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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Common Issues trial transcript: Day 10

This is the transcript of the tenth day of the Common Issues trial in the Bates and others v Post Office group litigation. The hearing below took place on Thu 22 November 2018 in court 26 of the High Court's Rolls Building. The claimants' QC is Mr Patrick Green and the defendant's QC is Mr David Cavender. The managing judge is Mr Justice Fraser.

Day 10 witnesses

Michael Shields, Temporary Subpostmaster Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here) - day 2. The first day of Mr Shields' evidence can be found here.
Elaine Ridge, Network Contract Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
David Longbottom, Training and Audit Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Michael Webb, Training and Audit Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).

For my write-up of the day, click here.

Day 1 transcript - Wed 7 November - Opening arguments
Day 2 transcript - Thu 8 November - Claimants: Alan Bates, Pam Stubbs part 1
Day 3 transcript - Mon 12 November - Pam Stubbs part 2, Mohammad Sabir
Day 4 transcript - Tue 13 November - Naushad Abdulla, Liz Stockdale
Day 5 transcript - Wed 14 November - Louise Dar
Day 6 transcript - Thu 15 November - Post Office: Nick Beal, Paul Williams
Day 7 transcript - Mon 19 November - Sarah Rimmer, John Breeden, AvdB part 1
Day 8 transcript - Tue 20 November - AvdB part 2
Day 9 transcript - Wed 21 November - AvdB part 3, Timothy Dance, Helen Dickinson, Michael Shields part 1
Day 10 transcript - Thu 22 November - Michael Shields part 2, Elaine Ridge, David Longbottom, Michael Webb
Day 11 transcript - Mon 26 November - Michael Haworth, Andrew Carpenter, Brian Trotter

Day 10 full transcript:

