Fujitsu lastly apologises over Horizon and guarantees to compensate publish workplace victims | UK | News | EUROtoday

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normal view of signal outdoors a Fujitsu workplace (Image: Getty)

Fujitsu lastly apologised for the Horizon publish workplace scandal and admitted it has a “moral obligation” to contribute to the compensation scheme for victims.

Paul Patterson, the IT big’s Europe director, mentioned he was “truly sorry” on behalf of the corporate, which developed the defective software program that ruined the lives of a whole bunch of sub-postmasters.

He added the Post Office knew about “bugs and errors” in Horizon early on.

His remarks got here moments after subpostmaster campaigner Alan Bates claimed victims of the Horizon scandal had a “financial gun held to their head” by the Post Office.

Mr Bates advised the Commons’ Business and Trade Committee that the compensation scheme for these affected by the nightmare is “tied up in bureaucracy” and that it was “frustrating” for these concerned.

The Government has been scrambling to exonerate them and pay out compensation to these affected, with public anger rising after ITV drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office forged a brand new gentle on the scandal.

Between 1999 and 2015, greater than 900 sub-postmasters and postmistresses had been prosecuted for theft and false accounting after cash seemed to be lacking from their branches, however the prosecutions had been based mostly on proof from defective Horizon software program.

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Some sub-postmasters wrongfully went to jail, many had been financially ruined. Some have since died.

It has been described as probably the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British historical past, however so far solely 93 convictions have been overturned and hundreds of persons are nonetheless ready for compensation settlements greater than 20 years on.

Appearing earlier than the committee, Mr Patterson mentioned: “We were involved from the very start.

“We did have bugs and errors in the system and we did help the Post Office in their prosecutions of the sub-postmasters.

“For that we are truly sorry.”

He went onto say that the company has a “moral obligation” to contribute to the compensation scheme for those affected by the scandal – many of whom lost their homes and were financially ruined.

He said that he has spoken to the company’s bosses in Japan and it expects to have a conversation with the government about how much compensation it should pay.

Mr Patterson has been in his current role since 2019 but has worked for Fujitsu since 2010.

Asked if staff knew before 2010 that there were bugs in the system, he said that was for the inquiry into the scandal to establish – but his “gut feeling” is that this was the case.

He acknowledged the firm gave evidence which helped send innocent people to prison.

He added: “The information shared with the Post Office as part of our contract with them was very clear – the Post Office also knew there were bugs and errors.”

Mr Patterson said he did not know why the company didn’t act when it knew there were glitches in the system.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” he said.

Nick Read, the chief executive of the Post Office, was slammed by the committee for having not provided information to the committee with key events in the timeline – such as when the Post Office first knew that remote access to sub-postmasters’ Horizon systems was possible.

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“You must surely have had time in four years [since joining the Post Office] to cut to the heart of this issue, which is: when did the Post Office know remote access to terminals was possible?” said Labour MP Liam Byrne, chair of the committee.

“I couldn’t give you an exact date on that,” replied Mr Read.

When prosecutions were taking place, Fujitsu had told the Post Office that no-one apart from sub-postmasters themselves could access or alter Horizon records – meaning the blame for mistakes could only rest with sub-postmasters, but that turned out to be untrue.

Earlier former subpostmasters Alan Bates and Jo Hamilton, told MPs of their despair over the scandal.

Mr Bates, on whom the ITV series centred, said he was frustrated that it was taking so long to get compensation for those who were wronged.

“There’s no reason why full financial redress shouldn’t have been delivered by now. It’s gone on for far too long, people are suffering, they’re dying – we’re losing numbers along the way – and it just seems to be tied up in bureaucracy,” he mentioned.

Explaining how the scandal was allowed to occur Mr Bates mentioned loads of subpostmasters felt there was a “financial gun held to their head if they start kicking off or start raising too many problems with the Post Office”.

Ms Hamilton, a sub-postmaster who was wrongly convicted and who described the method of getting compensation as “nonsense”.

She advised MPs: “It’s almost like you’re a criminal all over again, you’ve got to justify everything – forensic reports for this and forensic reports for that and you put it into the machine and months later it comes back with a query.”

Neil Hudgell, a solicitor representing 400 folks immediately affected by the scandal and 77 sub-postmasters wrongly convicted by the Post Office, advised MPs that simply three folks had been paid full and ultimate compensation.

He mentioned layers of forms, together with sure requests by the Post Office, had been inflicting issues in victims securing monetary redress.

In some instances he mentioned requests had been made for paperwork that had been held in Post Office branches that shoppers had been locked out of some 15 to twenty years in the past.