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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Common Issues trial transcript: Day 7

This is the transcript of the seventh day of the Common Issues trial in the Bates and others v Post Office group litigation. The hearing below took place on Mon 19th November 2018 in court 26 of the High Court's Rolls Building. The claimants' QC is Mr Patrick Green and the defendant's QC is Mr David Cavender. The managing judge is Mr Justice Fraser.

Day 7 witnesses

Sarah Rimmer, Agent Remuneration and Expenses Manager, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
John Breeden, Head of Agency Contracts, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Angela van den Bogerd, People Services Director, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here) - day 1 of 3.

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 7 full transcript:

                                       Monday, 19 November 2018
   (10.30 am)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, can I call Sarah Rimmer, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just before you do, I received a copy of
       Mr Parson's 11th witness statement.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  There is one aspect of it that I would
       like to mention, which is in paragraph 19.  Some of the
       delay seems to be laid at the door of something that is
       simply described as an "issue", and I just would like
       an explanation of what that issue is.
           Rather than catch you on-the-hoof, or without any
       advance notice, I think it is probably best to have
       another short statement, it doesn't need to have
       an enormous narrative, but just to explain that
       paragraph in proper detail.  4 o'clock tomorrow?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes, my Lord.  So can I please call
       Sarah Rimmer.
                  MRS SARAH HELEN RIMMER (sworn)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Could you just read out your full name.
   A.  My name is Sarah Rimmer.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do have a seat.
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  In front of you there should be a bundle with
       your witness statement in it, is that right?  {C2/4/1}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And there should be a single page next to you from that
       witness statement.  In paragraph 9 there is a correction
       I think you want to make to the second line, is that
       right? {C2/4/3}
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  If you go to the document in the bundle, your witness
       statement, and flick to page 14 of that {C2/4/14}, we
       see a signature there.  Is that your signature?
   A.  Yes, that is.
   Q.  Subject to the one correction we have just mentioned,
       are the contents of the statement true?
   A.  Yes, they are.
   MR CAVENDER:  Wait there, please.  You will be asked some
       questions.
                  Cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  Mrs Rimmer, which title do you prefer, "Mrs" or
       "Ms"?
   A.  Mrs Rimmer.
   Q.  Mrs Rimmer, have a look, please, at paragraph 3 of your
       witness statement {C2/4/1}.  You explain there, you
       describe the appointment process for subpostmasters
       since 2007 up to May 2017, and that is the period that
       you know about from your own experience, is it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Also the checks that Post Office undertakes regarding
       the appointment of assistants?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we look at paragraph 38 of your witness statement
       {C2/4/8}, you are referring in that paragraph to the
       online recruitment tool called IRIS and when that was
       brought in.  How do you know when that was brought in?
   A.  Prior to 2017 I was working in the same service centre
       where IRIS was being used.
   Q.  Prior to 2007, do you mean?
   A.  Sorry, 2007, yes.
   Q.  You also deal in paragraph 58 {C2/4/12} with example
       policies dating back to 2001, only one of which,
       I think -- you have 58.4 and 58.5 are 2007 or later.
       What knowledge of those policies did you have?  Were
       they documents you just found or ...
   A.  Yes, at the time, prior to taking over the role within
       the agent application process, I was working on the
       advice centre, so I was taking calls from agents, and
       sometimes some of the questions, I could go and ask and
       be referred to other documents.
   Q.  So you --
   A.  So I was kind of like quite familiar with the agent
       processes due to that role.
   Q.  Prior to 2007.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you pause one second, Mr Green.
       (Pause)
   MR GREEN:  So looking back at 5.2 of your witness statement,
       paragraph 5.2 on page {C2/4/2}, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  For five years from 2002 you were working in HRSC in
       the advice centre which I think is the experience you
       were just referring to now?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is the Human Resources Service Centre?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say:
           "At that time HRSC operated a helpline that
       employees of Post Office and also subpostmasters could
       contact with HR related queries."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Pausing there.  Employees might have queries about the
       terms of their employment, or entitlement to holiday pay
       or something, and they could ring you up and ask about
       that?
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  Were those the same -- were the subpostmasters able to
       ring up about queries they had in relation to their
       appointment as subpostmasters?
   A.  Yes.  So the service centre was responsible for the
       appointment process, and then also the remuneration each
       month, and then when they subsequently came to leave.
       So, yes, anything -- any questions around those areas.
   Q.  If a subpostmaster had an issue with a member of their
       staff, would they also be able to ring you up and ask
       about that for advice?
   A.  We did receive phone calls about that and then we would
       probably assess the situation and then decide whether it
       was us that could answer it or whether it needed to be
       referred to, say, a contracts manager.  So, yes,
       depending on ...
   Q.  Presumably in terms of the enquiries you got from
       employees as effectively a HR advisor to the employees,
       if an employee was suspended, for example, they could
       ring up and ask you about the process and how it would
       work and what would happen?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You would be able to give them sensible advice about
       that?
   A.  Probably not necessarily on the Helpline, because we
       were very generalist, but we would have put them in
       touch with maybe a HR advisor or somebody else.
   Q.  Right.  Did you ever have occasion to give advice about
       suspension or what would happen then?  Or is that
       something you couldn't really deal with?
   A.  No, we probably wouldn't have given advice on the
       specific case but we would have referred them on to
       somebody who could.
   Q.  Maybe I can deal with it with a different witness, I
       just wanted to ask to understand whether you were the
       right person to ask.
           In your witness statement at paragraph 6 you deal
       with -- paragraph 6 and following, you deal with
       Post Office assistants {C2/4/2}, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the vetting process that you have described.  It's
       right, isn't it, that the employment of assistants by
       subpostmasters was not really entirely within their
       control in some ways, was it?
   A.  I believe it was their decision who they appointed.
       We --
   Q.  Let me -- sorry.
   A.  We would ask them to complete the P250 checks, and then
       if there was something that came up as a result of that,
       so if they were found to have a criminal conviction or
       something of that nature, then we would give the
       subpostmaster a letter to say that we wouldn't recommend
       their employment.  But in those instances; that would be
       the only reason, I would say.
   Q.  Let's just trace it through with some examples.  When
       an SPM takes over a branch on the standard SPMC contract
       and their assistants there, the employees, the employed
       assistants there would normally transfer with TUPE,
       wouldn't they, to the new SPM?
   A.  Yes, they would.
   Q.  In the case of a former Crown or directly managed
       branch, where an SPM -- a subpostmaster was on
       a modified SPMC, they would actually be inheriting
       people who previously had been employed by Post Office
       in that branch, wouldn't they?
   A.  I believe that happened in some cases.
   Q.  Yes.  There was actually an obligation on
       subpostmasters, rather than just a choice, in both the
       NTC contracts and the SPMC contracts to employ
       sufficient assistants to ensure they were able properly
       to manage their branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it was an obligation to employ assistants
       sufficiently to manage the branch --
   A.  To be able to manage the branch, yes.
   Q.  -- rather than totally free.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we look, please, at Louise Dar's statement at
       {C1/5/24}, please.  I think if you look at paragraph 125
       at the bottom of the page, do you see that:
           "Post Office had encouraged me to rely on my
       experienced assistant Ms Sohi, who had previously been
       employed by Mr Toor, when taking on the branch (this is
       referred to in Mrs Guthrie's performance assessment of
       me referred to above) at 528)."
           Can we look at the link there {E5/203/3}.  We see
       that is the final page of the performance assessment.
       And in very small writing at the bottom box under
       "General Comments", do you see that:
           "Louise is keen to learn and tries extremely hard.
       It has not been an easy week for her as she has had
       problems with the builders and family issues."
           If we go four lines down from the top and four lines
       up from the bottom, as it were, the middle line, and
       come in about 3cm, you'll see:
           "Onsite training has not been as concentrated as
       I would have liked ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  It reads:
           "Onsite training has not been as concentrated as
       I would have liked but Louise has access to guides and
       handouts that I have prepared for her to use when I have
       gone.  There is also an experienced staff member
       (transferred from previous office) who will be working
       about 25 hours per week, this should help to give Louise
       time to settle into her role as postmistress.  Louise
       has a really nice manner with her customers and given
       time, her confidence and knowledge should grow and she
       will begin to enjoy her role more."
           She was effectively being encouraged, she felt, to
       rely on experienced assistants when beginning her role,
       and that wasn't uncommon, was it?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "Not uncommon"; you are agreeing it was
       not uncommon?
   A.  Yes, it wasn't.
   MR GREEN:  If we go back to Louise Dar's statement, if we
       may, please {C1/5/25}, over the page.  Paragraph 126:
           "Later, Post Office also encouraged me to dismiss
       Ms Sohi ..."
           Do you see that?
           "... after the 15 July audit to which I refer to
       below.  Post Office told me that there had been
       deliberate falsification and inflation of accounts the
       night before the audit using Ms Sohi's advisor ID, and
       gave me further guidance about conducting a disciplinary
       meeting with her (as referred to in my notes for the
       meeting).  I understood that if I didn't dismiss Ms Sohi
       Post Office would not let me re-open the branch."
           Can we just take that in stages, that paragraph.  It
       wasn't uncommon for Post Office to make clear a wish to
       a subpostmaster that they should take disciplinary
       action, possibly suspend or prevent an assistant working
       in a branch anymore, was it?  It was a perfectly normal
       thing to happen.  It may not happen often but it was
       a normal thing to happen?
   A.  If there is sufficient evidence to believe that Ms Sohi
       deserved that treatment, then, yes, I would say so.
   Q.  I understand.  Can you understand -- I will ask it
       differently.  It would be normal, wouldn't it, for
       an employer considering dismissing someone to
       investigate thoroughly?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And to gather all the necessary evidence?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So that they could take an informed view --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- about that.  And if they didn't have the relevant
       evidence, the suspension decision might be flawed?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I wonder if you could keep your voice
       up.
   A.  Sorry.  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  Sometimes there might be an issue which would
       take some time to resolve, in terms of the accounts or
       perhaps lost cheques or something like that, where it
       might take some time to locate or find out what has
       happened.  So the subpostmaster with her assistant in
       those circumstances would have to wait until they have
       actually made sure that they have investigated it
       properly before they would be able to take a final
       decision, wouldn't they?