                                     Thursday, 22 November 2018
   (10.00 am)
                MR MICHAEL LEE SHIELDS (continued)
           Cross-examination by MR WARWICK (continued)
   MR WARWICK:  My Lord, continuing with questioning of
       Mr Shields.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR WARWICK:  Good morning, Mr Shields.
   A.  Good morning.
   Q.  I would like to mop something up from yesterday.  Could
       the transcript be put up from yesterday, Day 9, page 174
       at line 9 {Day9/174:9}.
           Can you see at line 9 I suggested to you that you
       hadn't had any dealings with the lead claimants in this
       trial.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you said, no, they were before your time.  Is that
       because you can't remember anything about any dealings
       with the lead claimants?
   A.  To my knowledge, the six lead claimants are prior to my
       time in the appointment of temporary postmaster role, so
       it pre-dates that time.
   Q.  I see.  Can you remember any indirect dealings to do
       with the lead claimants?
   A.  No.
   Q.  It is not a test, Mr Shields, but I am reliably informed
       overnight that in the disclosure, that is to say all the
       documents that have been provided, there have been some
       emails in which you were copied in to do with two of the
       lead claimants, Mrs Stockdale, and Mrs Dar, neither of
       whom I think had a temp put into their branch.  But
       I wanted to be fair because I think I had started that
       by suggesting to you that you had had no dealings.
   A.  Okay.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Shields, I wonder, and I know it is
       difficult because Mr Warwick is standing so close to
       you, but can you please keep your voice as high as
       possible.  Thank you.
   MR WARWICK:  So yesterday where we left it, Mr Shields, was
       the part of your witness statement where you start
       talking about the appointment process.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we go to paragraph 11 of your witness statement at
       {C2/7/2}.  The bit I want to ask you about, for the sake
       of the operator, goes overleaf in a moment.
           Really for you it's the start of it, isn't it?
       Somebody gives you a call, that is a contracts advisor
       which you now are, and tells you that an incumbent
       subpostmaster has been suspended and the reasons why.
   A.  Yes, for a suspension.
   Q.  For a suspension?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "The explanation is given to provide me with a little
       background about the case but it is not for sharing with
       potential temps."
           Wouldn't the potential temps you are dealing with
       know that in fact somebody has been suspended and that
       is why they are asked whether they are interested in
       coming in?
   A.  Not always.  Obviously there are different reasons why
       I might appoint a temp in a branch.  Suspensions is one
       of them, a resignation, death in service, to name a few.
   Q.  So to start with death in service or an illness, in
       either of those two sensitive situations you would
       probably tell them that, wouldn't you, that they are
       being appointed to step in -- sorry, pausing there.  For
       a death in service it might be a member of the family?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  So for an illness would you tell them?
   A.  I suppose it is a judgment call dependent upon what the
       current or the incumbent subpostmaster's view was around
       that.  If I wasn't too sure I would probably have taken
       some advice because some people might not want to
       share ...
   Q.  Illness appointments and death in service appointments
       are quite rare and unusual?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So on the whole a temp that you are approaching would
       think it very likely that it was a suspension that
       they're being asked to fill the gap --
   A.  That's the primary purpose that I would -- yes.
   Q.  You describe that call then at paragraph 11 and you say
       that the contracts advisor would have asked the
       incumbent if they were willing to have a temp and if
       they are not:
           "... there is nothing for me to deal with."
           That is not quite right, is it, Mr Shields, because
       we had a look yesterday at the modified SPMC.  So there
       must be some where the contracts advisor is asking you
       to source a temp even where the subpostmaster doesn't
       want one?
   A.  So the subpostmaster in all cases has to allow use of
       the premises, so the contract advisor in terms of the
       suspension will ask the host or the incumbent
       subpostmaster, "Would you allow the use of the premises
       for us to appoint a temporary postmaster?"  If the
       answer at that point is a no, then nothing will happen.
       I'm not saying that might change after a week or
       something, the suspended postmaster might have a change
       of heart and say "I would like you now to try and find
       a temporary subpostmaster, ie I will allow the use of
       the premises".  But if at that point the answer from the
       postmaster is, "No, I don't allow access to the
       premises", then that is the end of the case at that
       point in time.
   Q.  So what about in between then?  You describe people who
       are in effect, I suppose, not sure, they might have
       a change of heart.  So a contract adviser might call you
       where somebody is not sure and then it falls to you
       perhaps to explain why it might be a good idea?
   A.  Not really, no.  Usually the contract advisor would have
       that discussion with them.  Sometimes it might come as
       a shock to them, the suspension, and they might want to
       think about it, because obviously there is a lot going
       on in their mind at that moment in time.  Sometimes
       I think it is just an outright no, that they don't want
       the use of the premises, sometimes they have a change of
       heart.
   Q.  Would it help their decision if you were to speak to
       them and tell them there is perhaps someone you have in
       mind and what it might involve and so on?  Would that
       help them?
   A.  Possibly, but the contract -- that is nothing that
       the contract advisor couldn't tell them.  They could
       say, you know, "I can speak to my colleagues and then
       ask them to try and find --" because there is no
       guarantee that we could find a temporary subpostmaster.
   Q.  But you might, mightn't you, if you spoke to them?
   A.  Yes, I might.
   Q.  So --
   A.  But I would say it's unusual that I would speak to them
       in that situation.
   Q.  Right, okay.  But that call from the contract advisor,
       so far as you are concerned, is really the starting
       pistol, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because you are under real pressure time-wise to get
       somebody in, aren't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you describe elsewhere in your statement that you
       have a target to get a temp in place within five days of
       being notified by the contract advisor, that is five
       days from that call?
   A.  Five working days, yes.
   Q.  That is a target -- that's a Post Office target?
   A.  It's a Post Office target and that target is to find
       somebody, a suitable temporary postmaster, to take on
       that branch.  It doesn't necessarily mean we will
       re-open that branch on that day because there are things
       that are outside of my control.  Once I identify the
       temporary postmaster we then have to arrange an audit,
       so it's another team that manages the transfer audits.
   Q.  That is understood.  So there is some process
       downstream?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But effectively -- and your performance is appraised by
       reference to that target, is it, as an employee of
       Post Office?
   A.  It is one of the things that I am targeted on, yes.
   Q.  When you describe that call then, you go on to then talk
       about speaking to the subpostmaster, that is to say the
       incumbent subpostmaster or subpostmistress, and you say
       usually that is the first call you make?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  When it's not the first call, who else would you have --
   A.  So the other person that -- the other team, if you will,
       that I would need to speak to is, again, if it is
       a suspension, there is an auditor at the site, so the
       auditor is waiting to confirm whether we were looking to
       try to find a temporary postmaster in the branch at that
       day.
   Q.  Right.  And what if you've got somebody in mind already,
       a temp in mind for that particular area, say?
   A.  So I wouldn't necessarily have had somebody in mind, so
       in my statement it talks about the process, so I would
       be looking at people that were actively interested in
       taking branches on as a temporary subpostmaster, so
       I would be making calls to them.
   Q.  You tell them, and this is at paragraph 12 of your
       witness statement {C2/7/3}, you tell them -- you
       introduce yourself, you say what you do, and then you
       say:
           "If an incumbent SPM is happy for a temp to be
       appointed ..."
           Pausing there for a moment.  Presumably what you
       mean then is sometimes they might not?
   A.  Sorry, so I -- yes, the assumption here is that they are
       happy for me to proceed.  They give their verbal consent
       for us to use the premises.  The purpose of this
       paragraph is to explain, obviously to make a call to
       them to introduce myself, tell them some of the things
       I need to do in terms of them agreeing terms of access,
       et cetera, with any potential temps.
   Q.  So what you say in your statement on that is you tell
       them that the prospective temp will call them to discuss
       terms of access, and that is so that the two of them
       could have a chat about it?
   A.  Absolutely.  So sometimes they will ask me "What do you
       mean by that?"  And I would say "It is a discussion
       between you and an interested party, and you might want
       a contribution towards the rent, utilities, the heat,
       the light, the water et cetera".
   Q.  With respect, Mr Shields, that appears to miss out quite
       a large chunk of this process that has been set out in
       your witness statement.  Because you say elsewhere that
       you are required by a policy to put three prospective
       temps to a subpostmaster, an incumbent one.  Is that an
       acknowledgement that you don't necessarily do that?
   A.  Not in every case, so it depends.  If there is
       a scenario where there is clearly one suitable temp,
       suitable from our perspective and my perspective, and
       that temp has agreed terms of access with the, in this
       case, suspended postmaster, I don't see any point in
       wasting the time and energy of other people talking to
       them about taking on the branch when the temporary --
       the suspended postmaster in this case has happily agreed
       to terms of access and that is a suitable candidate.
   Q.  I see.  Also in that call you say you tell them to think
       about whether they want a financial contribution to the
       rent or utilities?
   A.  Yes.  Sometimes they don't, sometimes they just want to
       get the branch open, and they will say to me "I don't
       want anything".  Because obviously if they are still
       operating in retail they will say it is in their
       interests to get the post office back open as soon as
       possible.
   Q.  And in that call you go on to try to lower their
       expectations?
   A.  I wouldn't say I try and lower their expectations,
       I just --
   Q.  Well -- I beg your pardon, sorry.  You are welcome to
       finish the answer, but you do actually say you lower
       their expectations, you might have to lower their
       expectations.  Is that right?
   A.  They might have to lower their expectations sometimes,
       yes.
   Q.  Right.  You tell them to try to be reasonable in terms
       of their expectations:
           "I explain that if they cannot agree terms with the
       temp, the branch will close or remain closed, so if they
       want the branch to remain open they might have to lower
       their expectations."
   A.  They might have to, yes.
   Q.  Can I ask you about this for a moment.  Effectively you
       are warning them that if they don't do a deal with the
       temp their branch is going to shut, is that right?
   A.  Well, at the point of a suspension the branch is going
       to close anyway.  So the branch is closed at that time,
       isn't it, until we get a temporary postmaster if that
       happens.  But clearly if they don't agree terms of
       access, if they want a contribution towards the heat,
       light, water, et cetera, then we can't put a temp in
       the branch.
   Q.  So the branch usually is shut, but the point is you are
       warning them it will stay shut unless they do a deal?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  There are other things too, because I think you go on in
       13 to explain what you regard as the subpostmaster's or
       subpostmistress' incentives here: they want the branch
       to stay open for footfall, they don't want to lose
       goodwill, and that is goodwill they have paid for,
       isn't it, in buying the branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you also say they want to avoid the detrimental
       public perception of them being responsible for the
       closure.  So do you warn them about that as well?
   A.  No.  I think that is just over time obviously dealing
       with these cases many, many times, particularly shall
       I say in smaller areas, more rural areas, I am often
       contacted by a suspended postmaster to ask me why I
       can't get somebody into the branch --
   Q.  Is it right then that you stop short, so you say "The
       branch might have to stay shut", but you don't go on to
       say "and that will mean all the people in your area --"
   A.  Absolutely not, and it wouldn't be right for me to say
       that.
   Q.  You deal at paragraph 13 with the withholding of
       remuneration from the temporary -- sorry, from the
       incumbent subpostmaster or subpostmistress during the
       period of their suspension.  I appreciate during the
       time when you were a temporary subpostmaster advisor,
       I suspect that wasn't your decision.  You are going to
       be a contract advisor now, so you are going to at least
       be involved in that now, aren't you?
   A.  When a postmaster is suspended, the pay, the
       remuneration is stopped.
   Q.  Understood, and I think we saw that yesterday in the
       contracts, didn't we?
           So what you say is {C2/7/3}:
           "The incumbent SPM will not be paid by Post Office
       when a temp is in place as the temp will receive the
       payments Post Office would otherwise pay for
       transactions carried out."
           I think we saw that in at least one of
       the contracts, the NTC local, yesterday, didn't we?
   A.  Yes, I believe so.
   Q.  "If the incumbent subpostmaster received payments from
       Post Office while a temp was in place, that would mean
       Post Office would have to pay twice."
   A.  That is right.
   Q.  The court has heard evidence, and I think yesterday you
       said you weren't here at the time, but from Mr Breeden
       to the effect that in his case when he makes those
       decisions, if it transpires there wasn't a reason for
       suspension or the subpostmaster is reinstated he would
       look to reimburse the whole?
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  But of course it was explained then that there is more
       to it than that, obviously.  That there might be
       a deduction of what the temporary SPM pays to the
       incumbent SPM?
   A.  Right.
   Q.  Right.  So what you said there is not quite correct?
   A.  So in terms of a deduction from the SPM -- so the
       temporary postmaster to the incumbent, that doesn't --
       I think you are talking about -- are you talking about
       something like step-in rights?  So we pay the temporary
       postmaster the remuneration, yes?  So the suspended
       postmaster on the day of suspension the remuneration
       will be stopped.  If we find the temporary postmaster,
       the remuneration that would have been paid to the
       suspended postmaster is obviously paid to the temporary
       postmaster on an ongoing basis.
           Outside of that, there is a discussion and
       a negotiation in terms of the terms of access between
       the suspended postmaster and the temporary postmaster,
       ie a contribution towards utilities, heat, light, water,
       and the temp should pay that as per an agreement between
       them.  So the Post Office doesn't deduct it from the
       temporary postmaster's remuneration if that is what you
       are asking me.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That was rather my understanding what
       Mr Breeden had said, but you say that is not correct?
   A.  That is not correct.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is not your understanding.
   A.  That is not my understanding, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So in that case then if -- you used the
       expression "step-in rights", did you mean the amount
       paid by the temp to the incumbent to use the premises?
   A.  The step-in rights is a clause in a mains agreement, it
       isn't in a local or a traditional branch.  I can't tell
       you which clause it is, but there was something -- so
       that clause put into the contract that we could access
       the premises, so we could enforce that clause as
       I understand to put a temp in the branch.  And if we did
       that, out of the remuneration 80 per cent would be paid
       to the temporary postmaster and 20 per cent of the
       remuneration would be paid to the suspended or the
       incumbent postmaster.  But my understanding is that that
       clause has never been enforced.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Alright, let's concentrate on agency, if
       we can, rather than a main for the moment.  And just as
       a worked example so I can understand, let's say
       Mrs Smith is suspended, all right?  And the temp and
       Mrs Smith agree that the temp will pay her £200 a week
       to use the premises.  So Mrs Smith's post office is
       effectively kept open by the temp and she can still use
       the retail side of her shop.  After two months it is
       found that Mrs Smith shouldn't have been suspended.  The
       Post Office will pay her the two months' worth of
       remuneration that she wouldn't receive because she was
       suspended, is that correct?
   A.  I'm not aware whether that happens or not, to be honest
       with you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are not aware of ...?
   A.  If somebody has been suspended and they shouldn't have
       been suspended, I'm not aware of whether we then pay the
       remuneration they should have been paid.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Or not.
   A.  Yes, I'm not aware.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It therefore follows you are not aware
       of whether, in calculating that remuneration, the
       £200 a week is deducted or not.
   A.  Correct.
   MR WARWICK:  I am grateful, my Lord.
           Mr Shields, were you aware of that when you wrote
       your witness statement?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So you are not aware now but you were aware when you
       wrote your witness statement?
   A.  Sorry?
   Q.  Look at paragraph 13 of your witness statement {C2/7/3}.
       Paragraph 13, the point about paying twice.  I want to
       be clear so I haven't got this wrong and the court
       doesn't have it wrong.  (Pause)
           It's really the first two sentences, have you read
       those?
   A.  Yes.  So the incumbent subpostmaster, the suspended
       postmaster, isn't paid.
   Q.  Right.
   A.  That is right.  And the temporary postmaster is paid if
       one is appointed.
   Q.  Right.  And you know that now, today, giving your
       evidence?
   A.  Yes.  Well, I know that, because it is in my statement,
       that that is right.
   Q.  Mr Shields, you know it because it is in your statement
       or did you know it when you wrote your statement?
   A.  No, I knew that when I wrote my statement.  That is my
       understanding.
   Q.  Could we look at a policy on this, I want to know if you
       are aware of this too {F3/161/1}.  It's a document the
       court has seen before but I want to ask you about this
       because it touches on this point, very briefly, if
       I may.  It's an undated document but we are told it
       dates from 18 February 2013 and the court has heard
       already it's some guiding principles, as the title to it
       rather suggests:
           "Guiding principles for payment of remuneration to
       the subpostmaster upon reinstatement following a period
       of suspension."
           It says at 1:
           "Any payment is at the absolute discretion of
       Post Office Limited."
           And at 2:
           "Payment will not be made in respect of product pay,
       ie TRP/STP."
           I appreciate what you have just told the court, but
       having looked at the contracts we looked at yesterday
       that is wrong, isn't it?
   A.  In my experience in terms of appointing temporary
       subpostmasters, I -- it's right as far as I am aware
       that we don't pay the suspended postmaster, we pay the
       temporary postmaster.  I'm not familiar, sorry, with
       this document.
   Q.  Right.
           Can we take you on to the process of procuring
       a temporary subpostmaster, picking up your witness
       statement, please, at paragraph 16 {C2/7/4}.  You say:
           "There is no formal advert for temp positions."
           Is it fair to say that that informality extends into
       the process of you finding a temp?
   A.  What do you mean by that?
   Q.  What you say is you look for individuals who might be
       interested?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you do that by reference to a list that you mention
       in paragraph 16 below that.
   A.  Okay, yes, so yes.
   Q.  That is a list that was started by your predecessor, is
       that Mr David Sears?
   A.  Mr Sears, yes.
   Q.  " ... but to which I add suitable individuals."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So you make that list or add to it at least?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is suitable.  By "suitable" you mean suitable
       to Post Office?
   A.  Sorry, by "suitable", I should qualify that.  That is
       a list of people who have expressed an interest in
       operating branches on a temporary basis.  Some of those
       people on that list I've probably never spoken to.
   Q.  But some of them you know quite well, presumably?
   A.  Yes, yes.
   Q.  Can I ask about your caseload.  How many times do you
       have to put in a subpostmaster -- a temporary
       subpostmaster per year, roughly?
   A.  Per year, roughly, I would say between 16 -- let me
       think ... probably in 2017 it would be probably 10 to 15
       cases per month.  This year it has increased.
   Q.  Increased to ... What are we at so far, would you say?
       Well, rather to the end of your period of time in this
       function within Post Office.
   A.  I would probably say, again I am making a guesstimate,
       probably about possibly 20.  So it doesn't mean that all
       of those cases were resolved, but cases where I am asked
       to try and find a temporary postmaster.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that 20 a month?
   A.  Yes.
   MR WARWICK:  So presumably, and you mention at the end of
       your statement that there are three companies that make
       up about 30 per cent --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- of the temporary appointments.  So we know who those
       are, could I just check that off against a list from
       earlier.  It's perhaps a little before your time, I have
       to acknowledge that.  But can we go to {G/4/1}.  This is
       a document the court has seen before but I am going to
       ask you about something different in it than cropped up
       before.
           Again its date is a little -- I think it's common
       ground -- misleading because it is an autofill problem
       there but we are told it is produced on 30 June 2011.
       Do you know Gary Adderley?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  So he is going to be one of your colleagues as
       a contract advisor now?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And presumably he is one of the people who might have
       given you a call?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we go to page {G/4/26}, please.  What he is doing
       here is describing a process of what happens when
       somebody is suspended and what is done.  You will see in
       his notes -- or perhaps if we start above in the slide
       itself:
           "CA [contracts advisor] advises agent of
       precautionary suspension and discusses next steps ..."
           The second bullet point is:
           "In cases of precautionary suspension where premises
       made available CA notifies temporary subpostmaster
       advisor."
           That is now you, or rather --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- until recently that was you.  And below he says:
           "Temporary subpostmaster advisor will obtain
       remuneration figures for branch from HR and discuss
       possibility of taking on a temporary subpostmaster
       contract with one of agencies registered with us for
       temporary contracts, ie Newrose Personnel, Interim
       Enterprises, Potent Solutions or ex-SPMR staff et cetera
       who have expressed an interest."
           Are they the same companies?
   A.  They're the same three companies that -- yes.
   Q.  So consistently since at least 2011 they have been your
       largest supplier?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you know them well?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you know their terms well?
   A.  Their terms?
   Q.  The terms upon which they ask -- sorry, the terms they
       ask for for appointing a temporary subpostmaster in
       a branch?
   A.  They don't ask -- I don't know, possibly.  Again, this
       is before my time so I can't comment on how David Sears
       managed the temporary appointment role, but the
       discussion would go with these operators the same as any
       other operator, that I would give them the remuneration
       of the branch, I would give them details about
       the branch.  I know I cover it in my witness statement.
       If there were any staff that potentially (inaudible),
       I'd give them as much information about the branch, and
       then it is up to them to discuss terms of access with
       the incumbent postmaster.
   Q.  Paragraph 17 of your witness statement {C2/7/4}, please.
       To find out the remuneration that you are going to offer
       to them, you speak to the network development agency.
       That is a body internal to Post Office, isn't it?
   A.  So the remuneration team -- sorry, the network
       development agency is a different team.  So the
       remuneration comes from the remuneration team in London.
       So I give them the details of the branch and ask them
       for the remuneration.
   Q.  So you also check with the NDA?
   A.  The NDA team were a team that look at our requirements
       of the business to keep branches open, basically.  So
       they will give me a view.
   Q.  On whether to keep the branch open or not?
   A.  Yes, but that is not -- that information isn't used
       absolutely and it's probably as well if I just explain
       how it is used.
           If on the basis that we can't get a temporary
       subpostmaster, so the premises are being made available
       as part of a suspension, I have talked to however many
       temporary -- potential temporary postmasters, and the
       branch is not deemed viable based on I guess the
       remuneration that we are offering, their liabilities
       possibly under TUPE, because they would look at that
       separately and obviously I can't advise them about that,
       and any contribution that the incumbent subpostmaster
       might want towards the rent and utilities.
           If the feedback from the NDA team is that we should
       keep the branch open but we don't have a solution, then
       the Post Office then would possibly look at considering
       making an additional payment which I think in the policy
       is called a subsidy payment.  It has changed its name
       now.
   Q.  I see.  That is helpful because I was going to ask you
       whether that was something separate but it sounds like
       it's the same.
           You go on to say:
           "Sometimes the remuneration ... has to be increased
       ..."
           And that is what you are talking about now,
       isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So there are really two things we take from this.  First
       of all, that Post Office is prepared to pay temps more
       if that is needed to keep the branch open, and by
       "more", I mean more than the incumbent?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the second is that effectively Post Office could
       decide really to shut the branch?
   A.  If it is not agreed that they will pay any additional
       remuneration then the temporary postmasters who had
       expressed an interest might not follow up their
       interest.
   Q.  And that is even if the incumbent wanted it to stay
       open?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could I ask you about the policy that you refer to in
       your witness statement at paragraph 18 {F2/86/1}.  This
       is the policy I asked you briefly about yesterday
       afternoon.  Your evidence is you try to follow this
       though it is not always possible because time is of the
       essence.
           The bit you refer to is over on 3.2 {F2/86/3}.  You
       say:
           "If the reason for appointing a temporary postmaster
       is due to suspension, where possible the suspended
       postmaster (host) should be provided by POL with the
       names of three possible temporary postmasters.  The
       postmaster may then select one to operate the
       Post Office branch, subject to POL's final approval."
           I think in your witness statement what you say is
       you try to speak to three temps, potential temps?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So that narrows it a bit further, because if you are
       speaking to three you are probably putting fewer to the
       incumbent, aren't you?
   A.  What I am saying here is I try to put three -- in
       an ideal world I try to put three potential temporary
       operators to the incumbent postmaster.
   Q.  So that is a little different from your witness
       statement, but you are saying you try to put three to
       the incumbent?
   A.  Ideally, yes.
   Q.  So this is a 2015 document.  If we go back to page 1
       briefly, please {F2/86/1}.  It mentions in the key
       stakeholders David Sears, because he was your
       predecessor.  It has a lot of drafts listed as versions
       but really there is just one final version and
       authorised later in 2015 there.  There is not a new
       policy after this?
   A.  The policy is being reviewed at the moment, I think it
       was at the end of June if my memory serves me --
   Q.  Were you involved in that review?
   A.  I was asked for my input because I was still in
       the role.
   Q.  So you must know this document quite intimately?
   A.  I know it quite well, yes.
   Q.  The first thing to say about it, go to {F2/86/2},
       please.  Do you see at 1.0:
           "This document sets out how Post Office Limited will
       appoint temporary postmasters to operate both
       traditional and new model branches."
           So as you said before, this is a one-size-fits-all
       type approach?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Overleaf, please {F2/86/3}, it explains about the
       appointments there.  Under 3.0 it refers to a process
       map.  You have not exhibited that to your statement but
       I think we can work from what you say about the process
       in your statement if we can.
           At 4.0 it describes the telephone interview and so
       forth that you refer to and some credit checks that you
       have to carry out, doesn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we go over to {F2/86/4}.  5.1:
           "If the temporary postmaster is operating a local
       Post Office they must have exclusive use of the
       premises, unless the format allows for the security of
       all cash, stock, mail and other security items,
       eg fortress format in high risk sites."
           Knowing what you know now about the contracts you
       were shown yesterday, do you think that is right?
   A.  No.  Because local branches don't usually have
       a fortress position so I don't understand why that is in
       the --
   Q.  I am particularly interested in asking you about the
       idea of exclusive use.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Where to your knowledge did the idea that Post Office
       must have exclusive use of a subpostmaster's branch come
       from?
   A.  I really don't know, because in my time in the role as
       I say it is very rare that you would have exclusive use.
       If you used the suspension as an example, the suspended
       postmaster is able to continue running the retail side.
   Q.  Are Local Post Offices very rare within the network?
   A.  No.  No, they are quite common.  So these were branches
       that were part of network transformation, so I think
       prior to possibly 2012/2013 we didn't have local
       branches and that is where they started locals and mains
       branches.
   Q.  Could we go overleaf to {F2/86/5}, please.  6.1 deals
       with the process from that point, doesn't it:
           "Once a temporary postmaster has been identified by
       POL and accepted by the premises host, the temporary
       postmaster should be encouraged to reach an agreement
       with the host regarding the financial costs towards the
       rent of the premises and utilities."
           Pausing there for a moment, I think you said in your
       statement that you tell the host, the incumbent in your
       words, to think about whether they want a financial
       contribution at all, and you try to lower their
       expectations?
   A.  I wouldn't say I try to lower their expectations.  When
       I speak to them --
   Q.  Mr Shields, with respect, that is your evidence, that is
       what you wrote, you try to lower their expectations, or
       they may need to lower their expectations you said.
   A.  Yes, they may need to lower their expectations, yes.
   Q.  It goes on:
           "POL is not obligated to become involved in those
       arrangements nor should POL offer to become involved in
       those negotiations.  Additionally, the temporary
       postmaster should be encouraged to reach agreement in
       writing with the premises host and a copy should be
       provided to the temporary agent advisor and kept on
       file."
           So you get that document?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You don't?
   A.  No.  I don't get that document, no.  When the work was
       handed over to me from David Sears we don't ask for
       anything evidentially, it is just a verbal agreement
       between the host and the prospective temp.
   Q.  So that is a departure from the policy then?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  6.2:
           "The temporary postmaster should be paid in
       accordance with the type of contract they are operating
       and should pay to the host the agreed proportion of the
       fees directly."
           Mr Shields, you don't tell the incumbent
       subpostmaster that they are supposed to be paid
       a proportion of fees, do you?
   A.  No, because that -- sorry, the temporary postmaster, we
       pay them the remuneration, and that is referring as far
       as I am concerned in relation to the terms of access.
       So the contribution toward the heat, the light, the
       water, et cetera.  The temporary postmaster would pay
       what has been agreed between them and the incumbent
       subpostmaster.
   Q.  Mr Shields, do you give this policy to subpostmasters?
   A.  I don't, no.
   Q.  Sorry, "I don't know" or "I don't, no"?
   A.  I don't give this policy to ...
   Q.  So how do they know, then, that they might be entitled
       to a proportion of the fees?
   A.  I'm not aware that they are.
   Q.  Going over to paragraph 12.1 {F2/86/7}, under
       the heading "Making payments if host is suspended or
       terminated".  12.1:
           "If the host and temporary postmaster cannot reach
       a private agreement, and POL is required to pay the host
       directly for use of his premises ..."
           Do you ever pay -- sorry, do you ever tell
       subpostmasters or subpostmistresses that there are some
       circumstances where Post Office is actually required to
       pay the host, to pay them, to keep their branch open?
   A.  No, because I'm not aware that that has ever happened in
       my time in the role.
   Q.  I think you describe in paragraph 19 of your witness
       statement the call you then have with a potential temp
       {C2/7/5}.  I don't think we need to go into that in much
       detail save to say that you tell them that they need to
       go away and negotiate terms of access, and this includes
       any contribution payment.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can I just pick up the commercial incentives bearing on
       people a little here, if I may.  So for you personally,
       you want to get the job done quickly, get somebody in
       fast, is that right?
   A.  I want to get somebody in quickly but I want to be as
       fair as I can to all parties, so ...
   Q.  For Post Office, they want continuity of service and
       they want to continue with the revenue stream, don't
       they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So they want somebody in fast as well?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And they have set already the total remuneration that
       they are prepared to pay the temp.  You have said that
       in your statement?
   A.  So we give them the estimate, yes.
   Q.  So anything the incumbent gets is coming out of that?
   A.  Correct, that is by agreement between the temporary
       postmaster and the host.
   Q.  And eating into the margin then of the temporary --
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  -- subpostmaster.  And if it all goes wrong, you might
       even have to pay the subpostmaster directly, yes?  If
       the deal goes wrong, that is to say if the temporary
       subpostmaster and the incumbent don't reach a deal, you
       might even have to pay -- or, rather, Post Office might
       even have to pay the incumbent directly for use of the
       branch?
   A.  Again I am not aware that that has happened.
   Q.  Mr Shields, I am going to suggest to you, to be fair,
       that this is a negotiation in which the incumbent
       subpostmaster has no real choice, no meaningful choice.
       You have told them that their branch might shut if they
       don't do a deal, in many circumstances they don't get
       a choice between temps, and the fact of the matter is
       the total payable for that branch has already been set,
       and they just have to take whatever terms they are
       given, don't they?
   A.  I suppose in the case where they get to speak to three
       potential temps, sometimes maybe even possibly more,
       there might be something more that is offered by one
       temp rather than another.
   Q.  Let's have a look at what happened in practice, very
       briefly and finally, my Lord, on this, if I may, for
       timekeeping purposes.  I appreciate your evidence on
       this is that you can't remember direct dealings with
       these people but I just want to understand how this
       squares up with your evidence you have given to the
       court about what happens.
           Mrs Stubbs, for example, if we could call up her
       witness statement at paragraph 124 {C1/2/28}.
       Paragraph 124 there.  She had an audit on 8 June.  And
       overleaf, please {C1/2/29}, she then received a letter.
       I don't think I need to take you to the letter but it
       confirmed her suspension.
           Could we now look, please, at a document at
       {E2/75/1}.  This is an undated document although it says
       the date of suspension at the top, 8 June 2010 for
       Mrs Pamela Stubbs, and it runs to three pages except the
       third is just blank parts of a table so it's really
       a two-page document in substance.  It's quite long and
       I don't think I need to ask you that much about it but
       there are one or two points if I can, please.
           It doesn't have an author identified but
       I don't think it is controversial, and my learned friend
       Mr Cavender will say if it is, but I don't think it is
       controversial that her RNM at the time was Nigel Allen,
       and so it is very likely the person who wrote it was him
       because it is written in the first person about
       conversations he had with her.
           So the day before, the entry for 7 June 2010, he
       explains he had a conversation with Mrs Stubbs.  If you
       follow it down to just above halfway, so before the end
       of the first paragraph there, he also explains that
       previously on 1 June he had phoned Lin Norbury.
       Lin Norbury was, am I right, the person in
       the equivalent position of John Breeden at the time but
       for a different part of the country?
   A.  As I understand, yes, for the south.
   Q.  "... whilst I was on holiday expressing my concern
       I felt we should temporarily close the branch."
           So that is before the audit giving rise to her
       suspension, isn't it?  That was a conversation
       apparently on -- I appreciate you didn't write this --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Warwick, you are eliding really quite
       a lot of points all together.
   MR WARWICK:  I think you are absolutely right, my Lord.  My
       apologies.  I will be fairer to the witness on it.
           It starts anyway with a narrative that, to be fair
       to you, Mr Shields, you probably cannot directly comment
       on --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think the correct way of putting it
       is: the entry is dated 7 June and you can see from the
       middle of the page the audit appears to have been
       carried out on 8 June.  Do you see those entries?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Final sentence of the first full
       paragraph.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you see those, Mr Shields?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Back to you, Mr Warwick.
   MR WARWICK:  Immediately above that, Mr Shields, it rather
       suggests, although I doubt you have got direct
       experience, but I want to ask you about your experience
       on this type of thing, if I may:
           "I felt we should temporarily close the branch as
       this couldn't continue and if we could find another
       temporary SPMR to run the branch this would help to
       prove whether the losses were down to user error,
       et cetera."
           Could you turn over the page, please, to {E2/75/2}.
