Politics

Fujitsu ‘to have received £3.4bn in Treasury-linked deals since 2019’ despite role in Post Office scandal

Fujitsu is set to have received more than £3.4bn through contracts from Treasury-linked organisations since 2019, despite its role in the Post Office scandal, MPs have found.

The international tech firm, which is under intense scrutiny, was awarded around £1.4bn worth of deals since a 2019 High Court ruling concluding there had been numerous bugs and errors in its Horizon IT system.

More than £2bn worth of contracts were agreed before 2019 and remained active in the following period, the Commons Treasury Committee said.

The committee – which examines Treasury expenditure and policy – wrote to organisations last month including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England (BoE) demanding details of their agreements with Fujitsu.

MPs called for the revelation of contracts after the boss of Fujitsu in Europe admitted that staff knew of faults in Horizon as far back as 1999.

The committee reported all three spent considerable sums with Fujitsu Services Ltd or Fujitsu Global-owned entities:

  • HMRC awarded Fujitsu eight contracts worth £1.39bn since the ruling in 2019, while a further six contracts before the ruling remained active after 2019 but have since ended.
  • The FCA – an independent regulator from the government but which reports to the Treasury – agreed deals worth around £630m dating back to 2007 which continued to run after the High Court judgment, and still maintains six contracts worth a combined total of around £9m.
  • The Bank of England confirmed it had one contract worth £417,000 from 2019 which expired in August 2020.

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Fujitsu boss apologises to subpostmasters

The committee had asked them whether Fujitsu’s role in the Horizon scandal was considered during the tendering process and if they thought about ending the deals in light of the scandal.

More on Post Office Scandal

It said the only response received was about a possible termination from the FCA which confirmed it considered closing a contract with the firm due to poor performance but decided to keep its services.

Chairwoman of the committee and Tory MP Harriett Baldwin said she “hopes this will aid transparency and scrutiny around the role of Fujitsu as a public sector supplier”.

The spotlight is on Fujitsu following the ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, which depicted how hundreds of sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses were wrongly held responsible for accounting errors in the faulty software developed by the company.

Between 1999 and 2015, more than 700 were prosecuted, causing many to lose their jobs, livelihoods and reputations.

It is considered the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history.

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Britain’s biggest miscarriages of justice

Read more:
Post Office hero to refuse ‘offensive’ compensation offer
New concerns raised over second IT system used in branches

Rishi Sunak announced that a new law would be introduced to exonerate and compensate those caught up in the Horizon scandal and that those who were part of the group litigation order against the Post Office would also be eligible for an upfront payment of £75,000.

Fujitsu offered its “deepest apologies” to victims of the scandal and said it would contribute towards compensation payments for those wrongly convicted.

On the contracts, a HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC works with hundreds of IT partners – big and small – and all of our contracts are publicly available through Contracts Finder.

“The size and complexity of our IT estate means that multiple partners are involved in building and maintaining almost all of our systems and services.”

A government spokesperson said: “The impact the Horizon scandal has had on postmasters and their families is utterly horrendous, and it is crucial that something like this can never happen again.

“That is why we have launched a statutory inquiry into the scandal to get to the bottom of what went wrong, as well as providing compensation for those affected.

“We welcome Fujitsu’s decision to pause bidding for work with new government customers until such time as the inquiry concludes. Ahead of that, and as with all contracts, we continue to keep Fujitsu’s conduct and commercial performance under review.”

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