Published On: Tue, Feb 27th, 2024

Post Office scandal latest: Compensation for victims could take years | Politics | News


THE year is 2026 and tech-giant Amazon has just bought the Post Office for £1.

Soon afterwards, it releases a new three-part drama ‘Mr Staunton & Mr Read vs The Post Office’.

The long-awaited sequel to ITV’s similarly-named series, two years previously, focuses on the fallout from the Horizon scandal.

Central to the barely-believable plot of resignation threats, investigations and rows with a Cabinet Minister are the Post Office’s former Chairman and its Chief-Executive (as of February 2024).

All sounds a bit far fetched?

Not if you happened to be watching yesterday’s Parliament’s Business and Trade committee meeting.

During this real-world drama, MPs grilled civil servants and Post Office bigwigs – both former and current – on how compensation claims are going following the IT debacle.

Badly, slowly, shambolically. It was a grim watch.

Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates told the committee the Post Office is so terrible it should be “sold to someone like Amazon for £1”.

MPs heard desperate tales of people waiting months on end for compensation with another 1,000 claims for financial redress being added in the past month.

“I cannot see any end to this,” Mr Bates said wearily.

Beside the human and personal tragedy of the scandal is the melodrama unfolding between the Post Office, Civil Service and Government.

As way of, ahem, a simple recap – ex-Post Office Chairman Henry Staunton last month claimed he was told by a top civil servant in January 2023 to “stall compensation payments to help the Tories limp to the general election”.

Kemi Badenoch, the no-nonsense Cabinet Minister in charge of the Post Office, ousted him last month. She says his claims are lies.

During yesterday’s committee hearing Current PO Chief Executive Nick Read said he does not believe anyone was told by the Government to slow down the payments.

But Mr Staunton, no doubt safe in the knowledge that Ms Badenoch was thousands of miles away on government business in Abu Dhabi, doubled down on his claims.

Then he dropped the bombshell that Mr Read is under investigation by the Post Office HR team, not him.

Mr Read had also wanted to quit his role on four occasions, he added for good measure – despite the Chief Exec swearing on oath that he hadn’t.

Make sense…not me either.

Nor Tory MP Jonathan Gullis, who exhaustively clasped his head and said “this has blown my mind”.

He then jokingly suggested the aforementioned title of the next Post Office drama.

The dramatic eyes-right emoji face from Labour’s Kevan Jones, who’d managed to pinch a frontrow seat in the public gallery, seemed to sum it all up.

Let’s hope that 2026 doesn’t become a fantasy for the many sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses and they have all received their financial redress long before then.



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