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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Day 10 - live tweets

Snapper's eye view of the entrance to the Rolls Building this morning

Here are today's 172 tweets from Day 10 of Bates and others v Post Office at the High Court adjusted for legibility and formatting. Please remember they paraphrase what was said. Nothing is a direct quote unless it is in direct quotes. You can read today's tweets at Thread Reader or the originals here. Or just scroll down...

10.01am Day 10 of Bates v Post Office - Michael Lee Shields from the Post Office is being cross-examined by Henry Warwick, counsel for the claimant Subpostmasters. #postofficetrial

Nothing written in this thread is a direct quote unless it is direct quotes.
For yesterday’s write up and live tweets - please go to postofficetrial.com

Michael Lee Shields (MLS) is a former postie and now a contracts advisor with the power to recommend suspension of Subpostmasters. He is being asked about the time he spent since 2015 organising temp SPMRs for branches where...
… there have been suspensions or other reasons to get a temp in.
Henry Warwick (HW) asking how much MLS would tell a temp about the situation they are taking over - how much they would tell them about a suspension and the reasons for it.
HW you’re under pressure to get someone in
MLS yes
HW you have a target of 5 days
MLS yes
HW and that’s a Post Office target
MLS yes - but that doesn’t mean we will open in 5 days - other things need to be sorted out first sometimes
HW but that 5 days is a PO target and you are appraised on your performance by the PO as an employee
MLS yes
[discussion about the process of finding a temp]
HW you introduce yourself you tell them what you do - in your WS you say - if an incumbent SPM is happy about a temp coming in… what does that mean?
MLS it’s so the incumbent and a temp can talk terms, access etc
HW you seem to miss out quite a large chunk of your job in your WS
HW elsewhere you say you should present the incumbent with a choice of 3 temps. Does that not happen
MLS not necessarily
HW also you ask them if they want a contribution from the temp for rent, lighting etc
HW and in that call to the incumbent you have to lower their expectations
MLS I wouldn’t say lower their expectations
HW you do in your witness statement say “lower their expectations”
MLS yes I would sometimes have to lower their expectations
HW you’re effectively warning them that if they don’t accept this temp, then what?
MLS the branch is shut, and if they don’t accept the temp then the branch will remain shut
HW but you don’t say - if you remain shut that will have an effect on local people
MLS no that would not
… be appropriate.
HW asking about the deal between the temp, SPM and the PO when a temp comes in. querying MLS’s evidence when set against Mr Breeden’s [also from the PO] on Monday.
Judge has intervened
J- let’s say Mrs Smith is suspended and the temp and Mrs S agree the temp will pay her £200pw to use the premises. The PO is ffectively kept open by the temp. After 2 month it’s found Mrs S shouldn’t have been suspended. The PO will pay her 2 months remunertation. Correct?
MLS don’t know
J - so you don’t know if that £200pw is deducted or not?
MLS - no, don’t know.
HW were you aware of this when you wrote your WS?
MLS eh?
HW you’re not aware now, but youwere when you wrote your WS?
MLS don’t know what you mean.
HW have a look at your WS
HW just to be clear, so I don’t have it wrong.
MLS incumbent SPM isn’t paid and the temp one is paid.
HW did you know this because it’s in your statement or you know it because you wrote it
MLS I wrote it. I know it.
HW okay I am going to ask you a question about policy - it says here [doc] the SPM is paid not the temp and the SPM pays the temp. Is that wrong?
MLS not in my experience - we pay the temp not the suspended SPM
[we move on]
HW asking MLS how he selects potential temps - you have a list.
MLS yes - some of them I know v well
HW how many times do you have to put in a temp per year. Last year it was 10 -15 per month. This year it’s increased. At the moment I’m doing about 20 a month.
