Post Office chief executive exonerated of all misconduct claims

Post Office chief executive \

It follows an external report, which the Post Office has not released

Post Office chief executive Nick Read has been “exonerated of all misconduct allegations” following a report into his behaviour.

The external report, which the Post Office has not released, was said by former chairman Henry Staunton to contain allegations about Mr Read’s “conduct and lack of his management of the many governance and compliance issues”.

Mr Staunton previously told the Business and Trade Committee that there was an attitude from “Read and his henchmen” towards the company’s former HR director as a “pain in the arse for focusing on tackling the toxic culture rather than prioritising Read’s salary”.

He said the document, which he referred to during his evidence to MPs in February, included Mr Read’s “badgering over his salary and repeated threats to resign”.

The Post Office said Mr Staunton’s claims contained “inaccuracies and falsehoods” and Mr Read told his staff last month that he “absolutely refutes” bullying claims.

On Wednesday, the organisation said the report, compiled by barrister Marianne Tutin of Devereux Chambers, had exonerated Mr Read of all misconduct allegations and he had the “united backing of the board”.

A spokesman for the Department of Business and Trade (DBT) said Mr Read now has “the confidence of the Government”.

In a statement, the Post Office said: “Over the last few months an independent barrister has been investigating a Speak Up complaint into various allegations, which included a number of misconduct allegations against our CEO, Nick Read.

“Following several interviews and examination of documents by the barrister, Nick has been exonerated of all the misconduct allegations and has the full and united backing of the Board to continue to lead the business.

“The Board regards the Speak Up process as critical to the open and supportive culture it wants to encourage at the Post Office.

“The integrity of that Speak Up process relies on confidentiality for whistleblowers and therefore we will not be providing further detail on this or any other Speak Up investigation.

“It is unacceptable that this specific process was referred to in the public domain but notwithstanding that, Post Office wants to make clear that Speak Up allegations will always be thoroughly and consistently investigated, whoever they are aimed at.”

The Post Office said the external investigator has made recommendations on improvements that can be made to the company’s processes.

The statement added: “Those recommendations are helpful and we will ensure that they are properly and promptly addressed going forward.”

A DBT spokesman said: “Ministers are pleased to confirm that the independent barrister has cleared the Post Office CEO, Nick Read, of the allegations against him and he remains in post and has the confidence of the Government.

“We feel this report has drawn a line under the issue and now regard the matter as closed, which allows us to turn our full attention to ensuring postmasters are compensated quickly and fairly.

“The Government has already paid out £190 million to over 2,800 Post Office victims.

“This comes as legislation makes its way through Parliament to quash the convictions of hundreds of innocent sub-postmasters wrongly convicted as a result of the Horizon scandal.”

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