Wednesday 17 January 2024

Impact of the Post Office Inquiry on Fujitsu and wider IT industry

By Georgina O’Toole and Kate Hanaghan

fujThe response to the ITV drama, Mr Bates vs The Post Office, has been immense. Widespread public outrage forced both Paula Vennells to hand back her CBE and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to announce new legislation, expected to be introduced within weeks, to exonerate the people whose lives have been so deeply impacted. Meanwhile, the Post Office Horizon Inquiry is ongoing, meaning much work is yet to be done to ascertain precisely where accountability lies.

On Tuesday (16th January), there was a “non-inquiry” parliamentary committee session where Paul Patterson (Director, Fujitsu Services Ltd and CEO Europe) answered questions pertaining to Fujitsu’s involvement.

Prior to the parliamentary committee session, the UK business had issued an official apology for the impact of its Horizon system but had not commented further as the Inquiry is ongoing. Patterson, however, as part of the parliamentary committee session was clear that Fujitsu had its part to play, that the Horizon system was, indeed, accessible remotely by Fujitsu employees for support and intervention purposes (and that this was documented and communicated to the Post Office), that his gut told him that Fujitsu was aware of glitches and bugs in the system as early as 2010 (though the precise timings of this were unknown), and that the company had supported the Post Office in prosecuting sub postmasters by giving them relevant information. hvp

Meanwhile, company leaders in Japan have also not issued a statement, leading to some criticism in the media. (Note that Horizon was originally built by ICL and rolled out into Post Offices across the country shortly before Fujitsu, which had owned a stake in the firm for some time, acquired the firm in 1998.)

Whatever the final findings of the Inquiry next year, the current situation (including the extensive media coverage) has unquestionably already impacted Fujitsu. Patterson, while giving evidence to the parliamentary committee session, admitted that Fujitsu didn’t, during the time in question, act in line with its corporate Code of Conduct (“To treat customers, business partners, and competitors fairly and with respect”), but was keen to highlight that the Fujitsu of today is very different to the one of the early 2000s.

TechMarketView clients can read our analysis of the current situation, here.

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Posted by HotViews Editor at '09:50' - Tagged: contracts   government