       There is an entry for 8 June 2010 there.  It says:
           "Branch audited by Junaid Tanveer.  Loss of
       £4,837.87 which was transferred to late account.
       Mrs Stubbs was precautionarily suspended and I explained
       that this was necessary as we had a duty of care to her
       and this would enable us to appoint a temporary
       subpostmaster, thus meeting her request for someone
       independent to run the branch to see if they experienced
       the same problems."
           Above that at the top of the page, inconveniently
       I think it starts on the page before {E2/75/1}:
           "Mrs Stubbs then mentioned that she would be happy
       for someone independent to work in the branch for
       a session et cetera to see if they experienced losses as
       well."
           What I want to ask you about really is the entry for
       8 June because below it says:
           "I had discussed the situation with David Sears ..."
           Your predecessor.
           "... and he had Newrose Personnel on standby to take
       over the branch on Thursday 10 June."
           I don't think it is clear from this document when
       that discussion was, but nevertheless was it your
       practice in your time ever to line up temporary
       subpostmasters rather than go through the process you
       have described in detail in your witness statement?
   A.  So for these three people in my time in the role,
       I wouldn't go through the terms and conditions of
       a temporary appointment.  There were three.  And I think
       paragraph 26 {C2/7/6} confirms -- it doesn't give the
       details of them, but it confirms that I don't go through
       the same assessment process.  So that still holds that
       that is the case.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you like to put the standby
       question again.
   MR WARWICK:  Yes.
           Mr Shields, do you ever get temporary subpostmasters
       lined up on standby before going through the process
       that you describe in your witness statement, that is to
       say, the process of discussing it with the incumbent SPM
       and then having phone calls and so forth that you set
       out in your witness statement?
   A.  A contract advisor might make me aware before
       a suspension that it is possible that there might be
       a suspension at the branch.
   Q.  And you might then line up somebody ready?
   A.  I might speak to some -- I might speak to people to say
       that we might have a branch that is coming up, but
       I wouldn't necessarily give them the details of the
       branch.
   Q.  So that is before the audit takes place?
   A.  That could be, in some cases.
   Q.  Can I ask you one more thing on this.  You will see
       below entries for 9 June and 14 June {E2/75/2}.  It
       explains your predecessor:
           "... phoned to say Newrose would not now be taking
       up the temporary appointment as Mrs Stubbs was asking
       for £65 per week ... and the part-time staff working
       20 hours in total made it uneconomic for them.  David
       was to pursue other options and later phoned back to
       advise that Mary Stewart could possibly do it but would
       not be paying any rent [or] taking on the staff, which
       Mrs Stubbs seemed agreeable to."
           14 June:
           "Branch re-opened with Newrose Personnel.  Tel call
       from Carola Ramsden to advise that she has asked the
       person running the branch for them to report cash
       variance figures daily."
           Was it your practice, Mr Shields, ever to ask temps
       to do things to support your case against the incumbent
       subpostmaster?
   A.  In my time in the role, no.  My role is to appoint
       temporary postmasters to operate the branch.
   Q.  Are you aware that Mrs Stubbs ended up being paid
       £30 per week for the rent of her post office?
   A.  I don't recall that.  I have seen Mrs Stubbs' witness
       statement but I don't recall that.  It might have been
       in there but I don't recall it.
   MR WARWICK:  My Lord, no further questions.  Thank you
       Mr Shields.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  No re-examination, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have a couple of questions,
       Mr Shields.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The agencies that you have mentioned,
       the three different agencies, Newrose Personnel, Interim
       Enterprises and Potent Solutions, they have an agreement
       with Post Office, do they, that they will provide temps
       as and when required?  Is that your understanding?
   A.  Yes, I would contact them to talk to them about a branch
       and give them details about the branch, and then they
       would go through the process of, as I explained earlier,
       negotiating any contributions towards the rent and
       utilities, et cetera, and if the branch in their view
       was attractive then they would proceed on that basis.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If we can call up the document at
       {F2/86/5} that you were being asked about.  You were
       asked about clause 6.1, the final sentence:
           "Additionally the temporary postmaster should be
       encouraged to reach agreement in writing with the
       premises host [that's the person you are referring to as
       the incumbent] and a copy should be provided to the
       temporary agent advisor and kept on file."
           You said today at page {Day10/29:8}:
           "I don't get that document, no.  When the work was
       handed over to me from David Sears we don't ask for
       anything evidentially, it is just a verbal agreement
       between the host ..."
           Then I think the [draft] transcript has gone
       slightly awry.  But you said you didn't get that
       document?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are you aware of such documents being
       entered into in writing, they just go to someone else,
       not you?  Or is your understanding that they don't
       record it in writing?
   A.  My understanding is they don't go anywhere.  So there
       might be an agreement between the temp and the host,
       that might be in writing, but I have never been provided
       that in writing.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So that might be in writing or it might
       be orally but that is between them and you are not
       involved, is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If it is done orally between them, what
       if anything do you write down or does your department
       record in writing about the agreement whereby the temp
       would be paid or would pay whatever the sums are?
   A.  I wouldn't generally record what that amount would be
       because that is a matter between the temporary
       postmaster and the host.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is anything recorded in writing by you
       about the supply to branch X of the temp?
   A.  No, not generally, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Not in writing.
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And do you know what the liability is of
       a temporary postmaster for any losses that might be
       incurred in the branch whilst they are running it rather
       than the suspended incumbent?
   A.  So the suspended -- sorry, the temporary postmaster
       would be liable for any losses potentially in
       the branch, and that is one of the things as part of the
       key terms and conditions which wasn't discussed as part
       of my statement, my evidence given today, but I make
       that clear to them that they are potentially liable for
       what happens at the branch contractually, whether they
       give personal service or not.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are talking about the temp now, are
       you?
   A.  Yes, sorry, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  When you say the "key terms", I think
       you just said, is there another document that records
       the arrangement whereby the temp is performing whatever
       role they are performing at that branch?
   A.  There is a temporary contract, contractual
       documentation.  So the temporary postmaster would have
       to sign that contractual documentation.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is between the temp and you -- and
       the Post Office?
   A.  Yes, so that is our contract with the temp, yes.  So
       that happens in every case.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And your understanding of the contents
       of that document are that that makes the temporary
       postmaster liable for all losses that occur while they
       are in charge of the branch?
   A.  Correct.  And in terms of transparency, I tell them that
       as part of discussing whether they want to take on
       a branch, because some of the postmasters -- you know,
       the population of three postmasters, it's probably about
       30 per cent of temporary postmasters.  A lot of
       postmasters might be -- sometimes you might get somebody
       who isn't a postmaster who is an assistant that might be
       appointed as a temporary subpostmaster.
           So clearly they need to know these types of things
       because sometimes they would say "Actually, I don't know
       that I wasn't an employee, it is not for me, I didn't
       know that I would be liable for losses at the branch, it
       wouldn't be for me.  I didn't know that I would be
       liable for any TUPE obligations which I can't advise
       them about.  I didn't know that you have a restrictions
       policy".
           So once I go through this with them in terms of the
       key headline terms and conditions of a temporary
       appointment, it is not uncommon that people will say
       "Actually, it is not for me".
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood, thank you very much.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, one question arising just to have
       a look at that contract.
                  Re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  Can we look at {D2.1/7/1}.  This is from 2008
       I think, this document.  If we flick the page, please,
       so you can get a look at it {D2.1/7/2}.  You see there
       payments.  And then flick the page again {D2.1/7/3}, you
       see there paragraph 6.  Cast your eye over that, and 6.1
       and 6.2.  And then over --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think you are going a bit fast.
   MR CAVENDER:  At 6.1 and 6.2, were those the terms you had
       in mind in answer to his Lordship's question about
       the liability --
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I don't think I need to ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just one clarification.  Those clauses
       Mr Cavender has shown you, they relate to the safe
       custody of stock and property and cash, don't they?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  My question was a rather wider one about
       losses that would occur, but you were basing your answer
       on your understanding of those two clauses, were you?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much, Mr Shields.
       I don't have any more questions.
           Mr Warwick?
   MR WARWICK:  My Lord, no, but on the basis, my Lord, that
       the temporary SPM contract is not one of those that
       falls to be interpreted as part of the Common Issues in
       this trial.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I know that.
   MR WARWICK:  Understood.  I am grateful, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That has nothing to do with the witness
       anyway.  But I am well aware of that, Mr Warwick.
   MR WARWICK:  Indeed, my Lord, but just to inform the reason
       why I am not challenging on that document with this
       particular witness, being out of scope, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I see what you mean.
   MR WARWICK:  I am grateful.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  In any case it would only be subjective
       understanding, so ...
   MR WARWICK:  Indeed.  I am grateful.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much for coming,
       Mr Shields, and thank you for coming back at 10 o'clock.
       You are now free to go.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is it Mrs Ridge next, Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.  I call Elaine Ridge, please.
                     MRS ELAINE RIDGE (sworn)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do have a seat, Mrs Ridge.
   MR CAVENDER:  Good morning.  In front of you is a bundle of
       documents.  Please turn to a witness statement you have
       made in this action.  {C2/12/1}
   A.  On the screen or ...
   Q.  Turn to the hard copy first, please.  Do you have that?
       Does it say between the tramlines "Witness Statement of
       Elaine Ridge"?
   A.  Sorry, I have not found it yet.  I am very slow.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you have it, Mrs Ridge?
   A.  I am still trying to find it, sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Warwick is going to come and find it
       for you.  I won't send Mr Draper because he is too far
       away.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you.  So you have a document and it says
       "Witness Statement of Elaine Ridge"?
   A.  Yes, that is right.
   Q.  Thank you very much.  If you look through that, that is
       a five-page document, am I right?
   A.  Yes, I believe it is.
   Q.  If you turn to the fifth page there is a signature on
       that page.  Is that your signature? {C2/12/5}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Are the contents of this statement true?
   A.  As far as I can remember, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you.
           I have a couple of questions in-chief, if I may,
       my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  You say at paragraph 5 {C2/12/2} you were in
       the late 1990s/early 2000s appointed as a contracts
       advisor?
   A.  Yes, I was.
   Q.  You also say that in that capacity you interviewed
       Mr Abdulla, is that right?
   A.  Yes, from the evidence I have been given, yes.  It's my
       signature on the interview.
   Q.  Could you speak up a little, please.
   A.  Sorry, I will try.
   Q.  Can we please put on the screen Day 4, page 79.
       {Day4/79:1}  This is the evidence from Mr Abdulla.  And
       if you go to line 15 {Day4/79:15}, there is a debate
       about whether Christine Stevens is the same as
       Christine Adams, do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  Go please to 147 of the same day at line 11
       {Day4/147:11}.  I put to Mr Abdulla:
           "Question: The other thing to put to you was that
       Christine Adams and Christine Stevens are two different
       humans."
           And Mr Abdulla said that that is not possible at
       line 15. {Day4/147:15}
           Can we look at {E4/102/1} please.  We can see this
       is the HR record of someone called Miss Christine Adams,
       do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we look at {E4/103/1} and we can see this is the HR
       record of someone called Christine Janet Stevens, do you
       see that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  From your personal knowledge, can you shed any light on
       whether Christine Adams and Christine Stevens are the
       same human?
   A.  They are not.  I worked with Christine Adams for four or
       five years so I know her, I knew her personally.
       Christine Stevens, I had conversations on the phone and
       I met her occasionally, but they were two different
       people.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much.  Please wait there, you
       will be asked some questions.
                  Cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  You said in answer to Mr Cavender's first
       question that you interviewed Mr Abdulla on the basis of
       the evidence you had been given, and it's your signature
       on the interview.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I want to be very fair to you about how much you do and
       don't remember.  Can we just have a look at the
       transcript today where you said that, it's page
       {Day10/46:11}.  It will come up on the screen.
           If you look at line 11, Mr Cavender there says:
           "You also say in that capacity you interviewed
       Mr Abdulla, is that right?"
           And you very fairly answer:
           "Yes, from the evidence I have been given, yes.
       It's my signature on the interview."
   A.  Yes, that is right.
   Q.  And that is pretty much the extent of your recollection,
       it is based on the documents you have been shown?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  That is why we find the phrase "would have" in your
       witness statement, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  If we can look at your witness statement, please, at
       paragraph 8 {C2/12/2}, we can see that pretty much the
       whole of this section is based on the word -- the phrase
       "would have".  Because if we look at paragraph 8 halfway
       down, just to the right of the middle:
           "I would have most likely led the interview in the
       areas where we were discussing contractual topics and
       Christine would most likely have led the interview where
       we were discussing sales, staffing and training with the
       relationship ..."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, that is right.
   Q.  You are having to try to guess as to what would be
       likely to have happened because you can't remember?
   A.  I can't remember the interview itself, Mr Abdulla's, but
       that would have been the process.  When I was working
       with a sales manager I would deal with the contractual
       issues, the sales manager would talk about sales and how
       they were going to work together going forward.
   Q.  Can we just look at -- so do you think that bit you are
       more confident upon where you say:
           "... Christine would most likely have led the
       interview where we were discussing sales, staffing and
       training ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  More confident on that bit than perhaps some of the
       other bits?
   A.  Yes, definitely on that part.
   Q.  And we see the words "would have" in paragraph 10,
       second line:
           "... each interview would have contained the same
       element.  The first part ... would have been focused on
       his business plan."
           You actually can recall Mr Abdulla's parents had run
       a branch before or you have been reminded about that?
   A.  I have been reminded about that.
   Q.  Paragraph 11 we can see begins with the phrase "would
       have":
           "I would have run through the standard interview
       checklist ..."
   A.  Yes, I would have to say "I would have" because I can't
       remember Mr Abdulla's interview.
   Q.  I completely accept that.  It is helpful for
       his Lordship to know which bits you are more confident
       about speculation on and which bits you are just doing
       your best given what you have been told and shown.
           So the fact that you are referring to the standard
       interview checklist that you think you would have run
       through, on a 0 to 10, obviously it is all doing the
       best you can, but where are you in terms of confidence
       about thinking you would have run through the interview
       checklist?
   A.  9.
   Q.  9?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So that is quite a strong one compared to --
   A.  Oh yes.  That was a standard practice for all the
       interviews and I did quite a lot of interviews based in
       London.
   Q.  And that was on the standard interview checklist?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can you remember what was on the standard interview
       checklist?  Can you remember what items were on it?
   A.  The number?  You would always start off with that it is
       a contract for services, not a contract of employment,
       you were not an employee.  It would cover -- I can't
       remember all of them now because it has been a long
       time.
   Q.  That was a big one, that first one?
   A.  That is the main one, yes, that would be definitely ...
       Staff are your employees.  You would cover losses that
       you are responsible -- or discrepancies, it wouldn't be
       losses, discrepancies.  So it would be that you are
       responsible for any discrepancy.  If it is short you
       would have to make it good, if you are over you would
       take it out.  Standards in the branch.  Training of the
       staff.
   Q.  You didn't discuss any particular sums of the
       discrepancies with Mr Abdulla, did you?
   A.  On the whole normally I would have said it could be
       £1 or it could be £1,000.  It didn't make any
       difference, it would have to be made good.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla is pretty sure you didn't say that.  So is it
       possible -- you say "normally", and "normally" means not
       always.
   A.  I think it is possible that I did say it.
   Q.  You are saying it is possible you did, possible you
       didn't, is that fair?
   A.  Yes.  But I can't remember, so ...
   Q.  You say that the checklist of things to say in
       the interview are the things you have set out at
       paragraph 12, is that right?
   A.  Can I see?
   Q.  Yes {C2/12/3}.  And I think again obviously "would have"
       is all the way through for reasons we have covered.
           12.1, services not employment.
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  12.2, unable to guarantee remuneration?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  12.3, could change the products and services at any
       time.  12.4, even if not physically present in
       the branch ultimately responsible for everything that
       happened.  12.5, responsible for hiring and training
       staff.
           12.6:
           "... required to prepare regular branch accounts
       ..."
           Mr Abdulla does remember that.
           "... and would be required to make good any losses
       immediately."
           He doesn't specifically recall that either way.
           And then:
           "I would have given a standard example that didn't
       matter if the loss is £1 or £1,000, it was his
       responsibility to make good that loss."
           He specifically says he was not told that, and
       I think you have fairly accepted it is possible you did,
       possible you didn't?
   A.  It's more than likely that I did, but ...
   Q.  And 12.7:
           "The training Mr Abdulla would receive if successful
       with his application."
           That is one of the things you would have mentioned
       from the checklist?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But you said one of things you were more confident
       about, in paragraph 8, if we go back {C2/12/2}, was that
       Christine would have led the interview where you were
       discussion sales, staffing and training.  So who would
       have actually dealt with the training?  You or
       Christine?
   A.  I would have discussed the basic training package,
       Christine would have discussed going forward because
       they liked to have training half hours every week with
       the staff.  She would go in and do training.  And she
       could also invite a postmaster to events occasionally,
       two or three times a year possibly, around sales and
       about new products, and she would be encouraging any
       applicant to come along to those.
   Q.  Discussing the business plan would be a big part of it,
       wouldn't it?
   A.  Yes, it would.
   Q.  The central part, in fact?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Look at 12.9 {C2/12/3}:
           "The contract could be ended at any time by
       Post Office ..."
           Mr Abdulla says absolutely he was not told that.  Is
       it possible on that, presumably it is something you
       would normally say, you say, but you may not say on some
       occasions?
   A.  I can't remember so it's possible --
   Q.  You can't remember.  That's very fair, Mrs Ridge.  It's
       not Mastermind.
   A.  That is fine.
   Q.  "... and that if there was anything untoward that
       happened at the branch ..."
           Is it possible you didn't say that paragraph,
       paragraph 12.9?
   A.  I can't remember saying it.
   Q.  Back at paragraph 11 {C2/12/2}, you say in the second
       line on the right-hand side at the bottom of the page,
       do you see?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "I have been shown by Post Office's solicitors two
       different versions of the interview checklist ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "... which my colleagues at Post Office used at
       different interviews.  From my recollection these
       interview checklists cover the same areas ... I would
       have discussed during Mr Abdulla's interview ..."
           That is the basis upon which you then give your
       evidence at paragraph 12, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we look first, please, at {E5/73/1}.  This is
       an interview checklist -- or a checklist relating to
       Mrs Dar's interview completed by Mr Trotter in 2013,
       which is many years after Mr Abdulla's interview, isn't
       it?
   A.  I don't know when Mrs Dar's was, sorry.
   Q.  So when writing your witness statement you would have
       been unable to place in time what the practice was with
       any reliability?
   A.  I know what my practice was, so yes, I can.
   Q.  But did your practice change over the years, evolve?
   A.  No.  That checklist, we had a checklist.  I was given --
       I actually had a crib sheet that went with more detail
       than the checklist.  This is a slightly different one.
       This is an internal checklist that we had to tick to say
       that we had done these things during the interview, but
       it doesn't detail the things, the clauses that I would
       have covered.
   Q.  We will come to it because this is the one that you have
       referred to in your witness statement, it's one of
       the two in your witness statement.
           Have a look at it.  Go to the next page {E5/73/2}.
   A.  This one seems more like Brian Trotter's because that
       looks like his signature on the top.
   Q.  Yes, it's Brian Trotter's from 2013, his signature.  Can
       you see there contractual status?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Tick.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Accommodation standards, tick.  Registration, tick.
       Et cetera, all the way down to all those things.  And
       the purpose of this document is for Mr Trotter to make
       an internal record of what he has discussed at
       interview, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  So that Post Office can be confident that it has
       happened?
   A.  (Witness nods) Uh-huh.
   Q.  And of course it means that Mr Trotter wouldn't have to
       say "I would have discussed it", he could say, as he has
       in his witness statement, "I did"?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then Post Office can rely on this document as
       against the interviewee to say, "Look, I am sorry, but
       you were definitely told these things".
   A.  Yes, but this document changed over the years.
   Q.  This document changed over the years, yes.  Because we
       can see that if we go back a page the first item is
       "Record the interview", at {E5/73/1}, and that didn't
       come in until 2008, recording interviews, did it?
   A.  I don't remember when it did come in.
   Q.  Let me help with you that.  Look at {F1/73/1}.  This is
       the ACC, 03/2008.  And you can see that three lines down
       in paragraph 1:
           "Therefore with effect from 31 March 2008, one of
       the more effective ways of working and to tie in with
       the go live of the new structure will be that contract
       advisors will use voice recording equipment during
       recruitment interviews."
           Does that help you, that document help you place
       when recording came in?
   A.  It does remind me of when something changed on it.
       I'm not sure if it didn't come in before that.  Because
       there was a time when it -- in smaller branches we used
       to have to do -- two people had to do the interview and
       then we changed to have the tape recorder and then we
       could do it one person, but that wasn't the case with Mr
       Abdulla --
   Q.  Yes, it wasn't the case here.  You had two people and
       you didn't record it?
   A.  Yes, in bigger branches we would still have two but the
       smaller branches it would be one and a tape recording.
   Q.  Just pausing there.  If we go back to {E5/73/1} and we
       look at page 1 at the top, "Record the interview", we
       can be confident this is not the version that was being
       used by you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Earlier on?
   A.  I think so.
   Q.  Let's look at {E5/35/1}, please.  That is the other
       document you refer to in paragraph 11 of your witness
       statement.
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  This is -- you see at the front Louise Dar, contract
       advisor, again, Brian Trotter.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And this is an electronic record, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  If we look at {E5/73/5}, please, this is an electronic
       record of the interview being made but this was not in
       use in 2006 either, was it?
   A.  No, it wasn't.
   Q.  And we don't have any records of this sort with tick
       boxes confirming what was discussed in Mr Abdulla's
       case?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Can we look at the document -- the interview documents
       which do exist for Mr Abdulla.  Let's look at {E4/29/1}.
       Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It says:
           "Please find enclosed the interview file with
       completed application form, business plan and business
       plan feedback form (if applicable) for the above office
       from Naushad Abdulla."
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  Outstanding references, none.
           "... grateful if you would arrange the interview
       yourself, using the standard invite letter included in
       the 'Interview Pack'."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  So that was standard what was going to be sent out, was
       it?
   A.  That would have been the header of the pack that came to
       me to arrange the interview.
   Q.  Yes.  And the "Interview Pack" would have been standard,
       would it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Halfway down it says:
           "Following the interview, you will need to complete
       various documents as part of the interview file (see
       attached checklist) ."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go over the page {E4/29/2}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The checklist that you were being asked to tick off?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  There were four items at the top?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Items returned at interview.  And then on completion of
       the interview, the checklist says complete training
       requirements sheet and email directly?
   A.  Yes, which would be done.  As soon as I wrote it up that
       would go across.
   Q.  Business plan feedback form if applicable.  And then
       those other items, interview summary, recommendation,
       conditions of appointment, completed office transfer
       information sheet, five year work history, photocopies,
       et cetera.
           So there wasn't an interview checklist at this stage
       set out, was there?
   A.  That is it basically.
   Q.  That is --
   A.  It's what I was sending back saying I have done those
       documents.
   Q.  So that is what you were working to back in 2006, was
       it?
   A.  That is what I would complete.  I had a different sheet
       that I no longer have that gave me points to cover at
       interview.
   Q.  But there is no mention here of going through standard
       contract terms with the interviewee --
   A.  There isn't on there but it was my practice.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do we have the interview summary sheet
       anywhere?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I am just going to go --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you are going through it just ignore
       me.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
           If we look at {E4/30/1} next.  This is a letter of
       9 November 2006 and this is the letter sent to
       Mr Abdulla inviting him to interview, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  At the bottom of that first page, second paragraph:
           "At the interview you will be asked to give examples
       of previous instances where you have demonstrated skills
       relating to particular competency areas.  There will be
       detailed questions on these skills and, where it is not
       possible to discuss real examples, the interviewer(s)
       may explore relevant attitudes and experiences."
           So this is a helpful document, isn't it, trying to
       tell interviewees what to expect to be discussed?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  That is the whole purpose of it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And I think this was a standard letter?
   A.  Yes, it was a standard letter.
   Q.  The next paragraph says:
           "You will be expected to talk through your business
       plan and finance arrangements ..."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "... and you are therefore required to bring a copy of
       your business plan with you."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because obviously if you are dealing with a document
       that is of some length and you are discussing it, it is
       helpful to have it with you, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  So it was a very sensible thing to ask them to bring
       that with them:
           "You will also be given the opportunity to ask any
       questions relating to Post Office business."
           Then it says:
           "I also attach a brief summary of the conditions of
       the subpostmasters contract for your attention."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "Please note that the summary does not represent the
       complete terms and conditions ... and may not be relied
       upon for any purpose by a subpostmaster."
           Pausing there.  What is the point of sending someone
       something that they can't rely on?
   A.  Number one, it was a standard letter as you have
       already --
   Q.  I'm not blaming you.  Do you know of any point?
   A.  It just gave them brief summaries of what I would
       have -- what would have been on my checklist as well.
       So I just think -- they might have had some questions,
       I don't know.
   Q.  What is interesting is they are not asked to bring it,
       are they, unlike the business plan?
   A.  It would have been on the back of the letter, wouldn't
       it?
   Q.  Yes, but --
   A.  It would probably be a one-page or two-page at max.
   Q.  Yes, but there is no suggestion that they should bring
       it with them --
   A.  No, there isn't.
   Q.  -- because it is going to be discussed, is there?
   A.  It doesn't actually say it is going to be discussed,
       so ...
   Q.  No, it doesn't say it, in contrast to what it does say
       about the business plan being --
   A.  Yes, but that is their business plan so you would expect
       to discuss their business plan.
   Q.  Yes, you would expect to discuss their business plan and
       they would expect to discuss it.  So in a sense you
       don't really need to tell them that.  The point is there
       is no suggestion here that they are being either asked
       to bring the summary terms with them or that there will
       be any discussion of them, is there?
   A.  No.
   Q.  And they haven't had the full terms of the contract yet?
   A.  No.
   Q.  And they are told here they will get a full copy of the
       contract if they are successful as part of the
       appointment process?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So from their perspective going into the interview that
       is all way down the line, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.  It is my understanding the full contract is -- at
       that time was in branch and would hand over from one
       postmaster to the next on transfer --
   Q.  And that is what you understood the system was?
   A.  Yes, it was.
   Q.  The next document --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, on the basis that we started
       at 10 o'clock, we will have a ten-minute break.
           Mrs Ridge, you are in the middle of giving your
       evidence so you are not allowed to talk to anyone about
       the case.  You do not, however, need to sit in
       the witness box all alone for ten minutes.  Feel free to
       leave and go outside and come back in ten minutes.
           We will come back at 11.35 am.
   (11.26 am)
                         (A short break)
   (11.37 am)
   MR GREEN:  Mrs Ridge, can we look at {E4/31/1}.  This is you
       notifying Mr Sandhu that Mr Abdulla was going to be
       going to an interview, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  We can see over the page {E4/31/2} that you sent the
       letter.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Go then, please, to {E4/32/1}, "Office Transfer
       Information":
           "Please complete and return with the interview
       file."
           And the questions there:
           "Is training required?
           "Is an audit required."
           And then item 4:
           "Please request the employer reference for the
       successful applicant."
           Was there normally an item 3 there or not?
   A.  I can't remember.
   Q.  Because it goes 1, 2 and then 4.  A bit odd.  You can't
       remember?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Let's go on, then we have {E4/33/1} which is the
       "Assessment Interview Summary Sheet".
   A.  Yes, an internal document that Christine and I would
       have filled out after the interview with highlights --
       or using highlights from the interview of what was said
       to --
   Q.  Yes, and --
   A.  -- support our result.
   Q.  That would be a helpful record of how Mr Abdulla
       expected to run the branch?
   A.  It was more about his experience on customer service,
       and things, so, yes.
   Q.  How he understood things would go?
   A.  It was more about us getting evidence that he met our
       standards and that we wanted him as the next postmaster.
   Q.  Two quick points in relation to this document.  First of
       all, if we look through it, this is not a document in
       which you record having gone through the contract terms,
       is it?
   A.  No, no.  This --
   Q.  And that -- sorry.
   A.  This is an internal document Christine and I would have
       filled out after the interview to justify why we would
       appoint Mr Abdulla.
   Q.  Just pausing there, let's look over the page {E4/33/2},
       "Team working and staff", and there you record
       Mr Abdulla as having said:
           "Feels the partnership between Post Office and
       subpostmasters benefits both businesses, may be problems
       if there are any conflicts of issues."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You didn't -- when he said that is how he felt, there
       was a partnership between Post Office and
       subpostmasters, he didn't mean a legal partnership in
       that sense, did he, he just meant that is how you worked
       together?
   A.  Yes.  And that is my wording, it may not have been his.
       But, yes, how we would work together.
   Q.  But you used that wording because that is how
       Post Office and subpostmasters work together?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The reason I asked you about the lack of any reference
       to discussing the contractual terms in this document is
       because, if we go back to the document at {E4/30/1},
       this was the letter inviting him to interview --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- and telling him what to expect.
           And do you remember I made the point over the next
       page, just to remind you of that {E4/30/2}, that it
       didn't tell him to bring the summary of conditions with
       him?
   A.  Yes, that is right, it does not.
   Q.  And you said it was just a couple of pages.
           If we look at page 5, please {E4/30/5}, we can see
       page 5 of 17.  Yes?  Those are the pages to which you
       are referring, aren't they?
   A.  They are, yes.  Extracts.
   Q.  Yes.  So there was quite a bit there, wasn't there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But you are not suggesting you went through all of these
       items with him and discussed all of these, are you?  Do
       you want to through them and --
   A.  Contract, yes, definitely contracts, it is not
       a contract of employment, I would have done that one.
   Q.  I think we covered that one, let's leave that one --
   A.  Yes.  So accommodation standards, because we would have
       covered that on conditions of appointment and
       improvements in the branch, lighting fittings, anything
       like that, we would have covered that.  Assistants, yes,
       we definitely would have covered that.
   Q.  Just pausing there.  There is a difference, isn't there,
       between saying we think in terms of the conditions of
       appointment we need to improve the lighting in
       the branch or doing something like that, and directing
       him to contractual obligations under the modified SPMC
       contract?  You understand the distinction?
   A.  Yes.  Yes.
   Q.  You are saying you would have talked about some of these
       topics?
   A.  Yes, I would have.
   Q.  Rather than "I would have taken him through and
       discussed the terms contractually"?
   A.  Yes, it's -- the contract was quite a big book for him
       to sit and read, I think.  It would have put him off
       straight away.
   Q.  So if we go forward to {E4/34/1}, this appears to be the
       same document as we were looking at before but just
       differently formatted?
   A.  I think -- yes.  And it could be that one I had to print
       off, it came out in a different format when I printed it
       and when I sent it across --
   Q.  So you send it.  So Post Office have very properly
       disclosed two copies of the same document because they
       have two copies.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then we can go to {E4/35/1}, "Training Requirements for
       Incoming Agents".
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This is all in the interview file, I'm just taking
       you --
   A.  Yes, I know, it would be.  It's all part of the
       paperwork that I would complete after the interview.
   Q.  Yes.  And there is no record there of having completed
       any interview checklist either?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Then {E4/36/1}, "Exploring Agents Five Year Working
       History"?
   A.  Yes.  There is nothing on that one either.
   Q.  And that was important, wasn't it, because in 2006
       an ACC had come in requiring five year work history to
       be explored?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you remember that?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And so something was then -- you had this guidance in
       the interview file to reflect that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because it needed to be done.
           Then if we go to {E4/37/1}, that is the report on
