HORIZON SYSTEM ‘DOING A GOOD JOB- Former Fujitsu IT Engineer Tells Post Office Inquiry

A former Fujitsu engineer has insisted the IT system at the centre of the Post Office scandal was robust, despite the High Court finding it was responsible for wrongful prosecutions. 

Gareth Jenkins told a public inquiry on Tuesday that while he accepted there were “discrete bugs” in the Horizon system — developed by Fujitsu — that could result in account discrepancies, they were well controlled and managed.

“They could cause discrepancies in branch accounts but not at the sort of levels that have been talked about,” he said. “In general the systems, I believe, were operating as they should.” 

The High Court ruled in a landmark case in 2019 that several “bugs, errors and defects” had meant there was a “material risk” that Horizon was to blame for account shortfalls at the centre of Post Office prosecutions. 

More than 900 sub-postmasters were convicted in cases involving faulty data from Horizon following its introduction in 1999. More than 100 convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal before legislation was passed this year to exonerate most victims en masse. 

In the 2019 High Court ruling, Mr Justice Fraser wrote that legacy Horizon — a system rolled out to branches from 1999 until 2010 — was not “remotely robust”. Jenkins said the system was not infallible, but there were “mechanisms in place” to monitor bugs and errors in the system. “There were some discrete bugs that caused some problems to the accounts,” he said. “They were very discrete and I believe they were well controlled and managed at the time,” he added, though he later conceded that he may have been “wrongly confident” that this was the case. 

Jenkins joined Fujitsu in 1973 when it was International Computers. He retired in 2015 but was retained on an ad hoc basis by the IT company as a consultant until August 2022.