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Fujitsu in firing line over UK Post Office scandal

52 Comments
By Peter HUTCHISON

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money had gone missing from the subpostmasters' branch accounts when it had not.

Where those money gone? Someone must be enjoy those money.

Will someone bow and take full responsibility?

For those people who are not familiar with subpostmasters term, it's kind of franchisee that works like a postal branch.

More detail about this story, check this one

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56718036

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

This should be interesting.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

If this were Fujitsu's fault wouldn't there be more cases? As the article states the IT is quite widely used. Was the IT used incorrectly or are they simply trying to pass the buck?

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Sure Fujitsu made the mistake but there wasn't any internal checks or quality tests done? It's the most important function of an accounting system to account correctly.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Certainly Fujitsu has a responsibility. But what about all the executives, judges and so forth who failed to trust, listen and observe?

Well, luckily someone did.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

If this were Fujitsu's fault wouldn't there be more cases? As the article states the IT is quite widely used. Was the IT used incorrectly or are they simply trying to pass the buck?

Fujitsu has been open that there were errors in the software and issued an apology.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It's laughable to contract a Japanese company to digitize an organization's operations. The Japanese govt heavily subsdized Fujitsu in the 80s in a bid to erode IBM's global dominance. Fujitsu is a company that got where it did not through merit but through preferential treatment, and possibly even corruption, like Toshiba.

But hey, this is this is also the UK, where one of the country's...if not the world's....most outstanding companies, ARM, was handed over to -- Masayoshi Son! The mind reels.

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

Postal service executives, refusing to acknowledge problems with the software, forced workers to repay the shortfalls.

This was the main problem.

Software bugs happen all the time. This main issue is with how the postal executives handled the situation.

I guess they didn't want to admit a system they already spent billions on has some fault cause that will mean millions more too replace them or the reputation of some higher up in jeopardy. So they just kept plugging the holes by accusing lower level workers of theft.

Just despicable!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It is not correct to say that Fujitsu have been open and honest. The suspicion in the UK is that Fujitsu employees may have given false evidence in court under oath on the performance of the software. Pressure is mounting for there to be a comprehensive criminal investigation of the entire affair. A Fujitsu employee- said to be the lead creator of the software - has been reported as asking for immunity from prosecution as the price for talking. If true, that speaks volumes.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Who had the brilliant idea to contract software development to a Japanese company? That's terrible to read about the suffering and death this caused to innocent postmasters.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

I've heard from friends back in the UK that Fujitsu is considered worse than trash by reputation. How are they considered here in Japan? I've no idea.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Sorry but bowing will not be enough this time. There must be accountability for this, those responsible will have to answer in a British court of law.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Fujitsu created the Horizon IT system

And it was UK nationals who developed the software.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

There must be accountability for this, those responsible will have to answer in a British court of law.

The same British Law that wrongly convicted   700 local post office managers for theft and false accounting?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Who had the brilliant idea to contract software development to a Japanese company? 

The same person who had the brilliant idea to allow the Americans to 737 max.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Fujitsu made £4.5 billion from government contracts.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Everyone involved from the software developers to the minister responsible is coming under scrutiny. Fujitsu are only a minor aspect of the whole. It is indisputable that the software provided by Fujitsu was faulty. The question to be answered is whether anyone who knew that lied about the fact.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

...its programming showed that money had gone missing from the subpostmasters' branch accounts when it had not.

How did this actually happen and to so many accounts across the whole country?

Was it like a bot that deducted the money?

And where did this money supposedly go?

And if it was a bot like situation, when the hundreds of others were prosecuted, did they find the money in their possession?

I wish this article would've made this a little clearer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I remember this years ago, and Fujitsu didn't give two hoots. The CEO of Fujitsu knew about this and could have fixed this. Instead, it allowed British post office workers to be charged, and convicted in court for fraud/theft. and some committed suicide. Fujitsu MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. It was their system, they built it and defended it. Fujitsu, must either be fined, or the CEO resign and appear in court, and made to compensate the victims. I want to see some very very deep bowing, and a lot of I'm very very sorry.

What is disgusting is the fact it took a TV show to kick the politicians up the.......... to get any real traction to put this right. Which of course, for some....can't ever be put right.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Exactly! The post service should NOT have assumed that there could not be anything wrong with the software. No software is 100% bug free and I'm sure these workers would have said they didn't do it. People in the post office need to be sacked for just assuming everything is correct because a computer said so.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's a pity that the country that led the world in computers (Colossus) and had so brilliant people in programming (Alan Turing) has now to rely in a company that followed and copied the computer organization and software from IBM. Fujitsu had to pay more than 200 million dollars to IBM for copyright infringements in 1988.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Fujitsu - the people behind the 'My Number' system too!

