Kemi Badenoch among MPs demanding Fujitsu contribute to sub-postmaster compensation

Fujitsu employees were asked about the data handed over to the Post Office and whether any of it was altered, ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan reports

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has written to Fujitsu to demand talks on compensation for sub-postmasters wrongfully convicted in the Horizon scandal.

Ms Badenoch has requested a meeting with the company as soon as possible to discuss a compensation package.

In a letter to global chief executive Takahito Tokita, the Cabinet minister wrote she was “committed to ensuring that postmasters affected get the justice they deserve”, Sky News reported.

Bosses at Fujitsu, which developed the scandal-hit Horizon system for the Post Office, were separately challenged to pay a £10 million contribution to a compensation fund by the end of this month.

MP Marion Fellows told Fujitsu Europe director Paul Patterson the cash would be a “small step in the right direction”.

She made the plea after Mr Patterson apologised to sub-postmasters who had been wrongly convicted as a result of problems within the Horizon system, and said the technology firm had a “moral obligation” to contribute towards compensation.

Paul Patterson, director of Fujitsu Services Ltd, gave evidence on Tuesday. Credit: AP

When he appeared before MPs on Tuesday, Mr Patterson conceded there were “bugs and errors in the system” as he apologised for the “appalling miscarriage of justice”.

Afterwards Ms Fellows, who has campaigned on behalf of those affected, said: “It’s a positive sign they feel a responsibility to the victims of their mess, but they must now back up their words with actions.”

The SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw has now written to Mr Patterson to demand the firm make an “initial contribution” to a compensation fund of at least £10 million by the end of January.

She told him: “An initial financial contribution towards redress would signify Fujitsu’s desire to see justice finally delivered to the victims of the most widespread miscarriage of justice this country has ever seen.”

Speaking about the “industrial-scale miscarriages of justice”, Ms Fellows added: “What is needed now is for the parties at fault to do all they can to provide swift redress to those affected.

“This should not have come to pass. Given that it did, it should not have taken so long to get to where we are.

“The best thing to do is for all involved to do all they can to work to provide redress as soon as possible.”

The MP stressed the importance of Fujitsu making such an initial payment, saying that while this “will not yet settle everything” it could be a “positive first-step” and would be a “show of good faith, which seems of short supply in this case”.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…

The Horizon software had first been developed by Fujitsu’s ICL business, and in 1999 was installed by the Post Office in its thousands of sites across the country.

However the Post Office went on to prosecute hundreds of sub-postmasters between 1999 and 2015, as it blamed them for financial discrepancies.

Ms Fellows added that “lives and livelihoods” had been “ruined by this scandal”, which was highlighted in a recent TV drama.

The MP said: “No one party to wrecking lives and livelihoods can be let off the hook – and no one who was a victim of this should be made to wait any longer for the justice they’re due.

“Already too many people whose lives and livelihoods were ruined by this scandal have passed away without ever seeing justice or the acknowledgment from those who accused them of wrongdoing that they were innocent all along.

“It falls upon Fujitsu, just as it does the UK Government and the Post Office, to deliver justice to those who are still alive to see it by contributing to the full financial redress victims are rightfully owed.”

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…