• Thursday, February 22, 2024

UK News

Post court ruling on software faults, Fujitsu won £1.4 billion new government contracts

A photograph taken on January 10, 2024 shows the logo of the Japanese multinational information and communications technology equipment and services corporation Fujitsu on the top of their Head Office building, in Bracknell, west of London. Between 1999 and 2015, some 700 Post Office branch managers were prosecuted, sometimes to the point of having their lives shattered, based on information from accounting software called Horizon, installed by Japanese tech giant Fujitsu at the end of the 1990s. A public inquiry into the scandal opened in February 2022 but has yet to examine who at the top of the Post Office knew what and when. Victims hope it will establish who was responsible for Post Office lawyers hounding innocent people through the courts even after credible doubts had been raised about Horizon. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Fujitsu, the Japanese technology company entangled in the Post Office scandal due to its defective Horizon system, is confirmed to have secured contracts exceeding £3.4 billion with entities connected to the UK Treasury since 2019.

This revelation comes despite a 2019 High Court finding that identified “bugs, errors, and defects” in the Horizon software, which had led to the unjust prosecution of numerous subpostmasters for alleged financial discrepancies, The Guardian reported.

Of the total contracts, £1.4 billion were allocated to Treasury-related bodies post the damning court verdict, while contracts amounting to more than £2 billion were signed before the judgment.

Despite the controversy, some of these contracts are ongoing, though Fujitsu has since declared a pause in bidding for UK public contracts until the Post Office scandal inquiry concludes.

The Commons’ treasury committee, in its efforts to scrutinise the government’s dealings with Fujitsu, has discovered significant contracts with major institutions like HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Bank of England (BoE). Specifically, HMRC engaged Fujitsu for contracts worth over £2.8 billion, with around £1.4 billion still active.

The FCA’s contracts with Fujitsu totaled £630 million during the scrutinised period, with current contracts slightly over £9 million. Meanwhile, the BoE had a singular contract with Fujitsu, valued at over £417,000, which concluded in August 2020.

The controversy centres around Fujitsu’s Horizon system, which falsely implicated more than 700 subpostmasters in financial mismanagement, leading to one of the gravest judicial errors in recent times.

Harriett Baldwin, the treasury committee’s chair, highlighted the committee’s findings as crucial for enhancing transparency and oversight of Fujitsu’s role in public sector procurement. Baldwin also welcomed Fujitsu’s commitment to contribute to the compensation of the affected postmasters.

The fallout from the scandal, further propelled into the public eye by the ITV series “Mr Bates vs The Post Office,” which caused national outrage has prompted the government to pledge legal remedies for the wrongfully accused, aiming to restore their reputations by overturning the unjust convictions linked to the Horizon system’s failures.

 

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