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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Common Issues trial transcript: Day 4

This is the transcript of the fourth day of the Common Issues trial in the Bates and others v Post Office group litigation. The hearing below took place on Tue 13 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.

Witnesses

Lead Claimant 4: Naushad Abdulla - former Subpostmaster, Croydon branch (South London).
Lead Claimant 5: Liz Stockdale - former Subpostmaster, Sandsacre branch, Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Naushad Abdulla's witness statement.
Liz Stockdale's witness statment.

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 4 full transcript:

                                      Tuesday, 13 November 2018
   (10.30 am)
   MR GREEN:  May it please your Lordship, I would like to call
       Mr Abdulla, please.
                   MR NAUSHAD ABDULLA  (sworn)
                 Examination-in-chief by MR GREEN
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you, Mr Abdulla.  Do have a seat,
       please.
   MR GREEN:  Mr Abdulla, in front of you should be a document
       entitled "Witness Statement of Naushad Abdulla".  If you
       turn to page 10, please, and you look at paragraph 47,
       look at the bottom of paragraph 47, in handwriting
       {C1/4/10}:
           "Since the date of this witness statement, I have
       been shown a copy of the contract at D2.1/4.  I do not
       recall having seen this before."
           Subject to that amendment, is your statement true to
       the best of your knowledge and belief?
   A.  It is.
   MR GREEN:  Thank you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.  Mr Cavender.
                 Cross-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  Good morning, Mr Abdulla.
   A.  Good morning.
   Q.  A couple of questions by way of introduction, hopefully
       uncontroversial.  You started working for Post Office,
       the Charlton branch, in January 2007, and you were
       terminated on 14 April 2009, does that sound right?
   A.  8 May 2009, did you say, terminated?
   Q.  Terminated 14 April 2009.
   A.  No, that is wrong.
   Q.  Is it?
   A.  Maybe I was suspended at that date, but terminated on
       8 May 2009.
   Q.  Very well.  But you worked for just over two years for
       Post Office?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  The questions I am going to ask you are about events
       occurring in 2006, at the beginning of your appointment,
       some 11 years ago now.  Would it be fair to say your
       details of the -- your memory of the details of those
       events is at best vague, would that be a fair overall
       assessment?
   A.  Sorry, did you say 11 years ago?
   Q.  2006 to now.  We are now 2018.  That's about eleven
       years, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, but a traumatic event like that you can't forget
       even though you try, it is just -- you try and forget
       it, but I still remember vividly.  But if there is
       anything I do not remember I will let you know.
   Q.  Okay.  What was traumatic about receiving a contract or
       some letters?
   A.  I was talking about the whole event.
   Q.  Okay, but if you focus on the debate we are going to
       have, I think, about receiving letters, receiving the
       contract, things of that kind, that wasn't very
       traumatic, was it, at the time, or memorable?
   A.  Receiving the contract and the letters of acceptance,
       you mean?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  No, that was a happy occasion.  I was very happy to be
       selected.
   Q.  Yes.  So that wasn't something that was traumatic or
       would particularly sear itself on your memory, is it?
   A.  Yes, at the beginning when I was selected, after the
       interview, yes, I was happy to receive the position as
       a subpostmaster because of all the hard work and effort
       I had put into the application.
   Q.  Let's carry on with your background then.  So prior to
       applying to Post Office you had worked in
       the pharmaceutical industry, is that right?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.  I was a sales rep and very
       successful.  I won many awards.  It's quite depressing
       to -- when I think about where I could have been, maybe
       a regional sales manager --
   Q.  You were selling medicines to GP practices --
   A.  Sorry, you just cut me off.  I was just talking.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do finish your answer.
   A.  So yes, as I said I was -- I don't know where I would
       have been now if I didn't join the Post Office.  I would
       have probably been a regional sales manager.  The reason
       I say that, because I was ambitious, I was motivated,
       I was self-confident, which I'm not any more.
   MR CAVENDER:  That job involved you selling medicines to GP
       practices?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  And that involved you reading documents and
       understanding them, understanding your products and the
       detail and what it was you were selling to GPs?
   A.  Sorry, can you repeat that?
   Q.  In selling things, selling pharmaceutical products to
       GPs, that involved you reading and understanding
       documents?
   A.  About medicines and about sales techniques, yes.
   Q.  It's important to get the detail right to distinguish
       one particular medicine from another, am I right?
   A.  It was mostly about the therapeutic areas and how the
       medicines would affect those therapeutic areas.
       Obviously you had to know your stuff when talking to GPs
       and other healthcare professionals.  So, yes, you would
       have to know your stuff regarding medicines and how they
       interact with the body and side-effects and things.
   Q.  And "know your stuff", as you say, you would have got
       that presumably from a briefing paper from the producer
       of that product?
   A.  No, it was mostly on the initial training, the induction
       training where the products were trained.
   Q.  But presumably you were given some kind of handout or
       something, some summary --
   A.  Of course, yes.
   Q.  -- of what you were entitled to say about the product?
   A.  Definitely.
   Q.  And you had to read that carefully?
   A.  I had to revise it, yes, because there were tests
       afterwards, in the next day or so.
   Q.  You had to understand what was in that document?
   A.  It wasn't a document as such, it was more product
       information -- medical information, product information,
       if you like.  I don't know what sort of document you are
       referring to.
   Q.  It required you to be good on detail, getting into the
       detail and understanding it, do you accept that?
   A.  It was studying, really.
   Q.  In your personal CV, if we go to bundle E4.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you like to move that screen a bit
       closer to you?  Feel free.
   A.  Perfect, thank you.
   MR CAVENDER:  Go to {E4/6/1}, please.  That is your CV,
       I think?
   A.  Yes, that is my CV.
   Q.  If you look at the personal profile at the top, you say
       you are:
           "Someone with excellent communication skills ...
       quick to grasp new ideas and concepts."
           Is that a fair summary of your characteristics?
   A.  Yes, of course.  I wouldn't have put that on otherwise.
   Q.  And you say under "Skills and Abilities" at the bottom,
       you have:
           "Excellent organisation and planning skills ..."
           Is that also correct, do you think?
   A.  Sorry, at the bottom ...
   Q.  Under "Skills and Abilities".
   A.  Yes:
           "Excellent organisation and planning skills, strong
       work ethics and personal values."
           Organisation and planning skills in terms of
       planning meetings, planning the days that you would go
       out and see your customers.  And then also planning in
       terms of recording the events of meeting the customers.
   Q.  The second bullet point under "Skills and Abilities":
           "Intelligent and analytical outlook ..."
           Is that a fair description of your abilities?
   A.  Yes, analytical, I mean again recording information,
       recording information on like Excel, just basic Word,
       Excel, Microsoft documents, but nothing too major in IT.
   Q.  If we go to {E4/33/1}, the notes of your interview,
       under "Standards", so the bottom box, second paragraph:
           "Current role he advised us he is computer champion,
       all team members have to feed in logs on daily basis
       ..."
           You have to make checks to make sure they are all
       completed correctly.
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  It is fair to say that that would require you to be good
       on detail.
   A.  I'm not saying I'm not good at detail.  The thing is
       with this, with being the Voyager champion at the time,
       it was more about relaying information to head office.
       So I would collect the information from my team and just
       relay it to head office, so -- and make sure everyone
       else was putting in their information correctly.  So
       when you have a sales call at the end of the day you
       input -- or as soon as you can you input the data into
       your sales force, the Voyager system, and that records
       next objectives and things like that what to do when you
       go and see them again.
           So I was making sure they were entering that into
       the system correctly and they were logging it all in
       correctly on a day-to-day basis.  And that was my role,
       I was being a champion.  So I believe that answers your
       question.
   Q.  You also had to, according to this, ensure that
       the figures tallied up.  You had to go through the
       figures and make sure that they were entered correctly
       and the figures tally up?
   A.  No, not really.  There was no figures.  It was just
       about if someone hadn't put -- I would know where
       someone hadn't done -- put in the figures for that day.
       So it wasn't actually the figures, it was just inputting
       the figures for that day.  So every day we would have to
       get it back to head office.
   Q.  But what Elaine Ridge has recorded here you saying at
       this interview, in the second paragraph, is:
           "... completed correctly and if need be changes so
       that the figures tally up."
           You say she has got that wrong, do you?
   A.  Yes, I think that is not accurate.
   Q.  Again by way of background, going into this process of
       purchasing the branch and contracting with the
       Post Office, this was going to be a significant
       commitment for you?
   A.  Yes, sir.
   Q.  It was going to be important to you?
   A.  It was important in -- I wanted to make a better life
       for myself, a more stable life where -- with the
       pharmaceutical industry at that time there was a lot of
       mergers happening, that is when Glaxo and SmithKline
       merged, and other companies merged as well, so a lot of
       teams were being disbanded.  It happened to me once
       where I was made redundant, luckily I got a position
       with another team.
           I had small children, a mortgage to pay, so I wanted
       something more secure, more stable, and something more
       lucrative, really.  I believed the Post Office was the
       right position for me.
   Q.  But you were going to take care and use the commercial
       skills you have been describing in assessing whether or
       not --
   A.  Sorry, I wouldn't say commercial skills.  I would say
       sales skills.
   Q.  But you are not commercially naive, are you?
   A.  I was.
   Q.  If you are going selling products to GPs and trying to
       increase sales and all the rest of it, you couldn't
       really describe yourself as commercially naive, could
       you?
   A.  It depends on the context.
   Q.  Just generally.  At that time you were not
       a commercially naive person?
   A.  I had never owned a business before.  I was just working
       for a company in sales.
   Q.  And in terms of the due diligence you did before you
       entered into the purchase of the -- with Mr Sandhu for
       the premises and with Post Office --
   A.  Of Charlton, Church Lane?
   Q.  Yes, you did your own investigations or what people call
       due diligence, is that fair?  You looked into the
       background?
   A.  My discussions with Mr Sandhu were primarily regarding
       the lease.  I was concerned about only having
       a twelve-year lease.  I was concerned that the price had
       increased by £10,000 and we were negotiating on that,
       and I was -- it was just about lease matters, so just
       the terms of the lease.  We discussed staffing and
       I agreed from his suggestion to keep the staff on,
       because they were experienced and I could learn from
       them.  But again just mainly about the lease.
           I did go to the branch, spend a few hours there, see
       the customers, how -- going in and out, making sure it
       wasn't completely dead.  Because when I received the
       particulars of sale I had two figures for the
       remuneration, one was £80 or £70,000 and from the
       Post Office it was £114,000.  So I was just checking to
       make sure why that discrepancy was there, and again that
       was -- and when I did start I just decided, no, it was
       very low, it was about £70/80,000, and I did bring it up
       to £120,000 in the first year.
   Q.  Did you speak to Mr Sandhu about running a Post Office,
       what it was like, the good bits, the bad bits?
   A.  Not really.  I had experience with my parents.  They ran
       a Post Office in about the early 1990s.
   Q.  Did you ever work in the Post Office?
   A.  No, I was too young.
   Q.  Not even informally?  You didn't help around --
   A.  Well, you know, I was round the back just observing
       really.  But they were happy.  They had the old paper
       system, none of this Horizon stuff.  So they were happy.
       Everything was running to plan, they were making a good
       life for themselves, and that is the experience
       I received from my observations.
   Q.  You knew from the earlier stages that your relationship
       with Post Office was going to be governed by a written
       contract, presumably?
   A.  Yes, some kind of contract would have been in place.
       Some kind of agreement, yes.
   Q.  And presumably you were looking out for that to be
       provided to you at some stage during the process?
   A.  Yes.  The thing is regarding the contract, I just
       clarify now, I have never received the contract.  I have
       never seen the contract.  Sorry, I have seen the
       contract since, but I never received the contract, never
       have, never will, by the Post Office, sorry, and -- but
       I have seen it since.  And I understand why they didn't
       send it or they omitted it, whether it was intentionally
       or unintentionally, because I would never have signed
       it, having seen it since, and I would have gained some
       legal advice beforehand.  And especially regarding so
       many clauses, so many of these -- it's so confusing and
       so on, so I would have had to seek legal advice.
           And the clauses such as termination, zero months,
       zero and three months, no one would sign it.  No one
       would sign it in their right mind.  There would be no
       agents left.
   Q.  You realised, if we go to paragraph 10 of your witness
       statement {C1/4/2}, that you were going to be
       self-employed?  You realised that, didn't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you also realised you were going to be an agent of
       the Post Office?
   A.  Can I stop you there.  "Agent" -- it was more
       "franchisee" at that time.  That was the word that was
       branded, "franchisee", not "agent".  When I think about
       franchisee, I think about McDonalds and Domino's, and
       I don't think if I was franchisee for them someone would
       come in unexpectedly, carry out an audit and shut me
       down.  If I was working for McDonalds -- actually I have
       experience working with Domino's in management and what
       they would do was if there was something wrong, if they
       were not productive, it would flash up on the system
       that you -- that the productivity is not there, so you
       need to get rid of some drivers or get rid of some staff
       so your productivity would go up.  And if still not,
       they would send someone in and they would try and help
       and advise and support.  That was all I was looking for
       with the Post Office, and that is all any subpostmaster
       looks for with the Post Office, is just some support.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, in the franchisee model you describe, the
       franchisee is using his own stock, his own money, isn't
       he?  In the Post Office example --
   A.  No, I am just giving you an example of how it would
       probably work and my experience of when I was there
       working at Domino's.
   Q.  You can leave Domino's to one side.  What I am putting
       to you is that in the Post Office model you are
       contrasting it with you are using Post Office money, am
       I right, in the branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And Post Office stock in the branch?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  Yes.  And you were responsible, you understood you were
       going to be responsible to account to Post Office for
       what you did with that money and that stock, am I right?
   A.  It was the Post Office's money, that is correct, and it
       was the Post Office's stock.  But I was responsible
       and ... I was trained, I was responsible for the stock
       and the cash, yes, that is correct.  But going into the
       actual office and the position, I was not aware of --
       I was not aware of the lack of support that I would be
       receiving if there was a problem.
           Everything was fine regarding training, classroom
       training, and so on, but it is only -- the only problem
       I have is when you have a problem there is no support.
       You have the Helpline which is useless, to be honest.
       The Helpline -- I have heard about this second tier, and
       maybe they didn't think I was important enough to put me
       to the second tier, but what I experienced from the
       Helpline, it was just useless.
           And I don't believe that all helplines do have
       a second tier because -- again from some experience
       I have.  But why do you have a first tier if they are
       useless?  Just have a second tier then.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, can we go back to the question, please.
   A.  Sorry.
   Q.  In terms of the written contract you expected to be
       provided with, you would have expected that to contain
       detailed terms, wouldn't you, regulating your
       relationship with the Post Office?
   A.  I don't know because I didn't receive any.  All
       I received was a welcome pack and a 1M document and
       I had to send my bank details and the actual contract
       was not there.  So I don't know what I was -- what --
       sorry, what was the question?
   Q.  You have accepted that in principle you were expecting
       a contract, and what I am putting supplemental to that
       is you would have expected such a contract to contain
       the detailed terms governing your relationship with
       Post Office?
   A.  To tell you the truth, I -- I was really happy at the
       time of -- when I was accepted, so I just signed
       everything and sent it off the same day.  Because
       I didn't want to be made redundant if it was going to be
       the case with my job, so I wanted to have this, as
       I said before, more secure position.
   Q.  Presumably you had a contract with your pharmaceutical
       company?
   A.  Yes, that is correct, and in that contract you actually
       signed the contract.  That is another thing I wanted to
       bring up.  I am not a contracts expert, but when you buy
       a house you sign the contract, when you put your house
       for sale you sign the contract with the agent.  So is
       there a copy of a signed contract with the Post Office?
       Can you provide me with one?
   Q.  We will go through the documents in a minute, if that is
       all right.
           Did you ask Mr Sandhu about his relationship with
       Post Office and ask for a copy of his contract when you
       were chatting with him?
   A.  Sir, my Lord, discussions with Mr Sandhu, as I said
       before, were regarding the lease.  Anything regarding
       the contract I would have assumed to be personal and
       I wouldn't have asked for it.  No one from the
       Post Office told me to ask for a contract from
       Mr Sandhu, to look through his terms, to look through
       anything regarding his contract.  And if they had told
       me, I would have asked Mr Sandhu.  But because they
       didn't, I did not ask Mr Sandhu for his contract to have
       a look at his terms and conditions.  And I presume even
       now that that would be a personal thing to him, and why
       would he give that to me to look at?  If you see.
   Q.  Would it be personal?  You would expect the terms to be
       standard terms, wouldn't you?
   A.  There would be standard terms and there would be
       personal terms to his position.
   Q.  So there would be no harm in showing you the standard
       terms, would there?
   A.  I am sure it would have been all in one.  And as I said,
       it didn't come up.  It wasn't something that was
       highlighted by the Post Office to do.  And if it was,
       I would be concerned as well, because why are they
       telling me to have a look at his?  Surely there must
       be -- it's a red flag to me.  If they say to me, "Okay,
       you need to look at his terms and conditions or his
       contract", that would say to me that there is something
       wrong here and I need to seek legal advice.
   Q.  Did you ask your parents about their relationship with
       Post Office and their contractual relationship?
   A.  Yes, of course.
   Q.  And what did they tell you?
   A.  They were happy.  The only reason they sold their
       post office was because it was at quite a distance away
       from where we lived, but they were on the old paper
       system, and they say that they were happy, life was
       easier, mistakes were rare.  So, yes, the only reason
       they sold it, as I said, was because of the distance.
   Q.  So moving forward then with your application itself, if
       we go to {E4/10/1} we see a letter of 6 September 2006.
       Do you remember this?  To yourself.
   A.  Yes.  There is another letter in 2005, I believe that is
       an error, and the whole way through it is just riddled
       with errors, wrong dates, wrong addresses.  So if there
       are errors before and after, surely errors can be made
       during my time.  So this is an example.  There is
       another letter similar to this, I don't know if it is
       exactly the same, but it is a date from 2005.  Have you
       got that?
   Q.  Can we just focus on this letter?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on.
           Mr Abdulla, I know that it has been a very difficult
       emotional experience.
   A.  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And I know that there is lots that you
       want to say.  I have read your witness statement really,
       really carefully, and it is understandable on a human
       level that you are cross with some of the points
       Mr Cavender is putting to you.  But what you have to do,
       please, and it might be quite difficult, is just listen
       to whatever the question is and do your best to answer
       it.
   A.  Okay, my Lord.  Sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am aware of the other letter of 2005
       because you mention it in your witness statement so
       I have seen it.
           So it might come across to you that this is very
       one-sided but that is just the way it appears.  So do
       your best just to focus on what he asks you.
   A.  Sure.  I am just putting my ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I entirely understand.
           Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  So looking at this letter, and particularly
       looking to the final paragraph, we see there you are
       being told that:
           "Subpostmasters hold a contract for service with
       Post Office ... they are agents, not employees of the
       company.  As such, postmasters are responsible for the
       provision of their own staff and premises."
           You would have read that at the time, am I right?
       (Pause)
   A.  I think I only read the first paragraph.
   Q.  What, just the "Thank you" one?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You remember that now, do you?  That eleven years ago
       you remember reading the first paragraph and not the
       final paragraph?
   A.  Yes, that sounds familiar.  Only the first paragraph
       sounds familiar to me.  That is the only thing
       I remember.
   Q.  What about the second paragraph, do you remember reading
       that?
   A.  I believe, yes, there was a form that was going to be
       sent to me, so that seems familiar as well actually,
       yes.
   Q.  Because you have to know where to send your application,
       don't you:
           "Your full application should be forwarded to --"
   A.  This is before the application form, correct?
   Q.  Indeed.
   A.  Yes.  So presumably on the application form and the
       letters enclosed with that they would have an address to
       send the application form on there.
   Q.  What about the third paragraph, do you say you read
       that?  Do you remember reading that?
   A.  No.  As I said, I was just -- I was just -- it's just
       a standard letter to say you are interested in a branch,
       so there's not really anything further to read from
       that.
   Q.  But this was the first communication you had from
       Post Office so presumably you were quite interested in
       it?  (Pause)
   A.  Anyway, I do realise that there would be some kind of
       contract, you know, with the Post Office.  That is not
       a dispute there.
   Q.  If you go over the page {E4/10/2}, there is indication
       of the estimated remuneration.  Were you interested in
       that?  Would you have read that?
   A.  Yes, this is where I probably skipped to.  This is what
       I was interested in.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, you said at the beginning that you thought
       you had only read the first paragraph, was your first
       answer to me, about this letter.
   A.  The thing is I didn't realise because of this, it is not
       in a page format, it is a screen format, so I don't know
       what is going to be next.  So how do I know if I have
       only read ... if you see what I mean?  It is not in
       a page format.
   Q.  That is your answer?
   A.  Yes, because I didn't know what was coming next.
       I didn't know the second page of this.  So, yes, this is
       what I skipped to and this is what I was referring to
       earlier about the estimated remuneration of £106,000,
       and on the Christie's particulars of sale it was £70 or
       £80,000.
   Q.  Isn't the truth of the matter, Mr Abdulla, this was the
       first communication with Post Office and you would have
       read it all reasonably carefully?  Not the paragraphs
       you like, ignoring the paragraphs that I want you to
       read.  Isn't that the truth?
   A.  I would say I may have just skimmed over the other
       paragraphs, but just for actual focusing on it would
       have been the ones that I am interested in.
   Q.  And this had I think attached to it something called
       "Conditions of Appointment", which have been lost and
       we can't find, but they would have been, I suggest,
       similar to those that Mr Sabir had --
   A.  Sorry, would they be with this document or the actual
       application?  Because this is just an interest -- to
       register your interest, isn't it?
   Q.  If you look at it, it's a four-page document.  It says
       "1 of 4" in the bottom left --
   A.  Yes.  I don't think the conditions would have been in
       this one but I could be wrong, I am not sure.
   Q.  Moving on then to 9 November, the invitation to the
       interview.  So that is {E4/30/1}, please.  Before I ask
       you anything, just remind yourself of the document.
       Because if it is on a screen or something you are saying
       you can't read or understand what is in later parts.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think the witness said he didn't
       realise what was on page 2.
   MR CAVENDER:  Exactly.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So --
   A.  Yes, it's not because I can't read.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, just pause for a second.
       Read that page.  When you have got to the bottom just
       say you have finished, we will scroll to the next page
       to let you see that, and when you have read the actual
       document we will go back to this page so Mr Cavender can
       ask you questions.
   A.  Thank you, my Lord.  (Pause)
           So before this there was obviously the application
       form and the business plan that needed to be filled in
       before they invited me to interview.  So you skipped
       that intentionally, is that right?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, don't worry about that, all
       right?  Mr Cavender is just -- he has relatively limited
       time so he is not going to be able to put every document
       to you.
   A.  That is fine.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Have you now read page 1?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can we go on to page {E4/30/2}, please.
       Just read that.  There are 17 of this pages, we are not
       going to do this for the whole 17, it is just so you can
       remind yourself of what the document is and then
       Mr Cavender is going to take you to some parts, okay?
   A.  Yes.  Thank you.  (Pause)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender, just remind me, the 17
       includes some of the attachments I think, is that right?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.  It's the whole thing with the various
       appendices.
   A.  Yes, that is fine.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And just on to the next page, just
       quickly, so you can see the third page {E4/30/3}.  All
       right?
   A.  Yes, that is fine.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender, back to you.
   MR CAVENDER:  Actually if you go to the fourth page too,
       there is something you signed saying you will or will
       not attend an interview, on {E4/30/4}.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.  Again, the dates, I had two dates on this --
       sorry, my Lord, but there were two dates on this so
       I wasn't sure which date it was.
   Q.  Okay.  A question about this document: you received this
       document on or around 9 November 2006, am I right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you would have read that document around that time?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You would have -- if you go to page 5 of this document
       {E4/30/5}, which is an attachment entitled "Brief
       summary of certain sections of the subpostmasters
       contract", do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You would have also received those, first of all, with
       this letter?  It's page 5 of 17.  Do you accept you
       received that "Brief summary of certain sections of the
       subpostmasters contract"?
   A.  I do, but it is not something that is immediately
       sticking in my head.  So I believe I received it but
       I don't know the details of it.  But yes, I agree that
       I have received that.
   Q.  When you received it, as you say, you had filled in the
       application, yes?  You put in your business plan et
       cetera, and made some effort to do that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  A lot of effort -- a lot of time, a lot of effort, yes,
       definitely.
   Q.  So this was important for you as the next stage to
       attend the interview to, using your words, sell yourself
       effectively to the Post Office, and your business plan,
       to be taken on as an agent, is that fair?
   A.  They were interested in my sales abilities and my sales
       background, so that was -- I believe that was one of
       the reasons or the main reason that I was successful in
       this application, because I was all about sales, and
       with the Post Office it is again about sales and making
       money.  As agent or a franchisee it is working together
       to make money for yourself and for the franchisee that
       you are working with in a sort of partnership where you
       are beneficial to both you and your franchisee.
   Q.  Can we go back to the letter, please.  So this would
       have been the last thing you had received prior to
       attending the interview, yes, that was being planned,
       am I right?  This sets up the interview, doesn't it?
   A.  What was the question, sorry?
   Q.  This would have been the last thing you received --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- from Post Office, of any substance, prior to
       attending the interview?
   A.  I'm not sure.  There could have been other papers that
       were sent regarding the interview but I am not
       100 per cent sure.
   Q.  In terms of preparing for the interview, it would be
       important for you to have read this letter and
       understood its contents?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.  But as I said, it is not the
       last -- it might not be the last document that
       I received from the Post Office before the interview.
