Northern Ireland

Fujitsu: Post office scandal company has £775m public contracts in north

Tech company is at the centre of Post Office scandal

Toby Jones played Alan Bates in the powerful ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office
Toby Jones played Alan Bates in the powerful ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office

The company at the centre of the Post Office Horizon scandal has contracts with Northern Ireland public bodies worth more than three-quarters-of-a-billion pounds, it has emerged.

Fujitsu, the company behind the flawed IT system that saw hundreds of postmasters and postmistresses wrongly convicted of fraud, provides services for the civil service, as well as the Education Authority and Libraries NI, the finance minister has said.

The scandal was the subject of the acclaimed ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office, broadcast earlier this year.

The Japanese-owned firm said in January that it would no longer be bidding for public sector contracts while the current public inquiry into the Post Office scandal is ongoing.

Fujitsu's public sector contracts in the north are worth at least £775m

In response to a written assembly question, Caoimhe Archibald revealed that Fujitsu has been awarded three contracts with Stormont departments since 2015, totalling £263m.

The company also has a recently signed contract with the Education Authority worth £485m and Libraries NI, which is valued at £27m.

In total, the company’s public sector contracts amount to at least £775m.

It emerged last month that Ms Archibald’s department is working closely with the UK Cabinet Office on the issue of Fujitsu contracts.

The company employs around 600 staff in the north and is one of the largest suppliers of IT services to the region’s public sector.

Stormont finance committee chair Matthew O’Toole, who tabled the assembly question to Ms Archibald, said it was important to establish the extent of Fujitsu’s interests in the regional public sector.

“We need to know more about the scale of reliance on Fujitsu, how it happened, what the consequences have been and whether further scrutiny is needed,” the South Belfast MLA said.

“Given the appalling revelations of Fujitsus involvement in the Horizon scandal, it is right that senior civil servants and ministers explain the rationale for this supplier’s huge role in the devolved public sector.”

Previously, the Education Authority has said it has no plans to review its contract with Fujitsu to provide a ‘school management system’.

The contract was signed-off in December last year.