THE Royal Mail last night announced they had terminated the contract of renowned troubleshooter Sir John Harvey-Jones after he proposed substituting postmen for cats.
Harvey-Jones was recruited by postal chiefs in January in a desperate bid to revive their flagging fortunes.
The knight of the realm - made famous by his TV series Troubleshooter - was seen as the ideal man to get the Royal Mail back on track after years of mismanagement.
After signing his £1million contract, Harvey-Jones spent months locked away in a secret office before writing up his initial report.
He finally delivered his findings yesterday at a top-level board meeting - but Royal Mail chiefs were stunned by his outlandish plans.
Harvey-Jones recommended laying off the entire delivery staff and training cats to take letters to houses instead.
A leaked extract from his report "Feline fine again" said: "Cats are dedicated and highly-intelligent animals. Given the proper training I'm sure they could perform such a menial task.
"They are also highly unlikely to form organised trade unions and the company would therefore avoid costly labour disputes."
When asked if this was the only conclusion of his long investigation, Harvey-Jones replied: "Yes, just cats. I thought about dogs but they couldn't be trusted."
Royal Mail chiefs then told the respected businessman his services would no longer be required.
A statement said: "We have terminated the contract of Mr Harvey-Jones with immediate effect. Having finally gained access to his secret office, we would also like to make it known that we have several cats for sale. If no-one takes them off our hands, they have a date with a sack of bricks and a river."
Mr Harvey-Jones expressed regret over the split, claiming the decision summed up the Royal Mail's "narrow-mindedness".
He added: "You bastards won't be laughing at me when you hear a paw tapping at your door in a few years time."