HW asking about temp SPM suppliers - looking at internal PO doc written by Gary Adderley - a Contracts Advisor - document on process for keeping a branch going
New Rose, Potent and AN Other I missed.
HW you know them, you know their terms
MLS explains the process for
… dealing with the agencies. The agencies seem to do a lot of the heavy lifting. MLS gives the terms available to the temp and info about the branch and the agencies find them on those terms.
MLS now talking about not being able to find a temp and if they can’t find one...
… they might offer a higher rate. HW Sometimes more than the incumbent.
MLS yes
HW and the pO has the power to shut the branch
MLS yes
HW even if the incumbent wants it to stay open
MLS yes
HW discusses policy in choosing a temp - but notes in MLS WS he says it’s not always possible to follow policy. You SHOULD present 3 temps to SPM, but often you don’t - you might SPEAK to 3, but you don’t necessarily present them to the incumbent
MLS yes
[time being of the essense]
HW now talking about a PO document which state's temp’s right toexclusive use of the counter - is it right that the temp should have exclusive use of the branch?
MLS no that’s not right. I don’t know where that’s come from
[HW is basically pulling apart the policy of getting a temp in and finding gaps between the policy and what actually happens on the ground]
HW do you give this policy to SPMs
MLS I don’t
HW how do they know they might be entitled to a proportion of the fees
MLS I don’t know that the are
HW do you ever tell them that if SPM and temp can’t agree a deal that the SPM might get paid directly by the PO that they install
MLS no
HW Mr Shields I am going to suggest to you this is an SPM has no real choice. You’ve told them their branch might shut, they don’t get a choice of temp and the remuneration has already been set.
MLS well sometimes they get given a choice of temp
HW turns to Pam Stubbs [lead claimant]. PO doc in which a PO employee notes that he thinks the branch should be closed. It is dated a day before the audit. And it is about finding a temp to run the branch which will help PO prove the problems are down to PS not Horizon.
HW do you get temp SPMs lined up on standby
MLS a CA might make me aware there is a suspension at the branch coming
HW and then you talk to the potential temp
MLS yep but I wouldn’t give them details about the branch
HW notes doc which asks temp SPM to do cash variance balances at Pam Stubbs branch.
HW do YOU ask temps to do things to support the PO’s case against suspended SPMs
MLS not in my time
HW has finished. Judge has qs
You were asked about policy that gives PO a written copy of agreement between temp and SPM. You said you don’t get it.
MLS yes
J - are you aware of these docs being created or they don’t get recorded anywhere
MLS they might be orally or in
… writing between the host
J - but you dont’ see it
MLS correct
J - what do you record then of the deal personally
MLS - nothing
J - do you know what the liability is for a temp for any losses incurred in branch
MLS liability for any losses incurred in branch. I make that clear
J- so when you say key terms - is there another document that records the arrangement of the temp’s duties
MLS ther is a temp contract
J - something between PO and temp
MLS yes
J - and that makes them aware they are liable
MLS yes and I tell them that too
MLS sometimes an assistant might be appointed as a temp and so they need to know a lot about their change in status and liability - they might not know they won’t be an employee or liable for losses - it’s not uncommon for people to say it’s not for me.
J - thank you
MLS is done. Elaine Ridge, Contracts Advisor is called to the witness box. MLS was tall, thin and bald with quite a high-pitched voice. Mrs Ridge is shorter, she is wearing a dark suit, glasses and has her hair scraped back. She has been sworn in and is looking for her WS
This morning Jo Hamilton and Seema Misra told me EL was CA for them. She also appears to have been CA for Mr Abdulla. Mr Cavender QC for the PO is raising a point about Mr Abdulla’s evidence.
Mr Abdulla was adamant Ms Adams and Ms Stevens were the same person.
