facts and run with Staunton’s words. Here are the facts:

“Far from ‘taking the rap’, I dismissed Staunton due to very serious allegations about his conduct while Chair of the Post Office, including blocking an investigation into that conduct. My department is responsible for whistleblowers and I wouldn’t ignore the allegations.

“My call with Staunton was with officials. They took a complete record. He has given an interview full of lies about our conversation during his dismissal. The details will emerge soon enough as I won’t let the matter rest here, but will be discussing with [government] lawyers.

“Henry Staunton had a lack of grip getting justice for postmasters. The serious concerns over his conduct were the reasons I asked him to step down.

“That he chose to run to the media with made up anecdotes and a series of falsehoods, confirms I made the correct decision. 

“It is important that the facts are not misrepresented on the basis of this interview as the Labour party (ever ready to jump on a bandwagon) is already doing. We will make a statement tomorrow telling the truth about what’s been happening”.

The Post Office scandal was pushed into the public eye following the airing of ITV drama, Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which documented the long legal fight by hundreds of sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses who were wrongfully blamed for financial discrepancies caused by the Horizon IT system between 1999 and 2015.

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “The Horizon scandal is widely accepted to be one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history.

“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.

“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.”

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said Staunton’s claims were “deeply disturbing”.

He said that “ministers must come to parliament and explain exactly what has happened at the earliest opportunity”.

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