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Fujitsu will not get new lucrative government contracts until Post Office inquiry makes judgement

The embattled technology company Fujitsu will not seek any further government contracts for at least the next two years, the government has announced.

Fujitsu, which developed the defective Horizon accounting system that led to hundreds of sub-postmasters being wrongly convicted of theft and false accounting, has written to the Cabinet Office to say it has “voluntarily” decided not to bid for government contracts during the inquiry unless it is asked.

The revelation comes after Fujitsu’s Europe chief executive Paul Patterson apologised to subpostmasters for the company’s role in the Horizon IT scandal. He conceded there were “bugs and errors in the system” and that Fujitsu had a “moral obligation” to contribute to compensation.

Fujitsu has won nearly £6.8 billion in nearly 200 contracts from the public sector, including 11 contracts by HMRC to the value of over £1 billion, and 12 contracts with the Ministry of Defence for £582 million.

The Horizon IT Inquiry is still ongoing (PA Media)
The Horizon IT Inquiry is still ongoing (PA Media)

The company also holds a contract related to the Horizon IT system itself, at the cost of nearly £2.4 billion, including a £36 million extension to sustain the IT system until 2025.

The UK government awared £4.9 billion in contracts to Fujitsu after the December 2019 High Court ruling, where it was found that the Horizon system did contain bugs, errors and defects.

A total of £3.6bn in contracts was awarded during Rishi Sunak’s time as chancellor and now prime minister.

The most recent is a £485 million award from The Education Authority in Northern Ireland which was awarded on December 21, 2023.

Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates told MPs that ‘everyone will be surprised’ about how much Post Office and Government knew about Horizon scandal (PA)
Former sub-postmaster Alan Bates told MPs that ‘everyone will be surprised’ about how much Post Office and Government knew about Horizon scandal (PA)

Over the past few weeks the government has come under pressure from MPs to block Fujitsu’s ability to bid for future contracts. Sir David Davis called for the government to prevent the company from bidding on the basis of it having “terrible track record”.

Earlier this month the prime minister’s spokesman would not be drawn on whether the government would stop awarding contracts to the company if it was found to be at fault at the conclusion of the Horizon inquiry.

David Davis MP has called on the government to block Fujitsu from bidding for public contracts (AP)
David Davis MP has called on the government to block Fujitsu from bidding for public contracts (AP)

They said only that companies’ conduct was “in general” considered as part of the wider procurement process.

Mr Burghart told the Commons on Thursday: “This morning (the) Cabinet Office received a letter from Fujitsu voluntarily undertaking not to bid for government contracts whilst the inquiry is ongoing, unless of course the government ask them to.”

Fujitsu have previously acknowledged that the scandal has impacted their reputation, but had previously not ruled out bidding for other contracts.

Mr Patterson told MPs on Tuesday: “It is very clear that our brand and our value in the UK and to the government is under question”. He added that the company would “look at all of those opportunities on the open market”.