Rishi Sunak Declines to Show Confidence in Post Office CEO Amid Investigation

credit: times-series

London (Parliament Politics Maganize) – Rishi Sunak refrains from endorsing Post Office CEO Nick Read amid investigation; Prime Minister deems it inappropriate to comment publicly.

PM Rishi Sunak has refused to express confidence in Post Office chief executive Nick Read after it appeared he is under investigation. The Prime Minister informed MPs that it would be “inappropriate” for him to state when challenged in the Commons to back Mr. Read’s company leadership.

His reaction came a day after Downing Street offered guarantees over Mr. Read after former Post Office chairman Henry Staunton emphasized the existence of an 80-page report compiled by the organization’s HR director.

Mr. Staunton, who claims he has been the victim of a “smear campaign” since his public fallout with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, said his behavior was only referenced once in the document regarding Mr. Read.

Talking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour MP Kevan Jones described the Commons: “After yesterday’s revelation that Nick Read, the CEO of the Post Office, is under investigation for an 80-page report written by the former head of HR at the Post Office, does the Prime Minister and the Business Secretary have confidence in Nick Read’s leadership at the Post Office?”

Mr. Sunak replied: “It would be inappropriate for me to comment on an investigation before completion. Our focus remains working closely with the Post Office to ensure it delivers justice for postmasters caught up in this historic scandal, and that is why we will imminently bring forward legislation that we promised.”

On Tuesday, questioned if the Government and No 10 have confidence in Mr Read, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Yes.” Labor former minister Dame Angela Eagle asked why Mr. Sunak had opted not to comment, adding: “And yet he allows his Trade Secretary to comment freely, loudly and often on Twitter.

“Is he content with her activities and behavior in this respect?”

Mr. Sunak responded: “The Business Secretary set out her position explicitly and clearly in the House last week, and actually, since then, and despite some of the claims that were made by the party opposite, the former permanent secretary at the department has completely refuted the claims that were made, and yesterday the current CEO and the director of business resilience at the department refuted Mr Staunton’s recollection.”

Mr. Staunton’s comments about the 80-page report came to light at Tuesday’s evidence session with MPs on the Business and Trade Committee. He previously stated he had been told to delay payouts to subpostmasters affected by problems with the Horizon computer system, which led to Ms. Badenoch accusing him of spreading “made-up anecdotes.”

Questioned if he was informed that his behavior was under investigation in November last year, Mr. Staunton stated: “What there is 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.

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“This was not an investigation into me; this was an investigation based on the 80-page document prepared by the HR director.”

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.