Ex-Post Office Chief 'Ignored Data Warnings' Over Fujitsu Deal

Ex-Post Office Chief ‘Ignored Data Warnings’ Over Fujitsu Deal

London – The former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells agreed a contract with Fujitsu to take over a data archive in 2013, despite warnings it could destroy evidence that may assist wrongly convicted staff, whistleblowers say.

Vennells allegedly approved Fujitsu migrating transaction data to its own system for cost reasons, replacing an external “gold standard” storage platform called Centera.

Insiders say Vennells disregarded concerns from at least two Post Office executives that this would hamper investigating branch records if needed.

Read More: ‘No-fault’ evictions soar across Greater Manchester

Centera data is unalterable, verifying integrity for court. Fujitsu’s alternative system lacked such audit credibility.

When prosecuting postmasters, investigators often relied on “filtered data”, while full audit trails were incomplete by appeal trials post-2013.

The Post Office and Fujitsu also falsely claimed transaction data was unchangeable remotely pre-2019. A whistleblower exposed this as untrue during group litigation unveiling the prosecutions scandal.

The archiving switch raises questions whether it was purely for savings or also sabotage, sources suggest.

Vennells, Post Office CEO from 2012-2019, will give evidence to the public inquiry this spring. Her lawyers declined to comment.

Over 900 people were wrongly convicted between 1999-2015 partly due to Horizon IT bugs and defects. By 2013 it was operating in 11,500 branches but already facing questions over unsafe convictions.

A source said the storage capacity increase was needed in 2013, but using Fujitsu’s system would “destroy the audit trail”. They claim Fujitsu said it could do the job cheaper.

The source alleges: “Paula was told that if you do this you are going to destroy the audit trail, but Fujitsu were saying they could do the job much cheaper.”

They suggest it raises the question: “Why would you do this? Who benefits given this was all occurring at the same time as the Post Office was asked to review 70-plus subpostmaster cases?”

An independent 2013 review of Horizon revealed concerns, but was blocked from examining audit processes.

Unreliable audit data still affects the Post Office, with missing transactions identified in appeal case data last month.

Both Fujitsu and the Post Office reiterated previous apologies over the scandal.

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