   Q.  Let's have a look through it and see what you would have
       found out when you did read it.
           If you go to page {E4/30/2}, please, the third
       paragraph, it says:
           "I also attach a brief summary of conditions of the
       subpostmasters contract for your attention.  Please note
       that the summary does not represent the complete terms
       and conditions of the contract and may not be relied
       upon for any purpose by a subpostmaster.  It only covers
       certain sections of the contract to give you an idea of
       what to expect and should not be used in place of
       a thorough review of the contract.  You will receive
       a full copy of the contract if you are successful ..."
           You would have read that, wouldn't you, on receipt
       of this letter?
   A.  Yes, again it says the conditions of subpostmasters --
       there is no contract as such.
   Q.  What it says is, there are certain sections in the bit
       we are going to see in a minute, you will receive a full
       copy of the contract if you are successful?
   A.  Yes, I believe there were a few points from the contract
       which I did skim over again, and as it says, it is not
       going to be relied upon, and it is only for certain
       sections of the -- obviously I didn't pay too much
       attention because if it says it is not to be relied
       upon, so I don't know if it is -- those conditions are
       going to be in the actual contract or not.  So there is
       no point in really studying those points really.
   Q.  Is that really true?  Just think back for a moment what
       you just said, the logic of that.  On your case you had
       no idea at this stage what --
   A.  I was just going through --
   Q.  Please.  At this stage you say you had no idea what the
       terms of the contract were going to be, and this was
       an early sight of a summary of certain of the terms, so
       surely you would be very interested indeed in what they
       might cover?
   A.  Why does it say that:
           "It only covers certain sections to give you an idea
       and should not be used in place of a thorough review of
       the contract."
   Q.  It is saying what it says.  This is an early summary for
       you to prepare for the interview, so you know what job
       you are being interviewed for and the terms, but you
       will get a full contract, and you need to review that
       fully as well.
   A.  It also says:
           "Please note that the summary does not represent the
       complete terms and conditions of the contract and may
       not be relied upon for any purpose ..."
           If you hear that, if it is not something that you
       cannot rely upon --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla --
   A.  I'm not a contract expert, but if I hear that then --
   Q.   Mr Abdulla, you would have read this, and if you had,
       if you go to page 5 of this, please {E4/30/5}, under the
       heading "Contract", you would have learned, not for the
       first time, that subpostmasters are agents of
       Post Office.  Yes?  So that wouldn't have been new to
       you.  You knew that already, didn't you, that you were
       going to be an agent, is that fair?
   A.  As I said before, it was more franchisee to -- that was
       the term branded.  But agent, yes, that is fine as well.
       I knew I wasn't going to be an employee and I would be
       self-employed.
   Q.  You say "franchisee"; I have not seen the word
       "franchisee" yet in any of the papers I have taken you
       to.  In terms of branding, I have seen "agent" twice,
       and that is what you were going to be, wasn't it?
   A.  It was more on the website and the blurbs and the --
   Q.  The website?
   A.  -- paperwork.
   Q.  Which website?
   A.  Post Office website.
   Q.  So you did some research by looking at the website?
   A.  Yes, of course.
   Q.  And what did you find on there?
   A.  I found that there was a lot of blurbs on how we would
       be working together and for the benefit of the community
       and, you know, all lovey dovey things.  So, yes.  And
       there was the word "franchisee" that was branded about
       a lot.
   Q.  Going back to this page, if I may, page 5 {E4/30/5},
       "Assistants":
           "The subpostmaster must provide, at his own expense,
       any assistance which he may need to carry out the work
       in the Post Office branch.  Assistants are employees of
       the subpostmaster.  The subpostmaster will be held
       liable for any failure on the part of the assistants to
       provide a proper standard of service ..."
           That represented your understanding at the time,
       anyway, didn't it, that if you employed assistants then
       they would be your responsibility, is that right?
   A.  Can I read that again, sorry?
   Q.  Of course.  (Pause)
   A.  Yes, that is fine.  The assistants I had, as I said,
       they were taken over from the previous subpostmaster and
       they were well experienced.  The minimum term a person
       had been there was ten years.  So --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, can you concentrate please on the points
       I am making, which is your recognition at the time that
       if you employed assistants --
   A.  We're talking about assistants, so I'm --
   Q.  -- you would be responsible for them.  That is the point
       I am trying to get you to address.
   A.  I would be responsible for them in terms of?
   Q.  Any losses they create, their conduct generally.
   A.  So work related.
   Q.  Yes, of course.
   A.  Okay.  Right, yes.  So I would be responsible for --
       yes, work related, so, yes, any losses.
   Q.  Okay, thank you very much.
   A.  Anything regarding -- so I would give them some sales
       training if they needed it.  But regarding anything on
       Horizon or anything regarding the products, they were
       well versed, and in fact they had to train me and they
       had to give me advice because they were so experienced
       and I had full faith in them.
   Q.  Go on to page {E4/30/6} in the same document, at the top
       there, four lines down:
           "The subpostmaster is expressly forbidden to make
       use of the balance due to Post Office for any purpose
       other than the requirements of the Post Office service
       and he must on no account apply to his own private use,
       for however short a period, any portion of Post Office
       cash entrusted to him ... Misuse of ... cash may lead to
       termination ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, that is pretty standard.  I wouldn't use
       Post Office money for myself.  I wouldn't even touch
       a penny of the Post Office money.  No problem with that.
       I wouldn't use it for wages to assistants.  I would not
       misuse any of the Post Office cash or -- and, no.  So
       I wouldn't -- no, it wouldn't even cross my mind.
   Q.  You would have read this at the time, yes?
   A.  I was aware of this anyway because this is pretty
       standard, isn't it?  It is not my money --
   Q.  You had to honestly account to Post Office, didn't you?
   A.  Are you saying I didn't honestly account?
   Q.  We will come to that.
   A.  For my understanding that obviously -- regarding
       accounts, there is different kinds of accounts.  The
       accounts on a trading period, yes, they had to be
       obviously ...
   Q.  Honest and true?
   A.  Yes, which I believe I always have been, and ...
   Q.  Going to the next paragraph, "Losses":
           "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."
           So that clause is being specifically brought to your
       attention.
   A.  And I carried this out.
   Q.  Sorry?
   A.  And this was carried out.
   Q.  Your interview was on 22 November, so some twelve days
       after this letter, so you had quite a long time to study
       it in advance of the interview.  Would you accept that?
   A.  I wouldn't say I was studying it.  Why would I study it?
   Q.  You had the opportunity to do so.
   A.  The interview wouldn't be based on this.  I wouldn't be
       tested on this.  So I wouldn't study it.  I would have
       read it once, maybe twice, but not studying it.
   Q.  You would look rather foolish if an issue came up, or
       you were asked a question covered by this letter and you
       looked blank, you would look foolish then, wouldn't you?
   A.  But I knew they wouldn't ask me any -- well, regarding
       the -- in the interview, they wouldn't -- and they would
       raise anything on the interview regarding, if they
       needed to raise anything, because I'm not -- I am going
       into the -- as a new person, I'm not versed with all
       these terms and contracts and whatever it is.
   Q.  But Mr Abdulla, the interviewer could easily say,
       couldn't they, on this basis, "Thank you very much.
       What do you know about Post Office?  What is your
       understanding about your responsibility for losses?"
       And if you say "I don't have any idea at all", when you
       have a document that explains your liability --
   A.  As I said before, I was aware of --
   Q.  -- you would look rather silly, wouldn't you?
   A.  I was aware of losses, and also that the Post Office
       money is their own, it is not mine.  That is just
       common sense.  So there is nothing to review and
       research and study for that, really, because I took it
       in the first time.
   Q.  You had the interview on 22 November 2006, as I say.  Do
       you have any clear memory of that interview now, sitting
       there now?
   A.  Yes, I do.  So initially it was --
   Q.  No, can I ask you questions, please.  It is not for you
       then to give a soliloquy about it.
   A.  I thought you had finished, sorry.
   Q.  No, I am going to ask you specific questions about it.
           Elaine Ridge was one of the people interviewing you,
       do you remember that?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  She has made a witness statement in this action.  Have
       you read that?
   A.  I have, yes.
   Q.  You will be aware, therefore, that she doesn't have any
       specific memory of the interview, but what she does do
       is say she had a certain practice and says she would
       have followed that practice with you in this interview.
       What I want to do if I can is, by reference to that
       witness statement, take you to what she says she would
       ordinarily have done and so would have done with you.
           So that is bundle {C2/12/3}, please.  Have you
       looked across paragraph 12 previously?  Have you read
       that to yourself?
   A.  I have seen this before, yes.
   Q.  What she says --
   A.  Can I just refresh?
   Q.  Of course, yes.  (Pause)
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  So she says what she would have done.  If we go through
       them one by one, do you recall her saying that, by way
       of a checklist almost, the subpostmasters contract was
       a contract of services, not of employment?
   A.  I don't remember specifically but again I knew that fact
       anyway.
   Q.  2 is remuneration.  3, that they could change the
       products and services?
   A.  I believed, yes, the services would -- they would be
       updated or new products would be introduced which did
       occur frequently.
   Q.  And 12.4, that you would be responsible for everything
       whether you were there or not?
   A.  I don't remember it specifically, but again I knew I was
       the person responsible for the branch, and everything
       that happened as being a manager or a subpostmaster,
       that I was responsible for everything that did happen in
       the branch.
   Q.  And 12.5 similarly, you would be responsible for hiring
       and training assistants as they --
   A.  Again I don't remember going through this, but I knew
       about this again from documents before, and from
       previous experience with my parents, that I would be
       responsible for hiring staff, and, yes, my assistants.
   Q.  In terms of 12.6, that you would have to prepare branch
       accounts regularly, you knew that?  At this stage --
       I think we were on monthly accounting, weren't we, by
       this stage?
   A.  Yes.  This again, I don't remember her saying any --
       I remember that the branch accounts were mentioned but
       not any figures like £1,000 or £1, that was not
       mentioned.
   Q.  Let's take it in stages.  Did she emphasise or mention
       that you were required to make good any losses
       immediately?
   A.  Again I don't remember it as such, as you say
       immediately, but I knew I had to make good losses.
       I don't know if it was from her mentioning it or from
       anything else, but I knew that anyway, so it was just --
       if this is her checklist, so I don't -- I don't know if
       she went through this -- I know she didn't go through
       everything on this checklist but she might have gone
       through some things on this checklist.
   Q.  Because she says it is her practice to go through and
       give an example of a loss, whether it's £1 or £1,000
       and --
   A.  No, I specifically do not remember any figures
       mentioned.  So even if it was £1 or £1,000, I don't
       remember any figures mentioned.
   Q.  Is it possible she did mention it and you don't remember
       it now?
   A.  No.  I said I specifically do not remember --
       I specifically remember that she did not mention any
       figures.
   Q.  Then we deal with training, Helpline.  The training,
       Helpline was mentioned?
   A.  Training, yes, of course training would have been
       mentioned, training which would be the next stage if
       I was successful.  I enquired about the training, how
       long and so on, how would it be made up.  That would be
       one of my questions I would ask at the end if it wasn't
       covered anyway in an interview.
           Helpline, I can't remember if she mentioned the
       Helpline or not.  Maybe she did, maybe she didn't.  But
       if she did it would have been just "There is a Helpline
       available", not specific, any details of when to ring
       them or how to ring them or any phone numbers.
   Q.  She says it's also her practice to mention the
       possibility of you being suspended if anything untoward
       happened at the branch.  Do you remember her saying
       something along those lines?
   A.  No, I don't remember anything like that.  When you are
       going for an interview, if someone mentions something
       like that, you know, again you are going to have red
       flags waving.  You are going to think, hang on, this is
       not right.  If you are going for a job interview they
       don't mention like you are going to be -- you could be
       suspended and so on when you are going for an -- I know
       it is -- you are not going for a job, but it is similar
       in a way.  But, yes, this would have been -- this would
       have raised my eyebrows, if you like.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What about ending the contract
       immediately, do you remember if she mentioned that?
   A.  Definitely not, no.  That would have really been
       worrying for me and I would have made something -- you
       know, enquired more if she had mentioned that and asked
       for more details, and then I would have to go away and
       do some more research.
   MR CAVENDER:  In terms of legal advice, paragraph 16 of her
       statement, she says in the second line, {C2/12/4}:
           "It is likely that I suggested that Mr Abdulla
       should take professional advice if he was unsure about
       anything as this was something I would say in every --"
   A.  Definitely not, sorry.  No way.  That is no way
       suggested, about taking professional advice.  She never
       mentioned anything about professional advice and
       I categorically and specifically state that no mention
       of seeking professional advice was mentioned by her.  If
       I knew at the time of what I know now, I would have
       definitely sought professional advice.  But at the time
       she didn't mention anything.  No one mentioned anything
       about professional advice.
           In fact, going to interviews, even from suspension
       and termination, it was stated not to have legal advice.
       You cannot bring a lawyer, you cannot bring someone who
       is a solicitor or someone from -- so this is definitely
       not mentioned.
   Q.  Why have you got such a strong memory of this particular
       point compared to all the others?
   A.  Again, this would have raised my eyebrows.  It would
       have raised a red flag in my head.
   Q.  Why?
   A.  If you are going for an interview and someone says you
       should obtain legal advice, okay, about the contract or
       about -- if you are unsure about anything, then
       of course you will seek legal advice, wouldn't you?  If
       your employer or your -- or, you know, just an example,
       if your employer is saying you should seek legal advice
       about this contract you are signing into, you are going
       to.  You would be daft not to.
   Q.  What she says --
   A.  But I didn't, and then I didn't --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, to be clear, what she says she would have
       said was that you should take professional advice if you
       were unsure about anything.
   A.  It's the same thing.
   Q.  That is not a red flag, that is just --
   A.  No, it is the same thing.
   Q.  -- being sensible, I suggest?
   A.  It's the same thing, to me it's the same thing.  When
       you mention legal advice it is the same thing.  It just
       raises a red flag in my mind.
   Q.  In terms of service, you made clear in the interview,
       presumably, you were going to work in the Post Office
       yourself, is that right?
   A.  Yes, I put that on the business plan, that I'd be
       working a minimum 40 hours.
   Q.  Pausing there.  No one suggested to you that you had to
       work in the Post Office for a particular amount --
   A.  No, that was my choice.  I was the manager.  I wanted to
       establish myself as the postmaster.  You can't establish
       yourself if you are not there.  I wanted to be
       successful, I wanted to learn, I wanted to improve,
       increase the sales.  Although the staff were very good,
       very reliant, you need to be there to keep motivating
       them to increase the sales.  You have to make sure they
       keep asking the questions, to up-sell and side-sell,
       cross-sell.  Because they could get lazy and not ask
       questions.  So you have to be there to motivate them,
       and I did motivate them, and I put some incentives
       in place for them.  And that is why we raised the
       remuneration because it was something that I was
       really -- because obviously I wanted to get paid for the
       hard work that I was putting in.  So the only way to do
       that is work hard and, you know, why would I not be
       there?  What would I do then?
   Q.  But no one required you --
   A.  I was actually --
   Q.  Can I ask the question, please.  At the interview,
       no one required you to say you must work a minimum of so
       many hours per week, did they?
   A.  There is somewhere about 18 hours, which I recall.
   Q.  No one said to you in the interview "You have to work
       a minimum of 18 hours", or any other number of hours,
       did they?
   A.  Because I had put on the business plan that I would be
       working 40 hours, I don't think it came -- there was no
       point saying to me that ...
   Q.  Quite.  Exactly.
   A.  18.
   Q.  So why in your Particulars of Claim do you say this?  If
       you go to {B5.4/2/4}, your individual
       Particulars of Claim.
   A.  Can I finish my answers as well?  Because I am getting
       cut off quite a bit.
   Q.  Go to {B5.4/2/4}.  This is your individual
       Particulars of Claim.  You say at paragraph 11:
           "The defendant required the claimant to agree to
       conditions specified by the defendant at the interview
       as follows:
           "11.3 personal service by the claimant ... 'The
       incoming subpostmaster will provide on average not less
       than 18 hours personal service each week'."
   A.  So, yes, 11.1, conditions of appointment, yes, that is
       right, that was part of the conditions, so renewing
       interior lighting, National Lottery.  Yes, a lot of
       problems with National Lottery, that's why --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, would you concentrate, please, on the
       question, which is the personal service thing --
   A.  Sorry, it's further down.
   Q.  What I'm suggesting, and I think you've accepted, is
       there was no requirement for you to provide personal
       service.  My question supplemental to that is: why have
       you said in your Particulars of Claim here that that was
       a condition specified by the defendant at the interview?
   A.  Did I mention that?  No, I did not mention anything
       about -- here it says:
           "The incoming subpostmaster will provide on average
       not less than 18 hours personal service each week."
           Are you on the right section?
   Q.  Yes, I'm on the right section.
   A.  So what was the query, sorry?  I didn't understand.
   Q.  I think you understand, Mr Abdulla.
   A.  No, I don't understand.
   Q.  You have said to me, and it is on the transcript, that
       the issue of any number of hours you needing to work at
       the Post Office didn't arise because you said in your
       business plan you were going to work at least 40 hours
       per week, and you agreed.  I'm now putting to you --
   A.  This is something -- as I said before, I must have
       picked up that there was 18 hours, which I did say
       before, I am sure I said about the 40 hours, that I knew
       there was something about 18 hours personal service each
       week.
   Q.  But it was never a condition specified at the interview
       that you had to provide 18 hours personal service, was
       it?  You accepted this once.  My question now is: why
       have you put it in your pleading that it was?  (Pause)
   A.  This, again, I put 40 hours as the amount of hours
       I would be working.  I believed this was something
       that I had read and it was relevant at the time.
   Q.  So you read it where?
   A.  I read it on one of the papers, one of the documents
       that was provided.
   Q.  Provided when?
   A.  By the Post Office before --
   Q.  When?
   A.  Before interview or before the application.
   Q.  I am sure my learned friend will show you that if that
       does exist because I have certainly not seen it.
   A.  I had it from somewhere, there was something -- and
       I have seen it numerous times, about 18 hours.
           So is it the fact that I don't need to work at all
       in the Post Office?
   Q.  Correct.
   A.  So there is no stipulations.
   Q.  No, exactly.  You can employ assistants to do the entire
       work as --
   A.  No, I wasn't aware of that.  I was sure there was some
       kind of ...
   Q.  As I say, if there is a document you refer to, I'm sure
       my learned --
   A.  Then who would be the subpostmaster?
   Q.  You would be, and you would employ assistants to do the
       actual work in the branch.
   A.  It just doesn't register with me, I am sorry.
   Q.  If you go to paragraph 45 of your witness statement
       {C1/4/10}, you say there:
           "Although it was not shown to me at the time, I have
       now seen a document headed 'Conditions of Appointment at
       Post Office Charlton branch' which includes the
       requirements I have referred to above, and the hours of
       opening, and a requirement for me to provide not less
       than 18 hours personal service each week.  This document
       is signed by Ms Ridge."
           Do you see that?
   A.  The document --
   Q.  Can I ask the question, please --
   A.  No, sorry, the document you showed me before, that is
       stipulations and things that I need to do, they are
       conditions of employment.  They are from the
       Post Office.  Isn't that correct?  Along with making
       shutters good and repainting and so on and so on, they
       come from the Post Office.  This is -- in this -- this
       is the truth.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By "this", I think you are just
       indicating your witness statement, yes?
   A.  Yes, that is correct, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What I want you to do, Mr Cavender,
       please, can you take the witness to {D1.4/1/1} --
   A.  Sorry, my Lord, I am confused by the document.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That's alright.  Mr Cavender is going to
       take you to the document you refer to in paragraph 45.
   A.  Because those conditions come from the Post Office --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, I know.  Just wait there
       patiently.  Mr Cavender is going to take you to the
       document.  {D1.4/1/1}.  (Pause)
   A.  Sorry, my Lord, it is right there in section 3.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes, this is --
   A.  It's right there in front of me as part of their
       conditions.  It is not my conditions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  Well, what that says Mr Cavender
       is going to take you to now.
   MR CAVENDER:  This is a document Elaine Ridge has used to
       indicate the conditions of appointment that are agreed
       at the interview.  Do you see at the top?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And this is an internal Post Office document --
   A.  Sorry, is this after the interview or before?
   Q.  After the interview.
   A.  Where does it say that?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, what the document suggests
       to me is that Ms Ridge has signed it after the interview
       to say what you and she agreed at the interview.
   A.  Okay.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And that is why Mr Cavender has taken
       you to the top two lines.  He is now going to take you
       to the next part which I think is at item 3.
   MR CAVENDER:  What she does is record here for internal
       purposes after the interview that you are going to
       provide on average not less than 18 hours personal
       service per week.  And she has done that because, as you
       say in the interview, you said you were going to spend
       40 hours per week.  Do you see?  What I am suggesting to
       you is that is very different from her saying it is
       a requirement for you to do 18 hours per week.  Do you
       see the difference?
   A.  But that would have come from her side.
   Q.  This does come from her --
   A.  It is not from my side because --
   Q.  I agree.  This is her checklist of --
   A.  This is part of the conditions of employment, is that
       correct?
   Q.  No --
   A.  This is not part of the conditions of employment?  Why
       is the heading "Conditions of Appointment"?
   Q.  This is her internal checklist, we can see that from --
   A.  No, this says:
           "Conditions of appointment are as follows ..."
   Q.  Yes, because what she is doing is reminding herself for
       internal purposes what the specific conditions,
       the opening hours, things like that, et cetera, are
       going to be in the contract with you.
   A.  In the box, what does it say in the box?  Not on number
       1.
   Q.  Can we concentrate on the point I am trying to make,
       please, Mr Abdulla, which is --
   A.  Sir, you are avoiding what is in the box there.  It
       says:
           "Conditions of appointment at Post Office Charlton
       branch."
           That is the branch I was taking over.
           Number 1, conditions of appointment --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, can you --
   A.  Number 2, hours.  Number 3:
           "The incoming subpostmaster will provide on average
       not less than 18 hours personal service each week."
           So that is all under the box there.  That is what
       I see and that is where it is and that is why I assume
       that is the conditions.
   Q.  The question is whether, as you plead, Post Office made
       it a requirement for you to serve 18 hours per week.
       And I think we have agreed they didn't, because you said
       you were going to serve 40, so there was no debate about
       Post Office requiring you to serve 18 hours.  Am I still
       right?
   A.  I put in my business plan that I would be working
       40 hours.  Whether that would be 40 hours in ten years'
       time, I don't think so.  I don't know, maybe.  Five
       years' time, ten years' time.  So in the business plan
       you put 40 hours and that is -- it might be a timeframe
       of -- because my aim was to buy another Post Office, so
       I would obviously not spend 40 hours in that
       Post Office, I would have to spend half and half or
       whatever.  So --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, the only reason --
   A.  -- that was initial, that 40 hours I would be spending
       in Charlton branch for maybe the first year or so, where
       I would get established, I would learn everything, I
       would pick everything up.  And then we would see,
       because my intention was to buy another Post Office,
       expand this one, you know, buy other properties.  That
       was my aim.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, the only relevance of the 18 hours --
   A.  I was very ambitious.
   Q.  -- to anything was, if you served that amount of time,
       you would be entitled to certain allowances, a
       substitution allowance, if you weren't there.  That is
       the only relevance of it.
   A.  I was not aware of any allowances.
   Q.  Okay.  Let's leave that point there.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can I just check a point with you,
       Mr Cavender, because I think we have gone slightly
       off-piste.
           At {Day4/41:20} of today's transcript you said:
           "At the interview, no one required you to say you
       must work a minimum of so many hours a week, did they?"
           I understand Ms Ridge's signed note as suggesting
       that it was agreed at the interview that there would be
       at least 18 hours.  Have I misunderstood that?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes, I think so.  Because as I said, the only
       relevance, and we will see this more generally, of the
       18 hours is you are then entitled to certain allowances
       if you do that.  There is no requirement --
   A.  No, allowances are not highlighted.  I did not know
       anything about holidays --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right, Mr Abdulla, just sit there
       quietly.  This is a point I am exploring.
           In terms of the factual case, have I misunderstood
       Ms Ridge's signed note at {D1.4/1/1}, or should
       I interpret the Post Office's case, as page {Day4/41:20}
       of today's transcript, about what was put to Mr Abdulla
       at the interview.  That is all I want to know.
   MR CAVENDER:  The Post Office's case is that they have
       internal checks after an interview to see what has been
       said and how the postmaster is going to perform.  So far
       as service is concerned, no personal service at all is
       required or ever mentioned.  The only relevance of
       checking whether 18 hours is going to be provided is
       because you are then allowed, if they have holiday, to
       have a substitute.  And that is what I imagine she will
       say if asked.
           So if you read into the D1 document that somehow
       that is a requirement that has been agreed, then that is
       the wrong interpretation.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am not talking about the legal
       consequences, I am just talking about the factual point
       that is being put about the interview.
           Am I to take the note at the moment at face value
       signed by Ms Ridge, or is this something we have to wait
       until we have her give evidence about, about what was
       put to Mr Abdulla or agreed with him, or taken as read,
       because 18 is obviously less than 40?
   MR CAVENDER:  It's the latter, taken as read.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Taken as read.
   MR CAVENDER:  Taken as read, because he said he would do 40.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Simply because obviously, and it's an
       obvious point, 18 is less than 40.
   MR CAVENDER:  Exactly.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Okay.