   A.  Could you just repeat the question again, please.
   Q.  Sorry.  Some of the issues that can arise in
       a sub-Post Office might be something said to have gone
       missing, perhaps some cheques have gone missing or
       something like that, and everyone is trying to trace
       what has happened to them.  If you are about to dismiss
       someone for something, it might be really important to
       wait until everyone is satisfied that they have worked
       out, as far as they can, what has happened to the
       cheques or whatever the problem is.  That might take
       a bit of time.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Similarly, if an employee phoned you up, and said "I'm
       a bit concerned, I've been given an oral warning by my
       manager for not following the procedures and I thought
       I had followed them", you would naturally advise the
       employee, "Well, you are able to ask for the information
       that your manager was looking at when he formed the view
       you hadn't followed the procedures"?
   A.  I think I wouldn't get that involved in that specific --
   Q.  That is beyond --
   A.  Yes.  I would refer them to, say, an HR advisor.
   Q.  Okay.  Fair enough.  But it is the case, isn't it, that
       there is a vetting process for assistants that aren't
       already in the branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you describe that.  And there was effectively
       a veto.  Post Office could say "Look, you actually
       cannot have that person", which you also describe in
       your witness statement?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  There was a requirement to list them annually?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mrs Rimmer ...
   A.  Sorry, yes, yes.
   MR GREEN:  And the Post Office kept a debarring register of
       people who weren't suitable to work generally?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you just think that you are
       addressing your answer to that gentleman right in
       the far corner, rather than Mr Green.
   A.  Okay.
   MR GREEN:  In relation to the requirement to list them
       annually, can we look at your witness statement, please,
       at {C2/4/3}.  That was a broad policy requirement, that
       what should happen is they should list them all and send
       returns in to you.
   A.  Yes, that should have been the case.
   Q.  That should have been the case?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then if we look at paragraph 11, we see that:
           "When I worked in the assistant vetting team, we
       would generally obtain a return of around 40 to
       50 per cent from all the branches ..."
           And you believed that this level of return has
       remained fairly constant up to the present day?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So --
   A.  We have changed a different tack of doing it.  So rather
       than send them all out in one go, we have tried that
       a number of times, and other times we have done it on
       a rolling -- so select 1,000 a month and do it that way.
   Q.  Yes.  Despite you trying different ways, the level of
       response has remained roughly the same --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- I think is what you appear to be saying there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So there is a difference, isn't it, there between what
       should happen in the policy and real life, what happened
       on the ground?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is fairly common in work life, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You deal in your witness statement with the application
       process, which you describe.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it's right, isn't it, that it has actually changed
       quite a bit over time?
   A.  Yes, it has.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  Yes, yes.
   Q.  I can take you to a lot of detail.  But if I can put the
       broad point, it has actually changed over time.  I think
       Mr Williams describes the period up to 1999 --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- in his paragraph 13 {C2/9/2}.  Mr Breeden describes
       centralisation from 2000 on.  So different people are
       contributing to the picture, but when you piece it all
       together it has changed a bit over time?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is a fair summary?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In relation to the IRIS system -- in your statement,
       look at paragraph 38, please {C2/4/8}, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say:
           "For some time prior to me joining AAPT in 2007,
       Post Office operated a paper-based application process
       where potential subpostmasters had to complete
       an application form and submit relevant supporting
       documentation including a business plan.  An online
       recruitment tool called IRIS (which stands for
       Interactive Recruitment Information System) was
       introduced some time prior to 2006 (although
       I don't know precisely when) which the AAPT used to
       create all vacancies.  Once those vacancies are created
       anyone can submit an application through that system."
           Can we just look, please, at {F1/37/1}.  This
       relates to another change.  Do you see "03/2008" at the
       top?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And this seems to be in your time, as it were?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Between 2007 and 2017.  Do you remember the introduction
       of voice recording equipment?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can you explain to his Lordship what the reason for
       introducing voice recording equipment for interview
       notes was in 2008?
   A.  I think so that we had an audible copy of what was said
       during the interview so if there were any issues that
       arose out of the interview we could go back and relate.
       I think one of the common questions was around opening
       hours.  So if we had requested subpostmasters to perhaps
       change their opening hours, and there was an issue where
       they didn't recall that conversation, then we had
       something to refer back to.
   Q.  What about personal service, if they had --
   A.  Yes, that would have been picked up.
   Q.  That's another one. That's another one.  So you would
       have had a recording of them agreeing--
   A.  Agreeing --
   Q.  -- to provide how many hours it was?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Was it mandatory that they now record
       from this date all interviews?
   A.  I believe so, yes.
   MR GREEN:  Can we just go to {F1/47/1}, please.  This is
       just going back now to the sequencing of -- I'm trying
       to get the sequencing of what the changes were.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  We know that the recorded interviews seemed to happen in
       2008, we just looked at that.  Then in terms of
       subpostmaster recruitment and the IRIS system, this is
       a presentation by somebody called Kristin Scott.  Did
       you know --
   A.  Kirstin.
   Q.  Sorry, Kirstin.  Did you know Kirstin Scott?
   A.  Yes, I did.
   Q.  Did you work with her?
   A.  Not on this because this is before I --
   Q.  Not on this.  But did you ever --
   A.  Yes, she worked in the same centre I did.
   Q.  From 2007 to 2017 or also before?
   A.  I think she was -- well, she was rolling out a number of
       different things prior to me taking over agent
       applications.
   Q.  Can we just scroll forward in that, please, to ...
       scroll forward to the processes {F1/47/2}, that's laid
       out there.  And then if we go to page {F1/47/3}, this is
       the benefits slide for the online process, do you see
       that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  At the bottom of that slide there is a point in the red:
           "Applicants will be regularly updated on where they
       are in the process ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And actually the second bullet point from the top:
           "All applicants will be processed consistently ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go back up to the front page {F1/47/1}, you will
       see that is 17 September 2006.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  If we can now go to page {F1/47/4}, you will see the top
       bullet point:
           "All new vacancies from 19 September will be
       advertised on the IRIS website."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So I think your witness statement said that you thought
       IRIS had come in some time pre-2006.  It looks as if,
       would you accept, it comes in for new vacancies from
       19 September 2006?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  On the face of it?
   A.  Yes.  I think we also use this for employee vacancies,
       so more or less every vacancy for the Post Office.  So
       I think employees went live before agents did.  And
       I think it was also used within Royal Mail as well, so
       maybe even that prior to ...
   Q.  Okay.  Do you see the second bullet point:
           "Any current cases will run alongside using the
       current hard copy process."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So in fact you had existing cases going along in
       parallel on a paper-based system, and then the new ones
       on the IRIS system itself.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we have a look, please, at Ms Dar's statement now at
       paragraph 36 {C1/5/7}.  Here she is dealing with the
       interview.  Did you have any dealings at all with Ms Dar
       or her case?
   A.  I don't recall that one specifically.
   Q.  Or any of the lead claimants?
   A.  No.
   Q.  So your evidence is really more at a general overview
       level?
   A.  Yes, yes.
   Q.  It says here:
           "On 18 November 2013 Ms Bohanna sent me an email
       giving me a provisional interview date of
       6 December 2013.  Her email said that she had attached
       a guide to help with preparation of my presentation but
       there was no attachment.  I think I may have contacted
       her about this, because on 19 November she sent me
       a further email, subject 'Presentation Sheet', which did
       have an attachment but in fact this was a guide to
       assist with presentation of the business plan, which
       of course I had already completed."
           If we go back a page, bottom right-hand corner,
       {E5/70/1}.  So that is preparation of a business plan?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go back again, please, and look at the left-hand
       side.  {E5/69/1}, so there is the email that is in fact
       being sent.
           So all I am just raising is, and you have already
       fairly accepted this, but what should happen in theory
       and actually does happen in practice is not always the
       same, is it, on the ground?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are agreeing?
   A.  Yes, I am agreeing that that is -- that statement is
       correct.
   MR GREEN:  You give quite a lot of detail about the business
       plan, interviews, and so forth.  Were you conducting
       interviews yourself?
   A.  No, I wasn't.
   Q.  So it might be better if I ask interviewers about that?
   A.  Yes, I think there are a couple of those due later on.
   Q.  You deal also with the offer letter and conditions of
       appointment in your witness statement.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the overall effect of your evidence is that, I am
       going to check with you, anyway, that the system would
       have been certainly at least by 2007 that SPMs would
       have had a copy of their contract before they signed any
       documents?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is what should have happened?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And would you accept, fairly, that it didn't always
       happen on the ground?
   A.  I think we had a set process to follow, and that did
       include creating an appointment letter with the specific
       conditions of appointment, the opening times, a
       declaration as to whether the agent would provide
       personal service, and there was a bundle of documents
       that were included in what we would call the welcome
       pack and the contract should have been in there as well.
   Q.  Can I just -- I just want to trace, if we can, and you
       may not be able to help, about how things changed.  Look
       at {E1/12/10}.  Perhaps I can show you the front of it
       {E1/12/1}.  This is an induction booklet which was sent
       to Mr Bates in the 1990s.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is not dated and there seem to be quite a few
       documents that Post Office produce that aren't
       specifically dated, is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you think that is helpful to people, knowing which is
       the current version, if there is no date?
   A.  I think we would only ever send the current version to
       the person at that time, but --
   Q.  I understand but -- sorry.
   A.  From dealing with what we have had to deal with for this
       case, then if we are looking back in time then we can
       see it isn't helpful.
   Q.  It is not really.
           The reason I was asking was, and it's a fair point
       that the case is a bit different, but if you are
       a subpostmaster and you have two documents which perhaps
       overlap, both dealing with a particular topic, and
       you can't tell which one came later --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- that may not be the clearest way of doing it.  Is
       that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This document that I was just going to ask you about is
       the induction booklet.  And if we look quickly at
       {E1/12/10} under "Contract", do you see the left-hand
       side?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The second paragraph:
           "You will have received the full contract (on your
       day of appointment at the latest) ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you would accept, as an HR person involved in
       processes, that the day of appointment might be a bit
       late really?
   A.  Considering the size of the document, yes.
   Q.  Yes.  So the process that you were broadly dealing with
       is: subpostmaster enters into a contract by signing
       a document, then they do their pre-appointment training,
       typically, and then you have the appointment and branch
       transfer.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So ideally the subpostmaster ought to have the full
       contract before they sign anything that they think is
       contractual.  Is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And, ideally, a little bit of time before so that they
       can consider it or --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- look at it properly and understand it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Was there any feedback into your department from any
       other parts of the business about whether or not
       subpostmasters were in fact being given their
       subpostmasters contracts, or raising issues about that
       at all that you can remember?
