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Furious Ian Hislop demands Fujitsu bosses pay £1m to every Post Office victim

Watch: Ian Hislop calls on Fujitsu bosses to pay £1m to Post Office victims

Ian Hislop has called on Fujitsu bosses to pay £1m to every victim of the Post Office scandal during a self-described on-air "rant".

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak announced plans to exonerate all those wrongly convicted in one of the most widespread UK miscarriages of justice. It paves the way for accused Post Office branch managers to clear their name and receive compensation for being wrongly accused of crimes.

But Hislop, the editor of Private Eye – which has been reporting on the scandal since 2011 – has demanded that Fujitsu, who developed the error-strewn Horizon system used by postmasters, hand out seven-figure sums to all victims. Appearing on ITV’s Peston show on Wednesday, a visibly angry Hislop said: “The government has continued to employ Fujitsu. What we need to do is say to Fujitsu now, ‘We want compensation from you. How about £1m per sub-postmaster or mistress?'.

"That amounts to £1bn, which is nothing compared to what the taxpayer has paid out to Fujitsu. It is absolutely disgraceful.”

Ian Hislop said that Fujitsu should pay £1 million to every victim of the Horizon IT scandal. (ITV)
Ian Hislop said that Fujitsu should pay £1m to every victim of the Horizon IT scandal. (ITV)

Hislop continued to criticise both the Post Office and Fujitsu and highlighted how the money that sub-postmasters paid to make up the shortfalls in their branches went back into the system, with healthy bonuses subsequently being paid out to Post Office executives. He said that the incentives to make money for the Post Office meant the problems with Horizon were being “ignored”, adding: “All of them should have to pay their bonuses back.”

The government is seemingly looking at demanding Fujitsu pay back taxpayer money if it is found culpable for the faulty Horizon software. Justice secretary Alex Chalk said that if the statutory inquiry into the saga finds the “scale of the incompetence is as we might imagine”, the government would want to “secure proper recompense on behalf of the taxpayer”.

10th January 2024. Fujitsu UK Headquarters office building in Bracknell, England, UK. Fujitsu is the Japanese software company responsible for designing the Horizon software used in British post offices, that is currently at the centre of the British Post Office Scandal. The scandal has hit the headlines this week due to a four-part ITV drama documenting the miscarriage of justice which saw over 700 Post Office branch managers convicted of fraud.
Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon software resulted in wrongful prosecutions of Post Office staff. (Alamy)

Chalk said the government would wait for the conclusions of the inquiry chaired by retired judge Sir Wyn Williams before it decides what action to take against the company.

He added: “It’s absolutely right that there should be justice across the piece. This has cost and will cost a fortune.”

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Fujitsu concerns

Fujitsu has been awarded government contracts worth billions in recent years and its continued involvement in major IT schemes has raised concerns. Ministers tried to prevent Fujitsu getting more official work but this proved “impossible” despite its “woeful” performance, Tory peer Lord Maude of Horsham, who served as Cabinet Office minister under David Cameron, said on Wednesday.

He added: “In 2010 we found that Fujitsu was deeply entrenched across the whole of central government. Their performance in many of these contracts was woeful and the procurement system regulations then in place made it impossible although we tried to prevent them from getting further contracts.”

EDITORIAL USE ONLY File photo dated 13/05/13 of former Post Office boss Paula Vennells who is to hand back her CBE following the fallout of the Horizon IT scandal which led to the wrongful prosecution of hundreds of subpostmasters. The former chief executive, who ran the Post Office while it routinely denied there was a problem with its Horizon IT system, was appointed a CBE in December 2018. Issue date: Monday May 13, 2013.
Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells handed back her CBE following a huge public outcry. (PA)

Hislop goes on a ‘rant’

During a fiery tirade on Peston, Hislop admitted he was “going to rant about this” as he spoke at length about the Post Office Scandal. By no means sticking to Fujitsu, Hislop took aim at politicians for only jumping on the issue because of the popularity of the ITV drama, Mr Bates vs The Post Office. He also refused to praise the prime minister for announcing a blanket exoneration of victims and claimed a sub-postmistress told him it was only happening because 2024 is an election year.

He didn’t stop there – Hislop also criticised the Tory government for being in charge of the country when former Post Office boss Paula Vennells was awarded a CBE, despite her already being embroiled in the scandal at that point. He refused to go along with criticism of Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, who is facing calls to resign over his part in the scandal. Davey, who was post office minister at the time, refused to meet campaigner Alan Bates to address his concerns about the plight of the postmasters.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey speaks with members of the media during a rally in Guildford, as he unveils a new campaign poster vowing to
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has faced calls to resign over his initial refusal to meet with campaigner Alan Bates over the scandal. (PA)

Hislop brushed this attack off and said that it was former PM David Cameron, who is now foreign secretary, who was in charge of the coalition government that Davey served as post office minister between 2010 and 2012. And he continued to attack the Tories by aiming his full ire at Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry, who was also appearing on Peston.

Berry said the government could pass emergency legislation to take back the “massive taxpayer-funded pensions” or former Post Office officials but Hislop demanded to know why Berry and the Conservatives too “so long” to take action.

Hislop said: “It is absolutely fatuous for this government to claim, ‘Hey, we’re really acting now.’” Berry replied that it was “demonstrably complete and utter nonsense”. Hislop then accused Berry of interrupting him, saying: “You talk over everyone else, you’ve been doing it the entire programme… You can’t just talk nonsense.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has announced plans to exonerate all victims of the Post Office scandal. (AP)
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has announced plans to exonerate all victims of the Post Office scandal. (AP)

How will compensation scheme work?

As part of the exoneration announcement on Wednesday, the government also revealed more details of the compensation that wrongly convicted Post Office staff are entitled to. Those whose convictions are quashed are eligible for a £600,000 compensation payment, or potentially more if they go through a process of having their claim individually assessed.

Sunak also announced a £75,000 offer for sub-postmasters involved in a group legal action against the Post Office – with ministers setting aside up to £1 billion for compensation. But Post Office minister Kevin Hollinrake admitted that Fujitsu will likely not have to pay any compensation to victims as the process would be “exhaustive and time-consuming”.

A logo of post office is displayed in London, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he will introduce measures to overturn the convictions of more than 700 post office branch managers who were wrongly accused of theft or fraud because of a faulty computer system. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
The Post Office said it had already paid out millions to victims of the Horizon IT scandal. (AP)

What have the Post Office and Fujitsu said so far?

The Post Office say that compensation offers have been made to “all 2,417 current or former postmasters in the Horizon Shortfall Scheme”. They said the scheme remains open for late applications and pointed out that £124.7m has been paid out so far.

Post Office CEO Nick Read said that they are “paying full and fair compensation” as part of their “efforts to rectify the wrongs of the past”. The Post Office say they continue to urge anyone who believes they were wrongly convicted for any reason in a Post Office prosecution to consider an appeal” and continues to “try and contact people who may be affected”.

A spokesperson told Yahoo News UK: “Post Office continues to work with the government to support its efforts to speed up the exoneration of people with wrongful convictions and pay full and fair compensation swiftly.”

Fujitsu has previously said in a statement: “The current Post Office Horizon IT statutory inquiry is examining complex events stretching back over 20 years to understand who knew what, when, and what they did with that knowledge. The inquiry has reinforced the devastating impact on postmasters’ lives and that of their families, and Fujitsu has apologised for its role in their suffering.

“Fujitsu is fully committed to supporting the inquiry in order to understand what happened and to learn from it. Out of respect for the inquiry process, it would be inappropriate for Fujitsu to comment further at this time.”

Yahoo News UK has contacted Fujitsu for further comment.