The boss of the Post Office has said he will return all of his bonus payment linked to the Horizon inquiry regarding hundreds of wrongfully convicted postmasters.
Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office, also apologised again for “procedural and governance mistakes made” in the firm linking significant bonus payments to work related to the inquiry into the miscarriage of justice.
Around 700 Post Office workers were convicted, and some sent to prison, for theft and false accounting between 2000 and 2014.
It was later revealed that errors linked to the Fujistu Horizon software were to blame.
The boss has said that he will voluntarily return this part of the £455,000 bonus he received for the 2021-22 financial year.
It is understood this part of the bonus is £54,400.
This includes around £13,000 of Mr Read’s bonus which he had previously committed to returning.
The company has not said whether other workers who received bonus payments linked to the inquiry will also return these significant payments.
The Post Office told Darren Jones MP, chair of the House of Commons business and trade committee, last week that 33 employees had paid back a total of £64,252 in payments linked to the inquiry sub-metric.
The head of the influential committee then threatened to haul bosses from the business back in front of the committee after it refused to fully commit to clawing back all executive bonuses linked to the inquiry.
Mr Jones said on Wednesday that he welcomed the chief’s action but called on all Post Office executives who received bonus cash related to co-operating with the inquiry to return it.
“Following my repeated requests, I’m pleased that the CEO of the Post Office has decided to return all of the bonus payments he received in respect of the statutory inquiry into the Post Office Horizon scandal,” the MP said.
“However, the Post Office is still failing to recognise that the entire bonus scheme as it related to the statutory inquiry was wrong.
“The Post Office’s engagement with a statutory public inquiry should never have needed bonus incentives for senior executives to do their day job, for which they are already paid.
“So, while I welcome Mr Read’s decision, I once again ask the Post Office to not only require 100% of the bonus payments related to the metric to be repaid by all senior executives, but to apologise for the morally bankrupt bonus scheme having ever existed in the first place.”
On Wednesday Mr Read had said: “I have made a personal decision to return voluntarily the full bonus payment attributed to the overall inquiry metric in the 2021/22 annual report and accounts.
“While neither the Simmons & Simmons report nor the Amanda Burton report found any basis to support suggestions of impropriety, and both stated that there was a justifiable basis to make the award, I hope this action will allow Post Office to redouble its focus on fully addressing the wrongs of the past and serving today’s postmasters.
“I would like to reiterate Post Office’s sincere apology for the procedural and governance mistakes made.”
Press Association – Henry Saker-Clark