   A.  Not that I can recall, no.
   Q.  Can we look, please, at {F3/125/1}.  This is rather tiny
       but let's take it in stages.  It says "Field Team
       Feedback.  Appendix B", and unfortunately I haven't been
       able to identify what it is appendix B to, but we can
       see at the bottom it says:
           "New entrant training pilot review - internal
       stakeholder feedback.  November 2011."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the trainers appear to be down the left, and then
       whether it was classroom, on site or PTC.  What is PTC?
       You may not know?
   A.  I don't know.
   Q.  Could we please look at {F3/125/17}.  Can you look at
       the third from bottom entry in the right-hand box, the
       "Comments" box.  If we can just make that visible.
           Do you see:
           "Many of the new delegates who are SPM do not seem
       to have contact from HR and recruitment with regard to
       contracts, transfer dates change due to problems with
       outgoing, so maybe if both teams could contact the new
       SPM while they are on the course it would avoid
       cancellation or changing transfer dates at the last
       minute."
           Did any feedback of that sort get back to you?
   A.  No.  But in terms of transfer dates, that would be
       a different team that would arrange that.  So once we
       sent out the contract and the conditions of appointment,
       the case then moved on to the I think it is network
       scheduling team to arrange the transfers and dates and
       things like that, so -- but, no, I don't recall
       receiving that feedback.
   Q.  I understand.  Your role was separate from those who
       were arranging the dates?
   A.  Yes, because they did that in conjunction with arranging
       the training and audits.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  Because lots of dates and things needed arranging.
   Q.  So they would be notifying the outgoing subpostmaster as
       well as the incoming --
   A.  As well as the incoming, yes.
   Q.  So there could be a transfer then?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And sometimes I think if it took a bit longer to find
       someone to take over, the outgoing subpostmaster would
       be waiting to find out when the transfer date would be?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So far as your department was concerned,
       if you look at the entry underneath that one:
           "Most of the time the SPM have not received
       contracts and additional papers from HR."
           Is that your team?
   A.  Yes.  But certainly I don't recall ever having that kind
       of feedback.  We would always make sure prior to the
       transfer date that we did have the conditions of
       appointment sent back, because that included details
       around the bank account to make the payment to, which we
       would do once they had started, and then next of kin
       details, everything we would need to build them on to
       the pay system.  So we would generally follow that up if
       we hadn't received them before the transfer date.
   MR GREEN:  Was there any structured way of checking with
       them?  Because they do sign -- they had signed
       something, hadn't they?  There was a risk that they
       might think they have signed their contract.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So they wouldn't necessarily know that they are missing
       another document?
   A.  I think it looks like that in some of the cases that we
       have been looking at.
   Q.  Yes.  In terms of getting people into the application
       process at the beginning, can I ask you just to look,
       please, at paragraph 9 of Ms Dar's statement at
       {C1/5/3}:
           "Soon after becoming aware of the position from
       Mr Toor, above, in around September 2012, a Post Office
       representative Elizabeth Hammerton visited me in my
       shop.  Ms Hammerton was very friendly, talking about
       Mr Toor moving on from his branch and encouraging me to
       consider the possibility of taking on the branch within
       Day to Day Express."
           Which was her shop.  I can fully understand you
       don't know about her particular case:
           "I would say she was upselling this opportunity to
       me.  She said it would be good for the shop and good for
       the area.  She gave me an information leaflet about the
       network transformation programme."
           And then she says:
           "Soon after this visit I registered my interest on
       the Post Office's website online as Ms Hammerton had
       advised me to do."
           Just pausing there for a second, if we may.  Can
       we just look at paragraph 34 of your witness statement
       which is on {C2/4/7}.  You say:
           "Under the NT programme, if a subpostmaster wanted
       to leave the network and sell their business premises or
       both, a Post Office field change advisor would visit the
       branch and conduct an exercise called walking the patch.
       Essentially the field change advisor would walk around
       the local area and approach different retailers asking
       them if they would be interested in having
       an affiliation with Post Office."
           Was that a function that you -- would
       Elizabeth Hammerton, for example, be someone you worked
       with?
   A.  I believe Elizabeth was a field change advisor.  So,
       yes, she would have been responsible for -- if the
       outgoing subpostmaster had said he wanted to leave the
       network under the network transformation programme, then
       she would be looking in the area to find somebody
       suitable to take over so that he could leave.
   Q.  Were there some teething problems with the IRIS system
       when people did apply online?
   A.  I think what she is referring to here, there was another
       website set up as part of network transformation where
       you would register your details.  She would have had to
       put on some quite specific information in order for that
       information to get through to the relevant team, so
       I could only presume if we didn't pick up the
       information she may have omitted some of the information
       that we would have required.
   Q.  Did people enquiring sometimes say to you they had had
       difficulties with the website?
   A.  When we first started you had to put in the specific
       details of the specific branch that you were looking at
       and I think you needed the specific postcode, so -- and
       then that would have then tagged it to a specific field
       change team who would then have progressed it.  We did
       have a lot of people who were interested in taking over
       a Post Office but didn't have a specific one in mind.
       So if you didn't put the specifics details in then it
       may have got tied up with the non-specific cases.
   Q.  All I was really asking was not so much how it might
       happen, but did people who were applying say "Look,
       I have been having problems"?
   A.  Yes.  When we got to the root cause of it, it was
       because they hadn't answered the specific questions or
       given us the right information.
   Q.  And with any IT system, getting to the root cause of
       a problem is important to understanding why people find
       it difficult, is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can I just ask you about contracts and what
       subpostmasters actually sign.  It wasn't Post Office's
       practice to get subpostmasters to sign the SPMC contract
       itself.
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  And we have examples here.  By 2006 there are 40-plus
       pages of amendments at the front --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- before we actually get into the document itself.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Was thought during your time given to putting that --
       making all the amendments into a single free-standing
       document?
   A.  Not that I am aware of.  Obviously I wasn't involved in
       any of the contract deployments in terms of creation.
       Whether some of my colleagues had looked into it, I'm
       not sure.
   Q.  In terms of notifying subpostmasters of what the terms
       were, I think you would fairly accept that the day of
       branch transfer is already a bit late?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But in terms of actually them understanding the content
       of what they are agreeing to, you may be aware that some
       evidence has been given about subpostmasters effectively
       being forced to roll over, to accept discrepancies, to
       roll over?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then they have to challenge by ringing up the
       Helpline?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You are familiar with that general point?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Are you aware of any document ever sent to any
       subpostmaster which spelled that out prior to them
       signing a contract with Post Office?
   A.  Not other than what was in the standard contract, and
       then what would be covered at the training, and then
       a subsequent classroom training and online training.
   Q.  Yes, but I will put the question again as I may not have
       been clear enough.  When subpostmasters sign their first
       contractually binding document, in the case of the SPMC,
       not the NTC, that is a separate agreement, conditions of
       appointment normally, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And there is nothing in there to tell them about
       the forced rollover, is there?
   A.  Not in the conditions of appointment.
   Q.  And there is nothing actually in the SPMC itself to tell
       them about the forced rollover?
   A.  I am not --
   Q.  As far as you know?
   A.  I am not 100 per cent sure.
   Q.  And you can't think of any document that people would be
       sent ever, prior to contracting, at all, that would have
       spelt that out --
   A.  No, I don't believe --
   Q.  -- is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You don't believe there is?
   A.  I don't believe there is, no.
   MR GREEN:  In relation to transaction corrections, the
       options on the Horizon system, as you probably know, we
       don't need to spend too much time on it, but effectively
       are pay by cash or pay by cheque or settle centrally.
   A.  Yes, I believe that is the case.
   Q.  And so there is, as Post Office has admitted in its
       Defence, there is no dispute option on Horizon itself,
       yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Was that drawn to the attention of any postmasters ever
       in a document prior to them contracting, to your
       knowledge?
   A.  Not that I am aware of.
   Q.  At paragraph 57 of your witness statement {C2/4/12} --
       sorry, can we go back to paragraph 49 {C2/4/10} to give
       you context.  You say there:
           "I would also say that in addition to the support
       that applicants obtain from the AAPT ..."
           Which is your department, your team?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The applications team, is that a fair summary?
   A.  Yes.  Agent Application Process Team is what it stands
       for.
   Q.  Thank you:
           "... applicants often get significant external
       support including from professional advisors such as
       accountants and solicitors."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  They obviously can't get advice about things that they
       don't know about yet, because if you don't know about it
       you can't say "Can you tell me about this".
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So the things I have just put to you, about rollover and
       transaction corrections, they wouldn't be able to take
       advice about the significance of that in the context of
       their contract in advance of contracting, would they?
   A.  No.
   Q.  It's not a hard question.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "No" you are agreeing?
   A.  "No" I am agreeing.
   MR GREEN:  And --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So you mean "yes"?
   MR GREEN:  I think I might have to start asking my questions
       differently for you, Mrs Rimmer.
           You mention there at paragraph 49 that:
           "It is often the case solicitors are involved in
       the sale and purchase of premises applicants ..."
           That would typically be conveyancing solicitors,
       wouldn't it?
   A.  Yes, it would be.
   Q.  And sometimes some subpostmasters would get input from
       accountants in relation to a business plan?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And they would typically look at the previous three
       years' figures?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then model their figures on what was going forward?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If there were items in the accounts for a particular
       type of expense they would probably try and project that
       forwards?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And if there weren't, it wouldn't necessarily occur to
       them?
   A.  I think in the business plan there were specific things
       that we would ask them to account for, for expenses and
       certain things.
   Q.  The structure of the business plan would help them with
       that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I think that may be dealt with in more detail with
       another witness so I won't take too much time with you.
           If we look at the second half of paragraph 49,
       right-hand side, about halfway down:
           "The AAPT would not typically liaise directly with
       the applicant's solicitors but we would do what we could
       to support and facilitate a transfer in line with the
       timescales that the other parties are working to."
           The other parties would basically be Post Office and
       the outgoing subpostmaster who is essentially waiting on
       the appointment of the new one before they can leave, is
       that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And doubtless sometimes if the outgoing person is
       waiting and they are delayed, they might be perhaps
       agitated with you saying "What is happening?", and --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- you are sort of helping everyone to understand what
       is going on, what the reason of any delay is, and
       perhaps why that might be resolved and when, is that
       fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then at the bottom of 49 you say:
           "In addition, as I now go on to describe, under NT
       contracts applicants are specifically recommended to
       take independent legal advice before signing the
       contract."
