Gordon Brown accuses Fujitsu of misleading ministers over Horizon scandal

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills questions former Prime Minister Gordon Brown about his role in the Post Office scandal

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has accused Fujitsu, the firm behind the faulty Horizon IT system, of misleading ministers.

Speaking to ITV News on Tuesday, Mr Brown said he hopes the hundreds of victims of the scandal "get justice" - but denied the Treasury, which he was running at the time, made any decisions on the Fujitsu contract.

Instead, he called it a "business department issue".

Mr Brown added: "All of us who were involved in any respect in this have got to take some responsibility for this.

"But equally, at the same time, I think we've got to distinguish between those people who knew there was a problem and didn't act on it, and those people who negotiated the contract in the first place."

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Mr Brown was Chancellor in 1998 when the government reportedly considered ditching the project due to fears it was faulty.

He told ITV News he has not been invited to give evidence to the ongoing inquiry.

The flawed rollout of the Fujitsu system led to serious inconsistencies in the accounts of hundreds of Post Office sub-postmasters.

More than 700 sub-postmasters and mistresses were convicted of fraud and theft between 1999 and 2015.

Brown's comments come as the European boss of Fujitsu told MPs on Tuesday that his "gut feel" is staff in the company knew of errors in the Horizon system.

Paul Patterson, the Europe director, apologised to sub-postmasters, saying: “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 sub-postmasters. For that we are truly sorry."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has faced calls to go further and bar Fujitsu from securing Government contracts and pursue the firm for compensation payments.

The company is still one of the government's "Strategic Suppliers" and has more than 150 government contracts, receiving over £100 million in contracts per year.

The Horizon software started to be rolled out in Post Office branches across the UK in 1999 and over the subsequent years a series of sub-postmasters were prosecuted over missing funds.

In 2019 the High Court ruled Horizon contained a number of “bugs, errors and defects” and there was a “material risk” that shortfalls in Post Office branch accounts were caused by the system.

While Mr Gordon did not apologise, he did say he felt "great sympathy" for victims and that "the levels of compensation will probably have to be higher to take into account of all the legal costs, as well as the mental turmoil that people face."

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