       candidates for subpostmaster?
   A.  That is the summary of the previous one, just --
   Q.  Exactly, by scores --
   A.  -- results.
   Q.  Then "Report on Candidates for Subpostmaster" is at
       {E4/37/1}, and that goes on a bit longer if you go over
       the page.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think you mean 38.  Do you want 37 or
       38?
   MR GREEN:  {E4/38/1}, I am grateful.  It goes over the page
       {E4/38/2}, summary of strengths.  Then summary of
       weaknesses {E4/38/3}:
           "Not fully aware of threats to the business or wider
       Post Office."
           So that is your summary of where you thought
       Mr Abdulla was?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then at {E4/40/1}, "Final Decision"?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "Accept", and that is then recorded.
           Then if we go to {D1.4/2/1}, that is an internal
       document, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  We have another copy of it at {D1.4/1/1}, so there
       appear to be two copies internally kept there.
   A.  That one looks like an electronic copy that I emailed
       across.
   Q.  Indeed.  Then if we go to {E4/16/1}, this is the
       returned interview file tick list.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is ticking off things that need to be returned
       in the interview file?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And we have seen quite a few of the documents we have
       been looking at, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Ticked off.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then at {E4/52/1} -- you will be pleased to hear we are
       at the end of the 14 documents in the interview file --
       the final transfer arrangements being made.
   A.  That is not one I would see.  That was being held
       somewhere else --
   Q.  Not one you would have seen --
   A.  It's not one I dealt with.
   Q.  I understand.  So it is certainly not the case that
       Mr Abdulla's interview file has been lost, is it?
   A.  No.
   Q.  And you didn't go through a checklist to tick it off and
       record such a list in his file?
   A.  No, there is no list in the file.
   Q.  The reality is there wasn't any standard checklist in
       2006?
   A.  I had a standard checklist.
   Q.  Where did you get it from?
   A.  I got it when I first took up the role of interviewing
       subpostmasters, one of my colleagues actually had it and
       give it to me and that is where the later one comes
       from.
   Q.  If we look at {F1/157/69}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This is where we find the checklist I think you say you
       used?
   A.  No, I didn't say I used this one, I said this is --
       I have used this one, it's a later one.  I don't think
       it would have been around in 2006.
   Q.  This is a 2012 one.  The reason I say that is because if
       we look at -- this is the one Mr Breeden referred to in
       his witness statement, but you are confident this is
       much later?
   A.  I think it is later than 2006.
   Q.  Can I just ask you, please, about the document we saw
       two copies of {D1.4/2/1}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This internal document.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  No document goes to the subpostmaster -- normally goes
       to the subpostmaster, including paragraph 3, does it?
   A.  No.  That is an internal document, as you stated
       earlier, and it is from the business plan from the
       interview.  The applicant would have made reference that
       they were going to work more than 18 hours.
   Q.  So if they don't say anything in the business plan about
       how many hours they are going to work, at the interview
       it is your practice to ask them?
   A.  We would be asking how they are staffing and what their
       involvement would be, yes.
   Q.  Because you need to be able to say on this form whether
       or not they will or will not be providing on average
       less than 18 hours personal service each week?
   A.  Yes, but that can change also.  As they are working in
       a branch that can change.
   Q.  So if the applicant doesn't volunteer what they expect
       to do, you would discuss it with them until you had
       an idea of how many hours they were going to be doing,
       whether that was more or less than 18 hours?
   A.  Yes.  I think that would also cover -- because when you
       are talking about staffing of the branch, you want to
       know how they are going to control the branch, if they
       are not going to be there who is going to do it.  So
       yes, it was definitely part of the discussion.
   Q.  Some interviewees might be interested in whether they
       get any holiday pay, mightn't they?
   A.  They might be, but I have never had anyone ask.  Going
       back a long time, there was a time when modifieds didn't
       get it but it changed, I think, prior to this interview,
       which is why this was included.
   Q.  Yes.  And although it is in reality holiday pay, it is
       called a substitution allowance?
   A.  It is.  It's a cost to cover them finding someone to run
       the branch on their behalf when they are not there.
   Q.  It is only available if they have agreed to do 18 hours
       personal service each week?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is why at the top of the page that we are
       looking at {D1.4/2/1}:
           "Using the conditions of appointment codings, please
       list the conditions of appointment agreed ..."
           In bold and italic, yes, to record that agreement?
   A.  Yes, but that would be 1 and 2, not 3.  The conditions
       of appointment would be 1 and 2.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Why?
   MR GREEN:  This is something they --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  No, hold on.
           Why?
   A.  Because the third one is really just for our reference
       so that we know if they are likely to claim holiday
       substitution and they are telling us they are doing over
       18 hours.  It is not something that would actually go on
       a document to any applicant, or I never saw it go on
       a document to any applicant.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Back to you, Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  There is quite a lot of sensitivity about
       personal service within Post Office, isn't there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You have to be terribly careful not to say the word
       "employee" or ...
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes?  I saw you laugh there, you have probably been told
       that lots of times.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In the appeal guidance that we saw earlier in the trial
       there are phrases not to mention, one of them is
       "employee".
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And when you were conducting your interviews for
       applicants, you had to avoid that word or any similar
       phrase, didn't you?
   A.  Yes, I did.  But that is why I would say it is
       a contract for service.
   Q.  The reason it was sensitive was because in lots of
       respects it is quite similar to employment.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  We can see if we have a look, please, at the
       subpostmasters contract at {D2.1/3/19}, in the second
       paragraph there.  The first paragraph says:
           "... not obliged to render personal service and is
       therefore free to absent himself from the office,
       provided he makes suitable arrangements for the conduct
       of the office during his absence."
           So if someone has agreed to work 18 hours a week at
       least?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In the other hours they don't need to be there, do they?
   A.  No.
   Q.  As long as someone is covering?
   A.  They are still responsible but they don't have to be
       there.
   Q.  Then the second paragraph:
           "He should notify the regional general manager on
       form P2593 when he will be away for a period of more
       than three days and give the name of the person
       substituting for him."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can I just ask you to compare this with another
       document, it's actually a Law Report but I will just
       show it to you {A1.1/39/40}.  Can we try {A1.1/39/50}?
       I will come back to that.
           Can I just ask you this: what we were looking at in
       the subpostmasters contract, you understood, didn't you,
       that that wasn't just a matter of practice of notifying
       if you were away for more than three days, there was
       an actual obligation on the subpostmaster to do so,
       wasn't there?
   A.  Yes, for holidays or sickness.
   Q.  Not necessarily for sickness, but if they were going to
       be away for more than three days --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- for whatever reason, they would have to notify.  And
       that is a contractual obligation, it is not just even
       a matter of practice, is it?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You were also aware, weren't you, if we look at
       {D2.1/3/30}, that for the purposes of statutory sick pay
       the law effectively treated subpostmasters as employees?
       If you look at paragraph 2/
   A.  I am looking at it.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we look at {D2.1/3/36}, "Dual Employment":
           "If a subpostmaster who is sick is also employed
       either by the Post Office (eg as an auxiliary postman)
       or another employer, and provided National Insurance
       contributions are paid separately for each employment
       and all other conditions are met, he must claim
       statutory sick pay in respect of both his subpostmaster
       services and other employment."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And I think you very fairly accepted that it is very
       close to employment, but --
   A.  Yes, but it is not.
   Q.  But it is not.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are you going to explore this in any
       greater detail?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no.  Simply those points.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because I wasn't going to let you if you
       were going to.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, that was reasonably well judged.
           Can I now ask you about the circumstances in which
       Mr Abdulla came to be suspended because you dealt with
       that, didn't you?
   A.  I don't think I dealt with the original suspension but
       I dealt with the case following the suspension.  I might
       have been off or in meetings.
   Q.  Let's trace it through, if we may.  Go to {E4/67/1}.  To
       be fair to you, Mrs Ridge, can you remember very much of
       this?
   A.  I can't remember it at all other than what I have seen
       on the paperwork.
   Q.  Can I ask you a couple of questions about what we might
       infer from the paperwork.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  On 6 April 2009 you are sent this document, it looks
       like, by the lead auditor?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And there were shortages revealed?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Over the page at {E4/67/2}, the lead auditor records
       halfway down:
           "I then telephoned Nigel Allen at 10.34am to report
       a preliminary suspected shortage of approximately £3,790
       and that I would ring you back with the final figure
       once I had completed the audit.  This I did at 13.03pm
       to report an overall shortage in the branch of
       £4,905.19."
           I think that later went down.  And there was
       a decision taken to precautionary suspend.  Yes?
   A.  Yes, that is right.
   Q.  And the branch would be transferred to a relief
       postmaster?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is a decision taken internally, is it?
   A.  It would be -- the suspension would have been internal.
       We -- as I say, I don't think I was involved on this
       day.
   Q.  Don't worry.  You don't know.
           If we go to {E4/68/1}, to Mr Abdulla, writing to
       confirm he has been suspended.  Were you aware of
       whether he was still living at that address at the time?
   A.  That was the address we had on file for him, or would
       have been the address we had on file for him.
   Q.  Would have been?
   A.  Yes.  I can't remember.
   Q.  If he had notified of a change of address that hadn't
       fed through to the system you would still have written
       to this address?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Over to {E4/69/1}.  This is a further letter on the same
       day.  Second paragraph -- in the first paragraph you
       explain, first line:
           "... I tried to contact you by phone ... I wrote to
       you advising you that your contract for services ... was
       being precautionary suspended."
           Then the second paragraph:
           "I have been informed that at the time you were out
       of the country, can you please contact the Helpline
       advising me of your return so that I do not delay
       dealing with your case."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then 14 April 2009 at {E4/75/1}.  You wrote on the 6th
       confirming the suspension, second paragraph:
           "I have now received the necessary papers relating
       to this case and after reviewing them I should advise
       you that I will have to consider the summary termination
       of your contract for services ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Let's just take this in stages --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just before you do.
           Do you see the slight hand correction about whether
       the mutilated --
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that yours?
   A.  I don't know.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  You set out there the sums:
           "... loss at the time of audit ... an undated
       personal cheque for £2,500 ... mutilated notes were
       [over or understated] ... You have accepted transaction
       corrections and in doing so indicated that you had made
       this amount good when in fact you did not.  This is
       misuse of Post Office funds and false accounting.  This
       is in breach of your contract for services."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then the terms that the person is supposed to be in
       breach of are set out below, is that right?
   A.  That is right, yes.
   Q.  So 19(M) paragraph 3 we can see is about misuse of
       Post Office cash, we can see that from the penultimate
       line on the right-hand side?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then 19(M) paragraph 12 is:
           "The subpostmaster responsible for all losses caused
       through his own negligence, carelessness or error ..."
           Et cetera.  Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then over the page {E4/75/2}:
           "The financial responsibility of the subpostmaster
       does not cease when he relinquishes his appointment ..."
           That is not something he could be in breach of at
       that stage, is it?
   A.  No, but it was just informing him that it doesn't stop
       because there might be more errors come forward.
   Q.  And then four paragraphs up from the bottom:
           "Before I reach any decision about the future of
       your contract for services, I would like to give you the
       opportunity to put forward your version of events
       relating to the above charge.  You can do this by
       attending the pre-arranged interview 30 April at Gatwick
       Mail Centre."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You then explain:
           "If you choose to attend the interview it will be
       recorded."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go over to {E4/79/1}, this is a transcript of the
       recording of the interview?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  Can I just ask you, you can see that you give a bit of
       an introduction there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we come down five boxes:
           "... the reason I have invited you in today is on
       6 April I suspended your contract for services at
       Charlton Post Office ... following an audit and at the
       time of the audit there was a loss of £4,398, erm there
       was also a personal cheque of £2,500 which was found in
       stock unit AA and the mutilated notes were overstated to
       the same amount ... you advised me later on, on a phone
       call that you had accepted transaction corrections and
       doing so you hadn't made good the loss.
           "That was one on the lottery stock."
           Pausing there, can I just ask you can you, please,
       look at {E4/65/1}.  It's actually a one-page document.
       That is a document I think that you had with you at the
       interview?
   A.  Looks like it.  It has my writing on it.
   Q.  I think the other one is {E4/66/1}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So those were the documents to which you were referring
       in the interview?
   A.  Yes, I think -- possibly they are.
   Q.  If we go back, please, to {E4/65/1} first.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that your writing in the square box?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you read out what it says.
   A.  "Payment in till £600 bill reversal.  Tried not give
       enough money."
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "Tried not give enough money?"
   A.  Yes, I think that is what it says.
   MR GREEN:  And then "£500" underneath.  That part is in
       relation to some money that was in an envelope, can you
       remember any of this?
   A.  Only from my notes, from what I have read since.
   Q.  I think that was a separate issue relating to
       a transaction that had not been accepted and Mrs Abdulla
       had kept the money separate in an envelope?
   A.  I think it was a transaction that had been accepted and
       she had reversed it because she believed the customer
       hadn't given her enough money, and that was, if
       I remember from the notes and everything, about a year
       before.
   Q.  Yes, and they --
   A.  -- long time.
   Q.  Yes.  They expected the customer would notice it hadn't
       gone through, come back, and she would say "Look, here
       is the money".  And they kept it in a separate envelope?
   A.  Yes, she did.
   Q.  Then "6/4/09", is that your writing as well?
   A.  It looks like it.
   Q.  So:
           "Camelot auto TC.  Made good."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then:
           "Camelot cheque TC.  Made good."
           They are not in date order, are they?
   A.  No, they weren't.  That would have come to me like that.
   Q.  Is that how it comes out of Horizon?
   A.  No, that would have come from the debt team who could
       have got a record of all the TCs sent to the branch.
   Q.  That is how they provide it to you and that is what you
       were showing Mr Abdulla?
   A.  That is right.
   Q.  The other document {E4/66/1}.  That is another document
       that would have come to you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  From the same team or a different team?
   A.  No, I think it would have been the same team.
   Q.  If we look down to the bottom, just about three-quarters
       of the way down, can you see "AP" and then a gap on the
       right-hand side, "£101.75 AP"?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Below that there is a figure of £1,092, and then minus
       £1,092.  And then a month later than the first of those
       two, four days prior to the credit of £1,092, there is
       a £1,092 figure on 11 July.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The negative figures are credits to the subpostmaster,
       aren't they?
   A.  I believe they are but I can't remember fully.
   Q.  You can't remember.  Okay.  We can also see on 29 May
       £1,092, can't we?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But this doesn't -- then at the bottom we have:
           "£1,033 National Lottery cheque prizes."
           Is there a reason why that long run of TCs there is
       not identified on that page as referring to any
       particular transactions like National Lottery, or do you
       not know?
   A.  I would imagine -- I don't know to be honest.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you tell me what you understand by
       "LC Amount" at the top of that column.
   A.  Sorry, whereabouts?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The very top of all the figures.  What
       is "LC"?
   A.  I can't remember, sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And would you expect most of the entries
       to have text or is it not unusual to have some --
   A.  It is not unusual not to.  It is not unusual not to, it
       could be just it's a stock figure, but ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It could be just a stock figure.
   A.  It could be a stock figure.  With the 1,092 I am
       guessing, and it would be a guess, that it is lottery
       scratch cards, so it would become a stock figure.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I see.
   MR GREEN:  What you didn't have is the document at {E4/92/1}
       which is a big Excel spreadsheet that we will need to
       download.  Have you been -- while we are waiting for
       that, have you been shown a big Excel spreadsheet
       relating to Mr Abdulla before today?
   A.  No.  No, I haven't seen that.
   Q.  If we look at row 61, can you see the figure of 1,092
       there?
   A.  I can, yes.
   Q.  What is handy here is you have the date, you have the
       transaction correction reference and you have the amount
       in column H.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then you have the fact that it is a Camelot TC in
       column J.  And then you have the narrative all together,
       haven't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It's pretty handy, much more helpful than what you were
       given, is that fair?
   A.  That is fair, yes.
   Q.  If we go down to line 63, row 63, we have another 1,092,
       TC for lottery sales?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And a similar narrative there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then if we go down to line 65, we have:
           "Due to an administration error you received
       a duplicate on Sat 12 ... This is a compensating TC and
       you should accept both to balance your account.  Please
       accept our sincere apologies for this error."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In fact higher up there is another 1,092 as well.  So
       what we have is we have three 1,092s, all of them have
       almost identical wording coming in month after month
       after month, with an acceptance internally that there
       has been a mistake on at least one of them?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Being fair to you, Mrs Ridge, trying to do your job,
       would that information be pretty helpful to you?
   A.  It would have done.
   Q.  But you didn't have it, did you?
   A.  No.
   Q.  And nor did Mr Abdulla.  So you weren't able to look at
       this and say, well, actually, this is a bit odd because
       they are accepting that an error has been made on 1,092,
       and so it's a bit strange there are three previous ones.
   A.  It would have been a bit odd.  But it also implies that
       the lottery scratch cards weren't being accounted for
       through the system correctly.  Rather than doing it
       every time they did a pack, they were leaving it monthly
       maybe, or rolling it over branch period which would
       confuse everything.
   Q.  Yes, or some other root cause of the problem that you
       could have investigated if you had had this information.
       But you didn't have it so you couldn't investigate --
   A.  No, I could not in any depth, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you expect there to be an apology
       included in the text if it had been a mistake of the
       sort you have just said it might have been?
   A.  A lot of the people I worked with, yes, if they make
       a mistake they are quite happy to say "I am sorry,
       I have done something wrong".  It's the least we would
       do.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, but the text in the right, that is
       not compiled by the subpostmaster, is it?
   A.  No, that is by the person that has actually sent out the
       TC, I am guessing.  So they are writing on there that
       there is an error, so it doesn't take another few words
       just to say I am sorry, it is our mistake.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  Pretty important in helping you to understand
       what had happened, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Whether to believe what Mr Abdulla was saying?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because in the interview, and I can show you the text if
       you want, but in the interview he repeatedly said there
       was something wrong with this 1,092 lottery thing,
       didn't he?
   A.  He did, yes.
   Q.  He was pretty strong about it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And if you had had this, you could have put that into
       context, couldn't you?
   A.  Yes, I could have.  I could have also highlighted the
       other errors in there that had nothing to do with the
       lottery.
   Q.  Indeed.  And if there had been, as we have seen here,
       I can show you another example where he has been debited
       on the face of this when he should have been credited
       for over £1,000, that would have helped you too?
   A.  Of course.
   Q.  Because that would have explained over £2,000 that he
       didn't properly owe, wouldn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it would have been helpful whichever way the evidence
       led?
   A.  Yes, it could have been.
   Q.  Yes.  And without the evidence, you just had to sort of
       wing it a bit, didn't you, and see what you made of his
       response?
   A.  I used what I had at the time.
   Q.  Of course, and you couldn't be expected to do any more.
           Tracing it through, if we may, {E4/83/1}.  18 May.
       You have terminated his -- decided to terminate his
       appointment?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  On the information you had?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then he wrote a letter of 12 May appealing?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And an appeal interview was arranged for 23 June if we
       look at {E4/84/1}.  The appeal hearing is meant to be
       a complete re-hearing as I think Mr Breeden said
       earlier.  That is right, isn't it?
   A.  No, my understanding was it wasn't.
   Q.  What was your understanding?
   A.  My understanding was it was -- actually I might be
       wrong.  I am going to say I can't remember.
       I thought -- not a full hearing, but listening to the
       points that I have gone through and to see if I have
       done everything correctly.
   Q.  So it was reviewing to see --
   A.  Yes, review --
   Q.  -- whether or not to endorse what you done --
   A.  -- or turn over.  I've had things turned over in the
       past.
   Q.  Of course, hence whether or not to endorse.  Exactly.
       You presumably would have provided those two sheets of
       paper that you had?
   A.  Yes, I would have had to do an appeal file with
       everything that I had to hand.
   Q.  And passed that to Mr Mylchreest?
   A.  Whoever was --
   Q.  -- appeals manager, because we can see on here it seems
       to be Mr Mylchreest --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I hope I am pronouncing that right.
   A.  I don't think so.
   Q.  How does he pronounce it?
   A.  I can't remember.
   Q.  So if we are to infer what would have happened from the
       documents, it is fair to infer you would have passed on
       the documents you had?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And Mr Mylchreest would have considered those?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then he would have had the discussion that we see
       here?
   A.  Yes.  I wouldn't have seen this at the time but yes.
   Q.  This isn't a recording so we don't know exactly what was
       said but it is a summary by Mr Mylchreest.
           Do you see over the page, if we may, the third
       paragraph down {E4/84/2}:
           "Mr Abdulla had put the cheque on the mutilated note
       line because he believed he could not roll over the
       account without remitting it out and this would have
       taken too long."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then he says down in the final paragraph, five lines
       down:
           "He believed the contracts manager had terminated
       his contract without sufficient thought or
       investigation."
           Yes?  There was a limited amount of investigation
       you could do with the information you had, was there?
   A.  Yes, there was.
   Q.  Did you request any ARQ data from Fujitsu or anything
       like that, or was that not --
   A.  No, that was something I wouldn't have done.
   Q.  If we are -- could we then look at {E4/85/1}, 29 June,
       so that is three days after 23 June.  We have a letter:
           "Dear Mr Abdulla.  I have now completed my
       investigation into the circumstances leading up to
       summary termination of your contract for services ..."
           That is reasonably standard wording, isn't it?
   A.  I believe it is but I have never done an appeals letter
       and I don't normally get a copy of it.  I didn't
       normally get a copy of it.
   Q.  Because if we go back to ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That letter of 18 May 2009?
   MR GREEN:  No, it's the letter of 29 May 2009. {M_000619/1}
       So this is a letter in identical terms.  If we go over
       the page {M_000619/2}, it has also actually been signed
       by Mr Mylchreest and it pre-dates the appeal hearing by
       nearly a month.
   A.  I can't comment on --
   Q.  Do you have any idea --
   A.  I can't comment on it at all.
   Q.  Did Mr Mylchreest ask you for any additional information
       over and above what you sent him in the appeal file?
   A.  I don't know.  I can't remember.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you think of any reason why there
       might be such a letter in those terms pre-dating the
       actual hearing?
   A.  No, not unless he was using a standard -- either
       a standard letter that he had been given, because most
       letters we had in the Post Office were standard and we
       adapted them, so ...
   MR GREEN:  Can I ask you this: it's quite serious what is
       happening to people, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Having their appointment terminated.  It can have quite
       a big effect on their investment they have put in?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Did you have any idea why they weren't allowed to have
       a lawyer with them?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You didn't know why?
   A.  It was just --
   Q.  That was the rule?
   A.  From our solicitors that is what we were told.
   Q.  Even though sometimes people would be accused of
       criminal offences like false accounting?
   A.  If that was being done by the security team then they
       would be entitled to have a solicitor with them.
   Q.  Yes, but when it was being done by you one of the things
       you say, because you believe this amounts to false
       accounting, don't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you knew that was a criminal offence?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  They didn't --
   A.  But they would be interviewed by a different team if
       there were going to be criminal proceedings.
   Q.  I understand if there were going to be criminal
       proceedings.  But I am just saying what you were talking
       to them about was clearly very serious?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Both because they might lose the value of their
       investment, yes?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And because the actual content of what you were
       discussing might be later relied on by another team?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes?  So they weren't told to take any legal advice
       before attending those interviews?
   A.  No.  In the invite letter it actually stated who could
       attend.
   Q.  Yes, and it's not a lawyer.
   A.  No.
   Q.  And the same is the case for the appeals?
   A.  I don't know about the appeals but I would imagine it
       was the same.
   Q.  And also you didn't tell Mr Abdulla to take any legal
       advice when he came for interview either, did you?
   A.  I can't remember that.  I am sure I would have done
       about staffing and TUPE laws.
   Q.  Other than that not?
   A.  Probably not.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.  No further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Any re-examination, Mr Cavender?
                  Re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  A few points, if I may.  Can we go to
       page {Day10/73:24} of today's transcript.  You talk
       there about the checklist that I think you created, do
       you remember that answer?
   A.  Yes.  I didn't create it, it was given to me, yes.
   Q.  A personal one I think you referred to it as?
   A.  Yes, but it was along the lines that most other
       contracts managers used.
   Q.  When we look at page {C2/12/3} of your witness
       statement, do you remember in paragraph 12 you list the
       number of things that you would have explained to
       Mr Abdulla in accordance with your usual practice?
   A.  Yes, I do, from the checklist.
   Q.  That was going to be my question.  So you are saying you
       would have mentioned this list of things because it was
       on the personal checklist I referred to earlier?
   A.  Yes, I do believe I would have.
   Q.  Can we go to the transcript at page {Day10/54:16},
       please, the transcript of today.  You were asked in
       relation to -- one of the things you had said was:
           "The contract could be ended at any time by
       Post Office ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And:
           "Question: Mr Abdulla says absolutely he was not
       told that.  Is it possible on that, presumably it is
       something you would normally say, you say, but you may
       not say on some occasions?"
           You then say further down that you can't remember
       saying it, do you see that? {Day10/55:5}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Doing the best you can, firstly, is this item in
       relation to a contract can be ended at any time, is that
       something that would have been on your checklist?
   A.  I am sure it would have been but I can't remember
       100 per cent.
   Q.  So when you say that you don't remember saying it in
       the answer at {Day10/55:5}, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Does that mean you didn't say it, or what?
   A.  It doesn't mean I didn't say it, it means I can't
       remember the interview.  So I can't 100 per cent say
       I did because I can't remember the interview.
   Q.  I think my learned friend said in an earlier question,
       out of 1 to 10, doing the best you can, given the
       answers about your checklist, where would you be on this
       one out of ten as to the probability of mentioning it?
   A.  8 probably.
   Q.  Moving on, at page {Day10/70:9} of the transcript you
       were asked about  whether you would have mentioned
       contractual terms.  Do you see on that?  You say:
           "Yes, it's -- the contract was quite a big book for
       him to sit and read ..."
           And then my learned friend went forward and didn't
       really follow up.
           If you go to {Day10/70:4} he was asking:
           "Question: You are saying you would have talked
       about some of these topics?
           "Answer: Yes, I would have.
           "Question: Rather than 'I would have taken him
       through and discussed the terms contractually'?
           Do you see?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we can go back to the document you were being asked
       about at {E4/30/5}, because this was the page you were
       shown at this point.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you see you were being asked by reference to that.
       If we go across to page {E4/30/6} which you weren't
       shown, I think my learned friend probably forgot to show
       you this page, and particularly the last paragraph.  If
       you want to read the last paragraph on that page, headed
       "Losses".
   A.  "The subpostmaster is responsible for all losses caused
       through his own negligence, carelessness or error and
       also for all losses caused by his assistants.
       Deficiencies due to such losses must be made good
       without delay."
   Q.  Are you able to tell us, is that something you would
       have discussed?
   A.  Definitely.
   Q.  Then can we go to {D1.4/2/1}.  You gave an answer in
       relation to this document, that you did not consider
       that paragraph 3 was part of the conditions of
       appointment.  Do you remember that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  And you were asked by his Lordship about that too.  When
       we look at the top of that, we see the words:
           "Using the conditions of appointment codings, please
       list the conditions of appointment agreed at interview."
           With that emphasis in mind and looking through this,
       against which items do we see a code?
   A.  Only in section 1.
   Q.  So 12, is that the code to clean and generally tidy?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is 15 a code to renew and improve?
   A.  I think it was, yes.
   Q.  L1, what is that a code for?
   A.  Lottery.
   Q.  And TP2, what is that a code for?
   A.  To provide an official telephone line.
   Q.  Is there a code attached to the opening hours?
   A.  There isn't, but that would have been a condition of
       appointment.
   Q.  Is there a code attached to the indication of the amount
       of service provided by the postmaster?
   A.  No, there isn't.
   Q.  Thank you.
           You were asked a number of times about whether it
       was a condition, ie a contractual obligation, to provide
       18 hours per week, and you gave answers a number of
       times saying that was just an indication that you
       obtained during interview, that is the amount of time --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Am I right about that?
   A.  It was an indication from the business plan and from
       what I would have gained at interview that they were
       going to do more than 18.
   Q.  If we go to {Day10/78:6} of today's transcript.  You
       were asked:
           "So if someone has agreed to work 18 hours a week at
       least?"
           And you say yes.  Are you indicating a different
       answer there to the ones you have given earlier on this
       topic or is it ... because on one view of that exchange
       you are now saying there is an agreement to work
       18 hours per week, do you see?
   A.  Yes, I do, but no, I wasn't meaning that.  If someone
       tells me they are going to work 18 hours or more then
       I would put "yes" on the other form, internal form
       indicating, so that the people dealing with the holiday
       substitution are aware.
   Q.  I understand.  Can we go to {Day10/91:1} of today's
       transcript, please.  You were asked questions about
       Mr Abdulla and the transaction correction relating to
       the lottery, do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you were asked by his Lordship particularly about
       the apology point, do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  About the confusion, shall we say, neutrally, about
       the issue of the TC.  The tenor of the question was,
       well, would you expect an apology in circumstances
       where -- I think you give three examples of how the loss
       could have been caused by the postmaster by incorrectly
       accounting, rollover, that kind of thing.  Is there
       a distinction in this context between the cause of the
       loss on the one hand, ie the behaviour of the postmaster
       in creating a loss, and the correct treatment of that by
       way of issuing a TC or are they the same thing?
   A.  On this occasion it looks like it could be two different
       things.  One is the error by the postmaster, one is
       Chesterfield issuing a TC correctly, and then
       Chesterfield issuing one incorrectly and correcting it.
   Q.  And the net effect of those three transactions from what
       we can see is what?
   A.  That there is still 1,092 difference.
   MR CAVENDER:  No further questions, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you.  I have a couple of
       questions.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can we go to {E4/75/1} please.  I asked
       you about that handwritten adjustment.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you just explain what your
       understanding is of, if I can just put it neutrally,
       "the mutilated notes".
   A.  It is notes that can't be put back in circulation and
       given out to the general public.  So they need to go
       back to our rem centre, and then go back to the
       Bank of England.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because the Bank of England will always
       swap them.
   A.  Yes, they will.  They will take it as a credit against
       the Post Office.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So even today if one of us had
       a £50 note torn in half we could go to the
       Bank of England and they would give us a real £50 note.
       Is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have never tried to do that.
   A.  You can do it in your bank.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It might be quite an interesting
       experience.
           But so far as this letter is concerned, so far as
       you can remember, and if you can't remember please say
       so, was the mutilated note situation something different
       to or connected with the £2,500 for the undated cheque?
   A.  I believe, reading my letter there, it was connected,
       that the mutilated notes were over-inflated by £2,500
       and there was a cheque there for £2,500.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because that is when Mr Abdulla had, in
       accounting terms, dealt with the undated cheque.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If we could go to document {E4/79/1},
       this is the transcript of the interview that you had
       with Mr Abdulla.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Where you say in the middle, just after
       Mr Abdulla said "Fine" to something, a rather longer
       question you say:
           "You've had a copy of the charge letter, have you?"
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And the question you put to him just
       before that was:
           "... what I'm trying to do at the moment is just go
       through the charges, that's what the charge, that's what
       I'm looking into, that's what's going to be the charge
       ..."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By the charge letter, are you referring
       to the one I have just shown you?
   A.  Yes, the parts of the contract that I am using or
       considering.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  So you are going to go through
       what you have already identified in the letter as the
       reasons behind --
   A.  Yes, just to make sure he understands where I am coming