           Do you know why that was not done before the NT
       contracts?
   A.  No, I don't know.
   Q.  Do you have any feel for how many SPMs actually do take
       legal advice about the effect of the contractual
       documents themselves, if any?
   A.  I am aware that some have over the course of time, yes.
   Q.  Let's move on, if we may, to -- I am going to -- as we
       have covered the contracts and changes over time
       broadly, I am going to take that fairly speedily if that
       is all right.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  The sources of information available to potential
       subpostmasters you deal with on page 13 of your witness
       statement {C2/4/13}.  You say at paragraph 61:
           "There is a strong and I would say completely
       reasonable expectation that applicants for the position
       of subpostmaster will obtain a significant amount
       of information from the outgoing subpostmaster.  As
       I have explained, the outgoing subpostmaster will have
       the responsibility for providing information and
       relevant particulars for the marketing of their branch,
       whether this is through the AB website (or previously
       the purple website) or through an estate agent."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Pausing there.  I think the AB website came in in 2012
       and you say that in paragraph 39 at page 8 of your
       witness statement {C2/4/8}, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Was that in addition to the IRIS or alongside the IRIS
       or --
   A.  IRIS was the tool that was the application form,
       in effect, so the online application, while the AB
       website was a platform to advertise vacancies.  It was
       very much talking about the newer models, so it had pen
       pictures of what were the expectations for the new
       Locals and mains that came in under network
       transformation.
   Q.  It is right, isn't it, that applicants could actually
       register their interest on the AB website?
   A.  Yes.  Going back to Louise Dar's case, that would be
       your first place to register your interest.
   Q.  Let's go back to paragraph 61 on page {C2/4/13} of your
       witness statement, please.  Let's just look at the third
       line which I just read out:
           "As I explained, the outgoing subpostmaster will
       have the responsibility for providing information and
       relevant particulars for the marketing of their
       branch ..."
           Pausing there, they would typically, wouldn't they,
       essentially advertise the key details of their branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Opening hours.  What other matters?
   A.  Whether it was leasehold, freehold, whether there was
       any retail involved, what the remuneration of the office
       was.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  Those were the --
   Q.  They weren't advertising any specific contractual
       clauses or anything like that other than typical things
       you might find in the conditions of appointment?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And things about the premises and the business?
   A.  Yes.  But we would actively encourage them to find
       out how their customer base was made up, so maybe spend
       some time in the office just to get a feel of what it
       all entails, and quite often feedback said they found
       that quite useful because it gave them an idea of what
       to expect.
   Q.  That is perfectly sensible.  And we see, even in the
       early days Mr Bates sets out in his application all the
       steps he took to research the area, research the market,
       look at competitors --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- what advice he took.  It's all quite thorough.  And
       I think the business plan used to say Post Office do
       expect a modicum of effort in this area?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I think that was the phrase.  That is the sort of
       information that you would be expecting the outgoing
       subpostmaster to pass on?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But it would be fair to say, wouldn't it, that the
       outgoing subpostmaster is the vendor?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And a bit like selling a car, "She's a nice little
       runner", or whatever, you are going to be broadly
       positive about it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  I would think so.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  How nice to have an early 20th century
       sale of goods allusion.
   MR GREEN:  I'm doing my best, my Lord.
           So the vendor is in a position where they are trying
       to sell the business and the purchaser is trying to
       understand what the reality of that business really
       looks like.  But you are not suggesting, are you, that
       the outgoing subpostmaster is going to talk the incoming
       subpostmaster through the terms of the SPMC and all the
       variations on the top?
   A.  There would be an opportunity to ask to see the contract
       if -- we never said it was a confidential document.  If
       anybody ever asked where -- whether they would get to
       see the contract as part of the application process, we
       would always point them in the direction of the outgoing
       subpostmaster because he should have a copy.
           Whenever I spoke to applicants, we obviously
       couldn't send it out prior, but there is nothing
       stopping the outgoing from showing you.
   Q.  Can we just look at section 16 of the SPMC itself
       {D2.1/3/69}.  So this is under "Divulgence of Official
       Information, Correspondence and Interviews".
       Paragraph 1 says:
           "The unauthorised disclosure or use directly of any
       information or document which has come to the knowledge
       of a subpostmaster or sub-office assistant through the
       work of his sub-office is forbidden."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Let's just trace it through.  The contract itself would
       qualify as a document, wouldn't it?  You would agree?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it comes to the knowledge of the existing
       subpostmaster through the work in sub-office, doesn't
       it?  In the course of their job?
   A.  I don't believe this paragraph was meant for this
       specific situation.
   Q.  It's a general one, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Would it be fair to say it doesn't make it as clear as
       it might be that outgoing subpostmasters should talk the
       incoming person through all the details of the contract
       and particularly how it works in practice day-to-day?
       If you want to permit that, that clause isn't very
       helpful, is it?
   A.  No.
   Q.  If the existing subpostmaster said, trying to sell it,
       "Post Office sometimes give you a £1,000 bonus at
       Christmas, if Paula Vennells says it has been
       a fantastic year".  Would that bind Post Office?  Would
       you have to then honour that?
   A.  No.
   Q.  No.  Because the outgoing subpostmaster is not your
       agent for that purpose, are they?
   A.  No.
   Q.  They are a Post Office agent for the purpose of selling
       stamps and things like that and offering business, but
       they are not a Post Office agent authorised to convey
       all the information on Post Office's behalf about
       the contractual terms?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  That is fair, yes.
   Q.  So at paragraph 61 of your witness statement {C2/4/13},
       you say:
           "There was a strong and, I would say, completely
       reasonable expectation that applicants will obtain
       a significant amount of information from the outgoing
       subpostmaster ..."
           What you are really talking about there is things
       like figures, that sort of thing?
   A.  Yes, customer make-up --
   Q.  Not the sort of things I have been talking about,
       contractual details, being forced to roll over,
       transaction corrections, that sort of thing?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And you think that is a completely
       reasonable expectation, do you?
   A.  About the products and services?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, whatever information Mr Green was
       asking you about.  Should I read paragraph 61 as being
       restricted to products and services?
   A.  I think it was more about the outgoing subpostmaster can
       tell you the specifics about that particular branch.  So
       in the network we have all different sizes of branches,
       from teeny-tiny things up to ones in WH Smiths.  And it
       is -- the best course of feedback about that specific
       branch would be from the person who is currently running
       it.
   MR GREEN:  Because in a sense it would be odd, wouldn't it,
       if Post Office could rely on what the outgoing
       subpostmaster says as against the incoming
       subpostmaster, so Post Office can rely on what Mr Bates
       is told --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- as against Mr Bates, but it would be odd if it was
       completely one-sided and Mr Bates couldn't rely on what
       he had been told as against Post Office?  It would be
       a bit weird, wouldn't it?
   A.  I don't understand that question.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think that is a point for me, really,
       Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  I'm grateful.
           The brief summary of terms that is sent out, you are
       familiar with that document?
   A.  The conditions of appointment?
   Q.  Yes.  There is a brief summary of terms --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- that you also sent out?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The brief summary of terms explains to subpostmasters
       that they can't rely on the summary.  Do you remember
       that?  There are various examples.  Can we look at
       {E3/53/3}, I am very grateful to my juniors because
       I had actually misplaced that reference.  There are lots
       of examples of this.  So this is what is sent out, this
       is page 4, and you will see in brackets it says:
           "For use as a guide only; Post Office Limited will
       be in no way responsible for any action taken as
       a result of this summary."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then we see at the bottom there is something about
       losses, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go over the page {E3/53/4}, we see other terms set
       out.  And we go over the page again {E3/53/5}, you see
       different sorts of branches being catered for there.  So
       these aren't branch specific, it had generic
       information, didn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then we go over the page again {E3/53/6} and you will
       see references to the premises, et cetera, restrictions?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And I think finally on {E3/53/7} you will see in square
       brackets and italics:
           "Note: The above paragraphs summarise certain
       sections only of the subpostmasters contract.  They are
       by no means a comprehensive description of the contract
       and should not be used in place of a thorough review of
       that contract.  A subpostmaster may not rely upon the
       points made in this summary as they are for reference
       purposes only."
           So in this litigation Post Office is relying on
       having sent that to postmasters?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But it actually says they can't rely on it.  This was
       sent to subpostmasters under the SPMC agreements.  What
       was the point of sending them something but telling them
       they couldn't rely on it?
   A.  I think this was just to reference the points, certain
       points within the contract, that they would need to read
       the whole contract to get the whole scenario.
   Q.  But Post Office could have drafted it accurately so that
       they could have relied on it?
   A.  I think -- it is a really big document, I think it is
       144-pages, so I think this was picking out the
       significant parts of it.
   Q.  Right.  When we look on it, it doesn't actually identify
       where to find them?
   A.  No, it doesn't.
   Q.  So you would --
   A.  You would have to then go and have a look.
   Q.  A brief summary of terms isn't sent out anymore under
       the NTC contracts, is it?
   A.  No, it's the whole contract.
   Q.  The whole contract is sent out?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And they sign the preface of it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Rather than the whole contract itself?
   A.  I think within two or three pages in, it is signed.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, is that a convenient moment to take
       a ten-minute break?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am sure it is.  Are you going to be
       with this witness until 1 o'clock?
   MR GREEN:  I am hoping to finish before 1 o'clock.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We will take a ten-minute break.
           You may have been in court last week, Mrs Rimmer,
       you may not, but you are in the middle of giving your
       evidence so please don't talk to anyone about the case
       for ten minutes.  Don't feel you have to sit in
       the witness box, stretch your legs by all means, but
       come back in ten minutes' time.
   (11.41 am)
                         (A short break)
   (11.50 am)
   MR GREEN:  I have no further questions for this witness.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  I have no re-examination, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have no questions either.  So
       thank you very much, Mrs Rimmer.  You are now free to
       leave the witness box.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, can I call John Breeden, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
                  MR JOHN ANDREW BREEDEN (sworn)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do have a seat.
   A.  Thank you.
   MR CAVENDER:  Mr Breeden, you should have a bundle in front
       of you.  Could you turn up your witness statement within
       that {C2/3/1}.  Do you have your witness statement in
       front of you?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  Entitled "Witness Statement of John Andrew Breeden".  If
       you flick through that to the back, to internal page 17
       {C2/3/17}, there is a signature.