   MR CAVENDER:  If we can move on, we got rather bogged down
       there, to {E4/33/2}, please.  At the top of that page
       she records you as saying:
           "Feels the partnership between Post Office and
       subpostmaster benefits both businesses, may be problems
       if there are any conflicts of issues."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is her recording something you have said.
       I suggest to you what you --
   A.  Sorry, "may be problems if there are any ..."  That is
       not what I would have said, sorry.  This is her notes,
       this is what she is writing, and this is probably
       afterwards or maybe during.  It may be that she might
       have assumed that from -- but it is not what I said.
   Q.  The point I want to put to you is a rather different
       one.  When you were talking about "partnership" here,
       you were using it colloquially, in the sort of cuddly
       sense I think that you referred to earlier --
   A.  I was referring to the fact that you're working
       together, so you're working together to make money, and
       that was both the Post Office's and my primarily --
       primary goal, was to make money.  Increase sales and
       make money.
   Q.  Going to the idea of training assistants, et cetera, you
       knew the training of assistants was something that you
       were responsible for, am I right?
   A.  Training -- I have to be specific here because there was
       no way I could train them on Horizon, I wasn't savvy --
       I wasn't knowledgeable enough on Horizon to train
       anyone.
   Q.  But once you had had your training you could cascade
       that down in the normal way?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You were a computer champion, I believe --
   A.  No.  As I mentioned before, you are taking that out of
       context.  Computer champion in that term didn't mean
       that I was an IT expert, all it meant was I was relaying
       information.  You had a champion for various things,
       they would relay information to head office.  So you are
       putting words where they are not supposed to be.
       Because I did mention before the fact that it just meant
       I was relaying information to and from head office.  It
       doesn't mean I was an IT expert.  I have never been
       an IT expert.  All I can do is Word, Excel, basic
       things.
           But, yes, just going back ... I have lost where
       I was now.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just wait, Mr Cavender will put his next
       question.
   MR CAVENDER:  So we have seen in the summary of contract
       terms I have shown you earlier today, clearly assistants
       are your responsibility and your responsibility to train
       them.
   A.  Yes, that's right.
   Q.  So why are you saying -- and you plead this I think at
       paragraph 32 of your IPOC, I am not taking you to it,
       I don't have time -- you say somehow you thought it was
       Post Office's job to train assistants?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I am sorry.  Before this witness gave
       evidence I spoke to my learned friend, directed him
       precisely to that paragraph, and explained what the
       position was in relation to it and discussed that we
       dealt with it in that manner, and I said "If you are
       going to raise the issue, that clarification becomes
       important".  He said "I wasn't going to", and I left it
       there.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What clarification, sorry?  A
       clarification in-chief?
   MR GREEN:  No, my Lord.  There was one clarification of
       a point in his Particulars of Claim which he had not
       addressed in his evidence-in-chief which relates to this
       very paragraph.
   MR CAVENDER:  I am going to give him the chance to do that
       now, that's why I'm taking him to it.
   A.  Okay, I can answer it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right, all three of you, please,
       just ...
           Mr Green, just so I understand, you are saying you
       wished to make a clarification but did not do so, is
       that right?
   MR GREEN:  I raised an issue --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  No, I'm not interested in your chat,
       I am asking you a specific, precise point.  When you say
       "clarification", are you talking about a clarification
       of the evidence?
   MR GREEN:  No, it wasn't covered in his evidence.  It was
       only a pleadings point on paragraph 32.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  If it is a pleadings point we
       don't need to deal with it now.  You can sit down and
       Mr Cavender can pursue it.
   MR CAVENDER:  Can I go to {B5.4/2/10}, please.
       Paragraph 32.  As your counsel has just said, his
       understanding is you want to alter or amend the second
       part of paragraph 32 which says at the moment:
           "... which reflected the claimant's understanding
       that it was the defendant's obligation to provide
       training to assistants."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.  This is --
   Q.  Would you like to tell me --
   A.  I'm trying to.
   Q.  -- what you would like that to say?
   A.  So this would be reflected -- okay, I'll start from the
       beginning:
           "The defendant provided training on new products
       directly to the claimant's assistants ..."
           Which they did.  So this training -- every manager
       would come in when there was a new product, we would
       have leaflets to give to the customer.  So it was only
       not even a half an hour training session where whoever
       was free, and if it wasn't busy on the tills, they would
       come with myself and have the training in the back
       office.  So I had a five counter office.  So maybe it
       was two or three with me having -- just going through
       what we need to sell to the customers, what we need to
       say to them, and the leaflet that we had to give out,
       take their details, and then someone from the
       Post Office would phone them and get more information.
       Because we weren't really selling, we were just taking
       details off the customers so they could ring them back,
       someone who knew what they were talking about.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, you really are going to have
       to rein in these very long expositions, okay?
   A.  I am just painting a picture --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I do know that.  But Mr Cavender is
       going to put to you some specific questions and I would
       just like you to concentrate on his questions, please.
   MR CAVENDER:  It is really the second part of this that your
       counsel wanted to alter, where you say:
           "... which reflected the claimant's understanding
       that it was the defendant's obligation to provide
       training to assistants."
           So my question really is: what is your position --
   A.  Through myself.
   Q.  What is your position as to your obligation to provide
       training to assistants?
   A.  Through myself, yes.
   Q.  You were going to do it?
   A.  I was going to do it, but occasionally they would --
       well, most of the time the staff would be training with
       myself in the back office.  But if they were all busy,
       then I would receive the training and I would relay it
       on to the staff.  So this should say just through me, so
       this should -- it was really indirectly.
   Q.  If we move away from the products, so I have the
       products point, but it is the more general point
       which --
   A.  No, this is regarding products.  It's on paragraph 32.
       This is about products.  It is nothing to do with
       Horizon or anything because I could not train anyone on
       Horizon.
   Q.  So you are saying 32 should be limited simply to
       products, really?  That is how we should read it?
   A.  Well, that is what it is.  That is what it says there,
       it's just about products.
   Q.  Well, no, it's:
           "... which reflected the claimant's understanding
       that it was the defendant's obligation to provide
       training to assistants."
   A.  The whole paragraph is about products.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Okay.  Mr Cavender, does that deal with
       that one?
   MR CAVENDER:  I think it does, my Lord, yes.
           Is that a convenient time for a break, my Lord?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think it might be a good idea.
           Mr Abdulla, you have got ten minutes.  We are all
       going to have a break for ten minutes.  Please do not
       talk to anyone about the case.  Don't feel you have to
       stay in the courtroom, you really don't.  Go and stretch
       your legs but be back in ten minutes.
           Thank you all very much.  Back at two minutes to
       12 o'clock.
   (11.51 am)
                         (A short break)
   (12.00 pm)
   MR CAVENDER:  So Mr Abdulla, moving on in time then
       to December 2006 when Post Office wrote to you to inform
       you that your application was successful, do you
       remember that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  And you received a letter from Post Office informing you
       of that fact, am I right?
   A.  Yes, I believe so.
   Q.  Can I take you to a copy of that letter {E4/2/1}.  This
       letter as you can see is in fact dated 7 April 2005 in
       error.  I am suggesting to you this was sent to you in
       the early part of December 2006.  Do you remember
       receiving it then?
   A.  Was there another one sent with the correct date?
   Q.  No.
   A.  This was the one?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  Yes ... (Pause)
   Q.  Take your time.  Look at page 2 if you like {E4/2/2}.
           I see you smiling?
   A.  Yes, I see your sarcasm.
   Q.  If you want to go to page 5, there are various
       appendices.
   A.  Yes, I remember.
   Q.  It's 1M.  Point 1:
           "You will be bound by the terms of the standard
       subpostmasters contract ..."
           Et cetera.  It is your copy.  I think you had to
       sign and return a copy, didn't you?  And we see that
       page at {E4/2/8} of this document, appendix 1M return
       copy?
   A.  Yes, I believe -- yes, this was when I had to send my
       bank details and other documents.
   Q.  Does that help you?  Do you accept you received this in
       early December 2006, this whole letter?
   A.  Is this -- have you shown me the whole thing?
   Q.  No, it goes on.  It has next of kin, et cetera.
       After -- look at page 8 and 9, that is the return thing
       which you signed and returned, I understand.  So page
       {E4/2/8} and page {E4/2/9}.  Then turn over to page
       {E4/2/10} where you would have signed it.  Then page
       {E4/2/11} is a next of kin form.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then page {E4/2/13} is ethnic classifications and
       various other stuff.  Then documents in --
   A.  Yes, this all look familiar, yes.
   Q.  Then documents in appointment pack at page {E4/2/15}, if
       you look at that, please.  Then go to page {E4/2/16} to
       see what that contains.
           So you had received these documents in early
       December 2006, yes?
   A.  So far as I can remember, yes.  Some of the pages are
       familiar, yes.
   Q.  And we know you got them because at bundle {E4/45/1} we
       see appendix 1M, the return copy of appendix 1M, and
       rather oddly we see it starts at paragraph 6, do you see
       that on {E4/45/1} in terms of the paragraph numbering?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that reflects, if you compare it and go back to
       {E4/2/8}, appendix 1M also starts idiosyncratically at
       paragraph 6, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.  Why is that?
   Q.  Don't worry about why that is.  What I am putting to you
       is that it is the same document, formatted in the same
       way.
           And we see from page {E4/45/2} your signature on
       this document.
   A.  Didn't the previous document have 1 to 5 on?  Didn't it
       have anything before that?  No?
   Q.  Can you answer this question, and I will take you to it
       in a moment to deal with that point.  At page {E4/45/2}
       we see your signature?
   A.  That is my signature.
   Q.  On 11 December 2006?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it is safe to assume you received at least the
       appendix 1M return copy on that date?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that was part of a larger document I have just shown
       you at {E4/2/1}.  So it is reasonably safe to assume,
       I suggest to you, that you would have received all the
       documents as you seem to be accepting that you would.
       Is that fair?
   A.  It is not 100 per cent necessary that I would have
       received everything that was -- that you have said.  But
       yes, as I said before, the pages do look familiar.
   Q.  And to answer your question --
   A.  But I can't be 100 per cent sure that I received
       everything, especially the documents which were listed
       on the table.  I cannot be sure, because they are not
       there, they are just numbers and just references.
   Q.  To answer your question about paragraph numbering,
       I said I would go back.  So {E4/2/5}, please.
   A.  Yes, so this is got 1 to --
   Q.  But this is your copy.  Do you see this is the "your
       copy" version?
   A.  Right.
   Q.  The "return copy" version at {E4/8/1} starts with
       paragraph 6 at the top.
   A.  Where is number 5?  That is missing.
   Q.  That is the idiosyncracy of the pagination.  It's not
       meant to.  There isn't paragraphs 1 to 5 missing --
   A.  No.  Where is section 5, paragraph 5?
   Q.  As I say, it --
   A.  It goes from 1 to 4 and then 6 to 9.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have got a page with a paragraph 5 on
       but I might be looking at the wrong document.
   A.  Ah, here it is.  That's a different document though.
   MR CAVENDER:  You mean {E4/2/6} has a paragraph 5 with the
       opening hours et cetera?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am trying to work out which document
       Mr Abdulla signed and sent back.
   MR CAVENDER:  He sent the one, my Lord, back at {E4/45/1}.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  {E4/45/1} is the one he sent back.
   MR CAVENDER:  Page 1 and page 2, the signature being on
       page 2. {E4/45/2}
   A.  Why would I send out --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, please, please.
           That is the one of 11 December 2006.
   MR CAVENDER:  Correct.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But that isn't the document that was
       sent as the appendix, is it?  Because if you look back
       to {E4/45/1}, it goes -- on that single page there is 6,
       7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And the first page of the return copy
       and the document you were putting to him I think stops
       after paragraph 9.  But I might be wrong.
   MR CAVENDER:  The one I put to him goes on --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The return copy {E4/2/8}.  That page
       stops, on that page, at paragraph 9, doesn't it?
   MR CAVENDER:  It doesn't have the opening hours.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you then go on to page {E4/2/9} ...
       the content might be the same but it is a different --
   MR CAVENDER:  The formatting is different anyway.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Okay.  It might not matter.  So that is
       the one he signed and sent back anyway,
       11 December 2006.
   MR CAVENDER:  Indeed.
           When you got this letter, presumably you would have
       been pleased you had been appointed?  Going back now to
       {E4/2/1}.
   A.  Yes, I was very pleased.
   Q.  This was the first time you had seen the full contract
       because so far you had only seen a summary of terms.  We
       have been through that this morning, haven't we?
   A.  As I said before, I have not received the contract,
       never have.  So again you are just going round the same
       way and asking me the same question.
           I told you if I would have seen the contract what
       I would have done.  I don't want to keep repeating
       myself.
   Q.  Let's have a look at what the letter says in {E4/2/1}.
       It says:
           "Your appointment will be subject to:
           "1. Your written acceptance of the subpostmasters
       contract and other terms and conditions set out in
       appendix 1M ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I'll tell you the truth again, I was very pleased at
       receiving this letter and that I was successful.  So the
       contract was -- obviously it's important, but I thought
       that I would get that on a later date as it is
       a modified one.  Maybe it was still being modified or
       whatever.  But it wasn't a concern to me because I knew
       they would send it anyway or I thought they would send
       it anyway at a later date.
   Q.  Let's look at {E4/2/2} with that in mind:
           "Appendix 2 lists the documents in the appointment
       pack and gives full details of the actions required of
       you ... In particular, the appointment pack contains a
       copy of the modified subpostmasters contract, setting
       out the contractual relationship with Post Office ..."
   A.  Yes, again --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Sorry, where are you reading from?
   MR CAVENDER:  {E4/2/2}, under the narrative of what was in
       appendix 2.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  He.
   MR CAVENDER:  Now, you would have read that because this is
       the first page of the letter, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say you hadn't seen the contract at this stage, that
       is your evidence.  This is the first time you have seen
       a copy of the contract or reference to it being
       included --
   A.  Reference to it.
   Q.  If it hadn't been included, yes?  In the same way as on
       one of your pharmaceutical jobs, if they hadn't included
       some of the medicines or --
   A.  Medicines and a contract is a different thing.
   Q.  -- you would have asked for it, wouldn't you?
   A.  I did at a later stage enquire about it.
   Q.  Now, we know you didn't ask for it at this stage --
   A.  Not at this stage.
   Q.  Then can I infer from that that it must have been there
       then, because --
   A.  No.
   Q.  -- if it hadn't been you would have asked for it?
   A.  No.  As I said before, it wasn't something that was
       really important to me.  I trusted the Post Office and
       its dealings.  I trusted the brand, the Post Office,
       a nationwide institution, and I wouldn't have thought
       there would be anything malicious or untoward in
       the contract.  So I just was waiting for it to come at
       the office when I started, which I presumed it would
       come at the office maybe, because as I said it was being
       modified, there was maybe some things that were not
       finished on it.
           So it wasn't a concern to me at this stage.  I was
       just happy that they had accepted my application and
       I was successful and I was going to be the subpostmaster
       of Charlton Post Office.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, appendix 2 says:
           "In particular, the appointment pack contains a copy
       of the modified subpostmasters contract, setting out the
       contractual relationship ..."
           The very thing you accepted earlier on was something
       you were expecting, and here it is.
   A.  If I was expecting it, it doesn't mean I was expecting
       it at that time.  I could have expected it ... I hadn't
       started yet, so there was still time for me to start.
       They could have sent it at a later date, maybe a day or
       two after.  But again, I was just so excited, so happy
       that -- it wasn't in the front of my mind.  It wasn't,
       okay, I need -- the contract is not there, I need to see
       the contract right now, I need to do the phone calls, do
       this, do this.  It wasn't like that.  It is just a, you
       know, you are in a good place, a good feeling, and you
       are not thinking about things like that.
   Q.  When you signed and returned appendix 1M, which we
       looked at {E4/45/1}, you were signing to agreeing,
       amongst others things, to be bound by the terms of the
       subpostmasters contract for services at modified payment
       offices, weren't you?
   A.  Yes, I -- the terms, that is right, but not the actual
       contract.
   Q.  Pause there.  What is the difference between the terms
       and --
   A.  I don't know.
   Q.  -- the actual contract?
   A.  As I said, I have not had a contract like this before.
       Every contract I have signed has always had the contract
       and you sign the contract.  So if I am bound by the
       terms, I'm ... Again, I was -- I was sort of
       commercially naive and I was -- I hadn't had a business
       before, so I wasn't -- I was just happy that I was
       accepted, you know.  And then, as I say, I trusted the
       Post Office to send it at later date and I trusted the
       brand.  You know, you don't -- with the Post Office you
       associate -- you don't associate anything bad with the
       Post Office.
   Q.  Go to {E4/45/2}, please, which is the signature page of
       appendix 1M.  You signed there to say:
           "I, Mr Naushad Abdulla, fully understand and accept
       these terms and conditions."
           And you sign it.
   A.  I was accepting all the terms -- so it's not just about
       the contract there.  The contract is not even mentioned
       there.
   Q.  Can we go back, to see if that is right, to {E4/45/1}
       and go to paragraph 6 at the top, it says these --
   A.  Yes, it's highlighted with --
   Q.  -- words:
           "You will be bound by the terms of the standard
       subpostmasters contract for services at modified payment
       offices."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So when you signed to say you understand and accept the
       terms and conditions, I suggest --
   A.  I was willing to accept and be bound by the contract
       because, as I said, I trusted the Post Office.  So even
       if I didn't have the contract with me, I was still happy
       to be bound by the terms of the contract.
   Q.  So even if you were right and it wasn't in this pack,
       which I don't accept for a moment, you were happy to be
       bound by it on the basis that if you wanted it, you
       would be sent a copy and it would be provided to you, is
       that where you end up?
   A.  Yes, because this -- a contract -- I would have assumed
       it was just a general contract to say this is how much
       you would be earning, these are the products you will be
       selling.  A standard contract.  I didn't expect it to
       be -- you know, just a standard contract with standard
       terms, whatever ...
   Q.  Standard terms.  And you already had an insight, didn't
       you, to what they would be because the Serv 135 document
       I showed you earlier which morning had extracts from the
       contract, so you knew some of the terms?
   A.  I read some of the terms.
   Q.  When you got the terms, you could have taken such legal
       advice as you wanted to take upon them before signing
       and returning the document at {E4/45/1}, couldn't you?
   A.  There was nothing here to suggest I should take any
       legal advice.  If the contract was there, then I would
       have looked at the contract and I would have seen how
       complicated and how vast it is, and all the different
       clauses, then I would have spoken to someone about it
       legally.  But then with just -- with what was just there
       in these couple of pages, I was happy not to have any
       legal advice.
   Q.  But you are a businessman, you were setting up this
       business --
   A.  I wasn't a businessman at this time, I was just
       a salesperson, a salesman.  I was not a businessman.
   Q.  You were setting up this business and you were taking
       legal advice at the time on the purchase --
   A.  Legal advice regarding the purchase of a lease.
   Q.  Correct.  And if you had wanted to, you could have asked
       that or another legal adviser for legal advice on this
       contract.  If you had wanted to?
   A.  No, they were just business transfer agents -- sorry,
       they were just people who deal with -- I forgot the
       name, but they deal --
   Q.  They were solicitors, a firm of solicitors?
   A.  Yes, but they were just dealing with house purchases and
       that sort of thing, business purchases.
   Q.  But you are aware solicitors have other --
   A.  Yes, but the ones I was dealing with were only
       business -- what do you call them?  I forgot what they
       are called.  Conveyancers or something.
   Q.  Did you go and visit the conveyancers --
   A.  No.  No, I didn't go and visit them.
   Q.  But if you had wanted to you could have said on the
       phone, "I'm interested in the detail about the lease.
       I have this contract.  Have you got anyone who can give
       me advice on it?"
   A.  Again, you said I have this contract when I didn't have
       the contract.  So why would I suggest them to give me
       legal advice on a contract when I didn't have the
       contract?  If I would have had the contract, again,
       I don't know how many times I have to say it ...
   Q.  So I suggest to you if it wasn't there, Mr Abdulla, you
       would have asked for it, and you have been pretty
       straightforward about that.  And you didn't ask for
       it --
   A.  Yes, but I was in no rush.  So I did enquire -- not at
       this particular time but at a later date.  Before
       actual -- before taking over, before going -- being
       subpostmaster I did enquire about it.
   Q.  You did?
   A.  I did.
   Q.  Of whom?
   A.  With the area manager.
   Q.  Who was that?
   A.  Christine Adams.
   Q.  And when do you say you did that?
   A.  On transfer day.
   Q.  Do you mention that in your witness statement?
   A.  It's not come up before, so it's only highlighted now.
   Q.  So it is not mentioned in your witness statement?
   A.  It wasn't an issue before.
   Q.  What, the fact of the contract and whether or not you
       had received it at any particular time wasn't an issue
       before?
   A.  It was just on passing, when I was signing the various
       documents, there was something about the contract
       and I said "I haven't received this", and she said "If
       you haven't received it you will receive it.  It will
       come to the office", or whatever.  It was just a general
       passing.  But it wasn't an issue and it has not been --
       I have stated that I've not received the contract, but
       you have only brought it up now that it is -- why didn't
       you make a phone call?  Why didn't you enquire about it?
       So you've only brought it up now, and that is why I am
       referring to it now, but I wouldn't have referred to it
       before this.
   Q.  I suggest to you if that were true, the account you have
       just given, we would have found it clearly in your
       witness statement, because it would be an important
       point and you must have realised that, Mr Abdulla.
   A.  I don't believe so, I don't think -- I think -- I
       don't -- as I said, it was just enquiring in person, it
       wasn't something that I was -- it was just when I was
       signing the documents and it was just something
       I mentioned.
   Q.  We are going to branch transfer day now, that's
       24 January 2007.  Do you remember who the Post Office
       rep was who did the transfer with you?  Do you know
       the name of the person?
   A.  There was no one doing the transfer with me.  There was
       the area manager who was there, she was helping out with
       the -- Christine Adams, she was helping out with the
       audit.  I was outside, I was not allowed inside where
       the actual office is because obviously they were doing
       their work and they were counting cash and stock.  So
       I was waiting outside.  There was a few people there
       just doing all the audits but I was outside.
           I was also at the time just on the phone finalising
       the lease and the payment going through to the landlord,
       and that sort of thing, so I was busy doing that sort of
       thing.
   Q.  In terms of the various documents, you signed an
       acknowledgement of appointment.  We see that at
       {D1.4/3/1}.  Do you see that?  Do you remember signing
       that?
   A.  When was this?  Was it transfer day?
   Q.  Yes.  Yes, this is on transfer day.
   A.  Yes, I signed a lot of documents on transfer day.  There
       was no time to read, no time to go through them.  They
       were just handed --
   Q.  Pause there.
   A.  They were just handed to me, "Just sign this", next one,
       "Sign this", next one.  If they'd wanted me to read them
       through and go through them --
   Q.  Can I ask a question, please --
   A.  -- they would have sent them a couple of days before and
       I could have gone through and read them and then on
       transfer day I could have just signed them.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, dealing with this particular document, if
       you had wanted more time to read it before you signed
       it, you could have asked for more time, couldn't you?
   A.  No, there was no time.  It was -- everything was rushed.
       We had finally done the -- they'd carried out the audit,
       they'd finished the audit after the branch was closed,
       I can't remember if it was closed half day or full day,
       but anyway it went on until like about 6 o'clock,
       7 o'clock --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, this is a single page.  Surely you had time
       to read a single page?  You would have read this single
       page, wouldn't you?
   A.  I believe I could have even -- looking at it now, I can
       just skim over it.  But again, the documents were just
       handed to me.  This is just one of many.  Other ones
       were in -- like a couple of pages.
   Q.  Let's look at this because you were asked to sign this.
       This is one of two or three documents in particular you
       were asked to sign, we have seen in other cases as well.
       It says:
           "... agree to be bound by the terms of my
       contract ..."
           Pausing there.  At this stage, on your case, you say
       you may not have got a copy of the contract.  Possibly.
       You are not sure, but you say that is a possibility you
       are asking the court to consider --
   A.  I never said it was a possibility.  I said --
       I categorically said that I did not receive the
       contract.  And signing a similar document before about
       being bound by the terms of my contract, I have signed
       a document similar to that, so why would I not sign this
       document?  Because it is the same thing.  So without
       seeing the contract, again I trusted the dealings with
       the Post Office, and I would have signed even if -- the
       day was so rushed, it was -- you didn't have any chance
       to ask any questions on what you were signing and so on.
           And actually this is the bit where -- on transfer
       day, this is when I did mention -- when I was talking
       earlier about mentioning it to Christine Adams, and this
       was the time I did mention it.
   Q.  But I thought you didn't have any time when it was put
       in front you.  Now you're saying you had time to ask
       questions and in fact asked a question.
   A.  There was limited time, there was limited --
   Q.  Which is it, Mr Abdulla?  Is it that you had no time --
   A.  It was both.
   Q.  -- and they're put in front of you and you signed one
       after another, or did you read them, discuss them and
       ask questions as you are now asking the court to
       believe?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Which is true?
   A.  No, no.  It was only on this issue, because again it is
       a one-page document.  Other documents were two or three
       pages, where you would have to go through -- just turn
       the pages and sign at the last page.  You don't have
       time to go through them.  But this was a one-page
       document --
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, I put it to you that you are making it up as
       you go along.
   A.  No.  I did mention before that I mentioned to
       Christine Adams about the contract during transfer day,
       during going through the papers, and this was the stage,
       and now bringing this up has highlighted that again.
           I'm not making anything up.
   Q.  Go to {E4/51/1}, please.  Another document I think you
       would have been shown on transfer day.  Do you remember
       seeing this highlighting certain sections of your
       contract?
