Post Office Governance and Horizon Compensation Schemes - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:35 pm on 21 February 2024.

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Photo of Lord Offord of Garvel Lord Offord of Garvel The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) 7:35, 21 February 2024

As I said, we are in a situation now where dialogue quite rightly is happening—and minuted, as always—between officials and representatives of Post Office Ltd. The appointment of the senior independent director was one of the issues that the board were at odds over. The chairman wished to promote an internal candidate and the Department for Business and Trade wanted to bring in an external candidate—which was also the advice of the UK Government, the shareholder executive.

In this situation, when an investigation of why this was happening was brought to bear, that too was blocked by the chair. So there was a situation where the board was not working properly and we had to change the chair. It was as simple as that. The chair had to be changed to make sure the board worked properly. There was no concept of him being there to take the rap for the Horizon scandal.

He has made a second claim, and I advise noble Lords to read the notes carefully to understand this. The conflation going on here concerns the discussion with Sarah Munby in January. The chairman was appointed in December 2022. There was a discussion with the Permanent Secretary in January 2023. That was the first discussion after she wrote the letter saying “Here’s your three priorities”. It was the first meeting between the Permanent Secretary and the newly appointed chair, to say, “Right, you’ve been in post for a month, you’ve looked under the bonnet, what have you found?”