Ex-Fujitsu boss ‘aggrieved’ after initially thinking Horizon was major success

Richard Christou at the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry on Wednesday. Credit: PA

A former boss of Fujitsu has told the Post Office Inquiry he feels “aggrieved” after initially believing the Horizon system was one of the company’s “major successes”.

Richard Christou said he took no responsibility for the scandal, which has since been described as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

Mr Christou, who was chief executive of the company between 2000 and 2004, said he always regarded the Post Office as a “satisfied customer”.

He told the probe he “knew nothing about it” while he was the head of International Computers Ltd (ICL), which later became Fujitsu, when addressing his accountability for the miscarriages of justice.

Counsel to the inquiry Sam Stevens then asked Mr Christou how he would describe his "level of accountability" in terms of the ICL Group and its operations.

Mr Christou replied: “What I was responsible for was that, so far as possible, to see that the operations of ICL were carried out legally, were carried out profitably, and to report to my shareholders, Fujitsu Ltd, various issues in so far as it was necessary.

“If you mean that I was responsible for the miscarriage of justice, then I don’t accept that.

“It’s not to mitigate the miscarriage of justice, I hasten to add, I think it’s a gross miscarriage of justice.

“I really feel for the sub-postmasters and the postmasters involved – but talking about accountability is a different matter.

“And certainly I knew nothing about it.”

In his witness statement to the inquiry, Mr Christou added: “No further problems were raised with me in connection with Horizon during my time with Fujitsu.

“In particular, I had no knowledge of the prosecution of postmasters by (the Post Office).

“I always regarded Horizon as one of (Fujitsu’s) major successes, with (the Post Office) as a satisfied customer.”

Under questioning from Flora Page, a lawyer representing a number of subpostmasters, Mr Christou was pressed again on his accountability.

Ms Page asked: “You don’t take any responsibility?”

Mr Christou replied: “No. I’m not mitigating that there is a gross miscarriage of justice – and if you think I don’t feel for the postmasters and the sub-postmasters, you’re wrong.

“I do feel – and I also feel aggrieved that what I felt was a good system has been put into such disrepute.

“But I’m not responsible for it, and I’ve said before that the real issue is the way the prosecutions were handled and the flows of information.”

More than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted by the Post Office and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as Fujitsu’s faulty system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Hundreds of victims are awaiting compensation despite the Government announcing that those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

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