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Sachdev in frame to replace sacked Post Office chairman Staunton

The chairman of the Land Registry is being considered by ministers as a potential replacement for Henry Staunton, the Post Office chairman who was sacked earlier this year.

Sky News has learnt that Neil Sachdev is among a small number of final candidates to become interim chair of the Post Office.

Mr Sachdev, who also chairs the East West Railway Company, is understood to have been interviewed by the Department for Business and Trade alongside at least one contender from a private sector background, according to industry sources.

One said that ministers were keen to finalise the appointment within weeks amid continuing controversy over the compensation schemes set up for hundreds of sub-postmasters who were victims of the Horizon IT scandal.

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

Sky News revealed in January that Mr Staunton was being forced out of his role by Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, amid disquiet in Whitehall over corporate governance challenges at the state-owned company.

The ensuing weeks exposed deep fissures both between the Post Office board and government, and within the Post Office itself.

Mr Staunton testified to MPs last month that an investigation had been ordered into the conduct of Nick Read, the Post Office chief executive.

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Staunton says investigation was made into Nick Read

A report arising from that investigation is expected to be published next month, with Mr Read’s future expected to be called into question unless he is exonerated, according to Post Office insiders.

The emergence of that probe came after Kevin Hollinrake, the Post Office minister, told the House of Commons that Mr Read had sought to double his pay, with reports suggesting he had threatened to resign unless his demands were met.

When Sky News approached the Post Office in 2022 about Mr Read’s pay demands, it denied he had made any such requests.

The governance rows have overshadowed the government’s frantic efforts to exert a grip on the wider Post Office scandal.

This month, ministers announced unprecedented legislation to quash all convictions in England and Wales arising from the Horizon crisis would be introduced.

The bill is expected to pass into law during the summer.

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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.

Mr Sachdev has chaired the Land Registry, which is also owned by the government, since 2022.

He also chairs the Defence Infrastructure Organisation board for the Ministry of Defence, and has served as a non-executive director of Network Rail Property Limited.

One person who has worked with him said he was a “solid” operator who was a logical candidate for the Post Office.

The likelihood of him landing the role against other candidates in the process were unclear, however.

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.

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 did not respond to a request for comment on the chair appointment process on Friday.

Sky News Source