   A.  Is this something I was handed on transfer day to sign?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  Again I wouldn't have had time to go through all of
       that.
   Q.  It's a three-page document --
   A.  It doesn't matter --
   Q.  We see your signature at {E4/51/3} --
   A.  That's what I'm saying, there were pages like that.  It
       was just -- the last page was shown to you to sign and
       you just sign it.  You don't go through the pages, you
       just -- she just highlighted where I need to sign and
       then I just signed it.
   Q.  Can I be clear who you say was at transfer day.
   A.  I can only remember Christine Adams.
   Q.  Look at paragraph 55 of your witness statement, please.
       {C1/4/11}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Read 55 to yourself.  (Pause)
           Have you read it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say that Ms Stevens attended and assisted with the
       audit, no mention --
   A.  Yes, Christine Adams changed to Christine Stevens, or
       the other way around, because she must have got married.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It says "Stevens" on the signed
       appointment anyway.
   A.  It's the same person.
   MR CAVENDER:  I don't believe that is true, Mr Abdulla.  My
       instructions are they are not the same person.
   A.  I think you need to do your research then because that
       is definitely true.  Christine Stevens is
       Christine Adams.
   Q.  Going back to {E4/51/1} and this document, you would
       have had a chance to read this, because you wouldn't
       sign something that is untrue, would you, Mr Abdulla?
       And you do say at {E4/51/3}:
           "I, Naushad Abdulla, hereby acknowledge that I have
       read and understood these extracts."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Again, they were just handed to me and just told me to
       sign, where to sign.  It wasn't -- I couldn't read
       anything through.  The only one I read was because it
       was one page, and it was just a few lines about
       the contract, that was highlighted, and that is where
       I made an enquiry about the contract.
   Q.  Is the declaration made here then true or untrue, the
       one you have signed on the page I have just shown you?
   A.  Sorry, what --
   Q.  "I hereby acknowledge that I have read and understood
       these extracts."
           Was that declaration you made and signed true or
       untrue?
   A.  It depends how you look at it.  At the time I didn't
       have time to read it, so you can take what you will from
       that.  I didn't have time to read it, I just signed it.
   Q.  These were extracts from your contract, we see that at
       {E4/51/1} at the top:
           "Dear subpostmaster.
           "... I would like to draw your attention to extracts
       from your Contract."
           Capital C.  That was fine with you because of course
       you had already got a copy of your contract, hadn't you?
   A.  Oh my God.
           Do I need to answer that again?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, if it is the same answer as
       before, why don't you just say --
   A.  It is the same answer, my Lord.
   MR CAVENDER:  The third document you certainly signed on
       that day is at {E4/54/1}, something called an ARS 110.
       Do you remember looking at that?  You have signed it,
       yes?  The incoming postmaster signature.
   A.  Yes, I signed it.  That is my signature.
   Q.  What this does is indicate the handing over, I suggest
       to you, of the five volumes you see there, together with
       the various Horizon guides.
   A.  Okay, let me explain.  The volumes were in a big -- a
       lever-arch file, maybe one or two depending on the size
       of the volumes.  So it wasn't like you could go through
       each individual manual and, you know, check that there.
       So what would have happened was they would have just
       looked to make sure that they were in that file and then
       I would have signed it.
           So it is not something that you would go through
       individually and go through each one, that is how it
       looks like, but it is not like that.  Because obviously
       you are just having -- just operating on Horizon how to
       sell a postal order, fishing licences and so on and so
       on.  So again, as I said, there is no time to go through
       all that.  You are just signing and carrying on with the
       next document.
   Q.  Can we go back to the acknowledgement of appointment
       {D1.4/3/1}.  When you read in the middle of the page
       there:
           "... and agree to be bound by the terms of my
       contract and by the rules contained in the book of rules
       and the instructions contained in those postal
       instructions issued to me."
           You understood at the time that that included the
       documents referred to --
   A.  No.
   Q.  -- in ARS 110 --
   A.  No.  Those are the training manuals.  Those are, sorry,
       not training manuals, they are product manuals.
   Q.  What are?
   A.  They are how to actually sell a fishing licence, how to
       enter it on Horizon.  So you press that button for
       a fishing licence for six months or that one for 12
       months.  Its nothing to do with any contractual issues.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, what I suggest is:
           "... the book of rules and instructions contained in
       those postal instructions issued to me."
           And your acknowledgement of appointment --
   A.  No, I don't think that it is referring to that.
   Q.  -- refers to those things listed in bundle {E4/54/1}.
   A.  I don't believe it refers to that.  Even if it did, what
       is the point of the argument?  I don't understand.  That
       says "Counters Operation Manuals".  If you go back,
       where does it mention counters operation manuals?
   Q.  In terms of your expectations or the reasonable
       expectations of --
   A.  Sorry, have we finished with that?
   Q.  Yes.  It's your case, as I understand it, that you say
       the contract was formed on branch transfer day.  Take it
       from me that that is your case.
   A.  Sorry, can you repeat that?
   Q.  It is your case that the contract between you and
       Post Office was formed on branch transfer day.
   A.  What do you mean by contract?
   Q.  The contractual relationship was formed on that day.
       Post Office say it was earlier --
   A.  That is the day I took over the Post Office, yes.
   Q.  Yes, that is as I understand your case.
           My Lord, for your reference, it's paragraph 62 of
       the IPOC.
           Post Office say it was an earlier stage, namely,
       when you signed the appointment letter we have seen you
       signing.  Can I just investigate what you accept that
       the reasonable expectations of somebody in your position
       at that time would have been.  Firstly, you would have
       expected that the Horizon system you were to use would
       be a reasonably reliable IT system?
   A.  Yes, that is the assumption from -- from -- yes, I was
       made to believe that it was a reliable and trustworthy
       system because it was used by the Post Office for many
       years.  So I had no issues to doubt it when I started or
       before I started.
   Q.  It would also be your expectation that you would be
       provided with any necessary training on its use?
   A.  Sorry, I didn't catch --
   Q.  That you would be provided with any necessary training
       on its use, on Horizon's use?
   A.  Yes.  What is the question?
   Q.  That someone in your position at the time you formed the
       contractual relationship, a reasonable person in your
       position would have, as part of the background, thought
       that necessary training on Horizon would be provided to
       you?
   A.  Yes, I assume so, yes.
   Q.  Similarly, such a person would also have thought that
       there would be a reasonable Helpline to assist you with
       any difficulties going forwards?
   A.  Yes, I would have hoped for and I would have assumed
       that there would be necessary support, not just the
       Helpline, but many other avenues of support.  But it was
       limited.
   Q.  Can we move on then, if we can, into a different subject
       which is deficit and cause of deficits or issues in your
       branch.  You deal with this at paragraph 88 and
       following.  I'm not going to go through this in huge
       detail.  But paragraph 88 starts at {C1/4/17}.  In
       particular, and you have read your witness statement,
       you query a range of transaction corrections in
       particular, and suggest that there is some possible
       fault with Horizon.  Also you have a criticism about
       banks and cheques, broadly?
   A.  Yes.  Do you want me to go in order?
   Q.  No, I --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think, Mr Abdulla, just wait, and
       Mr Cavender will put probably bite-sized questions to
       you.
   MR CAVENDER:  Exactly, I am just warming you up to the area.
       We are talking about this now.
           I firstly have to make clear to you that Post Office
       don't accept what you say in any of those paragraphs,
       and that would be the subject of tests in a future
       trial.  But one of the things that you do at
       paragraph 90, just turn that up {C1/4/17}, is you look
       at the transaction correction data disclosed and you go
       through it and you have your potted views on those
       transaction corrections.
   A.  That is right.
   Q.  Can we establish one thing first with you.  You accept
       that you don't have to accept transaction corrections,
       do you?  They're suggested to you --
   A.  You have to accept one way or another.  You have to
       accept it straightaway and pay in the cash if it is
       a deficit, or you accept it centrally, and then by
       branch transfer day you have to make good the loss, or
       whether it is a surplus or whether it is a loss, before
       you can roll over to the next trading period.  So you
       have to accept it.  So your theory was wrong.
   Q.  Let's go to the manual, shall we, because that isn't
       true.  As I think you must realise, you can either
       accept it, as you say, and if an amount needs to be
       paid, pay, or you settle it centrally and dispute it?
   A.  There are two options.  You accept it straightaway or
       you accept it centrally, and then you have to accept it
       in the end -- when it's a branch trading period you have
       to accept it anyway because you can't roll over to the
       next period, you cannot open your office until that has
       been rolled over.  So the next day you would not be able
       to open the office if it is not rolled over.
   Q.  I suggest that is not right and I can show you the
       manual on this.  It's at --
   A.  I think I know what I am talking about.
   Q.  {F4/21/11}.  Is this the manual you would have been
       familiar with?  If you go to {F4/21/1}, that is the
       contents page.  Just look at that first.  This is
       something you had in your branch, is it?  It dates from
       2006.
   A.  No, what I used to use was just a double-sided laminated
       sheet of paper to do my balancing.  I didn't have this.
   Q.  You are saying you didn't have it.  It wasn't in
       the branch, you don't think?
   A.  It wasn't at the branch when I took over, no.
   MR CAVENDER:  Can I just check one thing before we go on ...
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, can I just note a concern about the
       foundation for the way that line of questioning was put,
       given that 46.1 of the Post Office's own Defence
       expressly says it is admitted that there is no option
       within Horizon to dispute a shortfall.  I didn't object
       because I didn't want to --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have the reference.  Thank you very
       much.
   MR GREEN:  I am most grateful.  (Pause)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, my learned friend raised a pleading
       point.  If we go to paragraph 39 of the general Defence.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is this the Generic Defence?
   MR CAVENDER:  Indeed.  It's at {B3/2/13}, paragraph 39.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Sorry?
   MR CAVENDER:  {B3/2/13}, paragraph 39.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just give me one second.  I wasn't
       necessarily going to require you to deal with the
       pleading point now unless you wanted to.
   MR CAVENDER:  It is a convenient place for the witness,
       actually.
           Can you cast your eye over, please, paragraph 39,
       headed "Transaction Corrections".  Do you have that on
       screen?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Have you seen this document before,
       Mr Abdulla?  You might not have done.  It is a pleading
       in the litigation.
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  Just read the whole -- from
       39, "Transaction Corrections", just read that page, and
       then Mr Cavender is probably going to ask you a question
       or two.  (Pause)
   A.  Yes, that is fine.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  Go over the page to subparagraph (6)
       {B3/2/14}:
           "If the subpostmaster wishes to query or dispute the
       transaction correction, he or she should contact the
       person identified in the transaction correction
       notification."
           Et cetera.  So --
   A.  This is for disputing, it is not to accept a transaction
       correction.
   Q.  Yes --
   A.  That is totally different.
   Q.  But what you do, don't you, if you don't want to accept
       a transaction correction, you settle it centrally and
       then ring to dispute it?
   A.  You dispute it if you want to dispute it.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  But there is not an option when you are accepting it.
       So you accept it straightaway or you accept it
       centrally.  There is not an option of accepting
       centrally and disputing.
   Q.  No, you don't accept it centrally, you settle it
       centrally --
   A.  That is what I mean.
   Q.  You move it in, in order to allow you to roll over into
       the next period.  Yes?  So you settle it centrally,
       don't accept it, and you then ring to dispute it --
   A.  No, that is not correct.
   Q.  Can I finish?  Just to put to you what I suggest the
       system is.  Then that enables you to roll over?
   A.  No.  You need to accept it centrally.  You settle it
       centrally.  What that really means is you are accepting
       it centrally.  It's the same thing --
   Q.  I suggest to you it is not --
   A.  So when you accept it centrally --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just hold on.  I want to hear the
       explanation.  You explain your choices.
   A.  Okay.  So say a transaction correction pops up, you have
       two options, two boxes.  So you have either one is to
       accept it now straightaway and put whatever it is, put
       the money in or take the money out, whatever, and then
       the other box says "settle centrally".
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What does that mean?
   A.  What that does, it saves that shortage or loss or
       whatever, it saves it in -- I don't know how it works
       but it saves it somewhere and then, when the branch
       transfer period comes around at the end of the month, so
       that -- that shows up.  So even if you forget about it,
       before you roll over to the next branch trading period
       for the next day, that will pop up and it will not go
       away until you accept it there and then; you have to put
       the money in there and then if it is a loss or take the
       money out, whatever it is, you have to make good that
       situation before you actually roll -- you don't dispute
       it at that time.  You cannot because -- if you want, you
       can but then you will be there -- you ideally should
       dispute it as soon as you get the transaction
       correction.  But at that stage you have to accept it and
       then roll over to the next trading period, so you can
       open the next day.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.  Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  Whatever your understanding, you understood
       that you could dispute it?  That you had to do something
       to facilitate the rollover, yes?  Whatever that thing
       was --
   A.  Why would you --
   Q.  Can I finish?  Whatever that thing was that would -- it
       would effect a rollover, so you have a zero balance in
       the next trading period.  But the issues over the
       transaction -- any you had would still be live and be
       for you able to contest.  You understood that much,
       didn't you?
   A.  Sorry, can you just repeat that?
   Q.  We are disagreeing about whether you had to accept or
       settle and what settle meant.  Just leave that aside.
       You understood that, by following the procedure we have
       talked about, about moving into the suspense account,
       yes --
   A.  It is not really a suspense account.
   Q.  -- whether it is accepting or settling centrally,
       whatever that is, that would allow you to do two things:
       one, roll over and go to zero in the new trading period,
       yes?
   A.  If you have -- if you have dealt with that matter.
   Q.  You have dealt with it.  But you have "settled" it in
       a way which keeps open your possibility of arguing about
       it?
   A.  No, no.  Even if it is open, even if it is in dispute,
       you cannot roll over until you have sorted it out before
       branch transfer period.
   Q.  I suggest you are wrong about that.
   A.  No, I suggest I am right.
   Q.  Moving on then, 102, {C1/4/20}.  You say:
           "As far as I recall there is no process in Horizon
       which required proof that I was the person accepting the
       transaction correction."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Sorry, can we just go back?  If you are disputing it, it
       will still be under dispute but you still have to sort
       it out at that time.  So that is when you get -- in
       the next trading period you could get a transaction
       correction to correct that correction.  To nullify that.
       So it is still in dispute.  Or it may not be in dispute
       but a transaction correction could come to reverse that
       correction on the next trading period.  But, to roll
       over, you have to accept that correction, even though it
       is in dispute.  That is another matter and they are
       dealing with that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.  Thank you.
   MR CAVENDER:  But the simple point is, Mr Abdulla, you knew
       on that that there is no particular pressure on you to
       accept something you didn't want to accept simply
       because you were coming up to a rollover period.
       Because you settle it centrally and dispute it.
   A.  No, you -- I just explained it to you.  You have to
       accept it whether you like it or not.  Whether you -- it
       is still in dispute if you have disputed it.  Whether
       you agree with it or not, you have to accept it.  It is
       not that you have a choice.  On transfer rollover period
       you have to accept it.
   Q.  Let's move on then.  I was dealing with paragraph 102
       and whether you could know whether you or an assistant
       accepted a transaction correction.  Presumably you could
       only do that if you shared your ID and password with
       assistants.  Because every assistant or postmaster has
       their own ID, don't they, which they sign in with?
   A.  Yes, I was not -- I couldn't remember this point,
       whether it would pop up on all the screens when you get
       a transaction correction or whether it would just pop up
       on my screen.  So if it would pop up on everyone's
       screen, then obviously anyone else could accept it.  But
       I can't -- that is one of the things I can't remember.
       But during the audit it came up and someone accepted it
       on my behalf, when I wasn't there.  I was on holiday
       when the audit took place leading to my suspension.
       But, yes, this is a point which I wasn't sure of.
   Q.  But I am right as well, am I not, that you can tell who
       is on Horizon at any given moment by their password and
       ID?  Retrospectively you can say, well, it was assistant
       X or Y unless you have happened to tell them what your
       ID or password was.  Which I guess you wouldn't do.
   A.  No, you wouldn't know -- if that was the case and it
       popped up on every screen, you wouldn't know who
       accepted it until later when -- actually I don't know
       how -- maybe the code of their terminal would show up
       afterwards where they have accepted it.  But
       I don't know how it would show who has accepted it if it
       was the case.
   Q.  I suggest it would.  All transactions -- when you use
       Horizon, you put in your ID and your password and that
       is peculiar to that person.  The only thing it does on
       that screen is record it.
   A.  But how would I know -- if someone is on another till,
       how would I know they have accepted it?  Or if I am away
       from my till and I have not seen the pop-up, how
       would I know that other person has accepted it there and
       then?
   Q.  Moving on, one of the other problems you talk about,
       paragraph 129, was investigating {C1/4/25} problems with
       cheques.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, there were a lot of problems with cheques.  The
       whole system is flawed.  My Lord, if someone -- we have
       a cut-off time about quarter to five every day.  Now,
       the cheques -- we do the dailies on individual basis, so
       we closed one till and -- I would go first and then it
       would go in order.  So I would do my dailies, get the
       daily -- the Giros and so on and put them in my bundle
       and then take them to the back office, get ready for the
       back office work that I need to do.  So the next person,
       John Speller, he would do his one, close his counter.
       It would only take five minutes, and then he would do
       his and then give them to me at the back office and so
       on and so on.  There was Mr P, Mr Shah and Poppy at the
       end.
           So they would take turns in doing that.  When I had
       all the -- so I was doing the back office stuff.  The
       next person, John, would open.  He would have maybe
       another customer come in with a Giro cheque or any type
       of cheque.  Now, that cut-off time is done.  But in
       Horizon it still shows for that day.  So now I have sent
       off the dailies when the postman comes; I give him all
       the daily paperwork to -- for him to go to Chesterfield
       at head office.  What would happen is this -- so a Giro
       cheque would come in afterwards.  It is registered on
       that day but it would go out the next day.  Or maybe, if
       it is a weekend, it would go out in a couple of days.
       What would happen is, just because it is late, they
       say -- a transaction correction comes in that cheques
       are missing.  They have gone lost.  I have kept them.
       It is not in my name.  I can't do anything with them.
       I can't benefit from them.  So just because they are
       late a couple of days I get a transaction correction to
       say that cheques have gone missing.
           So then, when they do receive them after a couple --
       a day or two later, and then it goes through the process
       and then they find out, yes, okay, we've got the cheques
       and then I get a reversing transaction correction to say
       the cheques have turned up.  Surely a ten-year old can
       come up with a better system than that to say: okay, why
       don't we wait, have some kind of system where we receive
       the cheques and not send out transaction corrections
       willy-nilly, and a better system could be made up.  It
       is just -- you are just wasting transaction corrections
       where I need to put money in and then take money out,
       keep putting money in and taking money out.  It just
       doesn't make sense.
   Q.  Can I refer you to paragraph 129 of your witness
       statement, please {C1/4/26}.  You say there:
           "It is very difficult to investigate any problems
       with cheques ..."
           You say:
           "Once cheques were sent off to Post Office I did not
       have any records in the branch to review so I was
       dependent on Post Office from then on."
           You must have known that it was in Post Office's
       manual that you are required to keep the remittance out
       slip for your cheques in branch for a period of two
       years?
   A.  I am talking about the individual cheques which were
       sent out, as I said, after the cut-off time.  They would
       be going out for the next day.  So the cheques --
   Q.  The remittance out slip though, you say you would have
       no information.  Surely you would have kept for two
       years the remittance out slip --
   A.  There was a docket, where we put on top of the cheques,
       and there would be a copy -- there would be my copy of
       that.
   Q.  You knew there was a requirement in the instructions, it
       is {F4/22/15} as it happens, that you keep the
       remittance out slip for your cheques in your branch for
       two years and:
           "Destroy the Horizon counter daily cheques listing
       report."
           Is the instruction.  Do you see that on the second
       box from the top?
   A.  That's fine.  I kept a copy.  I'm not disputing that.
       I am disputing the cheques that have gone missing.  How
       do I know which cheques have gone missing?  Because when
       they go out the next day, they are bundled with the next
       day cheques.  They are all mixed together.  So the ones
       that are from yesterday, if you like, I don't keep them
       separate.  There is not a separate docket for them.
       There is not a separate envelope or anything.  It is
       just all together.  That is what I am referring to.
       Obviously you keep a copy of the docket, the one you
       send and the one -- the back slip.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can I just check something, Mr Abdulla,
       so I understand.  I assume the remittance out slip just
       has the total of the value of all of the cheques?
   A.  That is correct.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is right.
   A.  That is correct, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Maybe we can produce a copy of
       a pro forma remittance.
   MR CAVENDER:  Very well.  So moving on from that to the
       audit on 6 April 2009.  Do you remember that?
   A.  How could I forget.
   Q.  I thought you might say.  That is {E4/67/1} --
   A.  Actually I don't remember that because I was on holiday
       in Dubai and I found out through a phone call from my
       father.  Obviously it ruined the holiday, and I thought
       it was a joke in the beginning but, you know, it was
       a sick joke if it was.
   Q.  I am not sure it is a joke, is it, if you have
       a shortfall --
   A.  But -- if you let me continue -- yes, so I don't
       remember the day as such as what happened in
       the Post Office because I wasn't there, and so -- and
       knew the dates I was going away and they still carried
       out an audit when I wasn't there, which I believe that
       is very unfair because I didn't have -- I gave the dates
       to the Post Office; these are the dates I am going away.
       I don't find that fair that they would carry out
       an audit when I'm not in the country.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, do you find a total shortage of £4,900-odd
       in the branch that you are responsible for a joke?
   A.  I'm not saying it was a joke -- I am saying someone,
       like a friend of mine or something, would have played
       a sick joke, like saying things like that.  It is
       a matter of saying -- it's a figure of speech that
       I thought it was a joke, because it was a shock.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You mean when you got the phone call?
   A.  That is right, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I see.
   MR CAVENDER:  When we look at the -- what we are looking at
       is the audit report here, just for an overview.  You
       have a difference in cash of £4,300-odd, you have
       a difference in stock of £360, postage of £151, foreign
       currency of some £9 and some £20 under "other".  So
       quite a few different areas of discrepancies, is that
       fair?
   A.  This was a five counter main office, my Lord, with
       regularly having over £100,000 to £150,000 in cash in
       a walk-in safe, so it wasn't a small safe, it was
       a walk-in safe.  So a considerable amount of money and
       stock in total.  So just to give you the background, and
       £4,393, it is a lot of money, yes, but in context of the
       overall office, obviously it is not as significant as it
       looks on this page.
   Q.  Because what you were telling Post Office in your
       accounting is that you had £4,900 more than in fact you
       did, in effect?
   A.  No, I didn't carry out this audit so I was not saying
       anything here.  I wasn't even in the country.
   Q.  What you had been doing in the previous months on
       rollover is signing a certification, wasn't it, in
       the form -- I can show you.  It is at {F4/21/46}.  At
       the top there.  If we can zoom into the box at the top.
   A.  No, this is from a manual.  It is not the actual thing
       that you sign.  It is not the document --
   Q.  It is the wording though:
           "I certify the content of this balancing and trading
       statement is an accurate reflection of cash and stock at
       this branch."
           You would have signed that every month, wouldn't
       you?
   A.  Yes.  On branch transfer day, the TP --
   Q.  Not branch transfer.  On balancing day?
   A.  No, we do a balancing every week, which is the
       mini-balance, it is called the BP, the balancing period.
       Then you have -- this you sign on a monthly basis, on
       a TP, a trading -- when the trading period ends for that
       month.
   Q.  I understand.  You personally signed that every month,
       did you not?
   A.  I did.
   Q.  So when we go then to bundle {E4/82/1}, which is the
       notes of the interview you had when this discrepancy was
       investigated really, at this interview on 13 April.  Do
       you see that?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  There is a reference in the first couple of lines to the
       audit and the loss, and it says:
           "Also at the time of the audit an undated personal
       cheque for £2,500 was found in stock unit AA --"
   A.  Sorry, where is that?
   Q.  It is at the top.  The top few lines.  "Introduction":
           "... and the mutilated notes were overstated by the
       same amount."
           Pausing there --
   A.  So these are from the interview notes from the
       Post Office?
   Q.  Indeed.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  It says that you have accepted transaction corrections
       and, in doing so, indicated that you had made this
       amount good when in fact you did not.
   A.  Yes, I --
   Q.  Can I finish --
   A.  -- in the beginning --
   Q.  "This is misuse of Post Office funds and false
       accounting."
           So that was what was being alleged against you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on a second.  This is what we are
       going to do.  We are going to have a break now.
       Mr Abdulla, you deal with your interview, et cetera in
       your witness statement.  I see there is a hard copy in
       front of you.
   A.  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We are going to break for an hour.  Come
       back in at about 1.45 pm or 1.50 pm and just refresh
       your memory of what you say in your witness statement
       about this.
   A.  Okay.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then Mr Cavender is going to re-put that
       last question to you after you have had a chance to look
       at your witness statement, but also read what is on that
       screen.  So the Opus screen will stay open.
   A.  I am aware of this.  It is not a problem for me.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, could I just raise one issue, which is
       I think my learned friend may have to consider whether
       the counterclaim proceedings which are pleaded generally
       are proceedings for the recovery of property as against
       this individual claimant.  Because it has a bearing on
       whether any warning has to be given before certain types
       of question are put.  Which may be why your Lordship ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  One of the things I am going to do over
       the short adjournment is remind myself of the last two
       minutes of the transcript.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, if you are going to do that, if you
       read the notes, in particular these notes up to -- it's
       really page --
   A.  Sorry, are you talking to me?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  No, Mr Abdulla.
   MR CAVENDER:  Up to page 5 or 6, my Lord, you will see what
       was said at this interview and you will see the line of
       questioning.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So I need to look at {E4/82/1} to
       {E4/82/6} did you say?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR GREEN:  Would your Lordship be assisted by having a copy
       of the relevant provision of the Civil Evidence Act?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, I would.
