Fujitsu agrees to support former subpostmasters’ families beyond financial redress

Fujitsu will meet with victims of the Post Office scandal and their representatives to discuss what the IT giant can do for them beyond financial redress

Fujitsu will engage with Post Office scandal victims and their representatives to establish how Fujitsu can support them and their families in the future, in addition to paying its share of the financial redress owed to the former subpostmasters.

This could include support for entrepreneurial or educational “endeavours”.

Fujitsu and its error-prone software played a central role in triggering and then hiding what has become known as the UK’s widest-ever miscarriage of justice, where hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongly prosecuted as a result of errors in Fujitsu’s software used for branch accounts.

The Horizon software also led to thousands of former subpostmasters losing their jobs, being made bankrupt and handing money to the Post Office, which they didn’t owe. Computer Weekly first exposed the scandal in 2009, revealing the stories of seven subpostmansters and the problems they suffered as a result of the Horizon system (see timeline of all articles below).

In the most recent hearing at the statutory public inquiry into the scandal, Paul Patterson, Fujitsu’s Europe chief, was asked whether the firm would contribute to the costs of compensation for people other than the direct victims, including family members.

During the questioning, Sam Stein, a KC representing scandal victims, reminded Patterson that the effects of this scandal upon subpostmasters was also felt by their families. “This devastated not only the subpostmasters’ individual lives, but everyone around them,” he said. “Will Fujitsu commit to providing funds, in recompense for all of those hurts to others outside of subpostmasters and the compensation scheme, in other words, financial redress to support others that have been affected?”

Stein also suggested Fujitsu consider what else it could do to support victims and their families in the future. “You may want to think that what could be done by Fujitsu is supporting people in the future, subpostmasters in future, [the] entrepreneurial endeavours [of] their families or in education,” he said. “Will Fujitsu consider that type of support?”

Engaging in conversation

Patterson responded: “If I was to be able to engage in that with subpostmasters and their representatives, [that] would be absolutely something we would like to consider. I think skills in our country, without jumping too far, is very important, and I think there are things that we can do in our technology world that may or may not be of help to subpostmasters and their associated families. So I would engage in that conversation, Mr Stein.

“I will talk to anybody at any juncture,” he said. “I have a great deal of respect for the subpostmasters. I have no understanding because I’ve never gone through what they’ve personally gone through, and through our own team here and our representatives, [I am] more than happy to engage.”

Earlier, the inquiry had heard how Fujitsu has propped up the Post Office’s private prosecutions and even ignored warnings from its own staff that prosecutions were not following the correct legal procedures.

Also read: What you need to know about the Horizon scandal

Watch: ITV’s Post Office scandal documentary, Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The real story

Timeline: Computer Weekly articles about the scandal since 2009

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