Mr Cavender has shown EL two different HR records and asked if they are the same person.
EL says they most certainly are not.
Patrick Green QC for the claimants is on his feet.
Wants to ask EL about what she said a few minutes ago to Mr Cavender.
About her recollection of interviewing with Mr Abdulla.
PG QC clarifying that EL has no recollection of her interview with Mr Abdulla. Just that its her signature on the document. Which is why your WS is littered with the phrase “would have” as you cannot recollect
anything about what was actually said in the interview.
EL confirms
QC you can recall Mr Abdulla ran a branch before? or you’ve been reminded
EL I’ve been reminded
QC it’s helpful for his lordship to know which areas you are more confident on and which you’re not
EL understands
QC can you remember what was on the interview checklist?
EL you are not an employee, you cover discrepancies, you are responsible for any discrepancies, standards in the branch, training and employing staff
QC did you discuss scale of discrepancies?
EL yes - I say it could be a pound or a thousand pounds - you are responsible
QC Mr Abdulla is adamant you didn’t. Is it possible you didn’t?
EL yes - I can’t remember
QC taking through evidence of what EL says she would have said and what Mr Abdulla remembers what she did and din’t say. Some tally, some are neutral and there is some disagreement over what was said.
[this was a three person interview - EL and Christine interviewing Mr A]
EL’s evidence says she would have told him contract could be ended at any time
QC Mr Abdulla says this definitely was not mentioned
EL accepts she might not have said it. She can’t remember
[goes to different piece of EL’s WS]
EL’s WS says she has been shown two different checklists and she has adduced her recollection of Mr A’s interview from the checklist she was provided.
QC asking about another SPM. EL did interview him but can’t remember when
EL says she knows what she told SPMs down the years...
… and that that didn’t change. She had her old checklist.
QC notes her colleague Brian Trotter has a checklist which he uses to show what he has discussed with claimant.
EL this document has changed down the years
QC it has - look - first thing on the checklist here - record the
… interview. That came in in 2008 didn’t it?
EL I don’t remember when it came in.
QC reads her a document about the change of policy. Do you remember that?
EL sometimes it came in earlier
QC but you didn’t record your interview so you werent using that checklist
EL no
Goes back to Brian Trotter’s electronic record of Louise Dar’s iv.
QC this is very different from 2006 when Mr Abdulla was interviewed.
EL confirms.
QC let’s see what does exist for Mr Abdulla…
QC letter to EL asking interviewe MR A using “standard interview pack"
EL confirms. 
QC - Letter also asks EL to fill in a checklist for Mr Abdulla’s iv - reels these off…
EL says that is what she was working to and a different sheet she no longer has which gave her points together.
QC goes to letter 9 Nov 2006 inviting Mr A to interview.
QC letter says he will be asked to demonstrate skills experience etc you will be expected to talk through your business plan and finance arrangement and you will be required to bring your business plan with yo. And this was a standard letter?
EL yes
QC also attaches brief summary
of terms of contract. which cannot be relied on for any purpose. What’s the point in sending a summary of terms that cannot be relied on for any purpose
EL they might want to discuss them
QC but they’re not told to bring it to discuss it are they?
QC They’re told to bring their business plan to discuss it
EL yes cos that’s their business plan
QC but there’s not mention of the terms. They’ haven’t seen the contract yet.
EL no my understanding was that in those days it would be kept in branch.
We are having a 10 minute break for the stenographers fingers.
#postofficetrial
Whilst we are having a break, could I ask you to have a look at this - it is a blog post about yesterday’s evidence implicating Paula Vennells, post office CEO in this story.
I honestly think this is the most important document I’ve seen in a while.