           Mr Abdulla, so that is what is going to happen.  So
       you are going to lose ten or fifteen minutes of the one
       hour break but I think that is probably worth it.
   A.  No problem.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Don't talk about the case, please.
           This is a question for Opus: I am assuming I can get
       on the non-courtroom specific server using my log in
       details in my room without logging out here?  Through
       the web?  Alright.  Mr Cavender, anything else?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Anything else?
   MR GREEN:  No, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.  2 o'clock.
   (1.05 pm)
                     (The short adjournment)
   (2.00 pm)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The only thing I was unable to do was
       just revisit the transcript for about a page, because
       although on Opus there is a Day 4, it is basically just
       a blank slot.
           I'm not sure that that is necessary, it is just one
       of the things I said I was going to do which I have been
       unable to do.
           Mr Cavender, before you resume there are two things
       I need to deal with.  The first is, how much detail are
       you going to go into on this?
   MR CAVENDER:  Not a huge amount, I am just going to -- you
       have read the first six pages of the interview, I am
       going to take him through that and ask him for his
       explanations in the same way.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  And obviously it goes to having managed the
       Post Office and of course to credibility and honesty,
       I suppose.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  It seems to me I ought to
       give the witness a warning, which he is entitled to
       under the Civil Evidence Act.  I am just going to
       explain to him.  At the end of that warning, if either
       of you think there is any deficiency in the warning then
       please tell me, particularly you, Mr Green, because
       you're acting.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, before you do that, can I raise one
       point.  This witness has already put his credibility in
       issue.  If you go to the transcript which you can see
       now, and go to page 32, line 14 --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, I have a note of that already, but
       I will go back to it.
   MR CAVENDER:  As I understand, if someone puts their
       credibility in issue and says they are honest in that
       way, then the privilege against self-incrimination may
       well not be available to them unless they want to
       withdraw statements about their honesty.
           Can I remind you what the witness said?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on one second.  As far as the Act
       is concerned, it is not contingent on their credibility
       not being in issue.
   MR CAVENDER:  No, quite.  But in terms of whether he is
       taken to have waived and put his own honesty in issue --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  No, whether he has put his honesty in
       issue or not, that is obviously a point that will have
       certain consequences.  And if the privilege is invoked,
       which it hasn't yet been, that might also have some
       consequences.  But in terms of the entitlement to the
       warning --
   MR CAVENDER:  Absolutely right, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, it is both a duty and a right --
   MR CAVENDER:  Indeed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- to have the warning.
   MR CAVENDER:  Quite.  I was just making that point, there is
       that wrinkle.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Subsequent wrinkles will have to be
       dealt with afterwards, but it seems to me the important
       thing now is to deal with the warning.
   MR CAVENDER:  I agree.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And Mr Green, on the basis that, apart
       from all of the other claimants, you are acting for
       Mr Abdulla.
   MR GREEN:  Indeed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is also going to be very important,
       Mr Cavender, if you do undertake the exercise which you
       have said you're going to do, that you do it in
       self-contained questions, rather than any slightly
       longer rolled-up questions.
   MR CAVENDER:  Quite.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, all of that may or may not
       make sense to you but I am just going to explain the
       background to the situation.
           There is an  Act called the Civil Evidence Act 1968
       which says that any witness or any person who is in
       legal proceedings that are not criminal proceedings is
       entitled to refuse to answer a question if they think
       that to do so would tend to expose them to proceedings
       for a criminal offence or recovery of a penalty.
           You have re-read your witness statement in respect
       of your interview with the Post Office, and you have
       I think also looked at least at the first page of the
       interview notes, and you know what the interview that
       the Post Office had with you concerned?
   A.  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And you know, because Mr Cavender read
       it out to you just before lunch before I stopped
       everything, that part of the subject of the interview
       was misuse of Post Office funds and false accounting.
           Because of the nature of those potential offences,
       I am going to give you a warning.  Well, I'm not going
       to give you a warning, I am going to remind you of the
       ability, when Mr Cavender asks any of these questions,
       you can refuse to answer them if you want to.
   A.  Okay, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Does all of that make sense?  Have I put
       that in sensible language and you are happy you have
       understood?
   A.  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, that seems to me to be
       adequate.
           Right, Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  Mr Abdulla, do you remember having this
       interview, which should be at {E4/28/1}.  I think you
       were accompanied by Mr Darvill from the NFSP, is that
       right?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  You were asked questions about the consequences flowing
       from the audit on 6 April 2009, is that right?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  What you were asked about by Ms Ridge, if we go to
       {E4/82/3}, on behalf of Post Office, you were asked
       about the unusable notes line:
           "... AA stock on the date of audit ..."
           Yes?  We see that at paragraph 31.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.  My Lord, this time I was really vulnerable.
       I was -- I was in shock at the whole system.  I accepted
       things on this interview that, looking back, I shouldn't
       have, and I should have had some legal advice.  All
       I wanted to do was pay the money that I owed, allegedly
       owed, and then be reinstated, which was the
       understanding from the previous audit that had taken
       place in my branch.
           So I was accepting everything, just -- just in
       the end thinking I would pay the money and then I would
       be reinstated.  So I was really vulnerable and it was --
       I was just really at a low point at that time.  I was,
       you know -- just to make that clear.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.
   MR CAVENDER:  By way of background, I should perhaps
       therefore go to {E4/82/1}, the first page, it's
       a summary, to remind you at the time of the audit they
       found an undated personal cheque from you in the sum of
       £2,500, do you accept that?
   A.  I do accept that.  But I do not believe there is any
       wrongdoing in this.  The reason being this was advised
       to me by one of my staff who is very experienced, and
       they said this was a common practice with the previous
       subpostmaster.  So what would happen is rather than, as
       we discussed before, where you have transaction
       corrections come in and then the ones to correct those
       transaction corrections, so you're putting money in,
       money out all the time.  But initially I used to put the
       money in straightaway at the branch trading period.  In
       the last six months that is when things changed
       and I started adopting this -- adopting this situation
       here, where I would put a cheque in to cover the loss in
       the whole of the office, if you like.
           So this personal cheque, yes, I remember this, and
       the amount of £2,500 was because I had done a balance
       for the office before going on holiday -- or a couple of
       days before holiday, or I think it was the last trading
       period.  So that cheque was not in for a long time.  But
       there were previous cheques where I would put them and
       then rip them up, and so on.  But this was the latest
       loss.  And I believe that I was doing the right thing
       because it was an adopted practice in the branch before.
       I don't believe I did any wrongdoing.  The cheque could
       have been easily cashed, I had enough funds in my bank
       account to have that cheque cashed.  I had signed it.
       The only thing, it was -- I think it was undated, that
       must have been an error on my part, but the cheques were
       normally dated and signed in the name Post Office
       Limited, so the Post Office could ...
           In any incident, often audit, as happened, what
       I assumed is that cheque would cover and they would --
       that would cover the losses and they could just cash
       that cheque and everything would be fine.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.
   MR CAVENDER:  If that was true, just take that at face
       value, and you have been doing this for six months, why
       were none of the cheques, say, for the previous six
       months entered into Horizon, entered into the system?
   A.  Because there was no need.
   Q.  But there was a need, it was Post Office's money, you
       had been overstating the mutilated cash by the same
       amount as the cheque, am I right?
   A.  No, the mutilated -- I don't know why they are the same
       figure, or maybe they are a figure similar to that, but
       the mutilated notes had nothing to do with that cheque.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't think you have been asked about
       the mutilated notes yet but I might be wrong.
   MR CAVENDER:  You haven't but you will be now.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Put the previous question because
       I would be interested in the answer.
   MR CAVENDER:  Which previous question, my Lord?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The one where you said:
           "... it was Post Office's money, you had been
       overstating the mutilated cash ..."
           That question.
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.  You had been overstating whichever,
       because we don't have all the records, certainly at the
       date of the audit you had overstated the mutilated cash
       by £2,500 --
   A.  Mutilated cash means mutilated notes, okay?
   Q.  Exactly.
   A.  Yes, as I was saying, the mutilated notes had nothing to
       do with the cash, they were a separate entity which
       needed to be sent back to head office, but they were
       part of the total loss.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By "mutilated notes", are they bank
       notes that have been torn and --
   A.  That is correct, my Lord, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Pause there.  Are you saying then at the time
       of the audit on 6 April 2009 you had in your branch
       £2,500 worth of mutilated notes?
   A.  No, I am not saying that.
   Q.  Then what are you saying in relation to the mutilated
       notes?
   A.  I am saying the mutilated notes were part of the overall
       amount of the cheque.  So I believe -- I don't know how
       the mutilated notes were so high because it says they
       were overstated by the same amount.  I don't agree with
       that because ...
   Q.  The mutilated notes were overstated by £2,500, yes?  The
       audit tells us that.  And we know your cheque was for
       the same amount.  Do you disagree with either of those
       statements?
   A.  Okay, I can see a reason for this.  The mutilated notes
       could have been as an office as a whole.  So there might
       have been more coming in afterwards, after I had done
       the balance at the trading period, I don't know.  That
       is one reason why it could be that high.
   Q.  Go to bundle {E4/82/3}, the next page in these notes,
       and see what you said during the interview.
           You were asked at paragraph 31:
           "Right so in AA stock on the date of audit right
       there was an amount on the unusable notes line, what can
       you tell me about that?"
           You reply:
           "Yeah basically I covered, I was covering losses
       there, it wasn't transaction corrections altogether it
       was just basic losses on foreign currency and so on."
   A.  Yes, so -- that is exactly right.  So it wasn't covering
       the losses all together, so it wasn't the transaction
       corrections all together.  So it was transaction
       corrections and basic losses on foreign currency, which
       is not mutilated notes, so foreign currency is different
       to mutilated notes.  So again there was a loss on
       foreign currency which I was covering by that cheque, as
       well as mutilated notes, as well as the transaction
       corrections that had come in for that trading period.
   Q.  What it's saying here I suggest to you is very clear,
       and what happened was you were increasing your cash,
       your mutilated notes, to make the system balance, and
       then what you did is put a cheque, undated cheque in
       the till in case someone came along, like Post Office,
       and queried it.  That is what you were doing.
   A.  No, I don't agree with that.
   Q.  And you knew you were doing it.
   A.  No.  As is stated clearly here, the mutilated notes were
       part of the total loss of the office, and in the last
       branch trading period the loss was around £2,500 which
       I covered with that cheque.  So that covered all losses
       including mutilated notes, foreign currency, any
       transaction corrections that were at that time present,
       a lot of losses from the lottery as well.  So everything
       was covered in that amount.
   Q.  We see at paragraph 34 -- or just to cover off on that
       and carry on, you were overstating the mutilated notes
       to disguise the shortfall?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You had been doing this for some months.  If we go to
       paragraph 34 on page {E4/82/3}, your answer when asked
       when are these losses from:
           "Just last few months, 2 or 3 months ..."
           Pausing there, you said to my Lord a moment ago that
       in fact it was for six months, is that right?
   A.  These -- the losses would be on a monthly basis, so
       a maximum adopted there is a maximum six months
       before -- of putting the cheque in was six months before
       my -- sorry, my suspension.
   Q.  Pause there for me.  So you put a new cheque in on
       rollover every month to cover losses?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  But on no occasion did you put that cheque through the
       Horizon system and date it, did you?
   A.  It was dated, but I was waiting for transaction
       corrections to come in to ... What would happen is once
       you roll over, there would still be transaction
       corrections coming in after trading period to counteract
       the corrections that were made before.  So it wasn't
       worth me keep doing, you know, putting the cash in,
       sometimes it would be for thousands and I would have to
       go to the bank and take out thousands and so on.  So it
       would be easier, and I believe it is a common practice,
       to just write a cheque out in cash and put that into the
       till to cover any losses.  This was all due --
   Q.  Pause there --
   A.  This was all due to a reliable, experienced staff member
       suggesting that, because he saw me taking money out and
       putting money in all the time, and it -- it is just --
       you do that for one and a half years, that is fine, and
       then you just -- because the losses were not actual
       losses, they were just transaction corrections and they
       were going to be corrected, which I hoped anyway they
       would be corrected.  So, you know, again it is a flawed
       system where you just need to keep taking money out and
       then putting money in again.
           So this was suggested to me and I adopted it in good
       faith, thinking that I was doing the right thing, and
       I believe -- I still believe I did the right thing.
       I had no malicious intent, I had no intent -- why would
       I jeopardise my whole livelihood for £3,000, £4,000?  It
       doesn't make sense.
   Q.  Please go to --
   A.  £120,000 salary, remuneration, and I would jeopardise
       that for ...
   Q.  Could you go to page 4 {E4/82/4} at the bottom, please.
       In response to your long response at paragraph 50, you
       are then asked by Post Office:
           "When did you first put the cheque in the stock unit
       then."
           You said at 52:
           "I had a cheque in before but then this was the
       final cheque.
           Question:
           "So when you came to do a branch trading, how have
       you been accounting for that cheque?"
           And your representative said:
           "Well he accounted for his mutilated notes didn't
       he?"
           And you said:
           "Yeah mutilated notes."
           Question:
           "So you inflated your cash?
           And you said:
           "Yeah there was no other way where I could put it
       in."
   A.  Again I was just really vulnerable but I can answer this
       as well.  This was things I was agreeing to when
       I shouldn't have agreed to.  But what -- the thing was,
       when I was transferring the branch to the person who was
       taking over, Ms Daljit Matharu, she was taking over the
       branch, so I had to do another balance, another stock
       balance where I had to count the cash before, on the
       Saturday afternoon when she was taking over on the
       Monday.  So after the trading balance there was a cheque
       in there, that is where it says the first cheque.  So
       that would have been the first cheque.  And the second
       cheque would have been after doing a balance with
       Ms Daljit Matharu who was taking over the office when
       I was going on holiday.  So that is why it says you put
       the first cheque in and then, you know, I put the -- I
       had the cheque before which was -- the cheque before was
       for a different amount which ...
   Q.  Pausing there.  I think you accepted before you had put
       a cheque in for the previous six months of different
       amounts, is that right?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  And it was for --
   A.  Every month would be --
   Q.  Can I ask the question, please.  And it was for
       an increasing amount, is that right?  Did the cheques
       get bigger over time?
   A.  Not necessarily.  There would be some transaction would
       come to correct the transaction that had gone before.
       So it wasn't -- it wasn't always increasing.  Sometimes
       it was increasing, sometimes it was decreasing.
   Q.  And am I right in thinking that when you put the cheque
       into the till without dating it, it was never your
       intention to cash that cheque and put it through
       Horizon?
   A.  I do not believe that is accurate.  Because if I found
       out that the loss was a genuine loss and I had made
       a mistake, especially there was a lot of problems with
       the lottery where there was many duplicate transaction
       corrections of the same amount, and even when they
       debited -- they were supposed to credit me with a
       transaction correction, it came up as a debit, so I was
       losing double.  So instead of losing £1,092 I was losing
       £2,000 and so on.  And some were compensated some were
       not.  So I was still waiting to be compensated and I was
       ringing the Helpline regularly about the lottery.
       I phoned Camelot as well.  But the cheques were
       different amounts and they could have been up or down.
   Q.  Am I right in thinking you didn't therefore cash any of
       the five or six cheques?  None of them were entered into
       Horizon, were they?
   A.  No, because every time I had a -- at the next
       rollover -- there were certain -- as I said, the
       transaction corrections would come back and then they
       would nullify the cheque.  So what was the point of
       putting the cheque in?  So the cheque would have been --
       if I had put the cheque in, or if it would have been
       a certain amount, then that -- it wouldn't have added
       up, if you see what I mean.
   Q.  Then if we go to the top of page {E4/82/5}, carrying on
       from the passage I read before, where you say:
           "Yeah there was no other way where I could put it
       in."
           You were asked then by Post Office:
           "Well there was you could have put the cheque
       through and processed it."
           And you say:
           "Yeah exactly yeah that's my mistake."
           What she then puts to you is:
           "So what you've done you've inflated your cash, you
       falsified your account 'cos you inflated your cash."
           And you say:
           "Yeah."
   A.  Again I was agreeing to get reinstated and just
       accepting that -- what I was getting the feeling is that
       if you pay the money back you would be reinstated, as my
       experience in the previous audit where I paid the money
       straightaway, but because I was on holiday I didn't have
       the chance to pay the money straightaway when the
       auditors came.  So my experience was when the auditors
       come you have a loss, you pay the money straightaway,
       and then, you know, nothing happens.  So that was the
       last audit I had and that was my experience.  But
       because I wasn't in the country I thought this was my
       chance to pay the money back and then I would be
       reinstated.
   Q.  To be fair to you, I said that paragraph 61 was spoken
       by you.  In fact it was your adviser who said:
           "Yeah but the trouble is ..."
           That was in fact your adviser, not you, that said
       that.
   A.  Yes, exactly.  This -- Mike Darvill, he's from the
       Federation, even he says it is common practice to do
       that, that a lot of postmasters used to do this, because
       you can't go to the bank on trading -- sometimes I used
       to stay until 11 o'clock at night, you can't go to the
       bank then and get a couple of thousands pounds out and
       then put it into the -- so it is easier just to put the
       cheque in and that is covering the loss.  You are doing
       your bit to cover that loss.
           So when you are rolling over, you are signing the
       documents, you are saying that the losses are covered,
       everything is fine and you are balanced.  So that is
       what I understood to be balanced.
   Q.  But, Mr Abdulla, there would have been a shortfall if
       you had not inflated the cash, wouldn't there?  You
       hadn't inflated the cash, unusable notes, on this
       particular occasion, because you didn't enter the
       cheque.  So you have to inflate the cash otherwise there
       would be a shortfall.  Do you agree with that?
   A.  No, the only time that would happen was on a trading
       balance.
   Q.  Which happened every month.
   A.  Yes, but I had the cheque in there to cover it.
   Q.  No, what I am saying is the cheque wasn't to cover it,
       was it, because the cheque wasn't entered into Horizon,
       so on the balancing day there would be a shortfall if
       you hadn't inflated cash?  Because although you say the
       cheque is in the till, it is not entered in Horizon, you
       are not cashing that, so there would have been
       a shortfall, wouldn't there?
   A.  The reason I was doing that was again because I thought
       it was --
   Q.  Firstly, do you accept that is what you were --
   A.  -- the right thing to do.
   Q.  Do you accept that is what you were doing?
   A.  Can you just -- it's a bit confusing.  Could you say
       that again?
   Q.  On balancing day there would have been a shortfall if
       you hadn't inflated the cash.  Why?  Because you hadn't
       entered the cheque into the system, you had merely put
       it in the till in an undated form.
   A.  But the office overall had balanced because the cheque
       was there to cover any losses in the system.
   Q.  But that was Post Office's money --
   A.  So that cheque was in as cash.  So when you do
       the rollover, that cheque -- actually, sorry, was it
       cash or ... a cheque in the system, to roll over the
       system to the next trading period.
   Q.  Going on in the interview in terms of the same point
       again, at the bottom of page {E4/82/5}, last couple of
       lines:
           "You've had, and from what you're saying that these
       losses have built up over 2 or 3 months, you've had 2 or
       3 months to make it good you know."
           And you say:
           "Yeah I have made a mistake."
           You are then asked by Post Office:
           "So you've been inflating your cash which is
       falsifying your account 'cos when you, do you sign the
       branch trading statement when you print it off?"
           You say:
           "Yeah."
           Question:
           "Right you're signing an official document to say
       that's a true account of what cash and stock is there
       and it's not."
   A.  Yes, I believe it was a true account of what I was
       doing, it was right, there was no wrongdoing, and
       I believe I was doing the right thing.
   Q.  Can I carry on with the question?
   A.  Because by covering the loss in the system with a cheque
       which could be cashed any time by the Post Office or by
       myself, I could have put it through the system, but it
       was there to cover the losses, and I believe I was doing
       the right thing, it was an adopted thing by many people,
       many subpostmasters, and it was recommended to me by
       an experienced staff member who had been there for many,
       many years and who said that this was adopted by the
       previous subpostmaster.
   Q.  I don't accept any of that, Mr Abdulla.
           Look at paragraph 76 on the same page {E4/82/6}, the
       answer to that given by Ms Ridge:
           "Yeah but that's misuse of Post Office funds you're
       not putting the funds back in."
           Because you are not actually putting the cheque into
       Horizon --
   A.  No, I believe I was putting the funds in --
   Q.  Sorry?
   A.  I believe there was the cheque to cover the funds.
           Again, there was no losses.  These were no losses
       because they were mistakes by Horizon in the system
       where I would get duplicate transaction corrections for
       the same amount time and time again, because there was
       someone on the other side of Horizon making mistakes, or
       the actual Horizon system making mistakes where I was
       having double losses.  And even when a credit would come
       to me, that would come as a minus and it would inflate
       the losses.  So wasn't a loss to the Post Office,
       because the Post Office had their money, it was a loss
       to myself.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, this £2,500, yes?  This is funds belonging
       to the Post Office, am I right?
   A.  Sorry?
   Q.  They are funds belonging to the Post Office?
   A.  Which funds, sorry?
   Q.  The £2,500 covered by your undated cheque.
   A.  No, I believe this was to cover any losses that were not
       genuine losses but they were just losses showing up on
       the system.  The Post Office had their money, they were
       not losing any money at this time.
   Q.  So it was Post Office's money, and by putting an
       undated --
   A.  Did I say that?
   Q.  I am putting to you that that is the case, and that by
       putting an undated --
   A.  No.  No.  You're confusing --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on, Mr Abdulla, hold on.
       Mr Cavender has to put Post Office's case to you, and
       I accept that you don't agree that it was Post Office's
       money, but what Mr Cavender is now doing is he's putting
       the subsequent points to that.  So I have got your
       evidence on whose money it is.
           Mr Cavender, would you like to continue?
   MR CAVENDER:  So I say the premise is it's Post Office's
       money.  By keeping the undated cheque in the till, that
       money remains in your bank account, doesn't it?
   A.  Yes, because it was not -- it was not the Post Office's
       loss, it was my loss.  I was covering the losses on the
       system.  But again there were no genuine losses made to
       Post Office.  There was a lot of mistakes being made,
       and the reason I adopted this was when I came to find
       out about these losses, otherwise I would have -- and
       the last one and a half years before this I was putting
       in money from my own funds and covering the losses
       and I estimate about £10 to £12,000 of my own money went
       into the Post Office.
   Q.  You certified every month, is this right, that the
       content of this balancing and trading statement was
       an accurate reflection of the cash and stock at this
       branch, yes?  You did that yourself and signed that
       yourself every month, am I right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you did that in circumstances, I suggest to you,
       when you knew it was not true?
   A.  I believe it was the right thing to do.  I did not --
       when I accepted false accounting, that was the biggest
       mistake, because again if I had some legal advice --
       then I didn't understand at the time how serious
       an implication of false accounting is, I just assumed
       that I just made an error, and as soon as I paid the
       money back I would be reinstated.
           So I don't know why they said I can't bring anyone
       from a legal -- a solicitor or anything, but now
       I understand why.  Because I feel that I was trapped,
       and because of my vulnerable situation I was taken
       advantage of.
   Q.  Mr Abdulla, you could have simply paid the cheque in.
       That is what you could have done at any stage.
   A.  There was no reason to.  There was no loss in the actual
       system.  There was just a transaction correction which
       was waiting to be reversed.
   Q.  You knew the longer that you ran this secret deficit in
       this way, the more difficult it was for anyone to
       discover what the original cause of it was?
   A.  I knew what the original cause was, it was mistakes from
       the Post Office in the lottery.  The reason the previous
       subpostmaster didn't have the lottery in -- the lottery,
       and that was my condition, to put it into the Horizon
       system where it was previously on the retail side, and
       subsequently my -- the person who took over from me had
       many problems with the lottery through Horizon.
       I don't know why they would put it through -- why they
       wouldn't put it through Horizon unless there was some
       problems because I would get more, anyone would get more
       commission going through the Horizon system.  You would
       get a few pence every ticket, every line of ticket more.
           So it doesn't make sense not to go through Horizon.
       But there must be something wrong where you had these
       errors come up time and time again and you would have
       double losses, double -- someone was processing
       transaction corrections which were duplicates --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have got that point.  So you say you
       would be debited twice.
   A.  Debited twice.  And then when I was credited, that was
       coming up as another debit, so it would be triple.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have that evidence.
   MR CAVENDER:  Mr Abdulla, the problem with all this is
       whatever the original cause for any of this deficit, and
       I don't accept for a moment what you are saying, it is
       quite a distinct thing, is your duty to account
       honestly, isn't it, when making your declaration --
   A.  No --
   Q.  -- and to do so honestly?
   A.  That is inaccurate.  I -- at the time and even now
       I believe that I was honest in my dealings.  I had no
       undoing -- sorry, I had no malicious -- no, you know --
       criminal mind or whatever you call it, I had nothing
       that was -- I believe I was doing the right thing, and
       it was my office, I treated it like my own.  I wanted to
       make money, I wanted to be successful, I wanted to
       increase the sales, I wanted to increase the retail
       side, I wanted to buy another Post Office, and so on and
       so on.  And I was happy at the time, and I used to do
       this because I thought there was nothing I am doing
       wrong.  When the auditors came and they found I was
       doing wrong, that is the first time it occurred to me
       that they are saying it is wrong.  But I still -- I say
       that I did nothing wrong.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.