   A.  There is no page 17.
   Q.  Is there a page 16?
   A.  There is a page 16.
   Q.  That finishes "because it"?
   A.  It does.
   Q.  Then the last page is missing?
   A.  It is.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just wait one second, someone will hand
       you the last page.  (Handed)
   MR CAVENDER:  If you turn to the back of that witness
       statement now, I hope there is a final page 17.
   A.  There is.
   Q.  There is a signature on that page dated 24 August 2018?
   A.  There is.
   Q.  That is your signature?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  And the contents of this statement are true?
   A.  That is correct.
   MR CAVENDER:  Wait there, please.  You will be asked some
       questions.
                  Cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  Mr Breeden, you deal with two broad topics in
       your statement, appointment process and then a big
       section on suspension and termination.
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  Can I just ask you, please, to look at the end of
       paragraph 15, which is on page 5 of your statement
       {C2/3/5}
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say:
           "After 2006, the contracts advisors started to
       conduct interviews alone and this is when tape
       recordings of interviews were introduced."
           You probably heard the previous evidence but let me
       show you the document.  It is {F1/73/1}.  You will see
       that appears to be "03/2008" at the top?
   A.  It does.
   Q.  And that talks about producing interview notes using
       voice recording equipment.  Yes?
   A.  That is its heading, yes.
   Q.  And it says if you look in paragraph 1, under
       "Introduction and Purpose", three lines down on the
       right-hand side:
           "Therefore with effect from 31 March 2008 one of the
       more effective ways of working and to tie in with the go
       live of the new structure will be that contract advisors
       will use voice recording equipment during recruitment
       interviews."
   A.  It does.
   Q.  Do you remember the introduction of voice recording
       interviews at that stage?
   A.  I remember the introduction but I couldn't be
       100 per cent certain on the date.  This is over ten
       years ago.
   Q.  I am not trying to criticise you, I am trying to
       clarify: this document appears to say it is March 2008
       and, on the face of it, that is probably when it
       happened?
   A.  Yes, I think we can accept that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So did you choose 2006 from memory?
   A.  It was from memory.
   MR GREEN:  If we can just look at the section in your
       witness statement that deals with suspension.  That
       starts on page 10 at paragraph 33 {C2/3/10}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you see that section there?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  The third line from the bottom on the right-hand side of
       33, do you see?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "I explain below the circumstances in which Post Office
       may suspend and subsequently terminate a contract, and
       where Post Office or a subpostmaster may terminate the
       contract by giving notice."
           Then you say at 34:
           "Both the subpostmaster and NT contracts contain
       important provisions governing how these contracts may
       be brought to an end."
           That is something you know about, which is why you
       are giving this evidence?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  You say:
           "Prior to accepting his appointment, a subpostmaster
       has the opportunity to review his contract."
           That is on the footing that he or she has received
       it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "I would expect a subpostmaster to review and understand
       the main terms ... including the termination provisions,
       so that he knows what he is signing up to."
           You then deal with suspension, there's a heading
       there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it says:
           "Both the subpostmaster and NT contracts contain
       provisions which allow Post Office to suspend or
       terminate the contract."
           Do you know what the difference is between them?
   A.  I believe so, yes.
   Q.  What is the difference between the power to suspend
       under the SPMC and the power under the NTC, if there is
       one?
   A.  Sorry, I thought -- can you just repeat the question?
       I might have misinterpreted what you said.
   Q.  Don't worry.  You say in paragraph 35 that both
       contracts contain provisions which allow Post Office to
       suspend or terminate?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is there any material difference between the suspension
       provisions in the two contracts or not?
   A.  No, they are just more explicit in the NT contracts.
   Q.  Let's look at {D2.1/3/87}, please.  That is section 19.
       If we look at paragraph 4 at the bottom, it says:
           "A subpostmaster may be suspended from office at any
       time if that course is considered desirable in
       the interest of Post Office Counters Limited in
       consequence of his ... being arrested ... criminal civil
       proceeding brought ... irregularities or misconduct ...
       where he holds appointment(s) have been established to
       the satisfaction of Post Office Counters Limited, or are
       admitted, or are suspected and are being investigated."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we compare that, please, to the NTC provision which
       is at {D1.5/2/44}.  It's at the bottom of the page in
       clause 15.  There it says:
           "Post Office may suspend the operator from operating
       the branch (and/or, acting reasonably, require the
       operator to suspend all or any of its assistants engaged
       in the branch from working in the branch) ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So:
           "... where Post Office Limited considers this to be
       necessary in the interests of Post Office as a result
       of ... the operator and/or any assistant being arrested
       or charged ... civil proceedings being brought ..."
           Then:
           "There being grounds to suspect that the operator is
       insolvent, to suspect that the operator has committed
       any material or persistent breach ... or to suspect any
       irregularities or misconduct in the operation of the
       branch, the basic business or any other Post Office
       branches with which the operator and/or any assistant is
       connected ..."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You will appreciate they are differently drafted
       provisions?
   A.  I agree they are.
   Q.  15.1 refers to:
           "... where Post Office considers this to be
       necessary in the interests ..."
           And the SPMC provisions said "desirable".  At least
       different words?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But your understanding is it's basically the same core
       principles flowing through from one to the other?
   A.  That is the way I would interpret that, yes.
   Q.  Is it fair to say Post Office doesn't tend to focus on
       the precise words of a contract, you know what your
       interpretation is and that is what everyone is working
       to?
   A.  That is the way I would operate, yes.
   Q.  At paragraph 36 {C2/3/10} you explain the situations
       where Post Office may consider it appropriate to
       suspend, and at 36.3:
           "There are irregularities or misconduct at the
       branch and/or a material breach of contract and/or
       grounds to suspect dishonesty.  Typically this may be
       when shortfalls are discovered during an audit that are
       significant and/or previously undeclared by the
       subpostmaster."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can read that, yes.
   Q.  At 37 {C2/3/11} you explain:
           "Post Office needs the suspension power in order to
       protect its assets and reputation."
           So the point I think you are making here is that
       Post Office needs these powers to be able to protect its
       business and reputation, is that a fair summary overall?
   A.  Yes, I believe it is.
   Q.  You would accept, wouldn't you, that suspension is not
       a neutral act?  It's not something that is neutral for
       the person being suspended, is it?  They are not
       suspended with full pay, for example, are they?
   A.  They are not suspended --
   Q.  An employee might be suspended with full pay --
   A.  They may well be, yes, but a postmaster is not
       an employee.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't know if I got the answer to
       neutral.  Do you agree it is not a neutral act?
   A.  I'm not sure what we mean by the word "neutral" in that
       context inasmuch as Post Office Limited are doing
       something to another party.  Is that what we mean by
       neutral?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Maybe Mr Green will pursue it.
   MR GREEN:  You would accept, wouldn't you, that for
       a subpostmistress or subpostmaster to be suspended would
       be at least felt by them to be a very serious matter?
   A.  I believe by both parties.  Post Office Limited does not
       take suspension lightly.
   Q.  No, and no one would ever expect you to.
   A.  I would agree with that.
   Q.  You therefore wouldn't suspend people on a whim?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  Or to victimise them in some way?
   A.  Absolutely.  We would not do that.
   Q.  Absolutely not.  This is not supposed to be
       controversial.
   A.  Yes, yes.
   Q.  Your evidence that Post Office would not suspend someone
       lightly reflects the seriousness of the suspension
       decision?
   A.  I would agree with that.
   Q.  It also reflects that there may be a serious stigma
       attached to being suspended, doesn't it, for someone in
       a local community?
   A.  There is the potential for that I do believe, yes.
   Q.  And if they have devoted many years to working in their
       local community, that is something that you would
       normally respect and take into account?
   A.  Well, respect it inasmuch as you have to look at the
       whole picture of what has actually happened there in
       making the decision you are making to actually suspend
       or not.
   Q.  And to have the whole picture you would need to
       investigate, wouldn't you?
   A.  We would need to investigate.  But the suspension is
       precautionary at that particular point in time based on
       the information that is available.
   Q.  It's not commercially neutral for the subpostmaster
       either, is it?  Because the subpostmaster or
       subpostmistress loses their primary entitlement to their
       remuneration.
   A.  Their remuneration is stopped at suspension, that is
       correct.
   Q.  Then they may allow a temp to come in and run their
       branch?
   A.  That is a possibility, yes.
   Q.  And if they do, they have to agree effectively with the
       temp, who is sourced by Post Office, how much they are
       going to get?
   A.  Yes, there is an agreement between the temporary
       subpostmaster and the suspended subpostmaster for the
       operation of the -- for the use of the space occupied by
       the Post Office in the premises.
   Q.  The details of that arrangement are going to be
       canvassed with other witnesses.  But broadly you would
       accept, wouldn't you, that the suspended subpostmaster
       is not in a strong position to negotiate with the
       incoming temp because they have a choice of getting
       nothing or getting something small?
   A.  Well, they are in a position to negotiate -- I would say
       ultimately they have to give their permission to use
       those premises and then they are in a position to
       negotiate for the use of the space.  The benefit
       I suspect that they will be conscious of is the footfall
       remaining coming into the premises because the
       Post Office continues to operate.  So that is the sort
       of -- I guess the economics of the situation that had to
       be considered.
   Q.  Are you aware whether or not a large number of
       subpostmasters who have temps in get either nothing at
       all or a very small sum?
   A.  I'm not aware of the sums involved, primarily because
       the arrangements between the suspended postmaster and
       the temp is an arrangement that is private between those
       two parties.  Hearsay tells me it is around about
       10 per cent.  But that is only hearsay.
   Q.  If there were an assistant suspected of having done
       something wrong in a branch --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- you would accept, wouldn't you, I think as Mrs Rimmer
       fairly accepted, that it would be necessary for
       a subpostmaster to try and get the relevant information
       to investigate it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Typically when people are suspended they are locked out
       of the Post Office part of the premises, aren't they?
   A.  Yes, they usually don't have access to the Post Office.
   Q.  And they don't have access to the records that are in
       there?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  And they don't have access to the Horizon system?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And in many cases Post Office doesn't request the ARQ
       from Fujitsu to get details of transactions which they
       may say any shortfall relates to, is that fair?
   A.  I am not so sure on the last point.
   Q.  If you don't know --
   A.  I don't know.
   Q.  It is not Mastermind.  If you don't know, you can pass.
   A.  I will pass on that one, please.
   Q.  So when you are considering whether somebody may have
       breached or you suspect whether someone has breached the
       contract, it is important, isn't it, to understand what
       the contract says?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because you can't work out whether you suspect a breach
       if you don't know what the contract says?
