'Have Some Respect': Keir Starmer Slams Tory MPs For Heckling During Horizon Scandal Grilling

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer told Tory MPs to “have some respect” for the victims of the Post Office Horizon IT scandal, after he was heckled during PMQs.

During the clash on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak also refused to repeat the claim by Kemi Badenoch that the ex-chairman of the Post Office had lied about being asked to delay compensation payments.

Henry Staunton told The Sunday Times a senior civil servant asked him to stall the payouts so the Tories could save money and “limp” to the election.

Badenoch, the business secretary, has forcefully rejected the accusation as “full of lies”.

But The Times has obtained a contemporaneous note Staunton made of a conversation with Sarah Munby, the then permanent secretary at the business department, which appears to back up his claim.

Asked by Starmer if he was prepared to “personally to repeat the allegation” of lying, the prime minister notably did not.

Instead, Sunak would only say the government had taken “unprecedented steps” to “ensure victims of the Horizon scandal do receive compensation as swiftly as possible and in full”.

As the Labour leader read out the words of one of the victims of the scandal, he was heckled by Tory backbenchers.

“There is a lack of transparency,” Starmer said the victim had said. “Everything gets shrouded in secrecy.”

As Tory MPs shouted across the chamber, Starmer told them: “These are his words. Have some respect please. He is a victim.”

In the note Staunton wrote that Munby told him the Post Office needed to “hobble” to the election and not to “rip off” the financial “band aid”.

Staunton initially recalled the word “limp” had been used rather than “hobble”, but they mean the same thing.

The Horizon IT scandal saw hundreds of Post Office workers wrongly accused of fraud, based on data from its faulty Fujitsu computer system between 2000 and 2015.

Hundreds received criminal records, and had to do community service, wear electronic tags or serve jail time.