Fujitsu bags £142M UK government work since Horizon probe announced
Latest £16.5M Post Office contract among many deals awarded despite MPs' calls and ongoing investigation
The UK Post Office’s latest decision to extend Fujitsu’s controversial £2.3 billion Horizon contract follows the award of £142 million in wider government work to the Japanese supplier since the statutory inquiry into the disastrous project was first announced.
Earlier this month, the Post Office awarded a £16.5 million contract to Fujitsu to extend its support for on-prem systems as its transition to the cloud was delayed.
“The program to transfer the services to a new cloud provider created fundamental technical challenges that [the Post Office] could not economically and technically overcome, and the business has taken the decision to pivot back to the Fujitsu provided Horizon Data Centres until the successful transfer of services out of Horizon and into its replacement New Branch IT,” a tender document said.
Faults in the Horizon system, first implemented in the 1990s, led to hundreds of false prosecutions carried out by internal Post Office investigators with the help of contractor Fujitsu.
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Even though managers inside the Post Office were repeatedly warned about the bugs making their prosecutions legally unsafe, the evidence was covered up – and wrongful prosecutions continued regardless. Thirty-nine convictions were overturned in April 2021, with up to 400 more potentially being quashed after the Post Office wrote to them all.
In May 2021, the government launched a statutory public inquiry into the Post Office Horizon scandal to create legal powers to force witnesses to give evidence.
At the time, junior business minister Paul Scully said: "The Horizon saga has wrecked lives and livelihoods. We can't undo the damage that has been done. But we can establish what went wrong with the Post Office and ensure something like this is never allowed to happen again."
Deals have continued to be awarded despite the on-going enquiry. Using publicly available procurement notices, The Register estimates at least £142 million has been awarded to Fujitsu by the UK public sector since the inquiry was launched, excluding its place on potentially lucrative framework agreements.
In December last year, the government — which wholly owns the Post Office — awarded Fujitsu a £52 million (c $60 million) contract in the same week political leaders called for all local deals with the company to be stopped while it is in the dock over the Post Office Horizon scandal.
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Labour MP Kate Osborne said: "The government are still awarding multimillion-pound contracts to Fujitsu. An apology from Fujitsu is not enough. Will the Secretary of State commit to pausing and reviewing all existing government contracts with that appalling company?"
Just weeks before ministers announced the statutory inquiry, the Post Office awarded Fujitsu a £42.5 million extension on its Horizon work. ®