Australia Post's chair has rejected the former CEO’s claim that she was “unlawfully” stood down.

Former AusPost CEO Christine Holgate resigned last year amid an investigation into the purchase of luxury watches for executives.

Ms Holgate has since accused chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo of forcing her out of the job “for no justified reason”. She says he threw her into a “media firestorm”, including lying to Parliament about the circumstances of her departure.

Mr Di Bartolomeo says he now wants to “correct" some of the allegations.

“Ms Holgate claims that she was unlawfully stood down. That is not correct,” he said.

“On 22 October 2020, Ms Holgate agreed with me to stand aside from her role pending the outcome of the Shareholder Departments' investigation and any further actions taken by Australia Post.

“My objective was, subject to the findings of the investigation, to have Ms Holgate back performing her role as soon as possible.”

Law firm Maddocks was called in to investigate and issued a report saying it found “no indication of dishonesty, fraud, corruption or intentional misuse of Australia Post funds by any individual involved in the matters relating to the purchase and gifting of the Cartier watches”.

Ms Holgate said that when she offered her resignation, she was sent a counter-offer by Mr Di Bartolomeo which would have prevented her from working for 12 months.

“That is not correct,” Mr Di Bartolomeo said.

“The existing provisions of Ms Holgate's contract of employment contained non-compete provisions, as is common for such senior executive roles.

“These provisions apply only to working for a competitor for a period of six months from the end of Ms Holgate's employment – and therefore expire on 2 May 2021.”

Mr Di Bartolomeo also said Ms Holgate is being provided with “extensive and ongoing support” in “recognition of the very unusual and difficult circumstances”..

The comments come from submissions made to a Senate inquiry, which is due to report by the end of the month.

Australia Post will appear before the hearing.