The chairman of the Post Office, Henry Staunton, has resigned amidst ongoing tensions following the Horizon IT scandal, which resulted in hundreds of sub-postmasters being falsely convicted. Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch stated that she and Staunton mutually agreed to part ways due to the Post Office’s increased scrutiny and the need for new leadership. However, the Post Office claimed that Staunton was asked to leave. An interim chair is expected to be appointed soon.
Staunton had been leading the state-owned company since December 2022. His role, which came with a salary of up to £150,000, involved leading the board of directors and addressing the issues arising from the Horizon dispute. Before this, Staunton had served on the boards of various companies, including ITV and WH Smith.
The Post Office announced that the business and trade secretary had requested Staunton’s resignation as chairman. The government is yet to provide a reason for Staunton’s dismissal and has not responded to BBC’s requests for information. A recruitment process for a new chairman will be initiated soon.
Sky News first reported the story, citing an insider who claimed there had been multiple sources of tension between Staunton and the government in recent months. However, it was clarified that Staunton’s departure was not directly linked to the Post Office scandal.
The Post Office is currently dealing with the aftermath of the Horizon scandal, considered the largest miscarriage of justice in UK history. Over 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 due to faulty Horizon accounting software that falsely indicated missing money from their shops. The scandal gained public attention after being portrayed in an ITV drama, resulting in former Post Office head Paula Vennells returning her CBE.
Senior figures from the Post Office and Fujitsu, the developer of Horizon software, are currently facing a public inquiry regarding the scandal.