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    Post Office to sign £180m deal to extend scandal-hit Horizon system for five more years

    (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    Fujitsu’s Horizon IT system that sparked hundreds of wrongful prosecutions against innocent sub-postmasters could be set to be used by the Post Office for another five years in a £180 million deal.

    According to Computer Weekly, despite the Post Office looking for a replacement IT system, the Fujitsu is set to receive a further £180m in taxpayers’ cash to extend its contract to run the controversial Post Office Horizon IT system for a further five years.

    The report adds that Post Office has requested £1bn of extra public funding from the Treasury to get the programme back on track. The budget has spiraled from £180m to £1.1bn, and the implementation has slipped from 2025 to 2030.

    The existing contract with Fujitsu to run Horizon is due to conclude in March 2025, and the aim was to have a replacement system in place by that time. The supplier has reportedly told the government that, if both parties agree to extend the contract, it is willing to do so on the same basis as a previous one-year extension, which cost the Post Office £36m.

    The Post Office is subsidised by the government, so continued use of the software could cost the taxpayer a reported £180 million, based on a current £36 million yearly contract spend for five years.

    Fujitsu is believed to have earned over £2.5bn from its Horizon contract across the 25 years the system has been in use by the Post Office.

    Horizon is a retail and accounting system used in Post Office branches, which was introduced in 1999 to replace mainly manual accounting practices. Originally from ICL, which was acquired by Fujitsu in 2002, it was rolled out across the Post Office branch network from 1999.

    Horizon’s introduction led to a sudden increase in subpostmasters reporting unexplained shortfalls in their accounts, for which they were blamed. The Post Office told each of them that nobody else was experiencing problems and covered up the computer errors. A High Court case in 2019 proved that bugs in Horizon caused the phantom accounting losses for which hundreds of subpostmasters were wrongfully prosecuted.

    Meanwhile, sub-postmaster justice campaigner Robert Trinder told the Telegraph Fujitsu should donate any profits from the deal to Horizon victims.

    He said, “We want the new system to be the right one when it does come in, so we understand that there needs to be a new system.

    “However, it would have been nice to see Fujitsu do this work for free and donate the £180 million to victims of the scandal. It is a possibility that people will be put off buying post offices if they know Horizon software is still installed.”

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