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I have viewed all four episodes of Mr.Bates.vs.The.Post.Office, it is not for the faint hearted, a real tear jerker

Lives, families, innocent peoples livelihoods cynically sacrificed over the alter of a failure of Post office/ Fujitsu responsibility accountability.

For more than twenty years, seven hundred sub postmasters/post offices have been publicly vilified destroyed, left destitute, scorned and spat at by communities they served diligently.

Whilst politicians, yes Westminster parliament fiddled, played pass the political parcel.

I am not alone to scream for heads on spikes, rolling around in the saw dust.

Minimum.

Not just a token corpuscle, how many times have we been here?

If it be a witch hunt, so be it. I am fully locked and loaded with my broom stick.

Drag them all, the post office Fujitsu board through the streets to be pelted with smelly stuff.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This sickening charade will end, as usual, with a chorus of "Lessons to be learned", the favorite, "robust" old chestnut of the English establishment that showers get-out-of-jail free cards like confetti on its members who enjoy lives of privilege and impunity. Meanwhile, Assange rots forgotten in Belmarsh.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Fujitsu is a company that got where it did not through merit but through preferential treatment..

Nothing hew here, that's the case with most Japanese firms, fair play, merit, healthly competetion is not

how they bag projects.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Four people took their own lives and dozens of those since exonerated died without seeing their names cleared

This is literally criminal, hope real justice prevails...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Fujitsu was chosen because it could provide the hardware and software at the lowest price. But it now appears Fujitsu didn't do enough testing of the software and faked the results when in use which led to more than 700 postmasters being charged for false accounting. It needs to provide compensation and return the initial £4.6 billion it was paid.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Making Fujitsu responsible for the problem is of course fine, but what about the judges and courts that failed in their duties to determine if the accused managers were actually guilty or not and just assumed hundreds and hundreds of people were stealing money?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Revealed - Post Office's fraud team got BONUSES for each postmaster they jailed.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The level of responsibility accountability for either the Post Office, Fujitsu board is a matter for the on -going independent statutory public enquiry.

All here ....

https://www.postofficehorizoninquiry.org.uk/

For all to view and follow.

UK election year, every political sham, blame game, raspberry blowing, commons parliamentary feigning fakery will be front canter.

No act of masquerade and posturing will be off limits.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The government and board of the Post Office share responsibility for this with Fujitsu.

Fujitsu were inept and probably lied about their product. They are not innocent.

However, it was the government and the heads of the Post Office that took criminal action against the staff. Only a certain kinds of people would automatically blame the workers when a system goes from essentially no theft to theft in every single branch. It was the government and the heads of the Post Office who placed Fujitsu above their own staff.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There's a useful technical description in Computer Weekly, which started investigating this scandal 15 years ago:

https://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Post-Office-Horizon-scandal-explained-everything-you-need-to-know

Also thanks to Private Eye magazine, which has been reporting the scandal since 2011 while newspapers ignored it.

Britain's Post Office is effectively a government organization and applied the "shoot the messenger" solution to this problem. A commercial organization would perhaps have held Fujitsu to account when problems arose.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Reginald Bok ..

I believe that to be false.

Then you are mistaken.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The UK Fujitsu employees were British.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Another Japanese company scandal being underreporting back at home. Usual playbook

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

If there is some terms and conditions that state any irregularities should be cross checked manually, then Fujitsu may be innocent of any payment. At that time and age any computer records would have had a paper version as well. Reliance on computers would have been a choice of the post office itself.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The UK Fujitsu employees were British.

I think that's right. The Horizon system was originally developed by ICL Pathway. ICL (International Computers Limited) was acquired by Fujitsu in 1990.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Tech expert who built faulty Horizon IT system and gave evidence used to convict hundreds of postmasters demands immunity before agreeing to appear at public inquiry

Gareth Jenkins, 69, previously said the Fujitsu system was 'not corrupt' 

The technology expert who built the faulty Horizon IT system is understood to want immunity before appearing at a public inquiry.

Gareth Jenkins, 69, previously gave evidence saying the Fujitsu system was 'not corrupt', which helped to wrongfully convict hundreds of postmasters. 

The Cambridge maths graduate, from Bracknell, in Berkshire, has twice previously been called in to give evidence to the ongoing public inquiry into the Post Office scandal but on both occasions this has been postponed. 

His and another Fujitsu expert's role in the fallout are currently being looked into by the Metropolitan Police as Scotland Yard also placed the Post Office under a criminal investigation last week over 'potential fraud offences'. 