   A.  I would accept that point, yes.
   Q.  Can you look, please, at {F3/8/4}.  Just to show you
       what this is, this is a losses and gains policy.
   A.  Right.
   Q.  Perhaps we can go back {F3/8/1}.  Do you see "Losses and
       Gains Policy ..."?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Come in one page {F3/8/2}, it's a 1998 document.  It
       seems to have been an enduring document as far as we can
       tell.  Do you know whether this document was replaced at
       any time?
   A.  I am not aware of that.  I don't know.
   Q.  You can see that on page 4 {F3/8/4}, if you come down
       to -- there is a first paragraph and some bullet points,
       the another paragraph and then we see:
           "From a purely contractual perspective
       a subpostmaster or other agent is responsible for all
       losses caused through his own negligence, carelessness
       or error."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  If we could have a look, please, at {F3/8/14}, 3.1 says:
           "The subpostmaster is required to make good all
       losses however they occur ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is not correct, is it?
   A.  If you take it in light of section 12(12) of the
       standard subpostmaster contract, that is not exactly
       what that paragraph says.
   Q.  And the difference is one of the issues in this case, do
       you understand that?
   A.  Yes, I understand that.
   Q.  Have a look, please, at {F3/8/16}.  This is a recovery
       of deficiencies following termination of account.
   A.  Of contract.
   Q.  Of contract, sorry.  You see four lines down:
           "He should be reminded of his contractual
       responsibility to make good all losses incurred during
       his period of office."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  That also doesn't include the qualification in clause
       12(12), does it?
   A.  No.  You mean the carelessness, error --
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  -- things like that, and he is responsible for all the
       losses made by his assistant.  It is not an explicit
       reproduction of section 12(12).
   Q.  It may not be your area.  But were you aware of the
       standard form in which subpostmasters' debts were
       requested to be paid, those standard form letters?  Did
       you see those ever going out?
   A.  I have -- I have seen letters asking for repayment, and
       I think there is some evidence --
   Q.  We have some examples.  I can take you to some if it
       helps.  But just the broad picture appears to be that
       for the first few letters what is recited is the formula
       that they are required to make good all losses, and it
       is only typically at the very end the actual full clause
       is recited.
   A.  Right.
   Q.  Were you aware of that practice generally, or not?
   A.  If I was aware I wasn't conscious of it, let's put it
       that way.  I don't think there was anything anybody was
       trying to do that was untoward in doing that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Let's have a look at one of letters.
   MR GREEN:  Let's give you an example.  Let's look at E2 --
       I will take you through a little sequence so you can see
       an example on one lead claimant.  {E2/40/1}  Here we see
       Pam Stubbs.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the letter is dated in the top right, just under
       "Reminder Letter" --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- 27 January 2010.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then the first paragraph says:
           "I am writing to you in respect of recovery of
       outstanding debt in the accounts for the above
       Post Office.  According to our records, the sum of
       £9,003.79 is overdue for payment."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Have a look at the next paragraph:
           "Since you are contractually obliged to make good
       any losses incurred during your term of office, please
       call the debt recovery team on the number quoted above
       to settle this amount via credit/debit card."
           That is not highlighting to the subpostmaster the
       correct basis of any liability they may have, is it?
   A.  It is not paraphrasing back the section 12(12) if that
       is the question you are asking me.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is a rather obvious point.  What that
       paragraph says in plain English is that the contract
       obliges Mrs Stubbs to make good any losses incurred
       during her term of office.  Do you accept that is how it
       reads?
   A.  I would accept that is how it reads.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And that is rather different to what
       12(12) says, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, because it just talks about subpostmasters being
       responsible for losses due to carelessness, error and
       negligence, if my memory ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So Mr Green's point isn't that it is not
       an exact reproduction, Mr Green's point that he is
       putting to you, which I would be grateful for your
       evidence on --
   A.  Yes, okay.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- is that it is being stated to
       Mrs Stubbs in that letter that her obligation is rather
       wider than contained in the SPMC.
   A.  And I can understand that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you accept that is how it is
       expressed?
   A.  Yes, I can understand that, my Lord.
   MR GREEN:  Can we look, please at {E2/42/1}.  That is
       Pam Stubbs writing to Mr Kellett, just to give you
       context, and she says above the second last paragraph:
           "... I remain convinced that this is a Horizon
       fault."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Sorry, which paragraph?
   Q.  She is writing about -- the third paragraph down from
       the top, she is writing about the shortage at the end of
       the trading period.  Do you see, £9,033?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  And then if you look at the second paragraph down from
       the bottom --
   A.  The one starting "Today"?
   Q.  Yes, "Today".  At the bottom of that paragraph, the last
       few words say:
           "... I remain convinced that this is a Horizon
       fault."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I do see that.
   Q.  She is complaining in the last paragraph, second line:
           "However, it seems there is no help at all coming
       from Post Office so I have no choice but to contact the
       Federation.  I would like to point out this matter is
       most definitely in dispute and will remain so.  I have
       worked in the Post Office for some 23 years and have
       been a subpostmistress for the last ten years.  In all
       that time I have never had a situation such as this."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  If we go to {E2/44/1}, you will see there Mr Kellett
       writes back to Mrs Stubbs and says:
           "I can confirm this matter is being investigated, so
       we have put the request for payment on hold until
       a conclusion is reached."
   A.  I see that, yes.
   Q.  You would accept, wouldn't you, that if a subpostmaster
       or subpostmistress raises a dispute like that, it is
       proper to investigate it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And everyone would expect you would?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And Mr Kellett is very fairly saying put it on hold
       while we investigate?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You wouldn't disagree with his approach in any way
       there?
   A.  No.  I have no grounds to disagree with that.
   Q.  Indeed it is the right approach?
   A.  In my opinion it is, yes.
   Q.  So if we go forward, please, to {E2/45/1}.  So that was
       11 February, and this is a further request for payment
       on 15 February which is four days after he has told her
       he has put it on hold.  It calculates the outstanding
       debt to her as at 12 February, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it asks her to settle the account in one of the
       following ways, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Just pausing on this document, you probably are aware of
       the certificate -- of appointment signed by a
       subpostmaster when they are appointed?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that says they will abide by postal instructions,
       nowadays with a small P, small I.  Would this fall
       within postal instructions on your understanding or not?
   A.  I believe that is an instruction to do something, yes.
   Q.  And it appears to have been sent by post?  Possibly.
   A.  Well, quite possibly.
   Q.  If it was sent by email would she not have to comply
       with it?
   A.  I think the method of communication is not one that we
       are querying here.  I can't tell whether that document
       has been sent by post or email, it's impossible --
   Q.  But it doesn't matter?
   A.  From an instruction point of view, no, I don't believe
       it does.
   Q.  So she is being instructed to pay that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Four days after Mr Kellett said it is on hold?
   A.  It would appear so, yes.
   Q.  Go forward, please, to {E2/46/1}.  This is 3 March 2010
       so this is about three weeks after Mr Kellett said it is
       on hold?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  She gets a letter there in the same terms as the one we
       have seen before, do you see?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The second paragraph still recites:
           "Since you are contractually obliged to make good
       any losses ..."
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  If we look at {E2/47/1}:
           "Please see the attached 'Request for Payment' for
       the specific amount shown which has been 'settled
       centrally' at your Post Office and despite previous
       reminders is still outstanding.
           "Failure to meet repayment terms by 21 March 2010
       will lead us (with approval from your contract manager)
       to deduct this outstanding debt from your future
       remuneration payment."
           Do you see that is from Mr Kellett himself?
   A.  I see it is from -- yes, the name is at the bottom of
       the page is Paul Kellett, yes.
   Q.  Then if we go over the page to {E2/47/2}, we have
       a further request for payment that is enclosed with that
       letter.  Do you see that?
           {E2/51/1}, same again.  And --
   A.  The amount appears to have changed.
   Q.  It does indeed.
   A.  Sorry?
   Q.  Same wording, I mean, on the second --
   A.  Yes, okay.
   Q.  Then {E2/52/1}, do you see that?  So by April 2010 the
       actual full clause is quoted, do you see that at the
       bottom in bold?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is there any reason why you know of why that wasn't done
       when those earlier letters were sent?
   A.  I don't know.
   Q.  Did it help with collections if people thought they were
       just obliged to pay and couldn't dispute it?
   A.  I don't think so, no.  I would say the option there is
       you can dispute it, as the lady did in this instance.
   Q.  Let's go back --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Hold on a moment.  I thought she had
       already disputed it at the very beginning of the
       sequence, which is why Mr Kellett said it was being put
       on hold.
   A.  Yes, and that is what I was referring back to, my Lord,
       that the lady did dispute it, I thought, and like you
       say, there was an email that said it was being
       investigated.  But it looks like --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The point that is being put to you
       I think is that all of these communications go after,
       and that point I imagine is not lost on you.
   A.  It is not lost on me, but it is not one that I can
       answer as to why those letters were continued to be sent
       by Mr Kellett.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  Look at {E2/53/5}.  This is an email chain
       internal.  And if you look at page {E2/53/6}, you will
       see just above the "Regards, Al":
           "These discrepancies are causing the subpostmistress
       a great deal of anxiety.  Could you urgently investigate
       them and report your findings back to me asap, please."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  It is not a surprise to you, is it, that someone who is
       a subpostmistress would find being chased for those sums
       distressing?
   A.  I could understand that being distressing, yes.
   Q.  So when a shortfall is disputed, you accept it obviously
       needs to be investigated as to what the true cause is?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is important to try to get to the bottom of whether
       there has been some error which is not the fault of the
       subpostmistress, isn't it?
   A.  It is important to get to the root of whatever the
       problem is, yes.
   Q.  Of whatever the problem is.  That would include whether
       there is a problem with the Horizon system?
   A.  I would imagine so.
   Q.  It would include whether there is a problem with the
       integrity of client data?
   A.  Again I would imagine so.  But I am somewhat out of my
       comfort area here, I am afraid.
   Q.  Ah, if it's unfair to you ... You are familiar with the
       area of suspension --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- and what would need to be done?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Any factor which could have caused an error --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- yes, would sensibly have to be looked at and checked?
   A.  Yes, but not every error is ... I am struggling,
       perhaps, where that -- what the question is.  Because
       sometimes you -- when you are remote from the office
       you can't see how an error has been made.
