Fury as computer firm at heart of sub-postmasters scandal handed £500m government contract

The computer firm at the heart of the sub-postmasters scandal has been handed a £500 million contract by the government.

Fujitsu has been chosen to provide a range of services at HMRC over the next five years.

The contract was awarded despite the firm’s Horizon software being blamed for accounting glitches which led to hundreds of sub-postmasters losing their jobs and even being jailed.

HMRC is the body responsible for calculating and collecting tax.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner branded the decision “a kick in the teeth for sub-postmasters.”

She added: “The Government is doing nothing to ensure this company is held to account for its role in the Horizon scandal.

“People lost their homes, their reputations, even their lives as a result.

“All ongoing government contracts with Fujitsu must be urgently reviewed.”

One of the 700 UK-wide sub-postmasters affected was Kashif Nadeem, from Greenlaw in the Borders.

He was forced by the Post Office to pay out £28,000 after the flawed IT system wrongly identified missing money.

He said: “It’s madness they are using this company again for anything, let alone in connection with taxpayers.

“I suppose after the pandemic the UK Government is struggling for money so there’s no better way to generate it than let this company loose on the nation’s taxpayers.

“No one has been held to account over the Post Office scandal. Fujistu are just one of many who caused the mess, then have walked away unscathed.”

There was thought to be around 73 affected sub-postmasters in Scotland.

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It also emerged the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy had to give the Post Office £1billion to cover compensation claims after the scandal.

But HMRC still elected to give the massive contract “to provide all managed desktop, print and workspace services” to Fujitsu.

Public information also shows the firm was recently awarded a £44 million Foreign Office contract for telecoms services, a £6.1million deal for a phone network at this year’s

Birmingham Commonwealth Games and £665,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for an “emergency alert system.”

Labor MP Kevan Jones said: “Sub-postmasters and their families will be astounded Fujitsu has been handed these contracts by the Government in the present circumstances.”

Fujitsu did not wish to comment and HMRC said it could not discuss individual contracts.

But a spokesperson added: “All our contracts are decided via fair and open competition to improve services for customers and get best deals for taxpayers. We follow government procurement rules.”

Between 2000 and 2014 hundreds of sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft, fraud and false accounting due to faults
in the Horizon software.

So far, 72 have successfully overturned convictions, with a further 664 likely to be entitled to compensation.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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