Mr Jenkins yesterday refused to answer any questions about the scandal and told The Telegraph when asked if he was sorry about what happened: 'I don’t want to talk. I don’t have anything to say to you.'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is huge news. Why is not reported in Japan and feels like is swept under the rug??

Just imagine for a moment a foreign company doing this in Japan. There would be inquisition news on all channels, especially that people killed themselves, have career and reputation destroyed, etc...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Yes it's clear that the Fujitsu system was faulty.

But that was identified and ignored by the Post Office who went after independent local postmasters instead.

Now they will try to pass the buck to Fujitsu. This might be valid in part but does not exonerate them in any respect.

Those Post Office heads should be in jail and huge compensation paid to the local independent postmaster victims whose lives have been ruined.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The UK Fujitsu employees were British.

It's true, the chief architect of the horizon system was a British man.

A Cambridge mathematics graduate, Mr Jenkins was the tech expert who helped build the faulty Horizon IT system.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This whole story is rotten. People have been paid to design, write, test, sign off this system. People have been knighted. Now they need a fall guy.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The government and the Post Office are at the top of the pile. The courts and legal system are next. Then Fujitsu.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The biggest computer company in the UK used to be ICL. Fujitsu took control of ICL. That is how they got a foot in the door in the UK.

It seems Fujitsu were warned a long time ago. This has just become news again because of a TV drama based on the incident.

The following link is a claim by a software engineer who discovered flaws in Horizon.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-67921974

Jason Coyne, who worked for Preston-based Best Practice Plc at the time, was instructed to examine the computer system called Horizon in 2003.

He said he notified the Post Office the data was "unreliable" but he was ignored, sacked, and then discredited.

and

The system was developed by the Japanese company Fujitsu for tasks like accounting and stocktaking.

He said the Post Office then used their own internal and Fujitsu experts.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Fujitsu has a long history over the years of stuff-ups including biggies like twice causing Tokyo stock exchange to malfunction costing a fortune, ATMs not working and the recent big one - 2023 - My Number card failures.

But they still get govt contracts here in Japan and strangely the UK, where the Brit govt has awarded them close to ¥1 trillion over the past decade or so.

Not the planet I live on.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The ITV series eluded to Fujitsu employees being able to edit the data in the live (production) system, contrary to what the Post Office had been told. This would certainly explain how some Post Office staff reported seeing numbers being changed in front of their eyes without their input.

If this is the case, then one has to wonder why Fujitsu employees had direct access to the Post Office System ? Perhaps they thought that they were editing data within a Development system, and conducting tests ?

Collateral Damage will be aimed at the British Computer Society (A Professional body for IT Workers in the UK), they've released a statement today on the matter - but it doesn't say too much.

It's a sorry state of affaires when a TV Series has to be the impetus for getting Politicians to get up and do something ... 2024 is however a UK Election Year, and on that note - the Liberal Democrat Party Head - Ed Davey is under fire for his part (of inaction) in this Fiasco. The Leader of the Labor Party - Kier Starmer, is also under the spotlight, as he was the head of the Crown Prosecution Service at the time... sadly Politically, there's ample opportunity here for the Tories to turn the tide on the other Parties, which is perhaps why, they're literally bending over backwards to sort this mess out that's been dragging on for many years. (Though it's not the only mess, perhaps another TV mini-Series will be forthcoming)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Legal ramifications of the UK Government's decision are complex and unprecedented. According to some experts, the government's intervention could raise constitutional issues about the separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. It could also undermine the principle of Finality of Judgments, which means that legal decisions should not be reopened or reversed unless there are exceptional circumstances... [1 & 2]

However, other experts argue that the government's action is justified and necessary, given the scale and severity of the miscarriage of justice. They claim that the government is not interfering with the judicial process, but rather correcting a systemic failure that resulted from the Post Office's misconduct and the Crown Prosecution Service's negligence. They also point out that the government's legislation will only apply to a specific and limited group of cases, and will not affect the general rules of criminal law or procedure.[3]

References:

1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56718036

2 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/sep/18/post-office-horizon-scandal-victims-compensation

3 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-67719051

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I put the blame on the UK investigators, who acted like Japanese police and prosecutors act. (Blinkered and stupidly truculant). It should have been obvious that so many similar cases, in such a random way would mean that something is wrong with the IT system.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

what about the judges and courts that failed in their duties to determine if the accused managers were actually guilty or not and just assumed

The judiciary examines the evidence that is put in front of them and makes a decision based on that. That is all they can do. They did not make assumptions.

The fact that the investigators and prosecution put forward flawed evidence and purposefully withheld the problems that Horizon had, is not the fault of the judiciary.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Now it seems investigators got bonuses for successful prosecutions.....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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