Fujitsu bosses have been paid £37m since it won Post Office contract | Fujitsu
Bosses at Fujitsu have collected about £37m in pay, bonuses and compensation for loss of office since the technology company won the disastrous contract to supply the software at the heart of the Post Office Horizon scandal, it has emerged.
Accounts going back 25 years reveal the seven-figure sums paid out to executives of the UK division of the Japanese-owned technology company, even as more than 900 people were prosecuted as a result of flaws in the system their company supplied.
Fujitsu, which is forecast to have earned £1.5bn from the Horizon contract by the time of its expiry in 2025, has formally apologised for its role in the wrongful prosecution of Post Office owner-operators, known as sub-postmasters and postmistresses.
The Tokyo-based company has also promised to contribute to compensation, although it has yet to say how much it expects to pay. However a report by the Treasury select committee, published this weekend, found that it won at least £1.4bn of public sector contracts after a court had ruled that Horizon was riddled with “bugs”.
New analysis by the BBC, published on Sunday, has turned the spotlight on seven senior executives who presided over the contract. It found that they received £26m in pay and bonuses during the life of the Horizon contract, as well as £11m in compensation for loss of office.
Alan Bates, the former post office operator who has become the face of the victims’ campaign after an ITV drama centred on him, told the BBC that while bosses earned huge salaries, he and others like him were struggling to get by.
“We’re still the skint little people at the moment,” he said. “It’s not just Fujitsu, it’s also the Post Office and senior executives who were on bonuses twice the size of their salaries and that’s for a state-owned corporation.”
The executives named by the BBC are Keith Todd, who was in charge at Fujitsu at the genesis of the Horizon system in the late 1990s, and his successors Richard Christou, David Courtley and Roger Gilbert.
They also include the current Fujitsu UK & Ireland boss, Paul Patterson, and his predecessor, Duncan Tait.
The Guardian revealed last month that Tait, who told ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells that the Horizon system was as safe as Fort Knox, was handed £2.6m for loss of office after standing down in 2019.
In December that year, a high court ruling determined that “bugs, errors and defects” in Horizon could cause shortfalls in Post Office branch accounts, giving the appearance of theft or fraud by innocent post office operators.
It emerged this weekend that Fujitsu won £1.4bn in government contracts after that ruling from Treasury-linked bodies alone.
The Treasury select committee found that the company held £3.4bn of contracts with the Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority, both before and after the 2019 ruling.
Fujitsu has said it will no longer bid for public sector contracts unless asked to while a statutory inquiry in the scandal, led by Sir Wyn Williams, continues.
Christou, Courtley, Anwen Owen, Patterson and Todd declined to comment on their pay to the BBC. Gilbert said last week he was “shocked” by the Post Office’s pursuit of post office operators.
Tait said: “I am appalled by the harsh treatment of the sub-postmasters and postmistresses and want to do all I can to support the inquiry.
“This has been a terrible miscarriage of justice and, like others at Fujitsu, I am sorry for the damage that has been done to the sub-postmasters and postmistresses’ lives and any role that Fujitsu played in that.”
Fujitsu has repeatedly declined to comment on pay but said it “regards this matter with the utmost seriousness and offers its deepest apologies to the sub-postmasters and their families.
“Based on the findings of the inquiry, we will also be working with the UK government on the appropriate actions, including contribution to compensation. The Fujitsu group hopes for a swift resolution that ensures a just outcome for the victims.”