Court blocks former ICL solicitor's Pathway claim

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Court blocks former ICL solicitor's Pathway claim

Tony Collins
Fujitsu has won a court ruling to stop a former solicitor for the company pursuing allegations about the government's disastrous Pathway IT project as part of his legal claim against the supplier.

A judge has decided to allow an application by Fujitsu for allegations about Pathway to be struck out of a legal action brought by Warren Spencer, who worked in the legal department of ICL (now Fujitsu) for 10 years. The judge has refused Spencer leave to appeal. But Spencer is now expected to ask the Court of Appeal directly for leave to appeal.

If Spencer is allowed to make his allegations, and substantiates them in a trial scheduled for October, it could lead to calls for MPs to re-examine the circumstances of the government's decision to cancel Pathway and award a fresh contract to Fujitsu, without a new open tender, to computerise the Post Office.

A UK solicitor and member of the New York and US Supreme Court bars, Spencer made allegations about Pathway as part of his legal action against Fujitsu for alleged breach of his employment contract after his dismissal. Fujitsu denies his claims.

Spencer claims he was marginalised by Fujitsu's chief executive Richard Christou after he refused to participate directly in a pretence that the Pathway computer disaster was due to the unforeseeable bad behaviour of the company's customer, the Department of Social Security (now the Department for Work and Pensions).

Pathway was an IT project for the DSS and the Post Office to provide a swipe-card for welfare claimants to receive benefits. When Pathway was abandoned in 1999, the government gave Fujitsu a fresh contract, without a new open tender, to computerise the UK's post offices.

In the High Court, Fujitsu's barrister Caroline Addy referred to press coverage of Spencer's allegations and said his claims were "vexatious, irrelevant and disproportionate" to his claim. She said that responding to the allegations on Pathway would necessitate extra witnesses and lengthen the trial. "I request that the matters be struck out," she asked Justice Eady.

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