       from.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If we could then within this, please, go
       to page 15, so {E4/79/15}.  This is where Mr Abdulla is
       being asked questions by you about the lottery.  At the
       bottom you say:
           "On the day of the audit when they checked the
       lottery stock unit there was a large shortage.  Can you
       explain?"
           He says the 1,000-odd?  And you say yes.
           If we go on to the next page {E4/79/16}, he says --
       well, just read those entries to yourself, will you?
       Because he mentions the 1,092 in the third line and you
       then explore that with him.
   A.  Yes. (Pause)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Have you read that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't know why it is highlighted in
       yellow but it is a useful reference.  If you look two
       entries below the yellow, you have said to him:
           "How much was it for?"
           He says:
           "1,092."
           And you say:
           "There is no TC for that."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And there is then further debate between
       you about the lottery amount.  When you are saying
       "There is no TC for that", that is based on those two
       till roll type pieces of paper?
   A.  No, I think it was -- it would have been based on that
       but I am assuming it would have been, because he said it
       came in after the last balance, and so there should
       still be a record, and it would have -- if he had had
       a TC in his favour it would have reduced the loss.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  But your assertion about the
       presence or otherwise of a TC is based on what?
   A.  Around the list and from --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What he has told you.
   A.  And the list.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Plus the two till roll lists.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  {E4/65/1} is the first one.  You
       explained that that is your writing.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The two black horizontal lines with
       6 April 2009, they are yours as well?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Have you just identified within that
       till roll entries that --
   A.  No, I would have been looking -- I'm assuming, again
       I can't fully remember, that I -- the audit was 6 April
       so I would have been looking for a TC after 6 April.
       Leading up to 6 April, sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, not after --
   A.  No, no.  The two weeks up to 6 April.  But there was
       nothing after the 25th when he did his audit.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  When he did his audit?
   A.  Yes, but when he did the last audit, it would have been
       about two weeks before that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Sorry, you are going to have to be --
       when you say "he" --
   A.  When Mr Abdulla balanced --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because he doesn't do an audit, does he?
   A.  Sorry, when he balanced his stock last or the office
       last, he said after that date there was another TC.  And
       that is what I was looking for, for 1,092.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because the Excel spreadsheet that
       Mr Green put to you looks, on the face of it, as if
       there were altogether four entries for 1,092 in
       connection with the lottery, one of them a negative one
       and three of them positive ones.  Do you recall that
       Excel spreadsheet?
   A.  I do remember the Excel spreadsheet, yes.  I don't
       remember all the entries.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Let's go to that then.  {E4/92/1}.  You
       will recall being shown this.
   A.  Yes, I do.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  There were four altogether for 1,092.
       Do you recall that?
   A.  I don't remember seeing --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You don't remember the ones Mr Green
       showed you --
   A.  Yes, I do but I don't remember if he showed me three or
       four.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I don't think I showed row 57.  I just
       said there was an additional one.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Maybe it is because we have looked at it
       so many times I am aware there are four.  Let's just go
       through them then.  57 says "this TC is for lottery
       sales" and it's item 1092 and it's a positive, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The next one after that is row 61.  Just
       read that to yourself.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you see 1,092 again?  Also
       a positive.  Row 63.  Read that to yourself.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then row 65.  That is where there is
       an apology.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, but that one -- that one is in his favour, the
       other three weren't.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Correct.  That is rather Mr Abdulla's
       point.  But for the moment I am just interested in your
       evidence on this point.  Given you didn't have that
       Excel spreadsheet --
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- in your interview, all you could go
       off were the two till rolls?
   A.  Yes.  I actually think they were all one spreadsheet.
       Because I think it may have been -- because there are no
       figures on the first sheet, so I think the lines should
       have gone across.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Let's go back to that then.  {E4/65/1}.
   A.  There are no figures on that one, on the first one, but
       there is on the second.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand.  So you think {E4/65/1} is
       the left-hand of a document and {E4/66/1} might be the
       right-hand of the same document?
   A.  I think so.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Let's have a look at that.  {E4/66/1}
       please.  You think that might go with ...
   A.  It might be one document, rather than two.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If that is right, and it might not make
       any difference, but the four entries of 1,092 --
   A.  Are still on there.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- are still on there, but you haven't
       got any text telling you what they are.
   A.  That is right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is right, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I already asked you a question about
       that earlier.  I said was that unusual, and you said it
       wasn't.  I am just interested, if this was the only
       information you had -- can we go back to {E4/65/1}
       please, does it look to you now on the basis of what you
       have seen now as if you had all the information to be
       able to explore what you expressed as being the charges
       with Mr Abdulla --
   A.  At the time --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you just let me finish?  Otherwise
       it won't come out on the transcript.  To explore fully
       with him his explanation?
   A.  Yes, I do.  That is all I would have got at the -- been
       able to get at the time.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So you think, even on what you have been
       shown today, that you had all the information to be able
       to explore it fully at the time of your interview with
       him?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And you don't think it would have been
       useful to have had the Excel spreadsheet?
   A.  I think that was an Excel spreadsheet but it didn't
       print out as one.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So you don't think it would have been
       useful to have had the longer document Mr Green showed
       you with the extra text?
   A.  It would have been, but I don't know where that would
       have come from.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is very useful.  Thank you very
       much.  Any questions arising out of that?  It took
       slightly longer than I was expecting just because it
       seemed to me I ought to remind the witness of exactly
       what the entries were I wanted to ask her about.
              Further re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  Can we go back to page {Day10/109:11} of
       today's transcript, please, where we started out on this
       questioning.  You were asked by his Lordship:
           "And there is then further debate between you about
       to the lottery amount.  When you are saying 'There is no
       TC for that', that is based on those two till roll type
       pieces of paper?"
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then read your answer after that, where you say:
           "No, I think it was -- it would have been based on
       that but I am assuming it would have been, because he
       said it came in after the last balance and so there
       should still be a record, and it would have -- if he had
       had a TC in his favour it would have reduced the loss."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Pausing there, can you explain a bit to his Lordship
       what you are trying to get across in that answer.  In
       terms of what you were looking at at the time and the
       audit.
   A.  At the time I would have had the figures from the audit.
       At the meeting, and looking at my notes, Mr Abdulla
       implied that he had accepted a TC after he last rolled
       over.  But I couldn't see one after the last rollover
       period, the balance.  It was before the balance.
   Q.  So insofar as he had accepted a TC in his favour before
       the balance, that would have reduced the loss?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that the point you were trying to make here?
   A.  I think so, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can I have a hard copy, please, of
       {E4/65/1} and {E4/66/1}.  If that could be put on an A3
       sheet, that would be very useful.  A single A3 sheet.
           Thank you very much.  You are now free to leave the
       witness box.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Longbottom next.  Mr Cavender, is
       that right?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
                 MR DAVID PAUL LONGBOTTOM (sworn)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much, Mr Longbottom.
       Please take a seat.
   MR CAVENDER:  Good morning, Mr Longbottom.
   A.  Good morning.
   Q.  You should hopefully in front of you have your witness
       statement {C2/8/1}, is that right?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  There is a correction I think you want to make to
       paragraph 26.  There should be a separate correction --
   A.  There is, yes.
   Q.  That is to the two dates in that paragraph, is that
       right?
   A.  That is correct, yes.  They are typos for 2018 which
       should be 2014.
   Q.  In both places?
   A.  In both lines, yes.
   Q.  If you look at the witness statement in front of you and
       turn to page 9 {C2/8/9} I was going to say "is that your
       signature" but it seems you have an unsigned copy there.
   A.  There is a signed copy in front of me.
   Q.  Is there?  Good, okay.  Is that your signature on that
       page?
   A.  It is.
   Q.  Subject to the one correction that we have just gone
       through to paragraph 26 --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- are the contents of that statement true?
   A.  I believe they are, yes.
   Q.  You have I think an annex to your witness statement, is
       that right?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  Where you list --
   A.  Listing documents.
   Q.  -- a load of documents from 1 to 38, is that right?
   A.  That is correct.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much.  If you would like to
       wait there, please --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't know if the annex is on Opus, is
       it?
   MR CAVENDER:  I'm not sure.  I think they have been
       reformatted in the other bundles.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I meant the actual index, but it doesn't
       matter.
                  Cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  Mr Longbottom, I think in your witness statement
       you very fairly say at paragraph 8 {C2/8/2} about
       halfway down the right-hand side:
           "Given the number of audits ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  "Given the number of audits I've undertaken, it is
       difficult to remember the exact details of an audit and
       set up carried out four years ago, especially as many
       audits are very similar, one to the other."
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  Would you be more likely to remember audits that are
       more unusual; if something that had not happened before
       happened than the same old, same old ones?
   A.  I suppose that is true, yes.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  I think that is a fair comment, yes.
   Q.  If you later disagree do ... it's just a general
       proposition.  Can I ask you to look at {G/96/7} please.
       Just to give you context, this relates to somebody
       called Mrs Golding who ran four branches and she is
       talking in her schedule of information in this case
       about an audit carried out by you in rather
       complimentary terms.  Can you see there?
   A.  It's not something I have seen before.
   Q.  That is why I am just showing you it, to give you
       an opportunity to remind yourself.
   A.  May I read it?
   Q.  Please do, yes.  (Pause).
   A.  Yes, I have read it.
   Q.  Mrs Golding I think has four branches.  Can you remember
       being asked to conduct an audit about a year and a half
       ago with her?
   A.  I might be able to remember if you reminded me of the
       branch, but I don't remember.
   Q.  I can tell you the branch ... I will see if I can remind
       you about the name of the branch in a second.  But just
       taking it in stages, it would be normal practice if the
       subpostmaster discovered an alleged loss and requested
       Post Office to conduct an audit to find out what the
       problem was that you might be sent to do an audit?
       There is nothing unusual about that?  This
       was Waddingham post office.  Does that ring a bell now?
   A.  It does.  I don't think that lady has several offices,
       from my knowledge.
   Q.  Let's just proceed on the basis that -- it is only this
       one that we are concerned about at the moment.
       Waddingham office.  Can you remember going there about
       a year and a half ago?
   A.  Waddingham, Lincolnshire ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Gainsborough.  Does that help?
   A.  Was this -- may I clarify was this an audit or was it
       an intervention visit?
   MR GREEN:  She had asked --
   A.  I don't believe this was an audit.  I believe -- and
       particularly where it says in the second paragraph
       "Following my discovery ..." It is not normal practice
       for a subpostmaster to request an audit.  But they may
       request some help in wide-ranging areas, including
       accounting.  So I suspect that this wasn't an audit.
   Q.  The word "audit" might not be right, it is just what she
       has called it.  But for some sort of visit.  Can you
       remember going to Waddingham?
   A.  Yes, I seem to remember -- again, multiple branches
       didn't ring a bell, audit didn't ring a bell.
   Q.  Fair enough.  Just proceed on what you can remember.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Waddingham anyway, a visit.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  She wanted some help?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can you tell his Lordship what, if anything, you can
       remember of that visit.
   A.  I would prefer to look at my report which --
       I don't know whether it exists anywhere.
   Q.  I'm not sure we have that.  You may not be able to --
   A.  My memory would be if -- or my recollection would be, if
       I went to do a similar visit to this, an operator who
       has some wealth of experience is finding it difficult to
       produce their accounts, it is not that they have just
       started doing them, it is something that they have
       obviously performed basic checks themselves, as they
       would have been trained to do, I would then go along
       with their agreement -- so, again, an audit would be
       unannounced, this would be an agreed visit.  So I would
       perhaps have a chat with them on the phone beforehand
       and obviously ask them what checks they have done and
       perhaps it would be useful for them to have various
       accounts and things prepared for me to look at.
           It is also possible such things could be discussed
       on the telephone; could actually say "ah, I never
       thought of checking that", the subpostmaster would go
       and check something and say "I've found my problem."
       But as it says on here regarding transaction logs, we --
       in this case it's not any form of an investigation, it's
       a support visit, as most of our visits are.  I seem to
       remember, things coming back to me, I went on the
       branch's half day so we could concentrate solely on
       going through paperwork, going through processes,
       balancing the office.
           From memory, we would have produced numerous
       transaction logs which, as has already been described in
       this courtroom, are basically printed on the till roll.
       So they are lengthy pieces of paper.
   Q.  Just to give his Lordship an idea --
   A.  Waddingham is quite a small office, so they wouldn't be
       too onerous.  But obviously if you went to
       Trafalgar Square office and printed a log of what they
       did for the day, it would be enormous.
   Q.  Across the room or -- something like that?
   A.  Yes.  But obviously the transaction log -- forgive me if
       this is going off the point -- the transaction log could
       be edited by putting in parameters of what you want to
       look for.  So you could choose large numbers, rather
       than -- if it was a large number you were looking for,
       there probably would be limited point in printing out
       something that has every single first-class stamp that
       was sold on there.  Because that is probably not what we
       are looking for.
   Q.  Because it was sort of printing out -- you could print
       out by sort of --
   A.  You could print out by time --
   Q.  -- particular value brackets --
   A.  -- by user, by value, by gate.
   Q.  That was helpful because, to print out the whole lot and
       then search --
   A.  It is eminently do-able but obviously you can make it
       more user-friendly by making the lists shorter.  So we
       would have perhaps looked at those and continued to look
       at those.  One thing I would go through in this case and
       in other similar cases with operators would be -- they
       know what happens in their branch better than I do,
       better than anybody does.  So there is something I might
       see on a log that I don't think looks right but they may
       be able to explain why that would be.  For example,
       a small village office like Waddingham, there might be
       a £10,000 banking deposit, which might seem unusual, and
       then they might tell me it is the village pub that banks
       once a fortnight.  But then, if I said "There's an entry
       here for £10,000" and they said "We've never had an
       entry for £10,000 because there is only myself and my
       assistant who work here and we don't remember that",
       then that would point to something that may have been
       entered into the system incorrectly.
   Q.  Pausing there --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We are going to pause there, for two
       reasons.  One is it is 1 o'clock.  Secondly,
       Mr Longbottom, the question that actually led to three
       pages of transcript answer was "what can you remember of
       the visit?"
   A.  Right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right?  So we are going to have
       an hour's break for lunch.  Then we are going to come
       back and Mr Green can decide whether he wants to ask
       that question or not.  You are now in the middle of
       giving your evidence, so that means please don't talk to
       anyone about the case.  If you can come back for
       2 o'clock, I would be very grateful.
   (1.00 pm)
                     (The short adjournment)
   (2.00 pm)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, we started at 10 o'clock, not
       unfairly to give you an extra half an hour that you
       weren't expecting -- I'm not being critical -- when you
       and Mr Cavender split the time up between you, so ...
   MR GREEN:  Indeed.
           Could we get the document we were looking at before
       {G/96/1} I think it was.  {G/96/7}.
           Mr Longbottom, you will understand that it is a
       time-limited trial.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So I am just going to ask you two very short questions.
       Have a look at the paragraph that begins:
           "Mr Longbottom was very nice ..."
           And can you see four lines up from the bottom it
       says:
           "... said he was going to request that Post Office
       send him the transaction logs from November 2016 to go
       through those and try and establish what the problem
       was."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Simple question: yes or no to start with.  When you
       would visit branches for this type of visit sometimes
       you would need to request transaction logs from
       Post Office?  Sometimes?
   A.  I will say yes, but perhaps we ought to have advised the
       subpostmaster to request the transaction logs.
   Q.  One or other of you will need to get hold of transaction
       logs?
   A.  Yes, that is possible, yes.
   Q.  Can you remember being refused access to them in her
       case?
   A.  Obviously I have been thinking about it for the last
       hour.  I remember requesting as perhaps over and above,
       a favour, trying to help the lady.  Who I requested them
       from I can't say, presumably somebody at financial
       service centre, I don't know.  Not being told that
       I wasn't going to be given them and advising Mrs Golding
       by telephone that she would have to seek that
       information herself.
   Q.  Were you surprised to be refused them?  A bit
       frustrating?
   A.  Yes, but probably -- as I have just said, I was probably
       going over and above what I was supposed to be doing.
       I have had some information supplied before.  I was
       happy as an experienced postmaster I could pass it on to
       Mrs Golding, she could carry it forward, and to be
       honest I don't think I had really thought about this
       branch until you brought it to my attention before
       lunch.
   Q.  What you were trying to do is trying to find the root
       cause of the problem?
   A.  Trying to help the lady find it, yes.
   Q.  Can we turn to the appointment of Mrs Stockdale which is
       what you -- the branch transfer of Mrs Stockdale, more
       accurately, which is what you deal with in your witness
       statement.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  I think you are giving an example of this as an example
       of what would normally happen?
   A.  Whereabouts is it that I am looking?
   Q.  Let's look at paragraph 8 on {C2/8/2}.  You explain
       halfway down on the left-hand margin:
           "I have undertaken ..."
           That is the sentence I referred you to at the
       beginning:
           "Given the number of audits I have undertaken, it is
       difficult to remember the exact details of an audit and
       set-up carried out four years ago, especially as many
       audits are very similar one to the other.  I therefore
       make clear below where I expressly remember something
       and where I am talking from my general experience of
       conducting transfer audits and on the basis that the
       transfer audit for Mrs Stockdale was not unusual in any
       respect other than that the branch was closed for
       refurbishment after the transfer, which meant some of
       the paperwork was completed on 30 April, some of the
       paperwork was completed on 8 May as further explained
       below."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  The context of the transfer was that the outgoing
       subpostmistress, Karen Collinson, had been waiting quite
       a while, hadn't she?  Can you remember?
   A.  Regarding the transfer of the business to Mrs Stockdale
       or to sell the business per se?
   Q.  The transfer and the sale together.
   A.  I believe Karen Collinson had been trying to leave the
       business for quite some years.
   Q.  Yes.  If we look at {E6/45/1} and we look down at the
       bottom half, this is from Shirley Lamont.  Do you know
       Shirley Lamont?
   A.  I do not, no.  I have seen this email.
   Q.  "Good morning ladies.  I have made enquiries with our
       head office and they have confirmed that the date on the
       contract is only a notional date.  If you read a little
       further on it says date to be agreed by all parties.
       All parties include Post Office Limited.  So as I told
       you previously, there is no way the changeover can
       happen on 28 March."
           You say you have seen this email.  Had you seen
       that --
   A.  I've seen it in the bundle of documents.
   Q.  In the preparation for --
   A.  Correct, yes.
   Q.  Were you aware of it at the time, this background, or
       not?  Generally, not the email itself.
   A.  No.  Our role as training and audit, we would not be
       required at a branch until there was any training or
       audit required.  So what was going on behind the scenes,
       particularly network transformation when there was many
       offices changing hands and changing locations, that
       would be dealt with by people such as Shirley Lamont and
       numerous other people.  It wouldn't come to our light
       until it appeared in our diaries.
   Q.  Can you remember this, at least at the time, that
       Karen Collinson was keen to get on with it as soon as
       possible?
   A.  I wouldn't know that because I wouldn't -- I have met
       Karen previously because, as I say, I have visited this
       office for many years.  But until we were actually given
       a transfer date and I was speaking to Karen asking
       whether she had received her transfer pack, I wouldn't
       be in contact with either party.
   Q.  But you got the impression when you did speak to her she
       was keen to get on?
   A.  Oh, yes.
   Q.  If we look at {E6/56/1}.  This is a three-page letter to
       Mrs Stockdale just to trace through the process.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Says:
           "Here are the arrangements for the project at your
       Post Office which we discussed on 20 January."
           These are clearly the works to be carried out.  Yes?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  If you look on {E6/56/3}, final page.  It's signed by
       Harold Barrett, do you know him or not?
   A.  I think I met him perhaps -- well, perhaps at this
       branch, perhaps at other brambles.
   Q.  You may have met him at this branch possibly?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  One of the observations he makes in the letter is under
       "Opening Events".  He says:
           "Please be aware that activities do not always go to
       plan.  This could be due to problems obtaining planning
       permission with communication lines, delivery or
       building issues."
           So he is suggesting delaying opening events --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- until you are sure it is going to open at the right
       time?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  And that fairly reflects your experience, sometimes the
       planned opening date isn't always actually the opening
       date?
   A.  Yes, for many, many reasons.
   Q.  Lots of reasons.  Then {E6/56/4} over the page.  We have
       details of a meeting held on Thursday 13 February and
       you will see key dates agreed at the meeting.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, I really do question the
       necessity to do this in this detail with this witness
       unless this witness was involved in any of this.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, he was involved in it and he explains
       the dates when it allegedly occurred.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  His evidence, as I understood it from
       a few minutes ago, is the date pops up on his diary and
       that directs him to go to the branch.
   A.  That is correct, my Lord, yes.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, this is essential chronology to him
       doing that and his date is specified in this document,
       so ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That might explain showing him this one.
       I'm not sure it necessarily explains the rather more
       general exploration of the preceding document.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, that is the letter -- I am grateful.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you want to put a date to him or just
       show him when the date first popped up, by all means go
       ahead.
   MR GREEN:  It is slightly more complicated because he gives
       a complicated explanation.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have read his witness statement.  But
       what I am basing my observations on is his evidence of
       a few minutes ago that the date pops up centrally on his
       diary and that is when he knows he has to go to branch
       X.
   MR GREEN:  I understand.
           Mr Longbottom, have a look on {E6/56/4}.  At some
       point the date at the bottom of that page would have
       popped up into your diary?
   A.  The date that would have appeared with me would have
       been the date, or initially would have been the date of
       the transfer audit, which doesn't -- isn't on that list.
   Q.  The reason for that is because the transfer audit
       normally takes place on the same day --
   A.  Not --
   Q.  -- as branch transfer?
   A.  Not during network transformation.  It was quite common
       for the transfer audit to take place before the building
       works took place then the branch would reopen.  I am
       suspecting the reason the transfer audit date wouldn't
       be on the project manager's list is because he wouldn't
       be dealing with that.  He would be dealing with
       contractors, et cetera.  That is -- it is not a fact,
       but that is my reasoning why it wouldn't be on there.
   Q.  You couldn't do the branch transfer until the Horizon
       kit had been installed and configured, could you?
   A.  Yes.  Because we transferred it before the building
       works completed using the kit and cash and stock that
       was in the branch before it closed for refurb.
   Q.  Have a look at that page.  You will see the date for
       Horizon kit to be installed is 1 May in type and 6 May.
       Were you involved in any of the changes of dates there?
       Did you did you know about those?
   A.  No.
   Q.  If you go over to {E6/56/7}, please, just above "Mail"
       at the bottom:
           "We will arrange for installation of Horizon
       equipment including PIN pad on Thursday 1 May ...
       configuration ... on 6th ..."
           If we go forward we then get the letter at {E6/58/1}
       to Mrs Stockdale on 8 May.  And the process leading up
       to branch transfer is that at this stage Mrs Stockdale
       is asked to complete and sign the enclosed bank details
       form, that is right, isn't it?
   A.  That is what it says on there, yes.
   Q.  Are you familiar with that or is that not part of
       something you know about?
   A.  That would be a letter from, as it says, the APT, agency
       application team, to Mrs Stockdale.
   Q.  And they need those details and that signed form so they
       can pay --
   A.  I would assume that is what it is for, yes.
   Q.  Then {E6/61/1}.  Can you see this document?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You are familiar with this document?
   A.  This document is the header sheet for a transfer pack.
   Q.  Are you familiar -- if you can answer my question it
       will make it quicker.  Are you familiar with this
       document?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It's because the transfer pack contains the documents
       that you use for branch transfer?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  And this is the coversheet as you confirmed?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go over to {E6/61/2}, 8 April.  You will note that
       this is sent to Mrs Collinson, isn't it?
   A.  It is.
   Q.  So what in fact happens is the transfer pack is sent to
       the outgoing subpostmistress?
   A.  It was at this time.
   Q.  That was the procedure at this time?
   A.  It certainly was.
   Q.  Has that changed?
   A.  It has.  We now produce the transfer pack and take it to
       the branch on the date of transfer ourselves from the
       information that we would be provided.
   Q.  And the date of transfer is a single day, isn't it?
   A.  Usually.
   Q.  Usually.  And we look at -- I think that appears to be
       confirmed in this -- this is a standard form letter,
       broadly, isn't it?
   A.  That is a letter, I'm very quickly reading, that would
       be sent to the outgoing so they knew what they needed to
       make it easier when we did the transfer.
   Q.  If we go forward one page {E6/61/3}:
           "Could you please ensure that on the day of
       transfer ..."
           The point here is that throughout this transfer pack
       there is reference repeatedly to "the" day of transfer
       as a single day?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then over the page at {E6/61/4} we have in fact on that
       page and the following two pages three copies of this
       document, which is the acknowledgement of appointment,
       which has to be signed --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- by the incoming subpostmaster.  And then on page
       {E6/61/7} we have the P13 form.  Yes?  There are two
       copies of that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we look on {E6/61/10}, it's the back copy of the
       second one, both of these explain in capitals that the
       document will be:
           "A copy will be retained on my file."
           With the incoming subpostmaster agreeing to that,
       yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is a document that has to be signed and witnessed
       as we can see down at the bottom?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And then on the next page {E6/61/11} we have the agent
       recruitment section checklist, effectively, of
       documents?
   A.  That is the form that you would return back to the agent
       application team with some of the documents as listed on
       there.
   Q.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By you?
   A.  By whoever --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you mean you?
   A.  -- is the lead auditor.  Yes, of course.  Sorry.
   MR GREEN:  In the box it says:
           "Important documentation to be completed and
       returned on the day of transfer."
           So in fact all of this documentation has to be
       completed and returned, doesn't it?
   A.  It does, but some of it goes to different places.
   Q.  If we go over to {E6/61/13}, this is the Official
       Secrets Act statement for the outgoing subpostmaster or
       subpostmistress?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  Two pages further on {E6/61/15} a further copy of that,
       both of them confirming in the bottom bold section in
       the middle of that page they declare they have
       surrendered:
           "... any equipment and any document, including any
       electronic document and back up disk made or acquired by
       me owing to my official position ..."
           So they leave with no documents when they leave,
       don't they?
   A.  Apart from a copy of that.
   Q.  Apart from a copy of that.
           At {E6/61/17} the legend at the top says:
           "To be affixed to the front of cash account produced
       on day of transfer/closure."
           So that is going to be -- this copy is going to be
       stuck to the front of the cash account that is produced
       on the day of transfer.  That is what it says?
   A.  "Cash account" is an old-fashioned term.  We don't have
       a cash account in the Post Office.
   Q.  When did it stop existing?
   A.  Some years ago.
   Q.  How long roughly?  Twenty years or ...?
   A.  I don't know.  Horizon -- probably when Horizon went to
       Horizon Online but that is an educated guess.
   Q.  Around 2010, perhaps?
   A.  Maybe, yes.
   Q.  And this is a 2013 document we see at the bottom?
   A.  We do.
   Q.  So "cash account" as language has persisted
       notwithstanding the change?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  So this is the final trading statement that gets stuck
       to the front of the cash account produced on the day of
       transfer/closure.  What does the cash account now refer
       to?
   A.  It would -- what we would attach to that would be the
       final trading statement and the final office snapshot.
   Q.  And then we can see over the next page {E6/61/18}, this
       is the P242 form, just to identify it?
   A.  It is.
   Q.  And it is to be retained for six years following
       completion?
   A.  So it says.
   Q.  It says to be retained for six years --
   A.  It does, yes, but that would be retained by the finance
       service centre who we sent this document to.
   Q.  There is another copy of that at {E6/61/19}.  What would
       happen to that?
   A.  I would keep that one.
   Q.  You would keep that one?
   A.  We keep branch documents unless told to retain them or
       send them somewhere else for six months.
   Q.  At {E6/61/21} we can see the transfer report.  That has
       an important message for Post Office Limited
       representatives.  It says:
           "Please ensure this transfer report is forwarded to
       the agent's debt team at the address opposite on the day
       of transfer."
           Do you know why that was?
   A.  It is to make, in my terminology, a line in the sand in
       the account of this branch to say that the outgoing
       operator was liable until the date it says on there, the
       incoming operator is liable from the date printed on
       there.
   Q.  What would happen if a transaction correction came in
       after someone's appointment had been terminated, in
       their favour?
   A.  It would go to what I believe -- because again I don't
       send them -- I believe it would go to the late account
       team.  For example it mentions, or we've mentioned
       sometimes in proceedings about settling a shortage to
       late account.  The transaction acknowledgement would
       then be sent to late account when they would cancel off
       the shortfall that perhaps that office was deemed to be
       owing, is my understanding.  It isn't really my area.
   Q.  Very well.  Let's go quickly through the rest of these
       documents so we can see how they then are filled in on
       transfer day.
           {E6/61/25} is in fact the old ARS 110 form?
   A.  It is.
   Q.  It is now appendix A and appendix B.  Two copies of
       that.  And then finally there is {E6/61/29} which is the
       document about assistants and their names?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  So the significance is at the time this branch transfer
       took place, the system was that you would send the
       branch transfer pack to the outgoing subpostmaster or
       subpostmistress?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  They would then bring it along to branch transfer day,
       yes?
   A.  Or they would have it in branch --
   Q.  In branch, and they will be able to provide it to you so
       that you could get the incoming subpostmaster to sign
       what they needed to sign and the outgoing one to sign
       the Official Secrets Act?
   A.  Yes.  And there are other documents that would require
       signatures from both parties.
   Q.  From both.
           If we go, please, to {E6/63/2}.  It was originally
       suggested that there be a transfer -- there was
       a transfer audit request for a transfer on 30 April, do
       you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  And then if we go back a page {E6/63/1}, it is forwarded
       to you on 8 April:
           "Please see details of this transfer audit request
       scheduled for Wednesday, 30 April.  Lead FSA will be
       David Longbottom.  Please can you attend the branch at
       8 o'clock on 30th.  I know you are travelling back from
       down south on 29th following the training/workshop.  Can
       you let me know if this is a problem?"
           It then says:
           "Hi Dave.  Property Projects have now confirmed that
       the collection time at Sandsacre is between 12-1 pm."
           What was that about?
   A.  That was, as we mentioned previously, the transfer audit
       was going to take place before the branch was going to
       close for its refurb.  So whilst a branch was being
       closed, the cash and stock was going to be taken off
       site to be stored under a process called vaulting.  And
       that was an advice to us of an approximate time of when
       it was going to be collected.
   Q.  And that was because Karen Collinson was leaving,
       effectively, on the 30th, and on the 30th Liz Stockdale
       was having her training in Leeds, wasn't she?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  We see that on {E6/66/1}.  Mrs Stockdale says in her
       witness statement she was expecting to have training on
       7 May but she didn't get it.  Can you remember anything
       about that?
   A.  I can.
   Q.  Did she get it?
   A.  The training -- the induction training which was
       advertised to local branches was one or two three-hour
       sessions, a very, very short version of the three-day
       classroom course which was offered to branches who had
       additional staff members who hadn't attend the classroom
       course.  So in the case of this branch, there was only
       three people going to work in the branch, two of which
       had been on the classroom course and the other lady had
       worked there for nine years, so that session did not
       take place.
   Q.  Yes.  She says that the works to her branch took place
       between 29 April and 7 May:
           "Contractors for Post Office did most of these works
       but my husband Darren undertook the difficult task of
       removing the fortress counters, emptying the
       premises ..."
           And so forth.  She says:
           "Darren completed these works while I was in Leeds
       attending the classroom training between 30th April and
       2 May."
           Is that your understanding?
   A.  It would be -- obviously again, without wanting to cast
       any doubt, I was there on the 30th doing a transfer
       audit and defund and then didn't return until the 6th,
       so I wouldn't know what dates in between they were done
       on --
   Q.  Did you see Mrs Stockdale's husband at all there on the
       30th, can you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So he was there?
   A.  He was definitely there.
   Q.  If we look at {E6/64/1}, this looks like a reasonably
       standard formula of content.  Is that the sort of thing
       you have seen before --