   Q.  Indeed.  And if the subpostmaster doesn't know how
       an error has been made and is asking for
       an investigation by Post Office, the subpostmaster or
       subpostmistress is in the same difficulty that you are
       in?
   A.  Yes, okay, I accept that.
   Q.  In that respect?
   A.  Yes, yes.
   Q.  Let's look, please, at {E4/75/1}.  You would accept,
       wouldn't you, that it is important when someone is
       suspended that they be told precisely why they have been
       suspended?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that should be confirmed to them in writing?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because otherwise they can't start trying to think about
       what has gone wrong with precision and confidence?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  This letter here, Post Office is saying in the second
       paragraph:
           "I have now received the necessary papers relating
       to this case and, after reviewing them, I should advise
       you that I will have to consider the summary termination
       of your contract for services on the grounds of loss at
       the time of audit of £4,398 ... at the time ...
       an undated personal cheque for £2,500 was found
       in stock ..."
           Et cetera.
           Just taking it in stages.  In order for
       a subpostmaster to try to get to the bottom of what has
       gone on, if they believe they have been made -- forced
       to pay sums that it shouldn't be for them to pay, they
       are going to have to try and obtain information, aren't
       they?  Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So when we look at Pam Stubbs, for example, who we
       looked at earlier, when she phoned the Helpline and
       raised the fact that there was £9,033, you would accept
       that is a fairly high priority matter for her, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, for Mrs Stubbs, yes.
   Q.  We can look at it if necessary, but Helpline marked her
       call low priority.
   A.  Right.
   Q.  Would you regard that as appropriate?
   A.  I honestly can't comment because I don't know how they
       prioritise those calls.  I don't know how that works.
   Q.  So what is the process for a suspended subpostmaster,
       who is locked out of the Post Office part of their
       premises, to get the information which they would wish
       to consider and make representations about?  How does
       that happen?
   A.  As with the exhibit we have on the screen at the moment,
       this gentleman should have been sent the paperwork that
       would support the audit results and the information that
       is given in the actual letter there.  So he should have
       been supplied with the same information that Post Office
       Limited had at the time so that he was able to --
       because I think this letter may invite him to a meeting
       or he might have been invited to a meeting subsequently?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  So he should be given copies of that documentation
       before attending that meeting.
   Q.  Let's look, if we may, at the PowerPoint presentation at
       {G/4/1}.  Do you know Gary Adderley?
   A.  I know Gary, yes.
   Q.  Where does he work?
   A.  He covers the South West of England and he reports to my
       colleague, Ms Bridges.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am guessing he might be the contracts
       advisor?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Given that is what it says on the
       screen.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful, my Lord.
           This document on its face bears a date of October,
       12, 2018.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But we know from disclosure that appears to be
       an updated field.
   A.  Right.
   Q.  And on disclosure it is dated 30 June 2011, just to give
       you ... so you are not thrown off by a wrong date.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  He identifies the map of responsibilities, as it were,
       at {G/4/5}.  I think we see head of network services is
       Angela Van Den Bogerd?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then you are immediately underneath, agents contract
       deployment manager?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And we see immediately under your name, contract
       advisors, Mr Trotter, Mr Carpenter, Mr Williams and so
       forth.  They have been witnesses or are going to be
       witnesses in this case.
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  And if we can go forward, please, to page {G/4/8}.  He
       explains what do we do:
           "Agent recruitment; debt recovery; performance
       management; incident management ... appointment of
       temporary subpostmaster; deal with contract requests!"
           Do you know what that might mean?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Contact.
   MR GREEN:  Contact requests, sorry.  Do you know what
       that ...
   A.  That could be a postmaster rings the Helpline and just
       says "I would like to speak to the contract advisor".
   Q.  Why is there an exclamation about it?  Is it because
       internally everyone knows that is a bit of a nightmare?
   A.  No, not at all.
   Q.  No?
   A.  I wouldn't have any idea why an exclamation mark is
       after that bullet point and not after any others.
   Q.  Okay.  If we go forward, please, to page {G/4/10}, we
       have contracts advisors' debt collection process.  So
       notification is received from P&BA.  What does P&BA
       stand for?
   A.  Product and branch accounting.
   Q.  So it's product and branch accounting who was sending
       those letters to Pam Stubbs, probably?
   A.  That would be correct, yes.
   Q.  Is that an automated system --
   A.  I'm not sure.  It is not an area that I am responsible
       for.
   Q.  So the contracts advisors receive notification from
       P&BA.  And then they contact the agent, and then they
       conduct any further investigation, and then it says:
           "Arranges repayment - often over a period."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  And:
           "Monitors monthly recovery."
           If the debt has been caused by an error in Horizon
       or a reconciliation error made by one of Post Office's
       employees, yes, or a data integrity issue with Camelot,
       for example, there probably ought to be a feedback of
       that somewhere, shouldn't there, in the process?
   A.  I would imagine that would come out as part of the
       investigation.
   Q.  If we look at the way this contracts advisor is giving
       his presentation and apparently working in 2011, look at
       the bold speaking notes he puts underneath:
           "Contractually, losses should be made good
       immediately, but we allow concessions when appropriate
       to allow repayment over a period - as short as possible
       and not exceeding 12 months, by monthly deduction from
       remuneration."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Pausing there, that is also not correct, is it?
   A.  It is not a true wording of the clause 12(12).
   Q.  But that is the basis everybody is working to, isn't it,
       inside Post Office?
   A.  That is how it has been summarised by the look of it
       from the information you have provided.
   Q.  And that is partly because the way that Horizon is set
       up is that there is no ability for postmasters to
       dispute a shortfall on Horizon.  That is admitted by
       Post Office in its Defence.
   A.  But a postmaster, if they -- they can dispute --
   Q.  Let's take it in stages, Mr Breeden.  This is probably
       quite important.  What they can do is they have three
       options when they get a transaction correction.  They
       can pay in cash, they can pay by cheque, or they can
       press "settle centrally".  And settle centrally means
       that they accept the debt subject to any dispute they
       may wish to raise on the Helpline.  That is right,
       isn't it?
   A.  I believe it is accepting the debt but they can still
       dispute --
   Q.  Afterwards?
   A.  -- afterwards, yes.  And if the transaction correction
       was to arise before the actual balance in the office is
       going to be done, naturally they can raise their dispute
       earlier.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  Before --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can we just go back to {E2/53/5},
       please.  The very bottom line there.  Do you remember,
       Mr Breeden, these were the documents you were shown
       about Mrs Stubbs and the final line of that email on
       12 March which is talking about how the loss is made up
       to £17,670, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "... made up of the following ..."
           Then on to the next page {E2/53/6}, I think all
       three of those amounts have been settled centrally,
       haven't they?
   A.  It would appear so from the description.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So far as your evidence is concerned
       then, does it make a difference to how Post Office
       pursues what it perceives to be a debt whether an amount
       is settled centrally or not?
   A.  I think in settling the debt centrally we then know what
       the amount is.  There is a record then at -- as in this
       case, as at 9 January, that there is a debt of
       £9,033.78.  And that would be at that point in time.  So
       that then -- they can do the investigation into that
       amount and then subsequent amounts.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am not necessarily sure I understand
       that so I will just ask you the question again.
           Is there a difference to how Post Office pursues
       what it perceives to be a debt whether the amount is
       settled centrally or not?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you.  That is what I thought.
           Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  Can we look at {G/4/11}, please.  This is dealing
       with performance management.  I just want to direct your
       attention to the speaking notes underneath:
           "Branches may under-performance in many ways, but
       the process for corrective action is similar.
           "The conformance team issue formal warnings, but
       only contracts advisor administer the corrective action
       process.
           "The process is lengthy and demands commitment from
       the contracts advisor as well as the agent."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  Roughly how many subpostmasters would a contracts
       advisor be responsible for?
   A.  There are 14 contracts advisors and the estate is, what,
       about 11,000 branches if you leave out the directly
       managed branches.  So whatever the sums are, about 800
       each, 700 each.
   Q.  So if a subpostmaster was having difficulties and needed
       support from a contracts advisor, that would be quite
       difficult for the contracts advisor to provide if he was
       having to provide it to -- he or she was having to
       provide it to a number of subpostmasters?
   A.  Yes.  But it wouldn't be in isolation, there are other
       teams in Post Office Limited that could possibly be
       helping, and it is only when it gets to I guess
       a serious issue that the contracts advisor becomes more
       involved.  But there may have been some initial
       intervention that may have resolved the problem or may
       start resolving the problem.
   Q.  Let's look at {G/4/14}, please.  This time "contact
       requests" has a double exclamation mark.
   A.  I still have no better understanding why it's double or
       single or at all.
   Q.  Have you ever heard of the Helpline being referred to as
       the "Hell-line"?
   A.  I haven't, no.
   Q.  Is the Helpline something that falls under your ...
   A.  No.
   Q.  Let's look, please, at -- I will just skip a couple of
       points which I don't think are for you.  Let's look at
       {G/4/19}, "P&BA Fraud Forum - Agenda":
           "How you decide whether or not to suspend
       a postmaster."
           Do you see that slide?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  "Following the identification of a loss at audit
       (usually 1K and above) contract advisor receives
       telephone notification from field support advisor."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So there is someone carrying out -- that could perhaps
       be Margaret Guthrie, she was a field support advisor,
       I think, wasn't she?
   A.  I don't know.
   Q.  Anyway, a field support advisor goes and does an audit
       and identifies a loss.  Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then telephones the contract advisor?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "Contract advisor considers the information received
       ..."
           So that is the information received on the
       telephone?
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  "... and makes decision which could be to precautionary
       suspend agent."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "The phone call maybe the first we know about
       the office!!  Also it might not be one of mine."
           So it's not always the case that the contract
       advisor that makes the decision to "precautionary
       suspend", as it is called in Post Office documents, is
       not always the contract advisor for that particular SPM?
   A.  Correct.  Well, if I can just perhaps clarify, what we
       tend to do is have the contract advisors as the first
       point of contact for a geographical area as opposed to
       saying that Mr X is the contract advisor for this
       particular postmaster.
   Q.  Let's look over the page {G/4/20}.  This is a judgment
       call by the contract advisor:
           "Often discussed between other CAs, Lin or John."
           Is John you?
   A.  It is in that context, yes.
   Q.  Who is Lin?
   A.  Lin was the lady who was managing the south team at the
       time of the presentation --
   Q.  And you were managing the north team?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  "Guiding principles for suspension.
