Sunak urged to droop Fujitsu contracts over Put up Workplace IT scandal


Rishi Sunak is going through calls to droop new public contracts with Fujitsu, after it emerged that the IT big has gained billions in offers with the federal government regardless of figuring out about its involvement within the Horizon scandal.

Postal minister Kevin Hollinrake mentioned the federal government believes it has a “answer” to overturn the wrongful convictions of Put up Workplace workers – promising an “imminent” announcement.

It comes because the highlight activates the corporate on the centre of the scandal, after Fujitsu’s defective accounting software program Horizon helped result in the conviction of greater than 700 Put up Workplace department managers.

Former Tory cupboard minister Nadhim Zahawi mentioned Fujitsu ought to now not get “VIP” therapy for contracts, amid rising questions on why the federal government has not severed ties with the agency.

And senior Labour and Lib Dem MPs have referred to as for a “moratorium” on all new contracts with Fujitsu till the corporate is held accountable for its function within the scandal.

Since 2012, the general public sector as a complete has awarded the corporate nearly 200 contracts value a mixed whole of £6.8bn, based on analysts Tussell.

And Fujitsu has gained £4.9bn in public-sector offers since a 2019 courtroom ruling which discovered its Horizon system was badly flawed, based on the Monetary Instances.

ITV drama thrust Put up Workplace scandal again in highlight

(ITV)

Round 43 contracts are nonetheless in operation – value a complete of £3.6bn – together with the contract for the Put up Workplace Horizon system and the federal government’s flood warning system.

Fujitsu was given contracts by means of “VIP” precedence lanes, the so-called “framework agreements”, which assist authorities signal offers with most popular suppliers, the i reported.

Mr Zahawi mentioned that the corporate needs to be suspended from any precedence lanes. “Fujitsu has not been correctly held to account for this main scandal. They should bear their a part of the duty for this debacle,” he informed the newspaper.

Senior Labour MP Liam Byrne, chair of the enterprise choose committee, mentioned ministers “should not reward failure any additional”. He added: “It’s very important there’s now a moratorium on new contracts for Fujitsu till we’ve acquired to the underside of this horrible miscarriage of justice.”

Bosses at Fujitsu have been referred to as to reply questions from the enterprise committee subsequent week – however haven’t but mentioned whether or not they may attend. Mr Byrne mentioned it was “very important that Fujitsu confess how they acquired it so flawed”.

Labour MP Kevan Jones, a number one campaigner on the problem, mentioned Fujitsu shouldn’t be allowed to win new contracts till it correctly defined “its function and duties” within the scandal.

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson for the Treasury, mentioned suspending contracts till the top of the general public inquiry was the “very least” the federal government might do.

Sunak is underneath strain to assist overturn Put up Workplace convictions

(PA / PA Archive)

It could be very troublesome for the federal government to finish its involvement with Fujistu. The corporate supplies IT companies to a number of authorities departments together with the Dwelling Workplace, the Overseas Workplace, Defra and the Ministry of Defence.

These companies embrace offering the Police Nationwide Pc – which shops people’ felony data – and the federal government’s flood warning system, in addition to the nationwide emergency alerts system launched in March 2023.

Fujitsu does vital work with HMRC, with contracts value greater than £1bn together with a deal awarded in February 2022.

No 10 mentioned on Tuesday that Fujitsu can be “held accountable”, legally or financially, if the general public inquiry finds that the corporate blundered within the Horizon scandal.

However the PM’s spokesperson didn’t say the federal government would cease awarding contracts to the corporate if it was discovered to be at fault – saying solely that the conduct of firms “usually” can be thought of as a part of the procurement course of.

Requested if Fujitsu needs to be prosecuted, postal minister Mr Hollinrake mentioned it was essential to ascertain “precisely who’s accountable, people or organisations” on the public inquiry earlier than any motion may very well be taken – together with potential prosecutions or “monetary sanctions”.

Mr Hollinrake informed Sky Information on Wednesday that “we’re very, very shut” to an announcement on overturning Horizon convictions – saying the federal government had arrived at an answer.

It comes after justice secretary Alex Chalk on Tuesday mentioned “energetic consideration” was being given to bringing ahead laws geared toward overturning no less than 700 convictions en masse.

Justice secretary Alex Chalk has been in talks to overturn convictions

(PA Wire)

Mr Hollinkrake insisted that the federal government had been contemplating such an strategy earlier than the ITV drama thrust the problem again into the highlight. Requested whether or not there may be proof of that, Mr Hollinrake mentioned: “It’s not one thing we’d put in public,” he informed BBC Radio 4.

The unbiased Horizon Compensation Advisory Board may even meet later. The advisory board, whose members embrace long-time campaigners Kevan Jones and Tory peer Lord Arbuthnot, have referred to as for Put up Workplace convictions to be “overturned”.

Mr Hollinrake might be part of the lunchtime assembly – with attendees probably anticipating an replace on any plans to quash convictions and efforts to speed up compensation funds.

The Felony Circumstances Overview Fee (CCRC) would usually take a look at the person convictions and doubtlessly ship them to the Courtroom of Attraction. However the unprecedented scale of the Horizon scandal might require the extraordinary step of blanket laws.

A Fujitsu spokesman mentioned: “The present Put up Workplace Horizon IT statutory inquiry is analyzing advanced occasions stretching again over 20 years to know who knew what, when, and what they did with that data.

“The inquiry has strengthened the devastating influence on postmasters’ lives and that of their households, and Fujitsu has apologised for its function of their struggling.”

They added: “Fujitsu is absolutely dedicated to supporting the inquiry with a purpose to perceive what occurred and to study from it. Out of respect for the inquiry course of, it could be inappropriate for Fujitsu to remark additional right now.”



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