Right we’re back. Elaine Ridge (EL), Post Office Contracts Advisor in the box. Patrick Green QC for the claimants cross-examining.

They are going through various documents surrounding Mr Abdulla’s Subpostmaster (SPM) application
In one post-interview document EL records Mr A felt there was a partnership between PO and his business, but expressed concern if there were any conflict of interest.
QC now he didn’t mean a legal partnership?
EL no - might not have been his words they were my words

QC no but they set out the reality. It is a partnership. Doc makes no mention of summary of conditions and whether you discussed it with him
EL correct

QC now drilling into exactly what was discussed. You understand there was a big difference between needing to improve the lighting and directing him towards the modified terms of the SPM contract.
EL yes
QC so when you’re talking about the sort of things you would have...

… talked about in the interview you wouldn’t have gone into detail about contractual issues
EL the contract was quite a big thing for him to read, I think. "It would have put him off straight away!"
QC “exactly."

[they have been looking at more documentation around Mr Abdulla’s employment]
There are 14 documents in the interview file. EL has been shown almost all of them.
QC it’s not the case that Mr A’s file has been lost, is it?
EL no
QC but there’s no checklist in his file
EL no

QC the reality is there was no standard checklist in 2006
EL I had a standard checklist given to me by my colleague when I started and that’s where the later list comes from
QC [shows new doc] this is where we find the checklist you say youused
EL no I didn’t I say that. I said I have used this checklist, but not for Mr A.

QC it’s dated 2012. it’s the one Mr Breeden said he has used.
QC goes back to internal PO doc. if they don’t state in the biz plan (BP) how many hours they expect to work, you have to ask them about it in the interview.
EL yes we do.
QC you want to know how many hours personal service they intend to provide
EL yes but that might change

QC makes the point that to qualify for the post office’s version of holiday pay called “substitution allowance” they have to work 18 hours a week
EL that is to help them pay for cover staff
QC there is a lot of sensitivity in the PO about personal services and using the word “employee” or “employment”
EL yes