   MR CAVENDER:  You knew your declarations were untrue.
   A.  No.
   Q.  And you knew you were misleading Post Office?
   A.  No, I don't agree.
   Q.  And you did so deliberately?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Okay.
           Now, in terms of the underlying errors,
       I don't think you say very much about the underlying
       losses.  What investigations did you do into what caused
       the original losses of the various types found on the
       audit?
   A.  There was very limited I could do.  I would just have to
       wait for transaction corrections to be reversed.  There
       was the Helpline that I mentioned before was
       absolutely -- not very helpful.  It just seemed like
       they were going through a flow diagram or step-by-step
       guide.  And then all the answers would point to go
       through your paperwork or just wait for a transaction
       correction to come through.
   Q.  So if we look at {E4/67/1}, the audit paper with the
       various deficits there, these were all a complete shock
       to you, you didn't know that any of these existed, is
       that what you are saying?
   A.  Sorry, where is that?
   Q.  {E4/67/1}  At audit these are all the differences in the
       various areas.
   A.  This was the audit time, yes?
   Q.  Yes, but you're saying --
   A.  This doesn't show any transaction corrections.
   Q.  No, but you are saying all this is a complete surprise
       to you.  You thought everything had been done in
       a proper way and therefore --
   A.  The amount is surprising because when I left it wasn't
       that much.  And there was another error because this
       amount went down to £3,900 and something, because what
       had happened was when the auditor had accepted another
       duplicate transaction correction, so inflating my total
       loss for the office, which was later reversed, and then
       it was reduced to £3,900.  So what had happened was
       I had suffered a double loss, because they shouldn't
       have accepted that, and the first one was an error.  So
       I only got compensated for one of those, and the other
       one, which was another £900-odd, should have been
       deducted from the £3,900, so it should have been about
       £3,000.  Which is similar to the £2,500 cheque.  £500
       could have come in afterwards when I -- after I had done
       the balance or, you know, it could have come from
       somewhere else.  So it is only a £500 discrepancy to the
       cheque that I put in.
   Q.  So again focusing on the underlying causes for these
       losses, I think you employed up to five assistants, did
       you, over a period?
   A.  Yes, there was two part-time and there was a few
       full-time, yes.
   Q.  You weren't always able to supervise them?  You weren't
       always there, I imagine?
   A.  No.  I was there I would say about 95 per cent of the
       time.
   Q.  And in terms of trying to work out where your losses
       over the last six months have come from that you had
       been rolling, did you interview the staff or consider
       the possibility of wrongdoing or mistakes by them?
   A.  No, I had complete faith in them.  They were very
       honest.  They had been there for a long time.  The
       previous subpostmaster, he recommended them.
           I noticed things like if someone -- if a customer
       would come in and they would give too much money to
       them, they would always stop them and say "You have
       given me too much", or if there was too much in an
       envelope they would always give the money back to the
       customer.  One time I even tested -- when I was starting
       I tested by remming out a small amount of money to one
       of the other counters, and then they would say "Don't
       forget to put it in the system" -- sorry, I would give
       the money but not put it through the rem, and they'd say
       "Don't forget to put it in the system because we are
       going to be short at the end of the day".
           So I did test them, I didn't need to, but just
       little things like that, and I had no issues with them,
       no -- I didn't have no things that I would not trust
       them.  I 100 per cent trust them.
   Q.  You were running a commercial business alongside the
       Post Office in these premises.
   A.  No, I was not.
   Q.  Not at all?
   A.  No, that was sublet to someone else.  I was getting rent
       for that.  I was 100 per cent committed to the
       Post Office and I was there, as I said, 95 to
       98 per cent of time.
   Q.  I formally put to you that any deficits you did suffer,
       the likely cause is error by wrongdoing -- error or
       wrongdoing in the branch by you or your staff?
   A.  No, I 100 per cent disagree with that, and I
       100 per cent say that the errors were due to someone on
       the other side of Horizon, or Horizon itself, making
       errors itself and giving me double, triple transaction
       corrections for the same amounts for the same things.
       And also when I did have an apology transaction
       correction it would still be a minus figure, so that
       would add -- so someone was not doing their job properly
       or it was the system, I don't know what it was, but it
       is riddled with errors from start to finish.  In the
       beginning there was wrong dates in letters.  In the end
       they were actually -- my suspension was actually decided
       before the actual audit.  The termination was decided
       before the actual appeal.  It was all signed and dated
       before the actual event happened.
           So I believe that this was all planned.  It is
       a conspiracy to -- because I was on a lucrative contract
       and they were trying to get me off the core payment,
       which they have got contracts now about reducing the
       payments on core -- only sales tier payments are on the
       contracts.  They were closing down small village
       offices.  Also this was all a national cost-cutting
       measure.  The only way they could do that is give these
       0 per cent of three months' notice and zero notice
       things.  So they can come in any time, do an audit, have
       this reason for their suspension, a silly reason, they
       could make up anything.  And also the other way was buy
       them out, give them two and a half times salary, buy
       them out.  They couldn't do that to me because that
       would have been nearly £300,000, so this was another
       alternative, a cheaper alternative for them, and that is
       what I believe, my Lord.
   Q.  Go to paragraph 119 of your witness statement, please,
       {C1/4/24}.  In the final sentence you say:
           "I was given the impression during the interview
       that if I paid this I would likely be reinstated, and
       that is the reason I paid the amount to Post Office by
       cheque the same day."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.  I would never have paid that amount if --
   Q.  Can I ask a question?  Mr Abdulla --
   A.  -- I didn't think I'd be reinstated the same day.
       I would have left that amount.  Because I know that
       wasn't a genuine loss, and then I would have waited for
       that loss to come up to my office.
   Q.  Can you tell me, please --
   A.  Because that loss must have come up.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on --
   A.  Someone must have made that money up, and not me.  It
       wasn't me.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Abdulla, I really have been very
       patient.  You are now just going to have to listen to
       Mr Cavender's questions.  I have read your witness
       statement and I understand your explanation for what has
       happened but you have to just listen to his question and
       answer his question, please.
   A.  Sorry, my Lord.
   MR CAVENDER:  So paragraph 119 of your statement, the last
       sentence, page {C1/4/24}, you say this:
           "I was given the impression during the interview
       that if I paid this I would likely be reinstated, and
       that is the reason I paid the amount to Post Office by
       cheque the same day."
           What do you say gave you the impression you refer to
       there?  What was said or done by someone to give you
       that impression?
   A.  It is just the previous experience.  When I paid off the
       audit previously, which was for a bit, it was less ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  £300-odd.
   A.  Yes.  So my understanding of the process was the same,
       but because I was not in the country I couldn't do it at
       the same time.  I couldn't pay the money I was losing at
       the same time.  So I thought this was my chance to pay
       the money off and I'd be reinstated.
           And not only that, Mike Darvill, he also made that
       assumption.  He also gave me that feeling that if I paid
       the money off then they would reinstate me.  And also
       when I was at interview as well, I got that feeling as
       well, that they just wanted the money paid off and then
       everything was fine.  But little did I know that they
       wanted the money paid off and then they would say
       bye-bye.  Because if they would have said or insinuated
       that you are not ever going to be reinstated, then
       no one would pay that money back, would they?  Because
       it is not a genuine loss.  It is a loss to me when
       I paid that, but it is not a genuine loss to the
       Post Office.  It just shows up on the system.
   MR CAVENDER:  Can we look at what the interview said at
       {E4/28/28} through to {E4/28/29}.  This is right at the
       end of the interview, the last things that were said.
           In the middle of the page at 37, ER, Ms Ridge, says:
           "I don't know if there is.  Went on to say she has 2
       choices:- one would be that I could reinstate you.  If
       I do ... It would also be on a final written warning on
       the understanding ..."
   A.  Exactly.
   Q.  Then you say:
           "Yeah I will definitely do that now yeah
       definitely."
           Then she says:
           "Well because what you've done is falsifying
       accounts, that's if I reinstate you.  My other option is
       I could consider terminating your contract.  I haven't
       made the decision yet at all.  I need to go away ..."
   A.  Yes, but it's the way they say it.  You get an idea of
       what they mean.  When she was saying this, she was
       saying this in a way that I would -- I am going to
       reinstate you, I haven't made 100 per cent decision but
       it is likely that I will.  If you pay the money then
       I will.  Also she was going to -- I don't want to say --
       it is not a related topic --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If it is not related to the question
       we'll move on.
   A.  She was supposed to investigate Camelot's --
   MR CAVENDER:  Then if you go on, at the bottom of 28 your
       representative MD admits you have done "silly things"
       et cetera, but basically in mitigation.  Then
       Elaine Ridge says at the top of page 29 {E4/82/29}:
           "I would appreciate if you could send me a cheque
       for the outstanding debt as it stands at the moment,
       that doesn't take into account any errors that might
       come.  Up until yesterday morning it was £3926."
   A.  Yes, even the way you are reading it, that is the way
       she was saying it.  She was saying it as if I would be
       reinstated.  So I paid the cheque straight away,
       I didn't even pay it the next day or whatever, I paid it
       straightaway.  So that is my understanding of what would
       have happened.
   Q.  I suggest to you she didn't give you an impression and
       it is just wishful thinking on your behalf?
   A.  No.  What it was, she just wanted me to pay the money
       off, so that is why it was all nicey nicey.  It wasn't
       because she was going to reinstate me although I got
       that impression, it was just getting the money and
       getting me out of there and never considering
       reinstating me, just suspending and then terminate.
       That's it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.
           Mr Cavender, any more?
   MR CAVENDER:  I have noticed in all the notes of the
       interview et cetera there is no mention anywhere of you
       saying you didn't have a copy of your contract.  Surely
       if you were wanting to curry favour and effectively say,
       well, you behaved badly, Post Office.  I didn't even get
       a copy of my contract.  Isn't that something you might
       say --
   A.  No, because up until the audit, up until all this
       happened, everything was perfect.  On a day-to-day basis
       you don't need your contract, that is why I just forgot
       about it.  I mentioned it once to -- when I -- but then
       you don't need it so it just goes out of your mind.  You
       are on a day-to-day basis, you are just on Horizon and
       so on and so on, you don't refer to it any time.  So you
       are not -- it is not in your mind.  The only time you
       would need it is things like this at the end but before
       that everything was fine.
   Q.  Moving on to training.  You deal with this at
       paragraph 82 and following in your witness statement.
       I will deal with this quite quickly.
           Essentially you say you thought the training on
       Horizon wasn't sufficient for you, is that a fair
       summary?
   A.  Sorry, where have I said that?
   Q.  Paragraph 82.  {C1/4/15}
   A.  No, you are taking it out of context.
   Q.  You tell me what you think about the Horizon training.
   A.  The training was in two sections, so there was the
       classroom training which was about two weeks, and I have
       said in my witness statement that was very thorough and
       very useful especially for someone who had never seen
       the Horizon system, and that was very helpful and it was
       a good training session and a good training period.
   Q.  You had ten days of classroom training?
   A.  Yes, two weeks, Monday to Friday.
   Q.  And you had training on Horizon?
   A.  Yes, we had a dummy system.  That is what it should be
       called.  We had a dummy system where we would replicate
       making transactions, buying stamps, what to press on the
       system, on the screen.  Just up-selling, asking
       questions.  If they come in for a stamp, would you like
       it there next day?
   Q.  You're taught how to balance on the Horizon system?
   A.  We had our own tills.  It wasn't a balance for -- like
       as in real life, when I had a five counter office and a
       back office to deal with, it was just the till.  So we'd
       count the stamps in the till, count the cash in
       the till, count whatever else is in the till, and then
       tally it up with Horizon.  So it wasn't relevant to
       doing a balance in a whole five counter office.
   MR CAVENDER:  I don't know how much ... there are lots of
       guides I could put to this witness.
           There are lots of guides and other things that were
       given to you and used during this course dealing with
       Horizon and balancing, weren't there?
   A.  It was mostly about sales.  There was -- because
       balancing, it would have -- unless you are -- when you
       had the live training, when the trainers came to the
       office, that is when we had the proper training on
       balancing and stocktaking and so on.  But as a dummy
       system you only have one till, you have some cash and
       some stamps and so on, a limited amount, which if you go
       through that training it seems pretty easy to do
       a balance, but it is -- it doesn't replicate real life.
   Q.  In terms of the Horizon user guide, is that something
       you were given after your training to go away with?
   A.  No, I don't know what a Horizon -- I had a balancing
       guide, but I don't know what a Horizon user guide is.
   Q.  What was the balancing guide?
   A.  As I said before, it was a laminated A4 paper, two
       sides, and that is what I used to use for balancing.
   Q.  If we go to {F4/3/1}, see if you recognise that.
   A.  No, I don't.
   Q.  That is a Horizon user guide.
   A.  No, I never had this.
   Q.  Go to {F3/58/1}.  This was one of your classroom
       sessions.
   A.  Yes, this was just put up on the screen, but they can't
       talk through how to do a balance.  You have to actually
       do it, it's a practical thing.  So this was just on the
       screen at the time.
   Q.  But didn't you have a dummy terminal, like you say, to
       work through?
   A.  Yes, just the till, not a back office or an office or --
       we all had our own tills, it wasn't me on my own.
   Q.  By till, do you mean a touch screen, the Horizon touch
       screen?
   A.  With a terminal as you have in a Post Office, you have
       a till with a touch screen terminal and so on.
   Q.  Exactly.  And no back office, obviously, because this is
       a training session.
   A.  That is what I am saying.
   Q.  {F3/59/1} please.  This is another session,
       "Introduction to Horizon and Helpline".  Does that sound
       familiar?
   A.  Yes, it is just -- again that was on the screen, and
       then you have a practical exercise as it says there.
   Q.  For an hour and a half?
   A.  You swipe a magnetic card and so on.  So that was just
       part of the introduction.  So that is how you register
       your details on the system, so you swipe the card.
   Q.  {F3/60/1}, stock balancing, one hour and 45 minutes, and
       then --
   A.  Yes, that sounds about right.  When you are doing your
       first balance on the till, although it seems minimal,
       but when you are first coming into it, it is pretty
       much -- because it's the first time you are doing such
       a thing.  I don't think it would have taken an hour and
       45 minutes, I think that would have been the maximum.
   Q.  That's on day 3.  Then look across at days 5, 8 and 10,
       another hour and a half.
   A.  Are they classroom training?
   Q.  This is classroom training, yes.
   A.  That is why I said in the beginning it was very thorough
       and very useful and I was very competent about how to do
       my own stock balancing at a till, which was easy, which
       was fine.  I could do my cash, do my stock on the till,
       everything.  The main problem is doing the whole office,
       that is when the problem -- there is not enough support,
       not enough help, doing the back -- it is fine, I was
       fine doing it, it is just when there is a problem there
       is not enough support.  Helpline is not useful.  What
       should have happened, they should have had someone
       coming in, if you have any problems have someone come in
       and just run you through what you are doing wrong,
       rather than just an audit and then bam, suspension.
       Bam, termination.  Just a bit of support would be great.
   Q.  {F3/54/1} please.  So you are taught here how to use
       operations manuals, yes?  Their importance and how to
       use them, do you remember that?
   A.  Yes, there was examples of these manuals, just a few
       manuals that they had examples of --
   Q.  These are the ones we saw you signing for in
       the ARS 110, aren't they?
   A.  I don't remember that.  What is that number?
   Q.  That is the document that lists all the documents they
       handed over to you.  It was those kinds of manuals and
       documents --
   A.  The one in the folder?
   Q.  On handover.
   A.  The big folder.  Yes, that is fine.  Yes.
   Q.  Then balancing procedures.  If we go to {F3/70/1},
       please.  Do you recognise that document?  It's a guide
       to assist.
   A.  No, this doesn't ring a bell actually.
   Q.  Then {F3/77/1}.  This seems to be similar to the Fablon
       thing you are talking about.  It is an overview
       document, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, this is like a guide to where everything goes at
       the end of the day.  So I don't think this would have
       been done in classroom training, unless I am mistaken.
       It was more of a back office when it was live --
   Q.  It was more something you had been given, perhaps?
   A.  No, I wouldn't say that.  Maybe it should have been in
       my office.  But again the one I had, the laminated one
       I am talking about, it did have similar pictures.
   Q.  Finally {F3/78/1}.  Again, this is a sort of what I call
       really an idiot's guide?
   A.  No, this doesn't seem familiar.
   Q.  I'm not suggesting you needed it.  But it's an overview
       document to help you do the process, isn't it?
   A.  It is not familiar to me.
   Q.  Helpline then.  Again you deal with this at paragraph 82
       of your witness statement and following.  {C1/4/15}
           You say you called the Helpline six to seven times
       per month, is that right?
   A.  Yes, that is -- yes, about average, six to seven.  Some
       months it was more, some months it was less depending on
       the losses.
   Q.  I have the call log at {E4/72/1}, if that can be
       expanded.  That doesn't show, if we can read it,
       anything like calls of that frequency?
   A.  I can't really see this.
   Q.  Is it possible you have got that wrong and you didn't
       call that frequently?  Because it certainly isn't shown
       by this --
   A.  I can't see the document.  It is very blurry.  The
       problem was with the Helpline, ringing was one thing and
       then having someone answer it or someone being helpful
       on the other side was another thing.  So in the end if
       you are getting no help and no answers you don't really
       phone that much, so you kind of give up and go through
       your figure-work, your papers again, and try and find
       the mistakes yourself -- sorry, alleged mistakes,
       I don't think they were mistakes but, as I said, it was
       not from my side.  But you try -- you go through your
       paperwork but nothing turns up.  So it's very
       frustrating when you have gone through everything and
       you're still not finding the answers, so -- and you
       phone the Helpline and they are no use.
           I spoke to my area manager but they are only limited
       to giving out point-of-sale material, the latest sale
       material, and they are only interested in making the
       sales for the Post Office, increasing sales for the
       area.
   Q.  I put it to you formally that the Helpline did give you
       a reasonable level of help and assistance.
   A.  I don't know where you are getting that from but it is
       not true from my side.
   Q.  The other thing to put to you was that Christine Adams
       and Christine Stevens are two different humans.
   A.  No, that is not --
   Q.  One is not the married iteration of the other.
   A.  That is not possible.  Christine Adams is the area
       manager and she was there during the audit and she was
       the one I was discussing before.
   Q.  The point I put to you, you said Christine Stevens, who
       we saw sign the documents, is the same person as
       Christine Adams --
   A.  That is correct --
   Q.  And what I am saying to you is that is incorrect.
   A.  Sorry?
   Q.  I am saying it is incorrect.  They are two different
       people.  One is an auditor and one is an area manager.
   A.  So your Christine Stevens, was she at the audit time or
       the area manager or at the interview?
   Q.  Christine Stevens was an auditor who signed the
       paperwork on transfer day.
   A.  Okay, so there is a Christine Adams and a Christine
       Stevens, is that right?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is what Mr Cavender is putting to
       you.
   A.  I was under the impression it was the same person but
       she had got married because the first name was the same.
       So when -- the person who dealt with me -- the auditor
       has nothing to do with me after the audit, they are just
       concerned with the audit, so the person who was dealing
       with me was my area manager and I believed her name was
       Christine Adams or Christine Stevens and she got married
       afterwards.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.
   MR CAVENDER:  I have put to you that you have falsified your
       declaration to Post Office and you have done so
       deliberately.  You have signed a Statement of Truth on
       your witness statement: the contents of that statement
       are true.
           What I am going to say his Lordship at the end of
       this trial is, as you are capable of falsifying your
       declaration on your accounts, you are just the sort of
       person who would falsify a declaration on a witness
       statement so you shouldn't be believed.
   A.  That is not true.
   Q.  And I am going to say that.  Would you like to give any
       reason as to why I shouldn't make that connection?
   A.  Because that is baseless and senseless.  Because
       I believe I was doing the right thing, my Lord.  I do
       not believe I was falsifying any accounts.  And in fact
       I would do the same thing again if I went around because
       that is the only advice I had at the time.  Again there
       was no support from the Post Office on what to do.  The
       only support I got was from colleagues and so on.
       I believe I had -- was doing no wrongdoing whatsoever.
       100 per cent I believe in myself.  And I would not have
       jeopardised my livelihood for a couple of thousand
       pounds.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.
   MR CAVENDER:  No further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.
           Mr Green?
   MR GREEN:  No re-examination.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have a couple of questions.  The first
       is just terminology and I am just going to read
       a transcript reference.  At {Day4/93:14} of today's
       transcript, Mr Cavender was asking you some questions
       and he used the phrase "rollover period", and in your
       answer you used the phrase "transfer rollover period".
       I'm not really sure what that means.  Did you mean the
       same as accounting period?
   A.  Was that when I was going on holiday?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I tell you what, I'll take you to the
       bit of the transcript.  It's just so I can understand
       what actually you meant.  I will just remind you of the
       transcript.  It is easy for everybody to mix up phrases
       so I just wanted to be clear about something.
           You explained to -- I will call up the document.
       You were being asked about a document at {C1/4/20} which
       is part of your witness statement.  There is
       a paragraph, paragraph 102, where you had said:
           "As far as I recall there was no process in Horizon
       which required proof that I was the person accepting the
       transaction correction (rather than an assistant ...)
       which I do not think was right ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.  So I --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just wait, Mr Abdulla.  Hold your
       horses.  And Mr Cavender said to you -- he had already
       asked you some questions about it.  You said:
           "If you are disputing it, it will still be under
       dispute but you still have to sort it out at that time.
       So that is when you get -- in the next trading period
       you could get a transaction correction to correct that
       correction.  To nullify that.  So it is still in
       dispute.  Or it may not be in dispute but a transaction
       correction could come to reverse that correction on the
       next trading period."
           Okay?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then later on in answer to another
       question you used the expression "transfer rollover
       period".  You said:
           "I just explained it to you.  You have to accept it
       whether you like it or not.  Whether you -- it is still
       in dispute if you have disputed it.  Whether you agree
       with it or not, you have to accept it.  It is not that
       you have a choice.  On transfer rollover period you have
       to accept it."
           By "transfer rollover period", did you mean that or
       did you mean something else?
   A.  No, I meant the same thing --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Transfer --
   A.  It's the period --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The accounting period?
   A.  Yes, the rollover period.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You just used the phrase again, rollover
       period.  Do you mean the end of one accounting period
       and the beginning of the next?
   A.  Yes, that's right.  Rollover means to the next trading
       period.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Understood.  That is what I thought you
       meant, but I just wanted to ask you the question to make
       that clear.
   A.  Yes, there are many terms we use --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "Rollover period" is a term which
       I didn't think I had come across before.
           I assume there are no questions arising out of that?
           Thank you very much for coming, Mr Abdulla.  You can
       now leave the witness box.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just before we call the next witness it
       might help if page {E4/54/1} is brought up, please.  The
       counters operations manuals, volume 1 to volume 5,
       I would like a hard copy please of those volumes,
       insofar as it is possible.  It doesn't have to be today,
       it doesn't even have to be tomorrow, but certainly by
       some point next week I would like to have a copy of what
       this witness said was a lever-arch file or two
       lever-arch files.
           Then under Horizon, Horizon user guide and Horizon
       balancing guide, I would just like an electronic trial
       bundle reference for those two documents.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, can I be clear what you are asking
       for because these change over time, these documents.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I imagined that would be the case.
   MR CAVENDER:  So we want the ones for Mr Abdulla.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, please.  I should have made that
       point at the beginning, yes.
           Thank you very much.  Mr Green, you are going to
       call ...
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, would that be a convenient moment for
       the ten-minute break?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  And I think your next witness ...
   MR GREEN:  Elizabeth Stockdale.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  3.15 pm.
   (3.07 pm)
                         (A short break)
   (3.15 pm)
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, there is one amendment to be handed up.
       (Handed)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I call Mrs Stockdale.
                 MRS ELIZABETH STOCKDALE (sworn)
                 Examination-in-chief by MR GREEN
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much, Mrs Stockdale.  Do
       have a seat, please.
   MR GREEN:  Mrs Stockdale, in front of you should be
       hopefully a witness statement with your name on it.
       {C1/6/24}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If you have a look at page 24 of that witness statement,
       toward the back, there is a correction of a date.  2018
       should be 2015 {C1/6/24}.  Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  It's corrected on a piece of paper but not on the
       screen.
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  Subject to that, do you believe the content of your
       witness statement to be true?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   MR GREEN:  Thank you.  Wait there, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender.
                 Cross-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  Good afternoon, Mrs Stockdale.
   A.  Good afternoon.
   Q.  A few introductory questions to settle you in.  Am I
       right in thinking you started working for Post Office on
       8 May 2014?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  And you did so until your contract was terminated on
       16 September 2016, is that right?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  So that is two years and four months or so you worked
       for Post Office?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In terms of your background, can I take you to your CV
       just to run through this with you.  {E6/15/1} sets out
       your experience prior to Post Office.  Am I right that
       you essentially have managed various clothes shops?
   A.  Yes, it was just one clothes shop that I managed.
   Q.  Madhouse UK?
   A.  That is right.
   Q.  You were admin manager there for five years?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that involved collating information on 13 other
       stores?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You then made that information available for the area
       manager?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Did you have to make sure that was done accurately?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you did that with care?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you read the information from the 13 stores and
       passed it on accurately to the area manager?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You have then done various administrative jobs, the
       latest one I think being the admin officer at the
       Scarborough Disabilities Resource Centre?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Would I be right in thinking those roles, taken as
       a whole, have involved you in reading documents and
       understanding them?
