The emergency alert that appeared on the phones of millions of people across the UK has been connected to a number of conspiracy theories and claims.
One claim shared widely across social media suggested the company in charge of implementing the alert was owned by prime minister Rishi Sunak’s wife.
Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it False.
The emergency alert sounded on millions of phones at 3pm on Sunday 24 April, with 4G or 5G phones getting an alert accompanied by sound and vibration.
The UK government said the system is meant for use in potentially life-threatening situations including flooding and wildfires. There are similar schemes in the US, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands.
Rumours on social media suggested that the development and implementation of the emergency alert system was linked to Akshata Murthy, a businesswoman married to prime minister Rishi Sunak.
The claim suggested the contract to deliver the system had been won by Fujitsu, who then subcontracted the work to a company called Infosys, which was owned by Murthy.
It is true that some of the work surrounding the alert system was contracted to Fujitsu. This led to controversy due to the company’s involvement in the Post Office Horizon scandal, in which accounting software produced by the firm wrongly detected financial discrepancies, leading to employees being sacked and facing criminal prosecutions.
There is no evidence that Fujitsu passed this contract on to Infosys however. The UK Government denied this in a statement to Ferret Fact Service, saying: “This is completely untrue – there are no connections with Infosys in the running of the emergency alerts system”.
A spokesperson for Infosys also denied the company had any role “directly or indirectly” with the alerts.
Minister of state at the cabinet office, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, told the House of Lords that Fujitsu has a “small role in the development of the UK’s emergency alert system, initially providing a subject matter expert to support early development by DCMS [department for digital, culture, media and sport]”.
Infosys is an Indian multinational company that specialises in IT services, business consulting, and outsourcing.
It was founded by N.R. Narayana Murthy, who is the father of Akshata Murthy and father-in-law of the prime minister. Akshata Murthy owns about one per cent of the company.
Ferret Fact Service verdict: False
Claims that Infosys was involved in the emergency alerts system are not accurate. Fujitsu were contracted to assist with part of the alerts system’s development, but Infosys was not subcontracted by them to deliver any work. Infosys is not owned by Akshata Murthy, but was founded by her father, with Murthy owning a one per cent share in the business.
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Cover image: The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty visit a Family Hub in Cornwall. Credit: Number 10.