   A.  The content of the letter or the content --
   Q.  The layout of the ...
   A.  I would say --
   Q.  The explanation and induction course and --
   A.  I would say that would be a standard letter that
       the dates and the branch name and postmaster's name
       would be inserted into.  Again, I don't send that letter
       but that is my take on it.
   Q.  Yes.  Just look at the bottom, it says:
           "Prior to the opening of the branch on 8 May we will
       provide further help with the set-up until the opening."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then:
           "Following the opening we will provide on-site
       support until 6 May ..."
           6 May is before 8 May.
   A.  It doesn't make much sense, does it?
   Q.  No.  Have you seen other documents like that making
       arrangements with subpostmasters?
   A.  Yes, with -- and probably some with correct dates in.
       But on there, what we also do is we would speak to the
       incoming postmaster ourselves, the people who were
       delivering the on-site support, and discuss the days
       that we would be with them.  So there wouldn't be
       a doubt of how many days that they would be supported.
   Q.  Let's look at {E6/105/1}.  I appreciate, Mr Longbottom,
       you are trying to in some sense -- you very fairly said
       you don't remember but you are doing your best on the
       basis of what would normally happen?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  {E6/105/1} Normally you would tick off all of these on
       one sheet, wouldn't you?
   A.  Yes.  The only other tick that would be on there would
       be number 2.  If you just have a -- it says:
           "Please ensure that you return ..."
           1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8.  Because 3 and 4 would go to
       the finance service centre with the final balances.  So
       on a normal transfer, if that word isn't misleading, the
       only other document that would go with those would be
       the P301.
   Q.  What you haven't done there is recorded that you
       actually got those signed, have you?  On there, your
       tick list?
   A.  I would assume that means to me that I have got them and
       I was putting them with this piece of paper.
   Q.  In fact it is easier for you if the branch transfer
       takes place on one day, isn't it?  Because the outgoing
       subpostmistress comes with the transfer pack, she is
       there with the transfer pack, and the incoming
       subpostmistress is there, and you can have one pack and
       there is not a week in between for documents to be kept
       by you or --
   A.  I accept that.  But as I have done many years, there
       have been so many different variations of processing
       transfer.  Sometimes as you say there is literally three
       people stood in a line, I pass one form to somebody,
       they pass it to the other person, I put it in the
       envelope.  Other times, like in this case, it can be
       more convoluted.
   Q.  It was --
   A.  As long as we remember to get everything done.
   Q.  There just isn't a record of the P13, is there, and that
       should be there, ticked off?
   A.  Say that again, sorry?  The P301 ...
   Q.  Sorry, you should have items 1, 2, 6 and 8.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Along with 5 and 7.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So what we should have is 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  And we are missing the 301?
   A.  We are.
   Q.  Can I just ask you if we go to {D1.6/5/1}, this is the
       document the incoming subpostmaster or subpostmistress
       is required to sign on day of transfer?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  It's quite a busy day the day of transfer, isn't it?
   A.  Well, as you have alluded to, perhaps in this case it
       was a bit less busy because we had done a lot of the
       other stuff on the 30th.
   Q.  Even on this day it was busy, though --
   A.  There was building work --
   Q.  All sorts of things.  The subpostmistress being pulled
       in various different directions, nonetheless you have to
       get these documents signed by her and Mrs Collinson?
   A.  Mrs Collinson would have signed the other ones on --
       what is relevant to her on the 30th and been and gone.
   Q.  So in this case all you had to do was get Mrs Stockdale
       to sign these documents --
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  -- that she had signed on that day?
   A.  And we had until 1 o'clock until the branch opened.  So
       whilst it was very busy day I am sure, I don't remember
       it in detail, there would be sufficient time to spend,
       enough to sign a few bits of paper --
   Q.  Can I ask you this.  When you present this document at
       {D1.6/5/1}, is it your understanding that the
       subpostmistress has already contracted with the
       Post Office, or not?
   A.  My understanding as to that question is that yes, they
       would have done.
   Q.  What was your understanding of the point of this
       document?  Was it emphasis?  Or a flourish?  Or what is
       the point of it?
   A.  I don't know.  It is a formality, something that we have
       always done.  Whether it is to confirm the date it
       actually happened, I would only be guessing.
   Q.  I understand.
           If we look at {E3/37/1}.  You are familiar with the
       Serv 135 form, aren't you?
   A.  Yes.  Obviously it is now obsolete.
   Q.  But you were familiar with it?
   A.  Yes, of course.
   Q.  It was signed under the SPMC contracts, standard and
       modified?
   A.  Yes, I have seen this.
   Q.  If we go over the page {E3/37/2}, you will see at the
       bottom it says:
           "I, Mr Mohammad Sabir, acknowledge that I have read
       and understood these extracts."
           What did you understand the point of this document
       to be?  Is this just confirmation from Post Office that
       you have given them the information, effectively?
   A.  May I just refer to the previous page?
   Q.  Please do.  Go back a page, please.  {E3/37/1}
   A.  Again it is some years since I have used this, but
       I think I would say when discussing documents with a new
       operator "These are some key points from your contract
       that the business has asked to be drawn to your
       attention.  If you would just like to take a few moments
       to ..."  Or something along those lines.
   Q.  You had been involved in audits, hadn't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And look at the top line there:
           "Recent findings by the audit teams have raised
       doubts in my mind as to how conversant subpostmasters
       are with certain very important Post Office
       regulations."
           Had you had that sort of experience where some of
       these things hadn't been clear to postmasters when you
       had conducted an audit?
   A.  I don't think a postmaster has ever said to me that they
       didn't know that the funds were not for their private
       use.  I have heard --
   Q.  I wasn't really --
   A.  -- colloquially people saying it has been said to them,
       but from my personal experience I don't think there is
       anything on there that would not be agreeable to
       a subpostmaster.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is not the question, though, is it,
       Mr Longbottom?  The question was the first sentence is
       summarising the experience of audit teams generally.
   A.  Right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What Mr Green was asking you is does
       that summary accord with your experience as someone who
       was involved in an audit team or not?
   A.  May I just see the second page again.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are being asked about the first
       sentence.
   A.  No, I was just looking at the findings that were
       listed --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You don't need to look at the findings
       to answer a question about --
   A.  I don't believe --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Longbottom, please.  Can we go back
       to the first page.  The question was specifically on the
       first sentence.  It is not to analyse the findings in
       terms of specific regulations, it is a general question
       about the accuracy of the first sentence.
           Mr Green, would you like to put the question again.
   MR GREEN:  You will see the experience referred to there.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Was that consistent with your experience?
   A.  I don't think any of those items have been raised to me
       by a postmaster that it is something they were unaware
       of.
   Q.  Had subpostmasters ever raised doubts in your mind as to
       how conversant they were with certain important
       Post Office regulations?
   A.  Personally speaking, no.
   Q.  Can you look, please, at {F2/57/1}.  You will see that
       this is the modified subpostmaster --
   A.  Yes, 135B.
   Q.  As far as liability for losses was concerned, was there
       any material difference so far as you understood between
       the contractual provisions in the two contracts?
   A.  I wouldn't be aware of that.  I wouldn't be familiar
       with the postmasters contract.
   Q.  So if a postmaster asked you about this document on the
       day of branch transfer, you wouldn't be able to answer?
   A.  If it was something that I couldn't read off there and
       understand, no.  Because I don't issue contracts.
       I have never read the contract, I might have read
       extracts from it, but I wouldn't want to give
       a postmaster what could be termed advice on something
       that I wasn't completely conversant with.
   Q.  Final question.  Can we just compare -- you will see
       headings there, "Cash Balance", "Accounts, "Security of
       Cash, Stamps etc", then over the page {F2/57/2},
       "Missing or Stolen Stock" and then "Accidental Loss".
       And one more page {F2/57/3}, and "Stolen Items".
           Having seen that, can we just look quickly back,
       please, at {E3/37/1}, which is the standard Serv 135
       document with a specific reference to the losses
       provision in it.  On the basis of your earlier answers
       about your knowledge of the contracts, it may be
       you can't help, but I was going to ask you whether you
       knew any reason why a document you were handing over on
       branch transfer day to a subpostmaster under standard
       agreement and one under modified agreement should be
       different?
   A.  I wouldn't know that, I am sorry.  It's out of my area
       as to the terms of the contract.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  No re-examination, my Lord.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just one question.  You were asked about
       the Stockdale day of transfer, and you said it was
       a very busy day, but effectively half of it had been
       done already, hadn't it, on the 30th?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Normally it would all be done on one
       day?
   A.  More often than not, but particularly during NT there
       was a lot of branch refurbs which took place between the
       outgoing leaving and the incoming starting, so it wasn't
       unique by any means.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  And just to give me
       a general feel although I have heard this from other
       witnesses, roughly how many documents -- if it was all
       done on one day, roughly how many documents would you
       have to get signed by the outgoing and incoming
       postmaster/postmistress?
   A.  I believe it would be seven documents in total for the
       incoming and -- but obviously some are duplicated so we
       are probably looking at, depending on the timeframe,
       numbers changed over the years, probably 12 or 13.  The
       outgoing may only have three or four to sign.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is very helpful.  Thank you very
       much indeed.
           I assume nothing arising out of that?  Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much for coming,
       Mr Longbottom.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are we having Mr Webb?
   MR CAVENDER:  We are, my Lord.  I call Mr Michael Sean Webb.
                 MR MICHAEL SEAN WEBB (affirmed)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much, Mr Webb.  Do have
       a seat.
   MR CAVENDER:  Good afternoon, Mr Webb.  In front of you
       there should be a copy of the witness statement you have
       made in this action, is that right? {C2/11/1}
   A.  It is.  Yes.
   Q.  It consists of three pages, can you turn to page 3 for
       me.  {C2/11/3}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  There is a signature on that page.  Is that your
       signature?
   A.  It is.
   Q.  And are the contents of this statement true?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Wait there, please.  You will be asked some
       questions.
                 Cross-examination by MS DONNELLY
   MS DONNELLY:  Could we have on screen, please, {C2/11/2}.
           Mr Webb, do you see there paragraph 9 of your
       witness statement?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You have been an auditor since 2002?
   A.  Yes, with 18 months prior to that from 1989 to 1999, so
       17 to 18 years altogether.
   Q.  So you're very experienced in the role?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  At paragraph 9 you say you have carried out hundreds of
       audits?  I may have the wrong reference.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Some of them are transfer audits?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And some of them are other types of audits where you are
       going into investigate.  Generally, just as
       a proportion, do they tend to be transfer audits or the
       other kind?
   A.  No, far less transfer audits.  Far more of the
       investigation ones.
   Q.  So in an average year how many transfer audits might you
       carry out?
   A.  It is very hard to put a figure on really.  Are we going
       back to --
   Q.  2006.
   A.  I would be assisting some and leading others.  But
       overall, counting both, there would probably tend to be
       about one every two weeks, maybe two or three weeks,
       something like that.  There were less of us then as well
       so we had a bigger area to cover.
   Q.  The reason the same person was carrying out both the
       transfer audits and the audits where there is a form of
       investigation is because the main focus of both is the
       physical count of cash and stock in the branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is the main focus of the day.  Is it right that
       that takes some time?
   A.  It can do depending on the size of the office and the
       number of stock -- separate stock units that they have.
   Q.  Could we go to {F3/125/19}.  You won't have seen this
       before, I don't think.
   A.  No.
   Q.  It is some feedback from Post Office trainers to
       Post Office.  And if you see at the top of the page
       there is an entry that says:
           "Completing the transfer and then expecting the
       branch to open in the afternoon is a very optimistic
       expectation."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "In all but a handful of cases, the money transfer for
       the business does not take place until at least 2 pm on
       the day of the transfer and it is quite often later than
       that.  Once the money has transferred the incoming is
       then pulled in all directions, trying to learn from the
       outgoing what all the keys open and close, learning the
       locking up process, how the tills work, dealing with
       stocktakers, removal men, meter readings, putting beds
       together so the children have somewhere to sleep that
       night, numerous phone calls from the bakery, milk,
       newspaper supplier wanting to set up accounts et cetera.
       The last thing they want to do is serve in the
       post office."
           That is explaining why in that person's view it
       doesn't make sense to both have the audit on one day and
       open the same day, do you agree?
   A.  I don't agree with everything that is said in there.
   Q.  No, do you agree that is what is being described there?
   A.  Yes, yes.  That is a recent -- the way it is done now,
       not in 2006.
   Q.  I think this document is dated November 2011 if that
       helps.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But you would agree that on the date of audit, leaving
       aside the details, the incoming subpostmaster is being
       pulled in all directions.  A lot on their plate?
   A.  It is possible.  Out of all the work we do I would say
       the transfer was probably the most relaxed of the audits
       that we do.  It depends on the office and the dealings
       between the incoming and the outgoing postmaster and,
       like I say, meter readings things like that that we have
       no control over.
   Q.  What you are comparing is of all the audits you do the
       transfer audit is the most relaxed because the other
       audits would be extremely stressful, wouldn't they --
   A.  Some are.
   Q.  But still this is the first day, the transfer audit is
       the first day or the day before this person is about to
       open up their branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Would you agree that that day as well is also
       a stressful day?
   A.  I would imagine it is, yes.
   Q.  Could we go to {E3/93/1}.  This is the exhibit to your
       witness statement.
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  It's the only one, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is a diary extract from one week in September 2006.
   A.  It is.
   Q.  Just so we understand, is each day a different audit?
   A.  It is, yes, with different people leading it as well, so
       I wouldn't be leading all of them.
   Q.  So when your initials come first, are those the days you
       are leading?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I think you said at this time you covered quite a large
       area, geographical area?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I think in your witness statement your current address
       is Bolton.  Did you live in Bolton at the time?
   A.  No, that is our head office address.
   Q.  How far away were these places from where you were
       travelling each day?
   A.  Time-wise or miles?
   Q.  Time-wise.
   A.  Bury would be about an hour's drive.  Osmondthorpe could
       be a couple of hours.  Dufton was up in Cumbria, that
       could be an hour and a half possibly.  Great Broughton,
       probably an hour.  Cottingley is about
       an hour and a half, I think.  So quite a lot of
       travelling.
   Q.  That is each way?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  About an hour and a half each way.  Is it right, would
       you travel from home, or did you need to go via
       an office to collect any paperwork?
   A.  In those days we travelled from home.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The numbers in the left-hand side in
       your handwriting in brackets, are they miles?
   A.  Like the 291-323?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   A.  No, that is the branch code.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That's the code of the branch.
   A.  That's so I could look up the branch details.
   MS DONNELLY:  Looking at this document, do you see on the
       8th, Friday 8th, that is the Cottingley transfer, isn't
       it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Mr Sabir's branch.  We see transfer 1 o'clock.  So this
       wasn't one of those days where it was all the same;
       transfer was the afternoon and the opening was the next
       day?
   A.  Yes.  The trainer, because there were separate training
       and audit teams then, the trainer would come usually the
       following day.  So there were no time constraints really
       with this, we knew we had all afternoon to do it, so it
       was fairly relaxed really.
   Q.  How long did it take you to complete the audit?
   A.  For a place like this, it wasn't a terribly big office,
       to do the actual cash and stock, at a guess, probably
       an hour and a half to two hours, something like that.
       Then to go through the paperwork, half an hour to
       an hour, because this involved checking on what
       equipment the branch had as well.  That was probably the
       most time-consuming bit.
   Q.  Can we look in your witness statement at paragraph 12
       {C2/11/2}.  Do you see in the second line there you say:
           "I have no specific recollection of carrying out
       a transfer audit with Mr Sabir."
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  Can I read that fairly as: I have no recollection at
       all?
   A.  I couldn't recall the details.  It was a very run of the
       mill transfer, there was nothing remarkable about it.
       I remember being there, I'm not denying I was there, but
       no there was nothing that made it stand out at all.
   Q.  If you read on:
           "However, contemporaneous documents demonstrate that
       I did conduct the transfer audit at the Cottingley
       branch ... I've no reason to doubt this."
           That reads as if the only reason you know you were
       there is because you have seen some documents --
   A.  No, I remember being at that place, at Cottingley.
   Q.  If that is right, why is your witness statement
       expressed in that way?
   A.  It just refers to the fact I have a diary entry.  If
       I hadn't done it, if it had been cancelled for any
       reason, I would have crossed it out.  But I do remember
       being at Cottingley.
   Q.  Do you remember Mr Sabir?
   A.  Not specifically, no.
   Q.  Do you remember him at all?
   A.  No, I wouldn't say so, no.
   Q.  So you can remember being there but you can't remember
       anything about Mr Sabir?
   A.  Not him personally, no.
   Q.  So you don't have a very good recollection of the day --
   A.  It was a very unremarkable transfer, everything went as
       planned.  It is twelve years ago --
   Q.  I totally appreciate --
   A.  But I do remember being at Cottingley.
   Q.  Yes, but that is the limit of your recollection?
   A.  Yes, it is --
   Q.  So when you are saying about how long you would have
       spent on things, you are pretty much speculating about
       that?  You don't actually recall?
   A.  Experience, really, I would have a good idea.  I think
       we weren't particularly quick, we weren't
       particularly -- it wasn't long and drawn out --
   Q.  But you can't remember?
   A.  No --
   Q.  Can you?
   A.  No, I'd say --
   Q.  So all of this is you speculating --
   A.  Not speculating --
   Q.  You don't think it was --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Excuse me.  You have to stop
       over-talking while the witness is trying to answer your
       question.
   MS DONNELLY:  I'm so sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Webb.
   A.  Anything I would say would be based on my usual standard
       working and what things I would have done at all audits
       at the time.  But this was, like I say, a very
       unremarkable audit, there was nothing outstanding about
       it.  Yes.
   MS DONNELLY:  I am just confused, Mr Webb, as to how you can
       say this wasn't a long drawn out one, this was
       unremarkable, but I can't remember anything about it
       other than being at Cottingley.  I can't even remember
       Mr Sabir.  How can that be?
   A.  It was a very run-of-the-mill -- it was twelve years
       ago, it's a very run-of-the-mill job if everything goes
       all right.  If we had, for example, arguments between
       the outgoing and the incoming postmaster which I have
       had before over stocktaking, I might remember it for
       that reason.  There was just nothing that made it stand
       out, that is all.  But I do remember being there and
       doing it.
   Q.  I understand.  But effectively what you are saying as
       I understand it is: I can't remember anything about it,
       therefore nothing unusual must have happened?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we look, please, in your witness statement at
       paragraph 14 {C2/11/3}.  You say:
           "I believe that the paperwork which we as auditors
       were required to run through with the incoming and
       outgoing subpostmasters included the documents which
       have been listed in the witness statements of
       Paul Williams and David Longbottom or similar versions
       of such documents."
           Just pausing there, had you been shown the actual
       transfer documents relating to Mr Sabir's transfer while
       preparing this witness statement?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So is there any reason why you are not referring to the
       actual transfer documents for Mr Sabir?
   A.  No, not really, I think it is just cross-referencing,
       really.  I am still doing transfer audits with basically
       very similar paperwork as part of my job which has
       expanded a lot now.  But no, it is -- I am quite
       familiar with the documents.
   Q.  So you had seen Mr Sabir's documents before you prepared
       your witness statement?
   A.  Yes, I think I did, yes.
   Q.  Are you sure?
   A.  I can't remember the sequence of things with all the
       paperwork that I had to look through, but yes,
       I think so, yes.  I recognised it as being my signature
       on them.
   Q.  Can we look at {E3/90/1}.  Do you see there a letter of
       1 September 2006 to Mr Rooney.  Do you remember who
       Mr Rooney was?
   A.  Not specifically.  He would be the outgoing postmaster,
       I remember the name vaguely.
   Q.  But you don't remember --
   A.  I don't remember him as a person, no.
   Q.  This is the letter that was sent to Mr Rooney before the
       transfer to Mr Sabir took place?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you see in the second paragraph:
           "You should still have a pack of forms to hand on to
       the auditors as soon as they arrive.  I would be obliged
       if you could insert the enclosed P344 in it and destroy
       the earlier version."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The P344, is that the transfer report?
   A.  That is the one where it is completed showing when the
       outgoing postmaster finished and the new postmaster
       started, so --
   Q.  If we go to --
   A.  Sorry, I was just going to say the reason for the
       wording in this I would assume is because the transfer
       had been delayed at some point so that was why.
   Q.  Yes, that is exactly what happened.
           Could we go to {E3/97/1}, please.  That is
       the transfer report?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is what Mr Rooney is being told to insert into
       the pack of documents he should already have?
   A.  Yes.  I am assuming they changed the date under his name
       from the previous version, that was why that wouldn't
       have been sent.  But the other documents he would have
       received would still have been relevant to use.
   Q.  In terms of those other documents, can we go to
       {E3/98/1}.  Obviously the un-ticked off version, would
       that have been in the pack that had gone to Mr Rooney?
   A.  Yes, it would.
   Q.  {E3/102/1}.  Again this document would go to Mr Rooney?
   A.  It would.
   Q.  {D1.3/4/1}.  Unsigned version of that to Mr Rooney?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we go to {E3/92/1}.  That is the letter that was
       sent to Mr Sabir before the transfer.  Yes?
   A.  I am assuming it was.  I don't have sight of that --
   Q.  But looking at it now, it clearly is?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you know if there is any reason why all the documents
       that Mr Sabir was going to be required to sign on
       transfer day were sent to Mr Rooney in advance rather
       than to him?
   A.  That is standard practice.  In those days it was sent in
       an envelope that was addressed to the auditors so
       Mr Rooney wouldn't have been expected to open them and
       go through them.  When we rang up beforehand we would
       always say "Have you received the transfer pack?"  And
       tell them "You don't need to fill those out, we will do
       that when we come".  Nowadays we actually print them off
       and take them with us, they are not sent out anymore,
       but it is not up to either the incoming or the outgoing
       postmaster to fill them in beforehand.
   Q.  So Mr Sabir couldn't have had a look at them in advance
       of the day, could he?
   A.  He could if he unsealed the envelope I suppose but --
   Q.  If he had gone to Mr Rooney and asked him to unseal the
       envelope he didn't know --
   A.  No, I wouldn't have thought he would do that.  Sorry,
       could you just rephrase that?
   Q.  Mr Sabir obviously couldn't have seen the documents sent
       to Mr Rooney --
   A.  No, we wouldn't usually --
   Q.  -- in advance of transfer day?
   A.  No, I wouldn't say so.
   Q.  In your witness statement you say you would briefly
       explain the documents on the day, don't you.  So if we
       go back to {D1.3/4/1}, what would you say about this
       document?
   A.  Right, the whole transfer pack really was sent to us
       because we were on site at the precise moment when the
       whole deal went through, bearing in mind we would be
       waiting for the money to be transferred from the
       purchase of the business quite often.  So that is why
       they were sent to us.  So this is like a sort of final
       acceptance of the position of subpostmaster.  That was
       what I would explain to the postmaster.
   Q.  You would say "This is your final acceptance of the
       position of --"
   A.  Yes, this is accepting the acknowledgement of
       appointment as subpostmaster, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I thought the whole transfer pack wasn't
       sent to you, it was sent to the outgoing postmaster?
   A.  No, it was sent to the branch in those days.  Nowadays
       we print them off ourselves, the blank copies.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Sorry, I misunderstood what you meant in
       your last answer.  It was sent to the outgoing
       postmaster who would either take it home or he would
       have it in the branch --
   A.  It was just meant to be really a sealed envelope.  It
       was usually addressed for the attention of the auditors
       on the day.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And that was expected to be kept there
       for you unopened, was it?
   A.  Yes.  They might have opened it, it wasn't a big issue
       if they did open it, to be honest.  It was just
       documents they were supposed to have on the day.  We'd
       ring up in advance to check they were there, otherwise
       we would have to ring up our HR department and ask for
       another set to be sent out.  As I say, we print our own
       now.
   MS DONNELLY:  So as I understand your brief explanation, you
       are effectively identifying the document to say: this is
       your acknowledgement of appointment, something like
       that --
   A.  Yes.  It's very much a formality at this stage, I would
       say, because this is the point where the deal is going
       through.  Very often we would spend quite some time
       waiting to get confirmation that the cash had gone
       through between the solicitors and the banks, and
       sometimes the whole thing folded at that point because
       that didn't happen.  So it really was just a formality
       at that point.
   Q.  Yes, and these documents are being presented as
       a formality?
   A.  Yes.  We have gone a long way to get to this stage.
   Q.  And the branch is opening the next morning, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In your witness statement at paragraph 15 {C2/11/3} you
       say:
           "I was not often asked any questions about these
       documents on the day of a transfer audit.  Having done
       several hundred audits, including transfer audits, by
       September 2006, I was very familiar with the documents
       that needed to be signed and believe I would have been
       able to answer most, if not all, questions myself."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we go, back, please, to {D1.3/4/1}.  If asked what
       are postal instructions, what would you have said?
   A.  I would have had to refer that back to either our HR
       department or the contract advisor.  I was assuming by
       this point that the postmaster would have had these,
       like the contract, and he was just signing as
       an acknowledgement of the appointment, it was referring
       to those.
   Q.  It wasn't obvious to you what postal instructions are?
   A.  It wasn't really, no.  As I say, we were really doing it
       because we were the people on site that could witness
       the postmaster's signature, plus the fact it was when
       the actual deal was going through.  That is why we would
       be doing this.
   Q.  Are you aware that as at 2006 the way the contract
       itself, the subpostmaster contract, was presented, it
       had on the front about 40-odd pages of variations on the
       front?
   A.  No, I am not aware of that at all.
   Q.  So nobody ever asked you to explain how those
       variations --
   A.  No, no.  It wasn't part of our job at all.
   Q.  If they had, would you have been able to answer?
   A.  If anybody had seriously -- and I honestly don't think
       anybody has asked me any questions about the transfer
       papers at all, I would have had to refer it back to the
       people who were involved in the contract, the contracts
       advisor.
   Q.  I think in fairness Mr Longbottom said he had never read
       the contract.  Had you ever read the contract?
   A.  No.  It is really not part of our job.
   Q.  Would you accept that at the point that these -- I think
       Mr Longbottom said about 12 or 13 documents are
       presented to the incoming subpostmaster, in reality that
       person has no choice but to sign them?
   A.  They are a formality, really.  We have come a long way
       to get to this point.  I have never had anybody dispute
       it or be in any doubt as to signing them.  I guess the
       whole thing would fold if they didn't.  But there is no
       pressure to do so at all.
   Q.  They have no real choice, though, have they?  They have
       to sign what is presented to --
   A.  There is nobody twisting their arms to make them do it,
       it is really just a formality, because that is the day
       when the whole thing is being made official on the legal
       side.
   Q.  I think you are not presenting these documents and
       saying "Read this extremely carefully and decide whether
       you want to sign it or not"?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You are presenting them for signature?
   A.  Yes.  We are explaining what it is about, but they have
       had sight of the contract by this point, we are
       assuming, and they have come a long way down the line to
       get to this stage, so it is very unlikely anybody is
       going to want to change their mind.
   MS DONNELLY:  No further questions.  Thank you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender?
                  Re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.  Page {Day10/171:22} of the transcript
       just a moment ago, please.  It was said by my learned
       friend:
           "I think Mr Longbottom said about 12 or 13 documents
       are presented."
           Can we please go to page {Day10/153:12} of today's
       transcript to see what Mr Longbottom actually said:
           "I believe it would be seven documents in total for
       incoming ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So if we take separate documents and ignore duplicates
       for the moment, would you agree with that evidence, that
       it's about seven for the outgoing --
   A.  About seven, yes.  I would need to see the list --
   Q.  -- sorry, for the incoming --
   A.  -- to confirm that definitely.  If I saw the list of the
       documents presented.  It is just not something I have in
       my head, but I would say about seven.
   Q.  But the point he made, do you agree with this, some of
       those were duplicates?
   A.  Yes, like the acknowledgement of appointment is now the
       same document three times.  In 2006 it was two documents
       because they went to different --
   Q.  And would that be clear when you are asking him to sign
       them, that there's one --
   A.  Yes --
   Q.  -- and there are two or three of them --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So they'd understand that, would they?
   A.  Yes, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  No further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much, you are free to go.
       Thank you very much for coming.
                      (The witness withdrew)
           If I assume that is all the witnesses for today?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We did agree that it would be a hard
       start on Monday with Mr Haworth so that is ideal.
           I intend now to have something of a housekeeping
       session with you, gentlemen, which might take about 15
       minutes.  I am going to give the shorthand writers
       a break anyway but only until about 3.15 pm.
   (3.09 pm)
                         (A short break)
   (3.15 pm)
                           Housekeeping
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What is that?
   MR GREEN:  That is the A3 sheet, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That was very quick.  Thank you very
       much.  (Handed)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, in terms of observations on that, if
       you do go across, if this helps, you will see it does
       appear there is some correlation.  So if you look at the
       first entry, it's AL Co-op.  Look across to the right,
       the third one is Camelot et cetera.  So in relation to
       the £1,092.00 ones on the right, if you look across to
       the left you can see it is Camelot.  So it appears the
       witness was correct when she thought it may have
       appeared in this --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Rather curiously, I assume that number
       in the bottom left is the disclosure identifier, is it?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It seems to have been one of those
       things which, where it is printed out, it might have
       just come out as two A4s instead of one A3.
   MR CAVENDER:  Indeed, yes.  I don't know that, but that
       looks to be --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is very helpful.
           This session is going to have three components.  One
       is a miscellaneous round-up of any outstanding items
       that have come up in the trial to date, the second is
       going to be closing submissions, and the third is going
       to be round three of these proceedings.
                          Miscellaneous
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So dealing with miscellaneous, I have
       only one miscellaneous outstanding point, I'm sure you
       might have others.  I did ask last week, I think it was
       arising out of Mr Beal's evidence, there was some
       discussion about the Memorandum of Understanding between
       Post Office and NFSP and a Freedom of Information
       request and in one of the final letters there was
       a reference to the fact that the NFSP had put the
       relevant document on their website, and I asked for
       a disclosure of a document that showed what date that
       was in fact put on their website.  I don't know where
       anyone has got with that?
   MR CAVENDER:  The date is clear, it is May 2015.  We are
       struggling to get a document to show you to prove that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  May 2015.  Thank you for the date,
       I would still like a document.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, we will carry on looking.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If it has been difficult or impossible
       so far to locate a date, I would have thought
       consideration of any communications by email to the NFSP
       from whoever the relevant person is at Post Office might
       shed some light on it, but I'll put that date in my
       notes.
           Mr Green, have you any outstanding miscellaneous
       points?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.  I have one point in relation to
       that point because the grant -- your Lordship will
       remember the MoU was said to be put on the website, but
       also the later grant document was said to be put on the
       website.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  As far as we can tell on the relevant documents
       that are in the trial bundle, whilst you can find it by
       doing a search if you know what you are looking for on
       Google, there is no actual link that we have been able
       to find through the website to find it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The grant or the MoU?
   MR GREEN:  The grant.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.
   MR GREEN:  So it would be helpful to know in relation to
       the MoU whether it was on the website in a general sense
       like that or whether it was actually able to be found,
       there is no reason why it shouldn't be found, but it
       would be helpful ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think the best thing is to find this
       document or these documents first.
   MR GREEN:  Indeed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Depending on what they say that might or
       might not be a point you want to pursue.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
           The other point was in relation to Mr Beal's
       continuing disclosure.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is this the one you mentioned yesterday?
   MR GREEN:  It is.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that still an issue?
   MR GREEN:  I have literally just found out that it is fewer
       than 100 documents and apparently they can be reviewed
       by tomorrow morning.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Reviewed by you or reviewed by ...
   MR GREEN:  By Post Office, apparently.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So at some point tomorrow you might be
       getting them?
   MR GREEN:  It would be quite helpful to have them by
       mid-morning latest.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, if they are being reviewed they
       are being reviewed.  It sounds as if you just want
       gentle encouragement from me.  I am sure Mr Cavender
       doesn't need gentle encouragement, but insofar as it is
       needed, I provide it.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, we have been working hard to get the
       provider to prioritise this today, we have been speaking
       to them on the phone every couple of hours, and that is
       the result that we have just had.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If that needs revisiting on Monday it
       can be revisited on Monday.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, the final thing is you asked my learned
       friend to review the redactions in relation to that
       document.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  There were only two points.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is this the small furry animal document?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I say small, it might be a large furry
       animal, but the animal document.
   MR GREEN:  Indeed, the animal document.  My Lord, there are
       two things I wanted to make clear.  First of all,
       your Lordship wouldn't expect us to say there has been