QC you’re smiling - you’ve probably been told this lots of times
EL yes
QC and the reason for this is because the relationship is...
… quite similar to employment.
EL it is yes.
QC notes that in the contract that SPMs don’t have to be present in branch providing a personal service - need to notify area manager etc
… if they are going to be away for any period of time [3 days]… QC says this is very different from the next document which is a law report, which I’m going to show you… [we can’t find it]
QC i’ll just ask you.
QC your understanding was that there was an obligation a contractual obligation to notify the PO if the SPM was going to be away from the branch for more than 3 days.
EL yes
QC for the purposes of statutory sick pay the law treated SPMs as employees.
EL yes
QC shows the document which proves this. I think you’ve very fairly accepted that this is very close to employment.
EL yes. But it’s not.
QC yes.
QC now going to Mr Abdulla’s suspension. YOu dealt with that didn’t you?
EL no - not at first
QC can you remember it
EL not at all - just what I’ve seen from the papers
QC notes suspension document and decision to bring temp in. Was that an internal decision?
EL don’t know
Mr Abdulla was out of the country when he was suspended. QC is going through letters to and from him, including one which mentions the possibility of summary termination of his contract.
Letter accusing him of false account after accepting TCs and not making them good.
Misuse of post office services.
Quoting 12:12 in the contract (“all lossses caused... by negligence, carelessness or error”)
Now onto transcript of recording of Mr Abdulla’s post-suspension interview…
EL starts interview stating situation including a accepting a TC and not making it good
[ie EL starts post suspension interview with Mr A by saying he had accepted a TC and not made it good]
[now going through documents provided by the debt team to EL about Mr A’s TCs]
QC notes figure of £1092, then -£1092, then a month later £1092 and there’s another £1092 back in May, none of which are linked to a reason, whereas other TCs are. Why?
EL don’t know
[QC bringing up excel spreadsheet relating to Mr Abdulla which Angela van den Bogerd was shown. AvdD told court she was coming to it cold, then after being picked up on it admitted she’d looked at it in some detail]
[she was “mistaken”]
QC this spreadsheet gives a bit more detail on them and shows that Mr A is getting £1092 TCs month after month after month with the PO accepting at least once has been sent in error. This would have been useful to you, wouldn’t it?
EL yes
QC if you had this info at the time you could have investigated what had happened?
EL yes
QC it’s odd, isn’t it?
EL yes
QC in Mr A’s interview he kept repeating there was something wrong and brought up the £1092 repeatedly
QC now this info really would have helped wouldn’t it?
EL yes I could have used it to find other errors too
QC yes you could have seen this other figure which was erroneous and actually showed there was at least £2K in here which he was being held accountable for
QC which he didn’t really owe!
EL yes
QC you just had to wing it didn’t you and decide whether to suspend him on what you felt might have happened
EL yes - on the information I had available to me at the time.
QC yes
QC so you decide to suspend him
EL yes
[they go into discussion and review of about the next part of the process - internally reviewing the suspension, termination, appeal etc]
Part of Mr A’s appeal was that no proper investigation into what had happened in his branch.
QC did you request any info from Horizon any ARQ data?
EL no that was something that was not done
QC so let’s look at the response to his appeal
QC a letter in standard wording, which pre-dates the appeal hearing by nearly a month
EL can’t comment
QC Did your PO colleague ask for any additional info before the appeal
EL don’t know
QC quite serious what is happening to people here - an effect on their investment. Why weren’t they allowed to have a lawyer with them?
EL don’t know why. it’s just the way it is
QC Even when they were accused of false accounting?
EL if they were accused of false accounting
EL.. [or charged] they would be allowed access to a lawyer
QC but in this interview you accused him of false accounting. yet he’s still not allowed a lawyer
EL no.
QC even tho what he says to you in this interview can be relied upon by another team down the line.
EL yes
QC no further questions
PO QC on his feet now going back through JFSA QC’s questioning of EL on her Witness Statement
PO QC is asking her to clarify her recollection of I don’t remember saying things. She hardens it up to a probable 8 out of 10 likelihood
PO QC asks here to read 12:12 of the contract in full and says would she have discussed this with Mr Abdulla?
EL definitely
PO QC says you were told it was a contractual obligation to give 18 hours service, but the figure was more of an indication, is that right?
EL yes
PO QC did you say thre was an agreement to work 18 hours a week?
EL no - if someone indicates they are going to work 18 hours a week then I’ll just put a note about it so someone can help find holiday cover
PO QC going to Mr Abdulla’s TCs and the apology attached to one of them for the PO for getting it wrong. And what is the net effect of those TCs -
