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Post Office bosses earned millions despite scandal

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How much did the people running the Post Office get paid while the flawed Horizon system was in place?
By looking through the company accounts for the Post Office and Royal Mail, the BBC has come up with a figure – £19.4m over 24 years.
Before 2012, Royal Mail and the Post Office were part of the same organisation – and its three successive chief executives, John Roberts, Adam Crozier and Dame Moya Greene, made a total of £12.8m. All three of them are due to appear at Horizon Inquiry which resumes on 9 April.
From 2012 onwards, the chief executives of the separated Post Office, Paula Vennells then Nick Read, have made a total of £6.5m.
That's an average of less than £1m a year – compared to the £3.91m the average boss of Britain's 100 biggest listed companies earned in 2022.
It's a huge sum compared to the salary of average workers, or for sub-postmasters still waiting for compensation.
The Post Office argues that it is a very large, complex business which has to compete with other organisations for talent, and uses external consultants to advise on executive pay. So who are the Post Office bosses and what did each of them earn?
Mr Read, a former captain of Dragoons who had been chief executive of Nisa Retail, joined in September 2019, a few months after 550 sub-postmasters won a dramatic High Court victory.
He agreed a much higher base salary than his predecessor, Ms Vennells, earning £415,000 a year compared to her £255,000.
However, he has less scope to earn bonuses – and those bonuses have fallen around £500,000 below the maximum he could have made because of the pandemic, the Horizon Inquiry, and the financial performance of the business.
As a result has ended up earning slightly less on average than Ms Vennells.
He returned £54,000 which was incorrectly paid for helping the Inquiry to finish – it's still ongoing.
For 2022/23 he made a bonus of £137,000 out of the maximum £383,210 he might have hoped to earn.
In February, it emerged the Post Office had asked government for permission to double his pay.
Ms Vennells took over as Post Office managing director in 2010, and stayed in the top job until April 2019. This period saw the prosecution of more than 100 sub-postmasters, a failed mediation scheme, and the sub-postmasters' court case culminating in a victory in the High Court.
A part-time Church of England vicar, she became one of the most recognisable faces of the scandal, featuring prominently in the ITV drama Mr Bates vs. the Post Office.
Ms Vennells earned £5.1m during her time at the helm of the Post Office, peaking at £718,300 in 2018. That year her base salary was £253,800 and she earned £390,800 in bonuses (plus pensions and other benefits).
Through her lawyers, Ms Vennells issued the following statement: "I remain truly sorry for the suffering caused to sub-postmasters, their families and all those whose lives were torn apart by being… wrongly prosecuted. I continue to fully support and focus on co-operating with the Inquiry."
Mr Crozier became the Royal Mail's chief executive in 2003, following roles as boss of the Football Association and the advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi.
He regularly drew headlines for his high salary – he earned as much as £3m in pay and bonuses in 2007-08, raising the ire of unions protesting about the closure of thousands of Post Offices.
He made a total of £9.7m in pay and bonuses in his time at Royal Mail, as well as a pension valued at £1.1m in 2008. From 2003 to 2009 the Post Office secured more than 400 convictions in England and Wales using Horizon data, according to evidence released to the Inquiry.
At the time the Post Office was part of Royal Mail, but had a separate board which Mr Crozier didn't sit on. He said in a statement: "While I did not have any involvement in the Horizon issue during my time at Royal Mail, I feel deeply sorry for those whose lives were ruined by what happened."
He left unexpectedly in 2010 to become chief executive of ITV.
Canadian Dame Moya took over in July 2010, and earned a total of £1.88m before the Royal Mail formally split with the Post Office.
Mr Smith briefly filled in as managing director of the Post Office before Ms Vennells, from April to October 2010, before moving to chief customer officer of Royal Mail. He was the one who greeted the conviction of Seema Misra, the Postmistress from Surrey who was wrongly jailed while pregnant, with the words "brilliant news," according to evidence submitted at the Horizon Inquiry. He was paid £636,000 in 2010-11.
Mr Cook was Post Office managing director from 2006 to 2010. He earned a total of £3m in that time, including £1.2m in his final year. He was quoted by his local newspaper, the Milton Keynes Citizen saying he would "never forgive himself" for not knowing that hundreds of people were being prosecuted while he was in charge. He said he didn't know there were problems with Horizon until shortly before he left.
In 2010, a long-term bonus scheme paid out to a number of Royal Mail bosses, including Mr Cook. That year the Post Office convicted 58 people in England and Wales.
Mr Mills, a former HSBC banker who founded the pioneering telephone bank First Direct, joined as Post Office chief executive in 2002.
He earned a total of £1.3m in pay and bonuses over four years, peaking at £816,000 in the year he left, 2006, which included £486,000 compensation for loss of office.
Mr Roberts, who spent his whole career at the Post Office, was chief executive for six years, a period he described as a "rollercoaster ride".
His time in office saw the disastrous launch of Horizon and the short-lived rebrand to "Consignia".
From 1999 to his retirement in 2002 he earned £1.2m. In his last year he earned £225,852 including benefits (with a final-salary pension on top). He and the finance director Jerry Cope both agreed to waive their salary increases for 2001-2, citing the "perilous state" of the business. The next year he earned £503,000 which included £119,000 pay in lieu of notice.
John Roberts declined to comment. Alan Cook, Dame Moya Greene, and David Smith did not respond to the BBC's requests for comment.
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