       some general waiver of privilege by virtue of the
       heading of the document being disclosed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is a different point.  The correct
       sequence is as follows: Mr Cavender is going to review
       the document.  Insofar as any part of it that has been
       redacted so far has been redacted in error he will
       obviously realise that when he applies his mind to
       looking at it personally and any improperly made
       redactions will be remedied.  From there on it is not
       necessary or desirable to speculate, is it?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  When we get into discussions in advance
       of what might or might constitute a waiver it is a bit
       of a trap for the unwary, I think.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, my only concern was that that was the
       basis upon which my learned friend was saying that the
       title itself might be privileged.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, can I actually explain my position
       rather than my learned friend sort of --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm not particularly bothered by his
       concerns, to be honest, generally, but yes, by all
       means.
   MR CAVENDER:  I have personally reviewed this document as
       you asked me to do.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You have?
   MR CAVENDER:  I have.  I am completely satisfied it is
       privileged for the dual purpose of being prepared for
       the dominant purpose of litigation and for the purpose
       of getting legal advice.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Including the single name?
   MR CAVENDER:  Indeed, and I will explain why.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think you should.
   MR CAVENDER:  A more conservative review of this document
       could have said the whole document is covered by
       dominant purpose, but that wasn't done and I understand
       why it wasn't done.  What you then have to do as
       a reviewer is to decide which part is privileged, that
       includes here the title of that part which is
       privileged.  That part, the title, is no less privileged
       than any other part of the privileged part of the dual
       purpose document any more than the word "and" or "the"
       within the text that itself is privileged.
           So to look at it and say, well, justify this word on
       its own being privileged is, with great respect, to look
       at the matter from the wrong end of the telescope.  The
       question is to decide, in a dual purpose document, which
       parts are part of the privileged part and which parts
       can fairly fall outside it.  The privileged part is
       entitled to have a title, and it does.  And so as
       a matter of principle, although I can see if you look at
       it from the wrong end of the telescope and say, well,
       how can you justify on its own the title of the document
       being privileged?  In my respectful submission, that is
       to look at the matter in the wrong way.  The question is
       which part of the document is privileged and which part
       is not.
           So for those reasons, my Lord, in my submission, the
       parts that are redacted, including the title, are
       privileged.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Remind me of the reference number,
       please.
   MR CAVENDER:  It is {G/40/1}.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  To describe this as a storm in a teacup
       is overstating it by an extraordinary amount.  However,
       the point being a live one, I am going to give you the
       benefit of my views.
           Firstly, Mr Cavender, on the basis you are asserting
       privilege over part of this document, including the
       title, that is as far as the court can go and that
       assertion stands as it stands.  I'm afraid I disagree
       with your analysis that the title of a dual purpose
       document, the actual title, is itself privileged, and
       I don't see how it possibly can be.  However, if as
       seems to have been accepted by both sides yesterday, it
       is simply a reference to the action summary, that is as
       far as it goes, and it is potentially not going to
       assist one way or the other.  So for those purposes,
       this is the end of that.
           You both seem to have missed, with respect, the fact
       that the Opus index seems to have the name on it anyway.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, we haven't missed that.  That is
       a mistake and that has been brought to my learned
       friend's attention.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  On the basis that today is Day 10,
       I know everyone has been careful not to speak the name
       out loud, and I'm certainly not going to, but just to be
       absolutely clear with both of you going forward, I put
       that name completely out of my mind on the basis that
       privilege has been asserted over it by you.  So that is
       the end of that.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I have no extra bits of housekeeping
       other than those that have been mentioned that are in
       train.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So is that all the housekeeping from
       your side, Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
                       Closing Submissions
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That then brings us to part two of the
       three part -- I would say symphony but that is
       overstating it.  Closing submissions.  As at the moment
       the timetable is finish the evidence on Monday and have
       closing submissions of four days a week on Monday.  When
       is it proposed by either of you, or you might not have
       had a chance to discuss it because you have been
       cross-examining, when you will lodge your written
       submissions?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, we were proposing to lodge them first
       thing on Friday morning by which time we will have got
       them complete, to allow your Lordship Friday to read
       them if that is convenient.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, we haven't talked about it, but that
       seems sensible.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Does that give you enough time?
   MR GREEN:  Would it be inconvenient to say midday on Friday?
       Then less midnight oil will be burnt --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It might be less midnight oil on your
       side.  I am going to have to read both of them before
       Monday morning.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Midday Friday is equally good, that is what I
       was going to suggest if you'd asked me.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I was going to suggest midday Thursday,
       to be honest.
           The other thing I was going to explore with you, and
       it might be that this isn't -- first, I am going to need
       to tell you two things I would like both of you to
       include in your written submissions, please.
           So far as the claimants' formation -- each of the
       lead claimant's formation of contractual relations is
       concerned, I would like a checklist for each of the six
       of them, please, of the specific documents they, on your
       case, had and the date that you say the contract was
       formed in each case.
           Mr Cavender, you are not obliged to do the same, but
       if you want to that would be helpful, but because of the
       way your case is put I accept you might choose not to do
       that.
           The other thing is in respect of any authorities
       upon which you are seeking to rely, either in your
       openings or your closings, if you could simply provide
       a short bullet point summary in respect of each
       authority and just include it as a separate appendix.
       So if it is the case of XYZ against ABC, I can turn to
       the appendix, I can have a look at it, and it will just
       jump out as me that actually this is the principle you
       are seeking to extract and this is the common issue to
       which you say it goes.
           Due to an ability on my part to juggle diaries more
       than I realised, it would be possible, with the
       agreement of both of you and only if you would think it
       useful, to give you a little longer to prepare your
       written submissions, and instead of delivering them
       orally four days all in one go next week, to deliver
       them two days next week, second half of the week, and
       two days the week after.  But I haven't given you
       advance notice of that, so I am just mentioning it to
       you so you can think about it and we will revisit it on
       Monday.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I know I can't do that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then that is the end of that, although
       by then you will have given your closing submissions.
   MR GREEN:  I wouldn't mind hearing my learned friend --
   MR CAVENDER:  That's very kind.  Thank you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We will revisit that on Monday.  But if
       that is not going to be possible, I think you are going
       to have to lodge your submissions by 4 o'clock on
       Thursday.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, the only thing I would say about that
       that may help or not is on our side we haven't heard
       very much to alter the legal case.  So in terms of our
       opening, which was quite legal, that is going to remain
       pretty much as is, obviously with further explanations
       and putting it in context.  I don't know if that helps
       your Lordship or not in terms of, on our side, how much
       more reading there is to do and how much longer it will
       take.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Think about it between yourselves and we
       will revert to it on Monday.  And that two days plus two
       days is simply an offer, it is not a direction.  You can
       think about it and decide how you want to do it.
   MR CAVENDER:  If my learned friend can't do it ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
           So that is as far as closing submissions is
       concerned.  Is there anything on closing submissions you
       want to mention?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no.
                           Round Three
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So round three of the trial.  Can you
       remind me of the Horizon dates, please, Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, it's 11 March for five weeks.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So that ends when?
   MR GREEN:  It ends on I think 14 April, from memory.  On the
       basis that we are sitting four day weeks, my Lord,
       twenty days would be five weeks ending on the 18th,
       I think.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  On Thursday, 18th.
   MR GREEN:  Sorry, it's the 12th.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thursday, 12th.
   MR GREEN:  Thursday, 12th.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Let's put the mediation point to one
       side for the moment.  What is it that the claimants
       would like to do or to have tried in round three?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, we are in some difficulties because the
       view that we formed may not be a welcome view but it is
       that we are quite likely to have an enthusiastic idea
       about what round three should include after we have got
       judgment in this trial.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Why?
   MR GREEN:  Because the shape of the remaining landscape of
       dispute between the parties is going to be defined
       largely by the outcome of this trial.  For example,
       issues like burden of proof and all sorts of other
       things are going to have a big impact on where the best
       gains are to be proportionately made from the third
       further trial.
           Every time we considered different options, we came
       back to dependencies which will be determined by the
       outcome of this trial.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm not sure that is right because there
       are really only three alternatives, which I think I have
       identified to you already and it might be that I have
       got them wrong and there are some I have missed.  But
       the only alternatives for round three are: groups of
       issues that affect everyone, a further bundle of issues,
       fully trying out some individual claims.
   MR GREEN:  Indeed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Or choosing some to be dealt with as
       test claims.  Those are the only alternatives.
   MR GREEN:  For example, when we were looking at examples two
       and three, we weren't able with confidence to see how on
       earth we could select the ones that would most helpfully
       resolve the class without knowing the outcome of this
       trial.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The group.
   MR GREEN:  The group.  So we analysed back from: what would
       happen if we were going to do this?  What would we need
       to do in order to ensure it was of the greatest
       utility --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Which ones you might choose, I accept.
       Which you might choose to be an individual claim tried
       to the end or which you might choose to be the most
       suitable test claim, I accept.  But whether or not to do
       groups of issues or some individual claims or test
       claims is something that can be considered and decided
       in the abstract of the judgment from this because all
       this is going to do is resolve the Common Issues.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.  But it might be that if the impact
       of this judgment -- it might be that the impact of this
       judgment would make a significant difference as to what
       we might seek to have tried in round three and in
       respect of whom.  Because if, for example -- so if
       I give your Lordship a practical example because
       speaking in the abstract it's difficult to get a handle
       on.
           For example, the parties' approach to implied terms
       is radically different.  My learned friend contends for
       high level implied terms which can only be given
       meaningful content in each individual case.  So if my
       learned friend wins on that, and we are left with high
       level implied terms, the content of which cannot be
       actually identified except by going through every single
       case, we are in one situation.  If the court in any
       respect, material respect, prefers our approach, and
       that the implied terms or incidence of those implied
       terms are capable of articulation, for example, provide
       reasonable training, for example, as a term, as
       a necessary incident of an implied terms of
       co-operation -- I take that example because my learned
       friend put it to witnesses -- we are going to be in
       a materially distinct situation in terms of how advanced
       we are down the line to resolution of the group as
       a whole.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that there will be
       a difference in terms of resolution to the group as
       a whole depending on the outcome of some of the Common
       Issues.  But so far as -- there are 500-odd claimants,
       the group litigation purpose is to resolve every single
       one of them.
   MR GREEN:  Precisely.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  As at the end of round two, all that
       will have been resolved is the Common Issues and the
       Horizon issues.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Those will not have resolved any of the
       500-odd claims.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So far as the judgments are concerned,
       Mr Green, that is an obvious observation, isn't it?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord is absolutely right insofar as it goes,
       but of course experience in group litigation, as
       your Lordship will know, is that actually once you
       have -- it depends what the content of the judgment is,
       but one frequently gets from a judgment a demarcation of
       where one is beyond the pure terms of the judgment.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand it might be of considerable
       use to the parties generally in terms of how they want
       to go forward, but I am approaching this from the point
       of view of the managing judge whose job is to try out
       the group litigation.  Of course the parties might
       jointly agree that instead of needing or having or
       wanting round three, they go over in that direction, and
       that is of course entirely understood, and equally they
       might not.
           So for these purposes I am working on the basis that
       the group litigation as a whole needs resolving.
           Once round two is out of the way, the only options
       for round three are: groups of issues that affect
       everybody, some individual claims to be fully tried out,
       including loss, or some test claims.
           Just pausing there.  I'm struggling, having looked
       at the pleadings so far, to identify any further groups
       of issues that would affect everyone.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, so the example I gave ... Let's pick
       an implied term.  There might be -- if your Lordship
       favoured the claimants' approach to clearer articulation
       of implied terms on particular topics or their
       incidence, then we would be in a very different
       situation of identifying a group that could be picked to
       then progress --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By "group" there, you're saying --
   MR GREEN:  A subgroup.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- a group or subgroup of individual
       claims, or test claims.  Not groups of issues.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, your Lordship is right, a group --
       a sub-group might have test claims relevant to that
       group.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  They might.  But all you'll have after
       round two, and all you can have -- not you, the parties
       generally -- you won't have any findings as to actual
       application of the Common and the Horizon issues to
       individual people.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, that is right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That means two things: one, is it means
       there is a further set of common issues, or whatever
       phrase one chooses, it would probably be breach issues
       or something, which would be of greatest utility to the
       majority of the cohort.  The other is you'd have to have
       fully tried out individual claims of a small number.
           Now, assuming this litigation progresses through to
       a judgment on as many different individual claims as
       possible, those are the only options, aren't they?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And I don't understand how which of
       those two options is most suitable is in any way
       dependent on my findings on the Common Issues.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, in the abstract it isn't.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Good.
   MR GREEN:   But when one comes to look at it practically, we
       have thought about what we would seek from the court in
       light of the court's judgment.
           I know your Lordship is not going to make an order
       about this today --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm not.
   MR GREEN:  -- but in terms of developing the court's
       thinking about it.  If what in fact was envisaged was
       instead of a hearing in June or July we were going to
       have a hearing end of October, in the autumn, that would
       allow the court to give directions in January after
       judgment on the Common Issues with both parties knowing
       exactly what the landscape of the outstanding issues is
       and where they stood.
           Your Lordship will understand that for example on
       burden of proof, the outcome on burden of proof alone is
       going to have a pretty tectonic impact on the overall
       litigation because of the difficulties faced by
       claimants in proving things at this distance in time.
           So for the court to consider, perhaps, possibly
       a way forward is for us to have a Case Management
       Conference in January, in good time before the Horizon
       trial, at which your Lordship will be able to have
       informed submissions from both my learned friend and
       I as to precisely what we say, in the light of where we
       are following the judgment on the Common Issues, the
       most proportionate devotion of court and parties'
       resources can be fashioned in the light of the outcome
       of the Common Issues trial.  So it will make a huge
       difference, what your Lordship decides on some of these
       Common Issues.
           I am floating that as a -- what I don't want to do,
       my Lord, is suggest to you, given that we have not been
       able to work out how to do it, that we think committing
       ourselves now to --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, you are not going to be committing
       yourself until -- I am going to commit you, but I'm not
       necessarily going to do it now.
           Let me hear from Mr Cavender.  Mr Cavender, what do
       you have to say about this?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I am not in violent disagreement with
       my learned friend, save that it seems to me reasonably
       obvious that the next stage is really very important to
       get right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The next stage being round three.
   MR CAVENDER:  Exactly, and it has to be done carefully, with
       proper thought and proper research into the 500.
           So in my submission, in answer to your Lordship's
       question you have asked a number of times, no,
       I don't think groups of issues here are going to work.
       The third trial must be a trial of a number of claims
       which begin to represent, now we have learned more about
       the issues, the kinds of cases that come up in
       the cohort.  So trying one case or two cases, in my
       submission, is not really going to tell you a lot.  What
       one needs to do is to mine the information on the 500
       and try and identify categories.
           Let me give you an example.  During this trial you
       have heard about various products that have caused
       problems, Camelot is one of them.  So you might -- I'm
       not suggesting this will happen -- when you went through
       them and said, well, what issues did you have?  Camelot
       might come up as one.  So you would have one particular
       claimant -- I'm not sure what your Lordship, when you
       say test claim, what you mean as distinct to a normal
       claim, but leaving that aside --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is rather your point from your
       opening.
   MR CAVENDER:  No, exactly.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is actually a term in Part 19, isn't
       it?
   MR CAVENDER:  I know, my Lord, it is.  But this isn't really
       a kind of case where you can have test claimants because
       all the facts on breach are so different.  You can have
       Common Issues but you can't really have test claimants
       on breach.  But this is pedantic.  The important point
       is that you have to choose, given the investment of time
       and money in this, the right claimants for part three
       that have the right ingredients, that you are not going
       to run into problems of incrimination and people
       refusing to answer questions, although you might want
       a case where there is fraud alleged to test the implied
       terms, if they are mutual, what happens then.  And you
       might reflect, my Lord, whether you think any of the six
       we have at the moment, given the various problems that
       have been shown in their cases, whether any of them
       might be good or not good lead cases.
           In my submission, I am quite sure there must in the
       500 -- and I have quite a lot of experience of group
       litigation too -- there will be other cases that are
       more suitable, that are representative -- not in
       a technical sense but being helpful to the parties as
       representing factual scenarios that come up a lot.
           I will tell you why that is important; because if
       you have a trial on a couple of cases in part three
       which turn out to be one-off, and my learned friend and
       I go to a mediation, a structured mediation, and he
       says: ah, look Mr Abdulla or Mr X or whoever, look, we
       won on that and I say, yes, but he had this feature,
       that feature, the other feature, so I can't get
       authority to settle or even begin to think about how he
       compares to others in the group.  That is useless.  And
       we are talking here huge amounts of costs have been
       expended in this action.  We saw from Mr Bates,
       for instance, he is claiming £800,000 on a basis I will
       say obviously is completely wrong-headed really.
           So you have to start understanding what the quantum
       of these claims is to manage them properly and to do so
       proportionately and the kinds of issues they raise.
           This cannot be done overnight.  I think, whatever
       view you take, this needs to start now.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I first mentioned this in September
       I think.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes, and I did in my "I have a dream
       letter" back in December 17 when I first got involved.
       Because these things do take a long time.  In my
       submission that kind of thinking, rather than a rush for
       June or October, is what would be in accordance with the
       overriding objective.  I take your Lordship's point that
       you are here to manage and progress it, and that is
       a very important feature but it is not the only feature.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I know that, Mr Cavender, but when you
       stay a rush for June or October, October is 11 months
       away.  This litigation started in 2016 and, even on my
       projected timetable, some of these claims are not going
       to be -- none of these claims will have been finally
       resolved until the second half of 2019 and it sounds as
       if, from what either of you are saying, depending on how
       I interpreted it, that that is not something that is
       going to be feasible until 2020.
           That, with respect to everyone and the exercise
       involved, is simply far too long and I'm simply not
       going to do that.  I entirely accept what you say about
       the detailed thought that has to go into it and, if it
       is the case that neither of you feel you are able to
       embark on exactly what is going to be done
       before January, then that is one thing.  But it seems to
       me I have to let you know asap.  I will not make
       a formal order today but I will tell you my thinking.
       There are three judicial terms a year.  I ordered
       round one for this term, I ordered round two for next
       term.  My choices for round three are either ordering,
       whatever round three is going to be, to start on 5 June
       or to start on 7 October.
           Now, from what Mr Green had to say, I think you have
       told me before you also both want a three-month stay, is
       that right?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I'm not sure we have said that.  If
       you are going to have a mediation in this case,
       I think January has been mentioned.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It must be Mr Green who said
       a three-month stay.  But I thought that was an agreed
       position.
   MR CAVENDER:  Our position is that you should start in
       January -- start preparations.  It is true the Horizon
       trial would have a massive impact but I don't think you
       necessarily have to wait until March or April to start.
       But certainly you wouldn't get anywhere in any kind of
       mediation until of course you have the Horizon trial and
       you have managed to understand what it says.  Which is
       why, my Lord, the idea of a June trial on 5 June when --
       I'm not quite sure when your Lordship thinks you might
       be able to produce a judgment in that case.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What, in the June trial?
   MR CAVENDER:  The Horizon judgment for the June trial, for
       the learning from that to be plugged into the way that
       stage three is going to run will be very important.
       I don't myself see how practically that could be done,
       which is why October, in my submission, would be the
       earliest one could begin to hear anything sensibly if
       you are going to plug in the Horizon trial conclusion.
       But if you are going to do that, my Lord, you are
       limiting yourself then, in the real world, to the leads
       we have in this trial; to one or more or a number of
       those leads.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Why?
   MR CAVENDER:  Because of the work that will need to be done
       in relation to those claims.  If we take
       your Lordship's -- you are not saying you are going to
       do this but you are going to have, say, a trial on
       liability of a number of those, we don't even have
       pleadings at the moment on the breach issues for any of
       the leads, even the ones we have identified.  If the
       view is taken they are not appropriate and you have to
       start searching and agreeing from the population of
       other claims, that is going to take some months to do it
       carefully so you choose the right ones.
           The real danger, my Lord, with the position you are
       advocating is that we do that and, yes, you will just
       about get there on 5 October and you have a couple of
       the claims and you try them out but in fact it turns out
       they are not really the right claims and they don't
       really advance the litigation at huge cost.  That is the
       risk, and that is what I am submitting to your Lordship
       is a risk we need to be very careful not to trip up on.
       But if that is what your Lordship orders, of course we
       will obviously comply with it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Look at it from this point of view: if
       there was a single person let's call them Ms X, whether
       Ms X is a lead claimant at the moment or not, and one
       looked at her case solely in isolation, it must be the
       case that Ms X's claim together with any associated
       counterclaim there might be, depending on her
       circumstances, could be ready for trial in October of
       next year.  That is 11 months.  How long would that
       trial take?  Probably a week maybe.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I don't think so.  If you look for
       instance at --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It couldn't be much longer.
   MR CAVENDER:  -- at Castleton where His Honour Judge Havery
       heard that case, a really simple case.  I'm not quite
       sure how long that lasted, but it was more than a week
       and it didn't have half the complexities of a lot of --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It was also under a slightly different
       era or in a slightly different era.
   MR CAVENDER:  It was the SPMC provisions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  No, I mean era in terms of the CPR.
   MR CAVENDER:  That is certainly true, yes, but --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I once did a case as counsel where
       literally the entire trial took a whole year and
       nowadays it would probably take five weeks.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.  But you have seen the witnesses
       and I have just skimmed the surface of some of these
       issues.  We haven't had disclosure or had any accounting
       evidence to go into the detail that we would need to go
       into.  You would need at least one claim from the NTC
       period, one from the SPMC group at the minimum.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.  The reason I was
       identifying or focusing on a single person is how long
       realistically -- if one were going to do a single trial,
       how long realistically would that be expected to take?
       I said a week and I think you said longer.  But let's
       say you are right and it is going to be two weeks.
   MR CAVENDER:  As I say, you would want more than one,
       because you would want at least --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, of course, which is where one
       builds up a picture of how much could one usefully do in
       the next tranche of, say, three or four weeks.  It seems
       to me probably three or four claims, but I might be
       wrong.
   MR CAVENDER:  But the question is which claims.  So you are
       right, that wouldn't be a useless exercise because what
       you do as a minimum is try out the incidence of the
       burden of proof as it applied to them and the incidence
       of the Horizon issues as it applied to them.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Correct.
   MR CAVENDER:  But as you can see from seeing me test it
       a little bit, for reasons that are still unclear to me
       but you have seen it tested a little bit and you can
       begin to perhaps see, as a matter of detail, how much --
       if you are doing it properly, for your Lordship to make
       findings on it, would not be an easy thing and would be
       a very detailed thing and would require expert evidence
       of an accountancy type probably and may well --
       obviously I'm not involved in the Horizon issues as much
       as your Lordship and you may have a better view -- you
       may well need a mini-expert report from Horizon as to
       how the particular issues that come out of the Horizon
       trial apply to that particular claimant.  Even then, as
       you will see, particular claimants have different
       issues.  So you would have to be pretty sure those you
       were choosing, given the investment of money and time,
       were broadly representative, had some kind of coherent
       relation to the other 500.  The kind of things you are
       seeing will frequently occur.  Because if they are not,
       then you really are just deciding, under the umbrella of
       group litigation, two individual claims that don't
       really assist the parties.  Because the idea of group
       litigation, as your Lordship knows, most settle after
       some period of trial, and the idea of the trial and the
       co-operation between the parties is that it is helpful
       to the parties to know and the court determines various
       issues and then the parties go away and work out, by
       parity of reasoning, how that would apply to all the
       others and that is because normally it is set up with
       groups and you have, say -- let's imagine there was
       a Camelot issue that was repeated and you say, of the
       500, 13 have that, and you might have others who have
       TCs of a certain type or other issues, and you would
       make sure you had a claim that covered it and you have
       another one on limitation perhaps, another one covering
       issues of settlement.  There are so many issues in this
       case and unless you, in my submission, do it in
       an analytical way, there is a huge risk of just wasting
       a lot of money on another trial almost for the sake of
       getting it on early and that is what I am urging the
       court not to do and I think my learned friend probably
       is as well.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So is it the Post Office's case,
       therefore, that round three, based on what you have told
       me, can't possibly happen before 2020?
   MR CAVENDER:  If it is going to involve a fair review by --
       these are the claimants' cases, the 500-odd, as to
       compiling them, agreeing a procedure for the numbers you
       are going to select.  As we said in December 2017, this
       is what we were trying to set up then and these things
       could have gone on, but we haven't gone down that route.
           But, my Lord, yes, realistically in October the only
       thing that could be heard realistically is if one of
       the existing leads or a couple of them were to be tried.
       If we do anything more, you need the whole process of
       selection.  Because these claimants -- we know virtually
       nothing about a lot of these claims and to be able to
       identify groupings, you have to go through that, select
       them, plead out carefully the breach issues, disclosure.
       As your Lordship knows most -- that is almost like a new
       trial and most trials from start to finish will take at
       least 12 months; 18 months is not out of kilter, even in
       the modern day of things going quicker than they used
       to.
           So although your Lordship smarts at 2020 and I can
       see why, it would be nice to be able to go quicker,
       perhaps it is better to go slightly slower and
       deciding -- having a trial which is more valuable than
       having the trial we can have in October.
           But, as I say, if your Lordship does order a trial
       in October, obviously we will do that and there will be
       some utility, clearly.  I'm not saying it will be
       a useless exercise but, on reflection, it might turn out
       to be what people used to say about preliminary issue
       trials; a treacherous shortcut.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are saying 2020.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.  I can't say it couldn't be done
       before that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, the claimants' preferred option would be
       to give your Lordship -- to identify a potential window
       possibly in the end of October rather than the very
       beginning --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are saying not June.
   MR GREEN:  Not June and not 2020.  The claimants' preferred
       option would be to give your Lordship the benefit of
       informed submissions in January on this point with still
       time to consider what can be properly done by October
       and to get it done.  That would be our preferred -- we
       think 2020 is too long.  We accept the point that doing
       it fast for progress' sake --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Let me be quite clear with everyone in
       court: I'm not doing it for progress' sake --
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I am sorry, I didn't --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The reason I am approaching it in this
       way is twofold: one is it is my job to manage the
       litigation.  That means setting expeditious timely
       hearings to resolve the whole litigation.  The second
       is, and this comment applies both to Post Office, who
       has had it hanging over them for many, many years, and
       the claimants who have had a similar situation, it is
       already old, or some of it is, and I'm going to resolve
       it.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So what I am going to do, we will
       revisit this on Monday.  I'm not going to make an order
       now.  Just tell me, though, Messrs Haworth, Carpenter
       and Trotter, are they going to be the full day?
   MR GREEN:  They may not be the full day.  We will do our
       best.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm not putting you under pressure
       because it is your time for cross-examination.  We will
       revisit this at the end of Monday.  But just so that you
       know my thinking, particularly based on what Mr Cavender
       has told me about needing to see the outcome of Horizon,
       and particularly because the Horizon trial itself is
       going on into the middle of April, I'm persuaded that
       June is too soon, but that is grudgingly persuaded.
       Because it is difficult I think for an average person to
       look at the sort of timescales that are being discussed
       in this case, which started in 2016, and get their head
       around the fact that the justice system simply cannot
       resolve it for a period that is measured in years.
           So round three will be for a period in October of
       2019.  You can both think about -- and I will probably
       make proper directions in January, we will have to have
       a CMC, and it sounds as if groups of issues is not
       really a runner.  And Mr Cavender says the best that can
       be done is fully trying out some individual claims.  I'm
       not going to ask you to identify who they are or how
       many, but you will have to start thinking about that
       because that is what I will order in January.
           I also want you, please, to think about -- and again
       I won't make an order about this specifically until
       January -- whether you are going to try and persuade me
       that there shouldn't be a single joint expert on quantum
       for those cases that are going to be dealt with in
       October.  Because it seems to me the best way to resolve
       the quantum issues is to have a single joint expert on
       quantum appointed by the court in the usual way, with
       the usual provisions in the CPR, et cetera, et cetera.
       But unless thought is given to lining all that sort of
       thing up from now, October is going to become less
       feasible.
           I'm not going to go through the whole of the rest of
       2019 only dealing with Horizon.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I am grateful.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because it is difficult actually to
       justify being the managing judge if you let that happen.
       Then you can come back to me on your three-month stay --
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I'm not intending a three-month stay.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You did mention three months before when
       this came up, didn't you?  Or am I mistaken?
   MR GREEN:  I think there may be a misunderstanding.  But in
       our experience, there needs to be a gap between when we
       get the Horizon --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.
   MR GREEN:  -- judgment and the mediation to take stock.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.
   MR GREEN:  I think that was what --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't think it needs to be three
       months.  But what you told me last time is experience of
       group litigation mediations is there is about three
       months' work getting ready for them.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, that is a different point, indeed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Alright.  So I hope that is useful
       although I suspect it probably isn't.
           Do you want 10.30 am on Monday?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Anything else, Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  No, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you all very much.  See you on
       Monday.
   (4.05 pm)
         (The court adjourned until 10.30 am on Monday,
                        26 November 2018)
