EL there’s still a £1092 difference [against the SPM]
J - what is your understanding of “the mutilated notes”.
EL notes taken out of circ because they are so damaged they will be remitted out of branch and taken back to the Bank of England
J goes to transcript of interview with Mr A. You start talking about charges. Are you referring to the letter you sent him setting out the reasons for interview
EL yes
J asks about EL asking about the £1K missing in the lottery stock unit - he is interested in EL’s exploring of the missing £1092 in the Mr A interview. You say “there is no TC for that” and there is debate between you.
When you say there is no TC for that, that is based on...
… the two till rolls?
EL no it might have been, it should still be in the record
J but your assertion there is no TC is based on what
[agree it is two till rolls and the list from the debt team]
J says the excel spreadsheet that Mr Green put to you makes it look like there are 4x £1092 entries - one negative and three positive.
Do you remember that?
EL i remember the spreadsheet but not every entry.
J let’s have a look. 57 says this TC is for lottery sales £1092, 61 £1092, row 63 £1092 and row 65 £1092 has the apology connected to it. Given you didn’t have the spreadsheet, all you could go off was the till rolls.
EL I think it might have been the same spreadsheet…
J but the four entries are still on there. with no supporting info. If this was the only info you had are you confident you had enough information to explore the charges against him with him.
EL yes
J you don’t think it would have been useful to have the excel spreadsheet
EL no
J - you don’t think it would be helpful to have the extra document with the extra text in it
EL no
J - thank you - that’s been very useful
PO QC back on his feet after judge’s qs. Askin EL to explain a bit more to the judge as to what she was looking for.
EL Mr A implied he accepted a TC after he last rolled over. but I couldn’t find one. 
PO QC and if he had done that it would have reduced the loss?
EL yes
Elaine Ridge leaves the witness box.
David Longbottom in the witness box now. Bald early fifties, black suit, striped tie. Sworn in.
He has a loud voice, thank goodness.
Mr Longbottom is a Training and Audit Advisor for the Post Office.
Looks like we are going to be talking about the audit of Liz Stockdale (14 years ago).
Patrick Green QC asks - would it be fair you are more likely to remember audits that were unusual?
DL yes that’s fair.
DL is being shown a letter in which he is complimented by an SPM on his audit.
QC Mrs Golding has 4 branches - you audited it about a year and a half ago. can you remember it?
DL if you give me the name
QC Waddingham
DL I remember
DL I don’t think this was an audit. I think this was an intervention visit. It’s not normal for an SPM to have to have an audit.
QC the word audit might not be right. it’s what she called it. What can you remember anything of that visit?
DL my memory would be if...
… they were having some dfficulty producing their accounts I would go along - chat with them beforehand etc. An audit would be unannounced. It’s a support visit. from memory we would have produced numerous transaction logs on the till roll.
QC how big?
DL well a lot but you can set the parameters to search by date, value etc
QC yes because to print out the whole lot…
DL yes
[starts talking about a collaborative process “they know their branch better than me”]
Lunch break. Am going to reboot computer as it is on its afternoon go slow. Anyone know why tweetdeck just gets slower and slower as the day goes on? Cache-ing?
#postofficetrial
We’re back. David Longbottom, Post Office auditor in the stand. Before lunch the judge pointedly noted that DL had given a 3 page answer to a short question. Things might be snappier here on in.
QC can you recall being refused transaction logs when you asked for them at the Waddingham audit
DL yes
QC were you surprised
DL yes but she could have asked for them
QC what you were trying to do was find the root cause of the problem
DL yes
QC now going to Liz Stockdale’s transfer audit. LS is a lead claimant. DL’s WS accepts he doesn’t remember a huge amount about it and QC is going into this.
QC context of LS transfer was that the outgoing SPM had been waiting quite a while for this to happen.
QC notes letter to outgoing SPM and LS saying that the handover date in the contract HAS to be agreed by all parties. Were you aware of this?
DL no - not my area.
QC can you remember that Karen Collinson (outgoing SPM) was keen to get on with this as soon as possible
DL I wouldn’t know about this
QC but you got the impression when you did speak to her that she was keen to get on with it
DL oh yes
QC shows DL doc advising incoming SPM of possible delays to opening due to many different circs.
Judge wants the QC to hurry up and make the point.
QC was this the date that popped up in your diary?
DL the date that popped up would have been the opening audit?
QC is it not the same day as the transfer audit?
DL not with the Network Transformation often there was a gap
You cou;dn’t do a transfer audit without the Horizon kit being installed could you?
