PFI deal fetches more than £232m

Computer Weekly has learned that Fujitsu will receive more than the extra £49m the Lord Chancellor's Department has already...

Computer Weekly has learned that Fujitsu will receive more than the extra £49m the Lord Chancellor's Department has already agreed to pay the company. This is on top of the original contract for £183m.

Fujitsu was contracted in December 1998 to start delivering office automation and a single national system in 2001. Its system should allow case records to be passed electronically between the courts, police, probation and Crown Prosecution services.

The original £183m contract - Libra - provided for office automation, core caseworking software and systems integration.

But last month, the whole package was split into three parts. The core software and systems integration will now be provided by other contractors, yet to be appointed. Despite this, Fujitsu is to be paid £49m more than the original contract specified - a total of £232m.

Now a letter leaked from the Lord Chancellor's Department, marked "restricted", with instructions for court staff to be told on a "need to know" basis, makes clear that Fujitsu will become the monopoly supplier of extra PCs, software, printers, monitors and Microsoft software for magistrates courts. It also says that Fujitsu will able to charge extra for telephone helpdesk support and consumables.

This means that the supplier will receive much more than the agreed £232m for office automation.

The contents of the letter angered Rosie Eagleson, general secretary of the Association of Magisterial Officers. She said Fujitsu, although not delivering the core Libra system, is being rewarded with tens of millions of pounds of extra business.

She also claimed that the new office automation provided by Fujitsu has led to a "step back" in technology in some courts. For example, PCs can no longer directly access photocopiers, which used to double as printers and collate and staple large print-outs.

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