                              INDEX
   MR MICHAEL LEE SHIELDS (continued) ...................1
       Cross-examination by MR WARWICK ..................1
                (continued)

                Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ................38

                Re-examination by MR CAVENDER ...................43

            MRS ELAINE RIDGE (sworn) ............................45

                Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER .............45

                Cross-examination by MR GREEN ...................47

                Re-examination by MR CAVENDER ...................99

                Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ...............106

                Further re-examination by MR CAVENDER ..........114

            MR DAVID PAUL LONGBOTTOM (sworn) ...................116

                Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER ............116

                Cross-examination by MR GREEN ..................118

                Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ...............152

            MR MICHAEL SEAN WEBB (affirmed) ....................154

                Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER ............154

                Cross-examination by MS DONNELLY ...............154

                Re-examination by MR CAVENDER ..................172

            Housekeeping .......................................174

                Miscellaneous ..................................175

                Closing Submissions ............................183

                Round Three ....................................187


Day 1 transcript - Wed 7 November - Opening arguments
Day 2 transcript - Thu 8 November - Claimants: Alan Bates, Pam Stubbs part 1
Day 3 transcript - Mon 12 November - Pam Stubbs part 2, Mohammad Sabir
Day 4 transcript - Tue 13 November - Naushad Abdulla, Liz Stockdale
Day 5 transcript - Wed 14 November - Louise Dar
Day 6 transcript - Thu 15 November - Post Office: Nick Beal, Paul Williams
Day 7 transcript - Mon 19 November - Sarah Rimmer, John Breeden, AvdB part 1
Day 8 transcript - Tue 20 November - AvdB part 2
Day 9 transcript - Wed 21 November - AvdB part 3, Timothy Dance, Helen Dickinson, Michael Shields part 1
Day 10 transcript - Thu 22 November - Michael Shields part 2, Elaine Ridge, David Longbottom, Michael Webb
Day 11 transcript - Mon 26 November - Michael Haworth, Andrew Carpenter, Brian Trotter
 

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