DL yes we could do it on the old kit in the old branch with the stock that was there.
QC now asking about LS being asked to sign a bank transfer details note on her opening day
DL that’s what it says
QC you wouldn’t get involved?
DL no
QC but it’s normal for payments from PO etc
DL yes I would guess so
QC [goes to new doc] this transfer pack was sent to the outgoing SPM
DL it was at the time
QC it was procedure then, but not now
DL no now we bring it with us on transfer day
QC and transfers only take one day
DL usually yes
[QC now taking DL through docs needed on transfer day. there are lots]
QC These docs ALL had to be completed and returned
DL yes but they went to different places
QC showing official secrets act doc for outgoing SPM to sign
which confirms they surrender all their paperwork?
DL apart from their copy of that
QC apart from their copy of that
[QC still going through all the transfer day documentation, handover material, things to sign etc etc]
QC what would happen if a TC came in to an SPM after they have been terminated, in their favour
DL it would go to the [finance] office which would chalk it into the accounts
DL … is my understanding. I don’t know for sure.
[I am beginning to have some sympathy with the judge…]
[this is taking a while to come to the point]
[I presume this is going to be linked to some TC arriving out of the blue for Liz Stockdale soon after she took on her branch. That’s a guess btw]
[I think we’re getting to the point - there was a gap between the closure of KC’s PO and the opening of LS’s branch]
QC suggests this is difficult
DL harder, but so long as we remember to get everything done…
QC points out documents which are missing from this handover.
QC quite a busy day, day of transfer
DL perhaps it was less busy in this case
QC but it was still busy
DL yep
QC so you hand to get all things signed by KC and LS
DL KC would have signed all she needed to sign when her PO closed.
QC so all you had to do was get LS to sign things. Did you think LS was already contracted as an SPM
DL yes
QC what then, were you making her sign? emphasis? a flourish?
DL don’t know - it’s just something we’ve always done.
QC asks about the summary of terms that Mr Sabir was asked to sign - what was your understanding of this? What would you say to SPMs about this document?
DL [reads document] I would say this is just something the business wants you to read and sign
QC we have a document which expresses doubt on behalf of auditors that some SPMs understand the terms on which they have been engaged. Was that consistent with your experience?
DL no no SPMs have raised those things with me
QC did you have any doubts about..
… SPMs understanding of their contractual obligations?
DL personally speaking no
QC if an SPM asked you about the terms of a document you were asking them to sign, could you have told them?
DL no not unless I was sure I understood it. I wouldn’t want to give them advice.
QC I was going to ask you if you know why one of the docs you were handing over under a standard agreement or modified agreement should be different?
DL I wouldn’t know - it’s not my area.
Judge asks how many documents outgoing and incoming SPMS need to be signed in all on a normal transfer day.
DL
Incoming - 12 or 13
Outgoing - 2 or 3
No further questions. DL stands down
Michael Webb about to be sworn in. Bit of a silver fox is Mr Webb. Early or mid-60s. He is a Training and Audit Advisor for the Post Office. Kathleen Donnelly is asking questions for the claimants.
MW and KD agree he is very experienced 16 years unbroken auditing for the PO
Says he has done hundreds of audits - mainly investigating audits.
KD showing him a doc he hasn’t seen before by a PO trainer painting a picture of transfer day as absolute chaos. Says transfer audit shouldn’t happen on same day as opening
KD asks if this is fair
DL depends - can be most relaxed of the audits you do.
KD you are comparing them with other audits. For the SPM on opening day it is a stressful day
DL I would imagine it is, yeah.
KD shows extract of audit diary. One a day
DL yep with different people leading them
KD so when your initials are first, you lead them?
Sorry - I’ve been DLing Michael Webb. Tired.
KD is talking to Michael Webb. Hereafter MW
KD asks about MW’s travelling to and from audits - varies between 2 and 4 hours a day
MW says it was quite a relaxed process
KD draws MW back to 2006 and Mr Mohammad Sabir (lead claimant).
MW has no recollection of it other than being there. Doesn’t remember the SPM
KD but that’s the limit
MW so when you say how long you would have spend on things - you’re speculating
MW not speculating - based on experience. It was very run of the mill, nothing remarkable.
KD what you’re saying is I can’t remember anything about it therefor nothing unusual must have happened.
MW yeah
KD takes him to WS. Were you shown Mr Sabir’s transfer audit
MW - yes
KD why don’t you refer to them in your WS?
MW i’m still doing audits now we do lots of audits [suggests they all look the same]
KD are you sure you read Mr Sabir’s transfer audit?
MW well I think so, I must have done. it was in the paperwork we were given to look at.
KD takes him to the documentation around this audit. Showing him checklists in transfer pack going to Mr Sabir’s predecessor Mr Rooney.
