QUESTIONS have been raised over a contract Transport for Wales has with Fujitsu following the outcry over the Post Office Horizon scandal.
The call came after First Minister, Mark Drakeford, urged the UK Government to act as fast as possible to compensate hundreds of people whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the Horizon scandal.
Mr Drakeford said people from every single part of Wales have been affected by the scandal – which was recently the subject of an ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office.
More than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly convicted of fraud, theft or false accounting between 1999 and 2015 based on information from accounting software called Horizon.
At first minister’s questions on Tuesday 16 January, Clwyd South MS Ken Skates said compensation and quashed convictions are long overdue.
Mark Drakeford agreed with the Labour backbencher, urging the UK Government to act now.
He said: “Many people will ask where they have been all these years.
“But now they need to act, they need to make sure that those people are properly identified and that compensation for the wrongs inflicted on them is paid to them as fast as possible.”
Delyth Jewell raised concerns about Transport for Wales awarding Fujitsu – a Japanese company which developed Horizon – a five-year contract in 2019.
The South Wales East MS said the contract has since been extended to April 2026 as she urged the Welsh Government to review contracts with Fujitsu in light of public outcry.
Plaid Cymru’s deputy leader suggested Fujitsu should be blacklisted from getting any future contracts if the company is found guilty of deliberate corporate abuse.
Prof Drakeford said two contracts will be reviewed naturally as they come to an end.
The first minister described blacklisting Fujitsu as a legally questionable course of action which would have to be weighed up carefully.
‘Miscarriage of justice’
Describing the scandal as the largest miscarriage of justice in UK history, Mark Isherwood said 17 UK ministers have been responsible for the Post Office in that time.
He suggested a Labour UK minister rebuffed calls to investigate malpractice in 2009.
The Conservative, who represents North Wales, pointed out that the UK Government has brought forward a bill to ensure all victims of the scandal receive compensation.
Prof Drakeford argued the UK Government has not attached sufficient priority to the issue.
He raised the example of a letter from Welsh ministers to the UK justice secretary going unanswered for more than six months.
Jack Sargeant, who represents Alyn and Deeside, highlighted an unwillingness of senior executives in powerful organisations to come forward with what they knew and when.
The Labour MS said: “A duty of candour is absolutely essential if ordinary people in Wales are to obtain justice when challenging the establishment and powerful organisations.
“This is one of the key tenets of the Hillsborough Law Now campaign.”
Prof Drakeford reiterated the Welsh Government’s support for the campaign, highlighting Keir Starmer’s commitment to introducing a statutory duty of candour for public services.
He added: “We will also introduce a new system where an independent public advocate can be appointed to act in the best interests of those affected.”