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NFSP statement: More revelations show why an Oversight Committee is the only way forward

Feb 19, 2024 |

Colleagues will have been further dismayed by the news and reports that came out over the weekend and this is the reason the NFSP again reiterates that an Oversight Committee is the only way forward for Post Office Ltd (PO).

The former chairman of PO, Henry Staunton, said he was told to delay payouts to Horizon victims in an interview with The Sunday Times yesterday, while PO and government both released statements to dismiss those claims and others which Mr Staunton made. Given there are such a conflicting set of accounts, the NFSP asks who do postmasters believe or who is right?

The governance of PO is a fundamental problem that has been a significant aspect all the way through the Horizon scandal. Could the way government departments have worked against each other be one of the reasons hundreds of people were wrongly convicted and had their lives ruined? It would be a further insult to these victims if what is reported is correct. 

The question has to be asked as to whether government departments worked against each other back in 1997/1998 prior to the roll out of Horizon and according to the weekend reports may be still at play today when the replacement for Horizon is being developed. History cannot be allowed to repeat itself.

If the reports are correct, then it could suggest that the leadership of PO is currently an absolute mess, hence the reason why the NFSP believes the governance of the business has to change so that the investment postmasters have made in their businesses can be protected. The business cannot be allowed to lurch from crisis to crisis.

It is important postmasters have their voice heard at the strategic level of PO. An Oversight Committee will be beneficial to the Post Office Network, PO, and the government. It will enable different groups to work together to restore trust in a business that plays a significant role within communities and provides so much employment across the UK. 

The Oversight Committee is not designed to remove the need for a Board of Post Office, nor senior management to carry out day-to-day operations, but to complement the existing structure as it does in other industry sectors.

The NFSP are extending an invite to PO, the CWU, Unite and other key stakeholders, as per the instructions of the Postal Affairs Minister, to discuss the future of the overall business including its governance, and we hope to all meet in March.

The NFSP will hold a series of regional meetings over the coming months to engage with colleagues about the Oversight Committee and seek their views about the future governance of PO. We would encourage all colleagues to attend those meetings if they can.