Children of Post Office victims to hold Fujitsu boss to his word

The children of former subpostmasters whose lives were ruined by the Post Office Horizon scandal have come together to form a support group which is to hold Fujitsu to its promise of support.

The Lost Chances for Subpostmasters’ Children campaign group’s first port of call was Fujitsu, after the company’s European head promised support for subpostmasters and their families.

Fujitsu boss, Paul Patterson, said in a recent parliamentary select committee hearing: “I think there are things that we can do in our technology world that may or may not be of help to subpostmasters and their associated families.”

After reading a Computer Weekly article, about Fujitsu wanting to establish how it could support scandal victims and their families in the future, Katie Downey, daughter of former subpostmaster and victim of the scandal Tony Downey, decided to hold the tech giant to its word.

She told Computer Weekly: “I read the article and thought, who is going to take them up on that offer then?”

With the help of her dad, she contacted family members and formed a support group. But even before forming the group, she had contacted Fujitsu to test its words. “Naively, even before I formed the group, I contacted Fujitsu explaining that we have formed a group and would like to take it up on its offer of help.”

In her letter to Fujitsu, Downey wrote that “there are many children who have lost education, and opportunities that involved money, and many other horror stories”.

She also said: “I believe that Mr Patterson’s words and those of Fujitsu at the meeting were, perhaps, the most honest.”

Fujitsu boss Patterson quickly replied, asking Downey if she would be willing to attend meetings in which redress for subpostmasters and their families is being discussed.

Patterson wrote: “I am in the process of discussing arrangements to meet the individuals affected by the scandal. Currently, these arrangements are being discussed with the legal representatives of victims who have core participant status in the public inquiry. I am not sure if this includes the legal representatives who have been working on your father’s case. In any event, if you do not object, I propose to raise with them your inclusion in the meetings we are currently discussing.”

Downey said: “That’s amazing, but I was not expecting a reply so soon. We are running a bit before we can walk, getting our story out there.”

So far, there are 40 children of victims of the scandal in the group, but many more are being invited to join. “At the moment, it is only a group for the children of victims because they are the only ones I feel I can speak for. I know it has affected every family member, but we are just here for the children,” she said.

Downey hopes many others will join the group now it has been officially launched. If you are a child of a Post Office scandal victim, you can contact the group via its website.

Computer Weekly first exposed the Post Office scandal in 2009, revealing the stories of seven subpostmasters and the problems they suffered as a result of the Horizon system (see the below timeline of all Computer Weekly articles about the scandal).

• Also read: What you need to know about the Horizon scandal

• Also watch: ITV’s documentary – Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The real story

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