KD takes him to letter sent to Mr Sabir. asks why all transfer docs Mr Sabir had to sign were sent to Mr Rooney.
MW standard practice.
KD so Mr Sabir couldn’t have seen the docs sent to Mr Rooney?
MW no
KD in your WS you say you would briefly explain the documents
KD asks him to explain what he is looking at
MW it’s a document asking for final acceptance of the position of SPM
KD so your job is to identify the document.
MW yes it’s very much a formality 
KD and these docs are being presented as a formality
MW yes
KD brings up MW’s witness statement in which he says how many audits he’s done. He says he would be very clear about what each document was and what they meant.
MW yes
KD so if asked what would you say a Post Instruction was?
MW I’d have to refer that back
KD so you didn’t know what it was?
MW no
KD brings up 40 page document. what if you were asked about that?
MW I’d have to refer it back
KD have you read the SPM contract
MW no
KD does the SPM have any choice but to sign them?
MW they’re a formality. I guess the whole thing would fold if they didn’t but no one’s forcing them
KD they don’t have any choice
MW we’re not twisting their arms
KD but you’re not saying “here are some important docs...
… have a think about whether your want to sign them or not.”
MW not its very much a formality to seal all the legalities.
KD no further questions
PO QC re-examines and makes clear there are only 6 or 7 different for incoming SPMs to sign. As there are duplicates for signing.
MW agrees.
Michael Webb is done and dusted in record time for a witness in this trial. We also have no further witnesses today.
The judge says there will be a break and that he intends to spend 15 minutes or so after the break housekeeping with the QCs. I wonder if this means we’ll get an order on the 3rd trial? Stay tuned, live courtroom tweet fans, and we’ll find out...
We’re back. We are talking about the third trial
Second trial is 11 March for 5 weeks to 11 April
QCs think they might have an enthusiastic idea of what will be the subject of Trial 3 when we know the judgement of this one.
J why?
PG QC [says we’ll have a better idea of what the outstanding issues might be]
J there are 3 alternatives for T3 are groups of issues, fully trying individual claims or test claims
PG QC yes but we don’t know who the best ones might be
J yes which individual cases to try you might no know, but whether it’s a large group or a small one can be decided without a judgement on this trial
[there is a very pointy-headed legal argument going on now]
Basically the QCs want the trial in September 2019 and the judge wants it in June 2019.
Judge making the point that trying common issues and Horizon is not trying the claims. And he has a responsibility to get a resolution on those claims for the claimants as soon as possible.
PG QC now talking about October 2019 for the final trial
Judge says he’s not going to make an order on this today.
PG QC wants a case-management date in Jan after this trial’s ruling and says it will have a massive bearing on what T3 is if needed at all.
PO QC has now on his feet.
Says the right claimants for part 3 is essential and based on the issues that are agreed are problems.
PO QC says a rush for June or October is not desirable
Judge weighs in. No you say a rush for October - that’s 11 months away. This action was started in 2016. The earliest any of this will get resolved is middle of 2019. The way
you are presenting it to me is that the earliest any of these claims will be resolved is in 2020. That’s not good enough.
If I were a betting man I would put T3 on 7 Oct 2019. PO QC suggesting it is virtually impossible to into shape for 5 June 2019
The way that PO QC is playing this, it’s going to turn into Jarndyce vs Jarndyce.
J asking PO QC if it is his position that T3 cannot possibly be heard before 2020.
PO QC yes, unless you try a couple of the Lead Claimants from this trial.
PO QC suggesting that not only could T3 not start till 2020, it might last a year.
JFSA QC on his feet. Not June - not 2020. Claimants would prefer autumn 2019. Late October.
JFSA think 2020 is too long.
J it is my job to manage litigation. This case is already old and I am going to resolve it. We will revisit this at the end of Monday.
J I am grudgingly persuaded that June is too soon. It is difficult for an average person to get
J their head round why this case cannot be resolved in less than a period of years.
J I am minded order T3 for October 2019 and put you on notice that unless there are very good reasons not to that is when it will happen.
This will be discussed again after the final 3 PO witnesses on Monday.
[We don’t need to talk about the wheels of justice do we? Blimey. Not sure what I’ve got myself into.]
Okay we’re done. Judge has risen.
This is what happens when there is little or no media involvement in a story. It drags on for decades. I am not blaming anyone for this (certainly not the media). It is just an observation.
And with that. I’m done. A full chronology of these tweets will be up on postofficetrial.comshortly then a match report later. If you enjoyed this pls punt a few quid into the tip jar on the website. £20 donations get the secret emails! Thanks.

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