Fujitsu has apologized for its role in the scandal surrounding the British Post Office, which led to the prosecution of hundreds of people

Fujitsu has apologized for its role in the scandal surrounding the British Post Office, which led to the prosecution of hundreds of people

Fujitsu has apologized for its role in a major scandal with the British post office. The company admitted that hundreds of postal workers were under investigation due to errors in its accounting software.

As the BBC explains, it is a scandal related to the Fujitsu Horizon software. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a number of post offices in Great Britain found themselves in dire shortages. Some post office managers immediately reported that the problem was in the work of the Horizon software, which reported erroneous deficiencies, sometimes by thousands of pounds. However, as a result of the investigation, more than 900 postal employees were prosecuted for falsification of accounting documents and embezzlement.

In May 2009, Computer Weekly magazine published an article about the problems with the Horizon software, which managed to attract public attention, and in September 2009, one of the affected postal workers, Alan Bates, created the organization “Justice for Postal Workers”. In 2017, a group of 555 postal workers led by Bates filed a class-action lawsuit in the Supreme Court. In November 2019, the court ruled that there were indeed mistakes in the work of Horizon, and the case was settled out of court, the total amount of payments was $73 million.

In February 2020, the British government launched its own investigation, and from December 2020 the courts began to overturn convictions. However, according to the BBC, the scandal led to the fact that several people were sent to prison, and many were ordered to pay large compensations. Moreover, the mass media connect the events with the suicides of four people.

So far, only 93 convictions have been overturned, and many are still waiting for compensation, the BBC reports.

“Fujitsu would like to apologize for our role in this terrible miscarriage of justice,” said Paul Patterson, head of Fujitsu’s European division, at a hearing in the British Parliament. – We were involved in what was happening from the very beginning, there were errors in our systems, and we contributed to the persecution of many postal workers. We sincerely regret this.”

The hearing in the committee was devoted to the payment of compensation to the victims. As Patterson noted, Fujitsu “has a moral obligation” to contribute to these compensations.

Horizon software was produced by a subsidiary of Fujitsu International Computers Limited (ICL). In 1996, ICL won a contract to design, build and operate computer systems to be installed in 19,000 UK post offices. In 1999, the software was launched in post offices.

When asked why Fujitsu didn’t do anything to fix the failures in the Horizon system, even though it knew about them at an early stage, Patterson said: I don’t know. I really don’t know.” According to him, Fujitsu’s behavior in those years “does not correspond to the company’s modern values.”

“I believe that we are an ethical company. Today’s Fujitsu is very different to the company it was in the early 2000s, and we need to clearly demonstrate that to our customers, the government and the wider community here in the UK,” Patterson stressed.

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