   A.  You would.
   Q.  And that you are good on detail.  Would you accept you
       are good on detail?
   A.  Yes, the details that are concerned with the job.
   Q.  The taking on the role of a postmaster was going to be
       significant and important to you?
   A.  Very, yes.
   Q.  So you were going to take care to ensure that all the
       elements of what was being offered to you were
       acceptable?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You were going to read documents carefully, is that
       right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Consider their effect, and decide whether or not you
       wanted to enter into a contract on those terms, is that
       fair?
   A.  That is fair, yes.
   Q.  So in terms of your journey then applying to be
       a postmaster, I think your interest started in
       October/November 2013, is this right, when you became
       aware from your son that the newsagent-Post Office
       nearby was coming up for sale?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  I think you made an inquiry of Post Office on 8 November
       {E6/1/1}.  This seems to record, look at the top,
       "Network Transformation Only", ticklist.  The applicant
       name and phone number is on the left there.  This is on
       8 November 2013, is that right?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  The next thing that happens we see at {E6/2/1} is you
       are sent a zip file I think for a number of documents.
       We see that in the third paragraph there.  Do you see
       that?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  "In the attached zip file are some forms that you need
       to complete to support your application."
           And there is a link there.
           "Please apply online as soon as possible."
           Paragraph 3:
           "The business plan can be downloaded ..."
           And then there's a guide to filling in the business
       plan.
           Those documents are available.  I don't think I need
       to take you to them but they are behind tab {E6/3/1},
       then {E6/4/1}, and {E6/5/1} and so on.  These are the
       documents that helped you prepare your business plan and
       put your application together, is that fair?
   A.  That is fair.
   Q.  Meanwhile in the background Mr Dunk, who I think was the
       freehold owner of the premises, if we go to {E6/13/1},
       a letter from him on 18th.  I think you met him on
       18 November, is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This is {E6/13/1}.  And essentially he was willing to
       play ball and transfer the lease to you if you were
       successful?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we then go to {E6/16/1}, we see your application and
       sort of presentation, really, I think is probably fair
       to say, starting at {E6/16/1}.  This is what you would
       have submitted to Post Office, is that right?
   A.  Yes, I only have my profile page.
   Q.  Go for instance to page {E6/16/13} of this, "Customer
       Service Skills":
           "Smile."
           This is a document you filled in?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  If we go over the page to {E6/16/14}, you say:
           "Make the customer feel welcome ...
           "Listen."
           What you are doing here and, say, at page
       {E6/16/16}, "Training":
           "Ensure all staff are reviewed and highlight any
       areas of training required to maintain a high level of
       customer service.  Retain a record of all training for
       future reference ...
           "Offer staff the opportunity to attend training
       courses ..."
           So this was your business plan and your narrative,
       really, is that fair?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  What this shows, doesn't it, in terms of both its
       content and style, is you are not commercially naive.
       You are reasonably sophisticated, you have put together
       a good business plan, and you would agree with me I
       think you are not commercially naive.  Would you agree
       with that?
   A.  I would.
   Q.  So this is your application.
           Then what happens is on 11 December, Post Office
       write to you at {E6/22/1}.  11 December.  You obviously
       met them, you are interested in the possibility of
       converting the branch to a Local model.  What they set
       out there is in terms of Post Office funded equipment,
       paragraph 1, and we see there:
           "A detailed list which would set out all the
       equipment required would be included in the contract for
       the operation of the new Local Post Office branch would
       be sent to you in due course, if appropriate."
           And if you go over the page {E6/22/2}, holding that
       thought, paragraph 3, second bullet point:
           "Both you and Post Office Limited entering into
       a Local Post Office contract."
           Your appointment would be subject to that.  That was
       no surprise to you, was it?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You were going to be regulated by a contract with
       Post Office?
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  Then if we go to {E6/38/1} we have a document,
       "Modernising your Post Office.  Your journey starts
       here".  You would have received this document?
   A.  I did, yes.
   Q.  And you would have read it?
   A.  I believe so at the time, yes.
   Q.  It is an overview, isn't it, of the process really --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- that you are going to be subjected to.  And you would
       have seen on page {E6/38/3} of this, under "Here are the
       highlights", there is a timeline and then the contract:
           "A copy of the contract is included at the back of
       this pack.  You do not need to sign this version, it is
       just for your information at this point.  You can find
       more details on page 6."
           The contract was in fact included at the back of
       this pack, wasn't it?
   A.  It was.  A copy with a watermark that said "Copy"
       throughout.
   Q.  Yes.  Then if you go over the page to {E6/38/5} we can
       see the journey ahead in various numbers.  And we have
       at 8 on page 5, under the heading "Signing the
       contract", on the top left of the screen there:
           "If the financial assessment is approved, and you
       are happy to proceed, we would send you the full
       contract for you to review and sign if you want to go
       ahead."
           That is what you understood the position to be?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then on page {E6/38/6}, please, under the heading "The
       contract", you are told your branch is converted to one
       of the new models?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And some of the features are set out there:
           "New contract has a minimum term of one year ...
       contract with us as a company or an individual ..."
           And things of that kind.
           Then if we go to page 9 {E6/38/9}, please, this was
       the return.  I think you tick that box, is this right,
       on page 9, saying:
           "I confirm that having read through the enclosed
       documents, I am still interested ..."
           Essentially.  And then that triggers I think the
       process for an interview?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You ticked that box?
   A.  I did, yes.
   Q.  And you ticked it because you had read through the
       enclosed documents?
   A.  I did, yes.
   Q.  And that included the draft contract?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The contract with the watermark on it.
           The interview is the next thing that came,
       5 February 2014.  {E6/16/1}, please.  This is a document
       we looked at before.  This is your presentation
       effectively at that interview, am I right?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  Andrew Carpenter was an interviewer at that interview,
       do you remember that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  Have you read his witness statement?
   A.  I have, yes.
   Q.  You have.  Can we take that up, it's at {C2/10/1}.  What
       he says at paragraph 7 {C2/10/2} is that a lot of time
       has passed, he's carried out lots of interviews, and
       whilst he can't recall interviewing you specifically, he
       says he has a certain procedure or process he goes
       through, and what he says is that he goes through that
       process with you at this interview.  So what I am going
       to put to you now is what he says would have happened,
       do you understand?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  He is not specifically recollecting that, but he is
       saying that is what always happened for him, that was
       his standard practice, and it would have happened with
       you too.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  What he says, it's paragraph 8 of his witness statement
       {C2/10/2}, cast your eyes over, please, paragraph 8 and
       the subparagraphs and then I will ask you some questions
       about it, not in huge detail, just in terms to see what
       he says was mentioned.  (Pause)
           Tell me when you have finished page 2, I will then
       ask the operator to go to page 3.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Go to page 3 now {C2/10/3}.  And page four, please
       {C2/10/4}.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  The first point is before you got to the interview,
       obviously, as we have seen before, you had had
       a watermarked copy of the contract and you would have
       read that in advance of the interview, I am guessing?
   A.  I am guessing, yes.
   Q.  So as an overview point, nothing really that
       Mr Carpenter says here he said in paragraph 8 would be
       particularly surprising.  This reflects the terms of the
       contract, really?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So can we run through them.  And what is your
       recollection of this interview?  Is it -- do you have
       a strong recollection or are you trying to do your best
       to sort of make it up?
   A.  Yes, I do.  But the only sort of things I do remember
       mainly was that I was surprised when I got there that
       there was only one person, I was expecting there to be
       quite a few people, which, as I say, was quite
       surprising.  And also, although it is laid out in his
       witness statement, I couldn't specifically put my hand
       on him ever making massive sort of things saying about
       the losses and things like that.  We spoke more, if I am
       honest, about the way my ...
   Q.  Presentation?
   A.  Presentation was set out, because you actually said it
       was quite good.  So we talked about my background and
       how I would like to move forward within my branch and
       things like that.
   Q.  Okay.  There is no dispute, of course, you did go
       through that, the presentation.  Obviously that is part
       of it.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can I run through paragraph 8.1 with you and following
       to see whether you are able to say whether he didn't say
       any of these things or mention them.  Because he says
       this is his practice, you might say "No, I can
       definitely remember we didn't mention that".  Yes?  That
       is what I want you to do with me, please.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Starting with 8.1 then {C2/10/2}, he says it is his
       practice to mention that it is a contract for services,
       not a contract of employment, and that therefore
       personal service is not required.  Is that something he
       might have said?
   A.  Yes, I was aware of that, yes.
   Q.  You were aware that (a) you wouldn't be an employee?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You would have been an agent?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You were also aware there is no requirement for you
       personally to do any service in relation to the branch,
       you could use assistants as you wished?
   A.  I am not saying I was aware that I didn't have to be
       there.  No, I don't think I was ever told that.
   Q.  Would he have run through the key sections of the
       contract as he says his practice was here?
   A.  I can honestly say I don't actually think that he did.
   Q.  And you have explained that you would be sent two copies
       of the contract and, if you agreed, standard practice
       was to sign the copies and send them back.  Would he
       have talked about the admin of signing the contract and
       returning it?
   A.  It is possible.
   Q.  So 8.2 then.  Would he have made the point about
       responsibility; whether you were present in the branch
       or not the branch was your responsibility, whether you
       were there or whether you used assistants, would he have
       made that point?
   A.  I don't remember him specifically saying so, but I was
       already aware from the previous postmistress.
   Q.  Okay.  When you say you weren't aware of things, is it
       possible he did say these things, or any of these things
       I am going to go through, and you don't remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes.  8.3 {C2/10/3}, the responsibility for staffing the
       branch and training.  He says it was his practice that
       he would make clear that you were responsible for your
       staff and for training them, is that likely?
   A.  Yes, probably.
   Q.  And accounts, 8.4, would he have dealt with the
       responsibility for preparing the accounts at the end of
       each trading period that would be the end of four or
       five weeks?
   A.  I think it was touched on very, very lightly.
   Q.  Did he deal with the fact that you would be responsible
       for cash and stock and balancing the books?
   A.  Yes.  I knew about that, yes.
   Q.  Would he have made the point that you would be
       responsible for losses if there had been some error?
   A.  No, I was never aware of -- that it would ever come to
       something like that.
   Q.  Had you not at this stage, because you were on the NTC
       contract, clause 4.1 of that contract?
   A.  I probably had at the time, but you can't say that you'd
       dissolve everything, it's ...
   Q.  Clause 4.1, we can go there if you like.  It says
       certainly the postmaster is responsible for losses.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  I can take you to that if you like.  My learned friend
       is looking rather alarmed at this prospect.  I am sure
       he has read it himself.
           If we go to {D1.6/3/13}, do you see paragraph 4.1?
       Just read that to yourself.  (Pause)
           I think you said you probably read that at the time
       of the interview?
   A.  I probably did.  And can I just say it says that it
       occurs as a result of any negligence by the operator.
       There was never any proof that it was negligence by the
       operator.
   Q.  I don't want to debate with you the meaning of the
       clause, I think it is sufficient for my purposes that
       you said you had read it.
           So back to {C2/10/3} to carry on this process, if
       I may.  8.5, unable to guarantee the fees from the
       branch.  Is that something that sounds familiar?  The
       fees are estimates and things of that kind.  Did you
       have a discussion about fees?
   A.  No.
   Q.  You don't think so?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Nothing about fees at all?
   A.  No, not that I remember.
   Q.  But weren't you quite interested in fees?  Isn't that
       quite an important part of your --
   A.  Sorry, I misunderstood.  Yes, he did.  I was given some
       literature with how much the fees were.
   Q.  He gave you information and talked it through with you
       in some way?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  8.6, training, please.  He would have said to you the
       subpostmaster would receive training, split into online
       learning, classroom training and on site training.
       Would he have mentioned --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And he said he would most likely have mentioned the
       operations manual and other instructions that were
       required to follow and keep up-to-date, do you remember
       that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  He said he would have made it clear the training of
       assistants was a matter for you?
   A.  Yes, I was aware of that.
   Q.  Over the page {C2/10/4}, 8.7, there were certain
       standards required to meet when running the branch.  Is
       that something he was likely to have said to you?  8.7
       at the top.
   A.  Yes, I -- I am sure he did point it out.  Yes.
   Q.  8.8:
           "I would have covered with Mrs Stockdale the
       possibility of fraud.  I would have started by saying
       this was an unpleasant topic but that I needed to cover
       it off ... possibility of robbery and theft from outside
       sources and also from staff."
           Do you remember a discussion along those lines or
       him talking about that?
   A.  Not -- I wouldn't say it was something that he talked
       about at length.  He maybe did mention it.
   Q.  8.9, he said he explained to you that transaction errors
       were possible which could be the cause of a shortfall.
       Do you remember a discussion along those lines?
   A.  I don't remember having that conversation.
   Q.  Is it possible you did have such a conversation?
   A.  I am sure it is possible but I don't remember, I am
       afraid.
   Q.  Okay.  8.10, he said he would have informed you that
       cash was only to be used for Post Office uses.  He says
       he used a standard example that you couldn't use money
       to pay the window cleaner or take cash to buy wholesale
       stock even if you were going to pay it back the same
       day.  Is that something he might have said to you?
   A.  Yes, I am sure he probably did, but I think things like
       that to me would be common sense.
   Q.  At 8.11, he said he would explain it was important that
       you understood the contents of the Local contract, your
       standard terms, and answer any questions you may have
       prior to signing it, and only to sign it once you are
       happy to do so.  Do you remember him making that point?
   A.  Yes, I think he would have.
   MR CAVENDER:  I am just checking one point, if I may, before
       I move on.  (Pause)
           Moving on in time then.  10 February 2014,
       {E6/31/1}.  You were told you had been successful.
       10 February 2014.  You must have been pleased when you
       received this?
   A.  Absolutely, but I already knew.
   Q.  You already knew because you had been phoned or
       something?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So this is the formal letter telling you that you have
       been successful and arranging training, you see there,
       including:
           "To assist with your preparations we have provided
       the following distance learning workbooks ..."
           Including the Post Office Local compliance training
       workbook posted with a copy of this letter.  And we see
       the training, there is three days' classroom training,
       half day support for the set up of your office, one day
       further induction, further half day support, then a half
       day on site support, et cetera.
           Look over the page at {E6/31/2}, please, we can see
       that the Local three day classroom training course
       content, while we are here, you can cast your eye over
       that and see what it includes:
           "Take over stock and datestamp.
           "Introduction to Horizon.
           "Cash management."
           And at the bottom:
           "Stock balancing."
           I will ask you about training later but that is just
       an introduction.
           In terms of the Post Office Local compliance
       training booklet that I referred you to, that is behind
       tab {E6/32/1}.  And if we go to page {E6/32/3} in this
       document, under the heading "Completing the training":
           "As the subpostmaster, franchisee, operator, company
       operator or branch manager, it is your responsibility to
       make sure all your team members - as well as any
       temporary or holiday relief staff - complete this
       training. If you do not complete the training, and
       ensure that everybody in your branch who needs to do it
       completes it, Post Office will take action with you in
       line with our current performance management policy."
           So training was pretty important to Post Office,
       yes?
   A.  It would appear so, yes.
   Q.  In terms of the contract, if we go to {E6/36/1}, we see
       here on 14 February a letter to you, "Subject to
       Contract".  This is a formal legal type letter:
           "I am delighted to confirm that you have
       successfully completed the application ..."
           And explains the next steps.
           "There are three things that need to happen:
           "1. Signature by you and Post Office Limited on
       a conditional basis of the contract documents (these are
       contained in the pack enclosed with this letter)."
           And 2 we can see and 3.
           Then:
           "Full instructions on what to do with the documents
       are included with the pack.  Please make sure you read
       the information in the pack carefully.  Only some of the
       documents in the pack need to be signed and returned to
       us."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  As part of the pack, if we go behind the next tab to
       {E6/37/1}.  It says "Pack" at the top:
           "Welcome to the next stage of the appointment
       process!
           We hope you find the information in this pack
       helpful.  Included in this pack are the following
       documents:
           "Preface and appendices.
           "Standard conditions for operation of a Local
       Post Office branch ..."
           So the standard terms, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  A manual, a fees booklet and a bank details form.
           Pausing there.  This did attach a copy of the
       standard conditions, didn't it?
   A.  As far as I can remember, yes.
   Q.  What it says under "Instructions" is:
           "If you would like to be appointed to operate ..."
           Then you are asked to sign and return the relevant
       documents by a certain date.
           Paragraph 2:
           "We strongly suggest you take independent legal
       advice before signing the relevant documents and
       returning them to us.  We would also suggest that you
       keep a copy of the relevant documents that you have
       signed and dated."
           Pausing there.  You would have read paragraph 2,
       would you not, when you received it?
   A.  I would likely have read it, yes.
   Q.  And you would have considered whether, in fact, you
       wanted to take independent legal advice or not?
   A.  I did, yes.
   Q.  Did you in fact take independent legal advice on the
       contract?
   A.  I didn't, no.
   Q.  You decided not to?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  You had legal advice, presumably, on the purchase of the
       lease?  The lease was purchased by you by a lawyer,
       I suspect?
   A.  It wasn't purchased, no.  I didn't -- no money traded
       hands for anything that I did within the whole
       agreement.  So, no, I didn't get any legal advice.
   Q.  You didn't have a solicitor conveyancer acting for you
       even in relation to you taking over the premises?
   A.  No.
   Q.  That was done informally?
   A.  Sorry?
   Q.  It was done informally?
   A.  Yes, it was done through my landlord.  He had
       a solicitor who did it all for us.
   Q.  He worked for both of you?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You just took over Karen's lease, didn't
       you?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Paragraph 3:
           "By signing and returning the relevant documents to
       us, you will be making us a legal offer to enter into
       the Local Post Office agreement ..."
           You understood what they meant by that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go to {E6/38/1}, we see:
           "Modernising your Post Office.  Your journey starts
       here."
           I think we have seen that document before.
           Earlier on I referred you to the operations manual.
       Was that the document at {D1.6/1/1}?  Can we have that
       on screen, please.
           That is the operations manual that was attached as
       part of this pack, am I right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You would have read that or flicked through it to at
       least see what it involved, is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you understood that was going to be part of the
       contract?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then {E5/139/1}.  And if we can go to the following page
       {E5/140/1}.  It should be a frequently asked questions
       page.  (Pause)
           {E5/139/3} Thank you.
           Do you remember this document, "Frequently asked
       questions"?  It was part of the pack and it says, as you
       can see:
           "When would the new contract actually come into
       effect?"
           It says there are two dates, the commencement date
       and the start date.
           Paragraph 2, delay.
           And 3:
           "What are the notice periods for the new contracts?
           "For main branches, either Post Office Limited or
       the operator would need to give at least 12 months'
       notice to the other to terminate the contract.  For
       Local branches ..."
           And you were a Local branch, weren't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The notice period is six months and can be given at any
       time after the contract begins.
           "However, you can't bring the contract to an end
       until 12 months after the start date ..."
           You would have read that, presumably, before you
       considered whether to sign the contract?
   A.  I would probably have flicked through it but I can't say
       I would have digested it.
   Q.  But you obviously had the contract by that stage which
       itself had a termination provision in it, referred to
       here, of six months' notice.  Presumably you would have
       read that by this stage as well?
   A.  Yes, I would have thought so.
   Q.  And you would have recognised that that was a reciprocal
       right: you could give six months' notice, or the
       Post Office could --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- but only after one year?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It says at 6:
           "What should I do if I'm not happy with the
       financial obligations ..."
           And it says:
           "If you are not happy to accept the financial
       obligations in the contract, you shouldn't sign it.
       Once you do sign the contract then you will be
       responsible for all the obligations so it is important
       you read it carefully.  If you have any concerns, it's
       important you contact your field change adviser as soon
       as possible to tell them ..."
           Et cetera.
           That would have been something you would have read,
       that document?
   A.  Yes, I would have done at the time.
   Q.  Then the contract is signed and where you sign the
       contract is {D1.6/4/8}.  That is your signature, isn't?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  And you sent that off to Post Office because you were
       happy with the terms?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you wanted to contract on that basis?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And where it says at the top of the page:
           "The operator and Post Office Limited hereby agree
       to enter into the agreement as defined above."
           What that means is on the basis of the NTC terms and
       the manual, amongst other things?
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is what you were signing to.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In terms of the reasonable expectations of someone in
       your position at the time you signed this document,
       I suggest the reasonable person in your position would
       have expected that Horizon would be a reasonably
       reliable computer system.  That is what you expected?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I suggest to you such a person would also expect that
       reasonable training or -- sorry, the training necessary
       for you and your staff to operate the branch would be
       provided?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And also the Helpline that you had been told about would
       provide -- it would be a reasonable one to help and
       assist you with any queries you had?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  We then see Post Office signs and returns the contract,
       {E6/57/1}.  Do you see that?  They then send it back to
       you.  That is really the end of the contracting phase?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then what happens is you have classroom training on
       14 April, you are notified of that at {E6/64/1}:
           "Office opening ..."
           On 18th May, and then this is the three day
       classroom training content, and then underneath there is
       the induction course content.
           In terms of training materials if you go to
       {E6/41/18}, please.  Before I go on, I just looked at
       the transcript and I need to return to a question about
       the training.
           The reasonable person would have thought that you
       would have a training necessary for you to operate the
       system?
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  As opposed to your staff.  It's limited to you, the
       training would be necessary for you to operate Horizon
       and your branch?
   A.  That isn't how it was, because my son came on the same
       training session with me and he was shown exactly the
       same things to do as myself.  I was never shown anything
       over and above what a normal counter assistant would
       have been shown.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You were given two slots on the
       training, weren't you?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And you decided to take your son.
   A.  My son, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  I understand.  So the Locals pack then.
       {E6/41/1}
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I am slightly concerned.  The witness
       was shown the induction training, so there is the
       induction training, and then my learned friend moved on.
       I don't know whether my learned friend accepts the
       evidence that it never happened at the branch because
       building works were still going on, at paragraph 79, or
       not.  But the witness was looking a bit puzzled.  It's
       the previous page obviously.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender, do you want to pursue
       paragraph 79 or not?
   MR CAVENDER:  79 of ...?  We can cover that off now if you
       like.
           You saw I said there is a training and an induction
       training course as well.  Are you saying the induction
       training didn't occur?
   A.  Not the training that somebody was supposed to come and
       do some induction training with me in the branch
       afterwards.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  I only got the first week's training with somebody
       coming and watching what I was doing.
   Q.  You had a week of someone coming in?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So you had classroom training that we're about to go to?
   A.  Three days.
   Q.  Three days.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then you had someone in for a week?
   A.  Well, Monday to Friday.
   Q.  Yes.  To implement, if you like, and hold your hand, so
       to speak, to be on hand to assist you?
   A.  Yes, I suppose.
   Q.  So what didn't you get?
   A.  There was supposed to be another part of the training
       where somebody came to see me to make sure that
       everything was okay.  But because the fitment works were
       still happening, they didn't come to do that.
   Q.  I see.  And that was in addition to the person coming in
       for the five days?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I see.  I understand.
           Moving on then to {E6/41/1}, the Locals pack, "The
       perfect guide to your Local Post Office branch".  This
       is something I think you were provided with in advance
       of the training, the classroom training, is that how you
       remember it?
   A.  I honestly cannot remember.  I did receive it but
       I cannot remember when it was that I actually received
       it or who gave it -- I'm not even sure if somebody
       didn't give it to me at some point.
   Q.  What it seems to be is an introduction and a reference
       guide and various checklists and action plans for
       training, team talk and things of that kind.  Have you
       been through it since?
   A.  I -- obviously I have referred to it and looked at it in
       the past, but obviously not in the past two years, no.
   Q.  But at the time when you were about to take over the
       branch having classroom training, et cetera, my
       understanding was you got it around that time, and if
       you look at {E6/41/19}, for instance, "Training plan.
       Setting up your training partner".  What this is doing
       is setting out various training tools, on the right-hand
       side --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on.  It hasn't come up on the
       screen.
   MR CAVENDER:  At the top of the page to the right:
           "We have a range of training tools available to
       support you on the journey to transformation."
           So it seems to suggest this is an introductory type
       of document to help you to get into training.  But you
       don't recall getting this in advance of the classroom
       training, you say?
   A.  No, I can't honestly remember when I received this.
   Q.  But you might have got it prior to the training?
   A.  Yes, there is a possibility.
   Q.  So the classroom training for three days, was that seven
       hours a day?
   A.  No, no.  Absolutely not.
   Q.  How many hours a day were you doing?
   A.  Maybe two or three in the morning and then three or four
       in the afternoon.  We had a break for lunch and then --
   Q.  That is seven.
   A.  Seven then.  You said eight, seven.
   Q.  I said seven, you said no, and two periods of four and
       three adds up to seven.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  So it was a full day?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  We have seen the basic outline in the letter I showed
       you earlier, if you remember, and it included balancing
       and an introduction -- stock balancing and an
       introduction to Horizon, is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go to {E6/81/1} we see some of the details of the
       training.  Does that look like your training programme?
   A.  Yes, it does, yes.
   Q.  We can see the second slot on day 1: intro, Horizon and
       Helpline.  Then we have -- we can see what we have
       there.  We have also then balancing I think,
       introduction to stock balancing, the last -- in the
       afternoon of day 3.
           In terms of the training materials and things, if we
       can go to {F3/192/1}.  This is the balancing a stock
       unit session.  I'm not suggesting you got this, this is
       the trainer's slides obviously.  We see there "Jargon
       buster", "Losses and gains, your responsibility" on
       slide 3.  We see:
           "Immediate - physically add or remove the relevant
       cash amount to achieve a nil balance.
