Post Office chief braced for publication of crunch ‘bullying’ report

Business

The future of Nick Read, the embattled Post Office chief executive, will be determined this week with the publication of a report triggered by whistleblowing allegations about the conduct of the state-owned company’s bosses.

Sky News has learnt that an independent report compiled by Marianne Tutin, a barrister at Devereux Chambers, has been submitted to ministers amid the ongoing crisis about the wrongful prosecution of hundreds of sub-postmasters.

One source said they anticipated that the inquiry would not precipitate Mr Read’s resignation or ousting by the government.

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Scrutiny of Mr Read’s behaviour intensified earlier this year when Henry Staunton, the former Post Office chairman, told a House of Commons select committee that an 80-page document had been written by the company’s former human resources director under its “Speak Up” policy.

Mr Staunton, who was informed of his sacking in January, and which was revealed by Sky News, made a number of allegations about the report’s contents, including apparent threats by Mr Read to resign over his pay package and claims of bullying made against him.

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The Post Office chief executive responded by saying he rejected any allegations of bullying and insisted that he had never threatened to quit over his remuneration.

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It was unclear on Monday whether the report led by Ms Tutin would be published in full, with redactions or in summary.

An insider said they expected its contents to be “surprising” given the nature of Mr Staunton’s public allegations about Mr Read.

The row stoked by Mr Staunton after his sacking by Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, erupted as the government sought to introduce legislation that would quash the wrongful convictions of sub-postmasters in what has been labelled Britain’s worst miscarriage of justice.

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The slow progress of compensation payments has also angered many victims of the scandal.

Ministers are aiming to make a swift appointment to replace Mr Staunton, although the Land Registry chairman, Neil Sachdev, is not expected to take the role despite making it onto a shortlist of candidates.

The interim chair would, if they enjoyed a successful initial tenure, be considered a frontrunner to take the job on a longer-term basis.


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Whoever lands the role of Post Office chair will have a critical role to play in smoothing the leadership challenges at the top of the organisation, as well as negotiating with officials over the company’s future funding requirements.

The government’s shareholding in Post Office Limited is managed by UK Government Investments (UKGI), which is also responsible for the public’s stakes in Channel 4, the Met Office and other state-owned companies.

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The Post Office relies on government funding to operate, and has been struggling in recent years amid tougher competition across the sectors in which it operates.

The Department for Business and Trade and Post Office both declined to comment on Monday.

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