           "Settle centrally [for things £150 plus] - transfers
       the amount into a holding account.
           "Ensure agents fully understand the difference
       between make good cash and settle centrally."
           You understood that, that when you had a transaction
       correction or something like that you could either
       accept it or you could settle centrally and dispute it?
   A.  No, because I think from what I understand from the
       questions, a transaction correction has got nothing to
       do with you balancing at the end of the week or at the
       end of the month.  The transaction correction is what is
       sent from the Post Office to try -- to put right
       a mistake that has been made.
   Q.  No, I am not disputing that, that it's to put it right.
       But it is what you do with them, if there are
       outstanding ones when you do the monthly balance at the
       month-end, what you do with the outstanding ones.  The
       question is what you do if you have one that is open,
       when you are about to roll over in the next trading
       period at month-end, did you have to accept it and pay
       it or were you able to "settle" it centrally and then
       dispute it?
   A.  At the end of the month you could settle it centrally,
       but I could never dispute it.  I was never told that
       I was able to dispute it.
   Q.  We can go to this in a moment and go to the manuals, but
       you could settle it centrally and ring up?
   A.  Yes, which is what we did.
   Q.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you not have to pay it if it was
       settled centrally?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You would have to pay it?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is my understanding of what slide
       three says.  Is that right, Mr Cavender?
           Maybe we can increase the size of slide 3, please.
   MR CAVENDER:  My understanding --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on a second.
           Are those the options?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.
           Mr Cavender, you were about to make a subsidiary
       point.
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
           There is a caveat to that, that if you settle
       centrally and you want to dispute it, then you can ring
       and dispute it.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And if you do that, you are maintaining your rights to
       dispute it going forwards?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes.  And that was your understanding?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What was your understanding of how long
       that process would take to resolve a dispute?
   A.  I would -- to be fair, my understanding, I wasn't
       100 per cent sure of the understanding.  But we ...
       I don't quite know how to answer that question.  We just
       used to -- as far as I remember, we used to just settle
       it centrally and then wait for instructions from the
       Post Office of what would happen next, sort of thing.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, we have been going an hour or so.
       I don't know if you want to have a short break there and
       how long you want to sit tonight?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What is your plan?  I imagine Mr Abdulla
       might have taken slightly longer than you --
   MR CAVENDER:  He did take slightly longer.  My plan was to
       finish with this witness today and I don't think I am
       going to.  But I would like to go through -- obviously
       your Lordship is rising at 3 o'clock tomorrow.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We can start at 10 o'clock.
   MR CAVENDER:  I think that would probably be wise.  Because
       I think your Lordship said you owed me twenty minutes
       from yesterday.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  You are not running out, it is
       just a question of how we allocate it.
           Let me just check.  Mrs Stockdale, would you be
       alright to stay until 4.45 pm tonight and start again at
       10 o'clock?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because I imagine you are staying in
       London and not going back to Bridlington.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Trains being what they are.
           Mr Cavender, would that work?
   MR CAVENDER:  It would.  If it's 4.45pm we may even be able
       to finish this witness actually.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That would be best, but please don't
       feel under pressure to finish by 4.45 pm because I am
       sure Mrs Stockdale was expecting possibly to have to
       come back tomorrow.
   MR CAVENDER:  Would you like a five-minute break now for the
       transcribers?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Will that be helpful?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right, we will break for five
       minutes.
           Mrs Stockdale, you do not have to stay in
       the witness box, but you are in the middle of being
       cross-examined so don't chat to anyone else about the
       case.
           We will have a five-minute break and then come back.
   (4.08 pm)
                         (A short break)
   (4.13 pm)
   MR CAVENDER:  So, Mrs Stockdale, going on then in time in
       terms of your relationship, the conduct during your
       relationship with the Post Office once you had started.
       Large parts of your witness statement deal with your
       relationship and ended up being summarily terminated
       a little two years later.
           Now, Post Office says the time to test your account
       on those matters would be at the subsequent breach
       trial, but at present you should know they don't accept
       your explanations in relation to various deficits,
       et cetera.
           Having said that, let's go to a few of them just to
       test the picture.  At paragraph 101 of your witness
       statement {C1/6/21} and following, you start setting out
       your experience of what you call unexplained shortfalls,
       is that right?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  Without going through in detail in your witness
       statement, you start off I think in paragraph 101 with
       £172.50.
           And again without going to your witness statement,
       25 May 2014 is £172.  15 October, 2014, a loss of some
       £3,800.  15 April, some £512 on lottery prizes.  Does
       that sound right?
   A.  Yes, it does.
   Q.  On 29 April 2015, the loss of £2,692.  Let's go to that
       one because it's getting towards the relevant time.
       {E6/132/3}, please.  You see the £2692.80 I referred to
       there, and you have a transaction correction also of
       £512 in that time.
           Then on 27 May, so a month or so later, you have
       a loss of £2,451.  And that results in an intervention
       visit, doesn't it?  We see that {E6/133/1}.  That is
       the notes from Post Office I think at that intervention
       visit.  Have you seen these before?
   A.  Yes, I have.  Yes.
   Q.  I think in the middle of the -- sorry, at the top of the
       page there is some problem with overstating the postage
       figure rather than incorrectly entering rem figures.
       Then in the middle of the page you were questioned,
       I think, about a transaction correction of £512
       regarding National Lottery and that was confirmed to be
       correct.
           Then they say, third paragraph:
           "There is clearly a problem somewhere with the
       operation of this branch if it is sustaining such
       losses.  The branch does seem to have controls in place
       but obviously something is going wrong ... Please refer
       to my report intervention last year."
           So that is where you had got to in terms of that
       stage.
           And your response to the situation is probably best
       encapsulated later on that year, 23 August 2015
       {E6/138/1}, where having been chased for various losses,
       and this is your response in response to the latest
       letter, so perhaps turn that up first, it's {E6/137/1},
       a Post Office 18 August letter where they are chasing
       you for some £5,655, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Including the £512 for the lottery prize transactions,
       and the discrepancies in the April and May I referred
       you to briefly, yes?
           And your response to that is at {E6/138/1}.  And
       essentially you accept some of the errors but not
       others.  So for instance paragraph 1:
           "The lottery transaction was an error on our part
       but no physical monies were ever taken.
           "2. The £900 or so stamps discrepancy was an error
       on my part but I corrected it when I noticed the error
       ..."
           And so on.  So that is where you had got to at that
       stage.
           Going to the following year, 27 April 2016, there
       was a further loss of some £18,000-odd which then led to
       an audit, is that right?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  The audit we can see is on 13 May 2016.  The report is
       at {E6/147/1}.  What we can see there in the right-hand
       column --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We just need to go -- this is in Excel
       I think.
   MR CAVENDER:  In hard copy it is just a single page.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  I think what happens is on Opus
       they just say it is a native file and that will be
       somewhere in Excel.
   MR CAVENDER:  Can we open the -- I think it is only one page
       and then the balance on the -- can we open the page,
       please.  (Pause)
           If we look at that, we can see this is the report:
           "On Wednesday 11 May I was asked to lead a tier two
       audit at Sandsacre ... settled a shortage of £18,000-odd
       on 27 April."
           Then you have the table in the middle of a snapshot
       verified audit: assured amounts, volume difference, cash
       difference.  This is a cash difference here of minus
       £7,203, yes?
   A.  Yes.  Sorry, yes.
   Q.  In terms of how the accounts got into this condition and
       this loss had been dealt with, if we go to {E6/40.1/1},
       this is probably another -- so it's the second page of
       this.  140.1, bundle E6.
           So this is Andy Carpenter reporting at this time.
       And if you cast your eyes over "Funds at risk":
           "A shortage of £18,000 has been settled centrally
       and is showing on the concurrence report.  On asking
       postmistress to explain the loss, it is apparent it has
       been building over a six-month period and false
       accounting has taken place."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  In terms of the detail of that, if we go back, please,
       to {E6/146/1}, we noted this a moment ago.  The box at
       the bottom there.  This is the narrative.  It is the
       same event obviously.  Details of the audit:
           "The branch is only one single unit.  Stock AA.
           "I began to produce Horizon reports.  Once they had
       counted the cash, they noticed a sizeable shortage in
       cash and asked [yourself] to compare the audit figures
       with the previous night's declared cash figure.  The
       main difference was £5,780 in £10 notes.  When Dave
       asked Liz to locate this amount, she explained that this
       was a false figure that she had been carrying for
       an unspecified amount of time and was current when she
       settled the £18,000 centrally but she didn't wish to
       include this figure too at that time.  There was also
       a shortage of £500 in £2 coins and the branch also
       declared a shortage of around £500 the previous day,
       giving a total cash shortage of £6,772.  There was also
       a shortage in postage stamps of £308 and £122 shortage
       in stock, mainly scratch cards ..."
           So that is what they found on the audit.
           My Lord, I'm not sure if we are in the same position
       as we were with the last witness here in terms of what
       I am now going to ask.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are the only person who might know
       that because I don't know what you are about to ask.
   MR CAVENDER:  The same sort of questions as to how this
       happened and what this witness knew about it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Alright.  Just give me a second.
           Mrs Stockdale, I don't know if you were in court for
       the whole afternoon.  It is at this point, because of
       the reference to false accounting, Mr Cavender is going
       to ask you some questions.  Under the Civil Evidence Act
       of 1968 you have the right to refuse to answer any of
       his questions if it would tend to expose you to
       proceedings for an offence or the recovery of a penalty.
       As you know, false accounting is a criminal offence.  He
       is going to put a series of questions to you.  You might
       choose to answer them all, but it is right that I warn
       you that you don't have to answer any of them if you
       don't want to.  If he asks you a question and you do
       want to decline to answer it, just say "I decline to
       answer that question".  Is that fairly clear?
   A.  Yes, that is fair.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm not being patronising, I just have
       to make sure you have understood it as well, although
       I know you heard me say it to Mr Abdulla.
   A.  I did, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, no observations on the content
       of that warning?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  I have read out the various extracts of what
       the auditor said on the audit.  What this is consistent
       with is of you not accurately reporting on your previous
       monthly accounting accurately, because you say you
       settled the £18,000-odd but at that time there was
       a further £5,000 outstanding that you hadn't settled or
       paid.  In order for you to roll over with a zero
       balance, you must have manipulated your accounts somehow
       in order to get the balance to zero.  Do you see?
   A.  Yes, I see what you are saying but in this case that
       isn't true at all.
   Q.  So how did you manage to roll over then?
   A.  Because the -- what I said in the first place, the
       £5,000-odd that I thought it was, was merely -- it was
       a mistake on my part and I missed it out of doing the
       settling centrally, the £18,000.  It was a mistake on my
       part and I did miss it out.  I will put my hand up and
       say that.  I actually did intend to settle this one
       centrally the next time I did my four week rollover but,
       unfortunately, I was suspended before then so I didn't
       get the chance.
   Q.  And in terms of the overnight shortfall of £7,900-odd,
       the overnight loss between the figures that should have
       been there and the figures when the auditors came in,
       how do you explain that?  The cash and stock shortfalls
       of that £7,900 that I have shown you in the audit
       report?
   A.  The £5,000-odd that I thought -- of cash that was
       missing is included in that £7,000.
   Q.  What about the other £2,000-odd?
   A.  That was the stamps and the lottery, et cetera, and
       I was unaware of that.
   Q.  Unaware --
   A.  At the time.
   Q.  How long had you been carrying those losses, do you say?
   A.  I wouldn't know the answer to that question because
       I wasn't aware that they were missing at the time.
   Q.  So how are you saying to Post Office then that you have
       effectively got 578 more £10 notes than you had  and
       £250 worth of £2 coins than you had that we saw on the
       audit report?
   A.  Sorry?
   Q.  If we go to {E6/147/1} and go to the second page of
       that, what the auditor does is give a narrative to --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We haven't got there yet.  Here we are.
       Right.
   MR CAVENDER:  It's the bottom part of that.  Do you see
       "Outlines".  I read it out earlier to you.  In terms of
       the cash shortage £500 in £2 coins, which is saying
       there is 250 £2 coins, which in fact there weren't.  Do
       you see?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  If you look at the top, the overnight -- the previous
       night's cash declared figures, the figure of £5,780 in
       £10 notes.  So 578 £10 notes have been declared that
       weren't really there.  How had that state of affairs
       come to be under your management?
   A.  Because, as I explained to you before, I did realise
       that that amount of money was missing but I had missed
       declaring it in the £18,000 and was going to put it in
       the next time I did the rollover.
   Q.  So you were deliberately misdeclaring items of stock or
       cash?
   A.  I wasn't doing it deliberately, no.
   Q.  To cover that up, no?
   A.  I wasn't doing it deliberately, no.
   Q.  If we go to your schedule of information at {B5.6/1/8}.
       You deal with various shortfalls and you say at the
       bottom of page 8:
           "Eventually the alleged shortfalls began occurring
       so regularly I was left feeling as if I had no option
       but to confirm that I had settled the alleged
       discrepancies in cash when in fact I had not."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  "I would keep a log of the alleged shortfalls and this
       eventually amounted to the final shortfall that I felt
       unable to hide any longer, as detailed below."
           Then that's the £18,000?
   A.  That is right.
   Q.  So unpacking that, do I take it that you had been
       mis-stating your accounts in order to hide those
       discrepancies?  Because you say you had settled them
       when in fact you had not.
   A.  I don't want to answer that question.
   Q.  So would it be right that when, during that period, you
       certified under the following words:
           "I certify the content of this balancing and trading
       statement is an accurate reflection of the cash and
       stock at this branch."
           That when you signed that in fact it was untrue?
   A.  I never signed it.
   Q.  Who did sign it?
   A.  No one.
   Q.  Okay.  When you presented that as part of the procedure
       in order, as you knew, to roll over into the new period,
       you made that statement.  You knew that that act would
       result in that statement being made to Post Office.  Is
       that a fair way of putting it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you knew that that statement was false?
   A.  I actually have a reason for this.  If you will allow me
       to explain?
   Q.  Of course.
   A.  Because of all the shortages that I have been -- had
       have been having in the past, I was on a scheme with the
       Post Office to pay back X amount of the monies through
       my remuneration.  They were taking 500 and
       something pounds out of my remuneration every month.
       And I had been told in writing and by a member of the
       Post Office staff that you can't enter into more than
       one of these arrangements within a year of each other.
       So obviously I was already paying back the
       previous amount, so I feel that, when all these things
       were still going wrong with the Horizon system, I had no
       other choice.  Because what else could I do?  I had to
       carry on trading and this was the only way that I could
       carry on trading.  Because I felt, after everything that
       had happened with myself and -- in my point of view, the
       Post Office weren't doing anything to help me.  I had no
       other choice but to do this.
   Q.  You could have settled centrally and disputed it, if
       that is what you wanted to do?
   A.  I was told that I couldn't do that within a year --
   Q.  By whom?
   A.  It was written somewhere -- I have a letter actually
       with it written on.
   Q.  Perhaps my learned friend can show me that.
       I don't think I have seen that.  In terms of going back
       to what you were doing at this time to hide these
       amounts, you must have also been declaring cash on the
       system that didn't exist?
   A.  No, I wasn't doing that at all.
   Q.  Then how did you manage to --
   A.  Because I had my own paper trail that I had put into --
       with all my staff in my shop, and what my paper trail
       said was what was in that safe was actually in the safe
       on my paper trail.  The difference was what Horizon was
       telling me was there.
   Q.  But you weren't putting it in the system?
   A.  I was, yes.
   Q.  You were putting it in the Horizon system?
   A.  Yes, and it was Horizon that was telling me the
       difference in what my reconciliation of the cash was.
   Q.  I must say, I don't really understand that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is basically the system that you
       adopted, which I think you explain in paragraphs 99
       through to about 113, where you set up your separate
       robust system to keep track of all the cash.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And you put in your CCTV?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And what you are saying to Mr Cavender
       I think is, even while you were doing that, there were
       shortfalls appearing on Horizon?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that right?  That is what it is,
       Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  But I think this is a rather different point,
       as to how you were accounting for it really.  Because if
       you had shortfalls on Horizon and you need to roll over
       into the new trading period in the next month, and you
       weren't putting the cash in, and we all know you can't
       roll over at this stage at least physically unless it
       goes to zero, how are you telling Horizon that the
       deficits you are speaking about had been made good?
   A.  I don't think I should answer that question.
   Q.  You said earlier that you revealed some of the
       shortfall, the £18,000 of it, on 27 April, yes, and you
       paid that.  And there was a further £5,000 outstanding
       at that time that you decided not to pay.  But you say
       you didn't declare it because you didn't have any
       opportunity to.  But that isn't right, is it, on the
       chronology?  You could easily have declared it on
       28 April or 1 May or at any time prior to 13 May when
       the audit took place, could you not?
   A.  No, because you deal with everything in a four week
       period.
   Q.  But why couldn't you have just, on the following day,
       made a payment into Horizon of the £5,000 that was
       outstanding?
   A.  Where would I get £5,000 from?
   Q.  You would just have to make an accurate cash
       declaration, come clean, and then the system would
       produce a bit of paper and you could then dispute that
       or deal with it honestly, couldn't you?
   A.  Yes, but what we did was we had to put -- the
       £5,000 would have been put into the suspense account and
       you don't settle the suspense account until the four
       week period.  So the £5,000 would have been there
       floating around.
   Q.  But at least then you could have said to Post Office
       when they come on the audit: look, I've come clean on
       the 18, for whatever reason I didn't -- the other 5 but
       the following day or the day after that I put it into
       suspense.  I declared it accurately.  You had some two
       weeks or so after the 27th to do that.  Why didn't you
       do that?
   A.  I guess ... (Pause).  I am sorry, I have no answer for
       that.
   Q.  You realised that, by behaving this way and making these
       declarations that weren't true, that that was a serious
       matter, is that fair?
   A.  I just felt at the time that I had no other choice
       because of everything else that was going on with the
       money I was already paying back.
   Q.  It cannot have come as any surprise to you that
       Post Office suspended you when it came across these
       facts that had shown you had been less than honest in
       terms of your declarations, is that fair?
   A.  It is fair but who -- I would like to just say that who
       ever proved that that money was ever missing in the
       first place?
   Q.  You must have realised that this behaviour and
       accounting this way would make the discovery of the
       cause, the ultimate cause of the underlying losses, yes,
       more difficult to discover.  Because the longer they are
       left undetected and you are putting transaction upon
       transaction on top of it, it makes it more difficult.
       Do you accept that?
   A.  I accept that, but the Post Office weren't helping me
       anyway.
   Q.  But by behaving this way, not only were you being
       dishonest, I suggest, but also you were preventing
       Post Office knowing what was going on in your branch in
       relation to these matters.
   A.  But they weren't helping me anyway, so I didn't really
       see the point in them knowing anything.
   Q.  In terms of underlying losses then, did you ever try and
       investigate properly in relation now to all the losses
       that you are talking about here?  Try and work out the
       cause of any of these losses?
   A.  Yes, I did.  As I say, the paper -- the robust paper
       system was placed in my branch and my staff that I had
       working for me at the time were questioned.
   Q.  Who questioned them?
   A.  Myself and my husband.
   Q.  Are there any notes of those meetings?  I haven't seen
       any.
   A.  No.
   Q.  No.  What was your line of questioning?  What were you
       trying to discern?
   A.  I trusted them.  One of them was my son.  Why would my
       son do that to me?
   Q.  How old was your son at the time?
   A.  He was about 19/20.
   Q.  You didn't think it possible that he might have wanted
       some extra money or something, or ...?
   A.  No.  He wouldn't do that to his mum.  Why would he do
       that to his mum?
   Q.  But you asked him anyway?  And the other members of
       staff?
   A.  Of course, and I asked all the others and they all
       offered me their bank details so we could check the bank
       accounts if needed.
   Q.  Because you weren't usually in the branch at all on
       Thursdays and alternate Sundays, I think?  We see that
       from paragraph 8 of your witness statement.
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  Who was supervising the branch on those days?
   A.  Diana Daniels.
   Q.  Who is she?
   A.  She was one of the ladies that worked for me.  She
       worked for Karen before I took over the branch.
   Q.  Were you running a separate commercial business
       alongside the Post Office?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is it possible that some of these losses could be caused
       by people putting the money in the wrong till?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Or misaccounting?
   A.  No, absolutely not.
   Q.  Why not?
   A.  Because they were kept totally separate.
   Q.  No, I know.  That was obviously the idea, but isn't
       there a possibility of people making mistakes and --
   A.  No.
   Q.  -- borrowing cash, putting things in the wrong tills.
       Things of that kind?
   A.  No.
   Q.  I haven't seen the accounts of that separate business.
       They have not been disclosed.  Have you been through
       them to see if there are any possible blips --
   A.  Not personally, but my husband would know.  And my
       accountant.  Sorry.
   Q.  What I suggest to you is the likely cause for the
       underlying deficits were caused by errors by you or your
       staff or dishonesty by staff.
   A.  No.
   Q.  And that they weren't caused by any problems with
       Horizon, with your training or with the Helpline.
   A.  You are entitled to your own opinion but, I am sorry,
       I don't agree.
   Q.  In relation to the Helpline, I suggest that what was
       provided was a reasonable level of service on the
       Helpline.  Do you agree with that?
   A.  No.
   Q.  And when you say in your witness statement at
       paragraph 97.1 -- can we turn that up briefly at
       {C1/6/20}.  You say there that the Helpline operator
       spoke to you and said:
           "What's the problem?  It's only £3,000.  It's a drop
       in the ocean ..."
           That was never said to you, was it?
   A.  It was, absolutely.  I was shocked because, when she
       said it to me, I had always been led in the direction of
       "it's only happening to you" and then when she said that
       to me I thought: well, so it's not just happening to me,
       is it?
   Q.  It's also not true when you say in 97.2 that you
       requested further training.  That is also not true, is
       it?
   A.  It is true.
   Q.  And when in 97.1 you say you were told that you were the
       only person experiencing shortfalls, that is also not
       true.  The Helpline did not --
   A.  That is absolutely true.
   Q.  -- say that either, did they?
   A.  Because I am not the only person that that was ever
       asked to.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much, my Lord.  I have no
       further questions.
                    Re-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, two short points.  Could you be shown,
       please, {E6/128.1/1}.  Can we just zoom in on the middle
       email there?  There is an email there from Agents
       Accounting Team to Liz, sent on 5 November.  In
       the middle, do you see?  There are three emails on the
       page.  The second one down is from Agents Accounting
       Team to Liz, Wednesday, 5 November 2014 at 12.27.  Can
       you see that email?
   A.  I can, yes.
   Q.  Then "customer account" is the subject.  It says:
           "Dear Liz, if you're able to tell me what product
       caused your loss I would be able to chase that
       particular team for you.  If not, I'm happy to arrange
       deductions over 8 months ..."
           And an asterisk, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then it says:
           "On the understanding that you are not allowed to
       settle any further losses until a year after this has
       been repaid."
           Was that one of the statements you were referring to
       earlier?
   A.  It was, yes.  Yes, it was.
   Q.  Can you also please be shown {F3/68/3}.  Mrs Stockdale,
       there is no suggestion this document was shown to you.
       This is an internal Post Office document from 2011.
       Look at the foot of page {F3/68/3}, the second line:
           "Branch trading forces the acceptance of the TC on
       the Horizon system to enable the kit to roll over."
           In any of your dealings with any of the Agents
       Accounting Team or these problems, did any of them
       actually ever acknowledge to you that that is the
       situation you were placed in when you were rolling over?
   A.  No.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just give me one second.  (Pause).
           Thank you very much for coming.  I have no questions
       for you.  I wasn't deliberately trying to leave you in
       suspense there, I just wanted to check one of my yellow
       stickers.  But it had been answered.
           So thank you very much for coming.  You have now
       finished your evidence.  You are of course very welcome
       to come back, but you don't need to come back tomorrow
       to continue your evidence.  You are now free and you can
       talk about the case.
   A.  Thank you.
                     (The witness withdrew)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Gentlemen, do you want a 10 o'clock
       start anyway?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I don't think so, no.  If we finish
       at 3 o'clock tomorrow it will be fine.  We only have one
       witness.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You only have one witness.  Mrs Dar.
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right, 10.30 am.  These documents
       I am about to ask for, it is just because they are
       Excel.  I believe they are only one page.  It is
       {E6/147/1} and {E6/146/1}.  If they are not just a page
       then tell me tomorrow.  But if they are, if I could just
       have a hard copy.  Because I can't get at them on
       Magnum.
           Anything else?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If we do finish tomorrow before
       3 o'clock, and there is no pressure on you to do so, and
       we have a spare twenty minutes, I might just mention the
       third trial, just to have a three-way discussion.  I'm
       not going to be making any orders until the end of this.
       If we haven't got time, it's fine, it will wait until
       Thursday.  It is just to keep it on your radar.  But it
       might be, Mr Cavender, you need until 3 o'clock or
       2.50 pm and that is fine.  It will wait.  But that is
       the only outstanding point I have going forward.
           So nothing else?  10.30 am tomorrow.  Thank you all
       very much.
   (4.50 pm)
        (The court adjourned until 10.30 am on Wednesday,
                        14 November 2018)

                              INDEX
   MR NAUSHAD ABDULLA  (sworn) ..........................1
       Examination-in-chief by MR GREEN .................1
       Cross-examination by MR CAVENDER .................1
       Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ...............149
   MRS ELIZABETH STOCKDALE (sworn) ....................153
       Examination-in-chief by MR GREEN ...............153
       Cross-examination by MR CAVENDER ...............154
       Re-examination by MR GREEN .....................209



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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