           "1. Is there admitted or suspected misuse of funds
       or admission of inflation of cash or stock?  If misuse
       is admitted, amount is irrelevant."
           And then it has a double asterisk "Being reviewed".
       Can you remember this being the guidance?
   A.  Vaguely.
   Q.  Does it accord with your recollection or do you remember
       it being different?
   A.  I remember it vaguely.  I can't remember the document or
       the exact wording of it.
   Q.  So just pausing there.  If an audit was undertaken the
       day after -- the morning after the branch trading period
       has ended, so the subpostmaster has been forced to roll
       over?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And in Pam Stubbs' case £9,033, she has to account for
       that somehow.  If an auditor visits the next day and it
       is not in there in cash or by cheque, there is
       a shortfall of the type identified here of more than
       £1,000, isn't there?
   A.  From my understanding of your explanation, yes.
   Q.  Yes.  Would you regard it as irrelevant if the amount
       missing is identical to the amount of a balancing
       discrepancy or transaction correction that the person
       was disputing?
   A.  As part of the work of making the decision, we would try
       to establish before making a decision if there were any
       transaction corrections outstanding at the branch.
   Q.  Yes.  But if the amount missing -- if it was a balancing
       discrepancy on balancing, so perhaps it's 7.30 at night,
       let's say -- to take it away from Pam Stubbs and give
       you a hypothetical example.  7.30 at night, closing up
       the Post Office, it's dark outside, customers have all
       gone, and you get a balancing discrepancy of £10,000.
       At that moment you have to put in the cash that is
       missing.
   A.  Or settle it centrally.
   Q.  But you are effectively forced to accept it, aren't you,
       when you roll over --
   A.  So you can roll over.
   Q.  Yes.  And if the next morning the cash isn't in
       the till, perhaps the person didn't have £10,000 on
       their person, or wasn't able to write a cheque for
       £10,000 there and then, there is at least a missing
       amount of cash in the till, isn't there?
   A.  If it has been settled, the tills and what they have
       declared should reflect the cash on site, and there
       should be the amount of the missing amount, the £10,000,
       whatever it is, that is settled centrally.  So it should
       be transparent that the actual information shows that
       loss.
   Q.  Let's look at the factors to consider before making
       a decision to precautionary suspend.  Is there admitted
       a suspected misuse of funds or admission of inflation of
       cash or stock?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes:
           "If misuse is admitted the amount is irrelevant.  Is
       there a discrepancy identified?"
           Then there are certain factors to consider, aren't
       there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It says:
           "Amount of discrepancy - a guiding figure for
       suspension is where a discrepancy is in excess of
       £1,000, size of branch, when during the branch trading
       period the audit took place, experience of the
       subpostmaster, previous branch performance ...
       proportion of debt settled centrally, frequency of debt
       settled centrally, frequency of transaction
       corrections."
           Pausing there for a moment.  If a subpostmaster was
       having a repeat problem and complaining about it, there
       would be a higher proportion of debt settled centrally,
       wouldn't there?
   A.  There could be, yes.
   Q.  And there would be a greater frequency of debt settled
       centrally than otherwise?
   A.  There could be.
   Q.  And there would be a greater frequency of transaction
       corrections probably?
   A.  Possibly.
   Q.  If those were large sums, it may well be that
       the subpostmaster would be very distressed about them
       because they are unable to make them good in cash, yes?
   A.  Possibly, yes, yes.
   Q.  Look at the final factor to consider there:
           "Subpostmaster's ability/willingness to make good
       the loss."
           Yes?  So for a larger sum it is going to be more
       difficult for them to make good the loss, yes?  But also
       willingness to make good the loss.  If they believe it
       is something that has not been caused by them, they may
       be unwilling to make good the loss?
   A.  Uh-huh, I understand that.
   Q.  And that is a factor that would militate in favour of
       their suspension, wouldn't it?
   A.  It may well have at the time of this documentation but
       I would suggest that is not the practice at the moment.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  This case covers a few years.  At the
       moment I think Mr Green is putting it to you on the
       basis of he said 2011.
   A.  Right.  Okay, I think in my statement I talk about
       changes since 2014.  So --
   MR GREEN:  But as at this time at least.
   A.  As at 2011?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  Their willingness to pay, yes, would be a consideration.
   Q.  Mr Bates, for example, had discrepancies which he said
       "I'm not prepared to pay until I get proper information
       and proper reporting".  Yes?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  So he was unwilling to pay because he was not satisfied
       it was anything to do with anything done wrong by him.
       That in theory -- it didn't come to exactly that in his
       case but in theory that would militate in favour of his
       suspension?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that right?
   A.  Sorry, can you ask me that question again?
   MR GREEN:  One of the factors that you take into account is
       the ability to make good the loss.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And another factor is willingness to make good the loss?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  If someone is unwilling to make good the loss, that
       counts against them, doesn't it?
   A.  If it is -- well, it wouldn't help the situation.
   Q.  It wouldn't help.
   A.  But it depends how the loss has arisen and if they have
       been disputed already.  Because I am -- the example you
       gave me where they are repeatedly having issues, some of
       those might have been disputed, some might be being
       investigated.  So I could understand, until that
       investigation had ended, that somebody would be
       unwilling to.  So I would take those -- I think there is
       a danger that this is read very black and white and it
       is probably not that black and white.  There are a lot
       of factors going on here and a lot of things happening
       that are being taken into consideration.  I think it is
       always very difficult when you are trying to summarise
       that, as has been shown on this document.
   Q.  Let's look at {G/4/23} please.  Just look at 5:
           "Consider potential future risk to Post Office
       Limited funds if the subpostmaster is left in post."
           Then you see:
           "If in any doubt make decision to suspend and carry
       out further investigations."
           Yes?  And that has a little star on it "being
       reviewed".  Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So at least as at 2011 that was the approach.  Has that
       been reviewed since?
   A.  I believe it has changed, yes.
   Q.  What is the approach now?
   A.  The approach is -- you still have the audit situation.
       I think this is alluded to in my statement.  You still
       have the audit.  The auditor will contact the contract
       adviser, or contact a contract adviser, to make
       a decision on whether there is to be a suspension.  That
       decision is no longer made by the contract adviser, that
       would be made by their line manager.  So the contract
       adviser would establish the facts; what has happened at
       the audit, might talk to other teams within Post Office
       Limited, will speak to the postmaster to see if they can
       elicit any facts there and they would then put
       a recommendation to their line manager as to whether we
       should go for a suspension or not.
   Q.  So the line manager deciding it is dependent on what
       investigations the contract adviser has carried out?
   A.  What information the contract adviser has --
   Q.  Put forward?
   A.  Put forward, yes.
   Q.  Then still on {G/4/23}, do you see the bottom paragraph:
           "If the decision in the light of the above
       considerations is not to suspend, a brief note from the
       contract adviser setting out the justification should be
       drafted into a Word document and entered onto the
       [electronic filing cabinet] for future reference."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So if someone doesn't suspend, they have to justify that
       and take responsibility for not suspending someone?
   A.  That is the way that is written there, yes.  The
       situation now is, whether we suspend or not, it is still
       documented.
   Q.  If we go over, please, to {G/4/25}.  We have 193
       suspensions last year, which would probably be 2010
       I suppose.  2010/2011, it looks like.  When does the
       year run from, do you know?  Roughly?
   A.  From the start of April to the end of March.
   Q.  So it is probably 2010/2011.  Because this is June 2011.
       It says:
           "Subpostmaster being reinstated."
           If we look at {G/42.1/1} we can see a freedom of
       information request which appears to show the figures
       for 2010/2011.  Do you see that --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- in the table?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Postmasters who are reinstated are 54.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Of the 193.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It says "subpostmaster having contract summarily
       terminated", if we go over the page to {G/42.1/2}, that
       is prosecutions.  I will come back to the termination
       figure.  I am afraid I have put the reference somewhere
       else.  If we go back to {G/4/25}:
           "Subpostmaster resigning to avoid summary
       termination 48."
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  So quite a lot of subpostmasters resign to avoid summary
       termination; 48 it looks like.  Then under "Appeals":
           "Of the 86 suspensions last year where the decision
       was made to summarily terminate ..."
           So we know the figure for summary terminations above
       is 86.  Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "... 38 subpostmasters exercised their right of appeal.
       The contract adviser's decision was upheld in 28 cases
       and 8 were reinstated."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So, on the face of it, there is a significant number of
       reinstatements, 54, of the 193 suspensions in summary.
       There are 48 who just resigned to avoid summary
       termination?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So you are at 102.  Then you have 86 where there is
       a summary termination of whom only eight are reinstated.
       That is the overall picture.
   A.  Well, where 38 out of -- I think the eight is out of the
       38, isn't it there?
   Q.  Yes, it is.  Only 38 appealed --
   A.  Yes, of --
   Q.  Only eight successfully appealed the decision.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Although 28 and 8 seems to add up to 36.
   A.  Yes.  I can only --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't think it matters.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.  If we look at {G/4/26}.  If you
       look at the bottom bullet point there -- perhaps to get
       your eye in, to be fair to you, on the slide as a whole.
       What happens when you suspend.  It says:
           "Contract adviser advises agent of precautionary
       suspension ... discusses next steps including
       availability of premises going forward."
           That is whether they have a temp or not; if they
       make the premises available to the temp, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, that is right.
   Q.  "In cases of precautionary suspension where premises
       made available CA notifies temporary subpostmaster
       adviser."
           Which is Mr Sears at that time, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "CA advises the CAT team of suspension."
           What is the CAT team?
   A.  Contract admin team.
   Q.  "... suspension letter ..."
           What is MUF?  Do you not know?
   A.  No.  I can't do that one.
   Q.  Let's look at the bottom bullet point:
           "CA on receipt of audit report and other documents
       decides if precautionary suspension to continue and, if
       so, writes to agent confirming interview and details of
       breaches of contract."
           Pausing there, is it not the practice of contract
       advisers to discuss what they received from the audit
       report and other documents after precautionary
       suspension and before deciding whether that
       precautionary suspension should continue?
   A.  Sorry, I might have missed the point.  Can you just
       repeat that one for me?
   Q.  My fault.  Too long a question.  A subpostmaster or
       subpostmistress is precautionary suspended, in
       Post Office parlance?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  On the day of the audit?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The auditor phones up, says to a contract adviser: found
       a loss more than £1,000 and there is £1,000 that should
       be in the till that is not in the till, for example.
   A.  Okay.  So a decision is made to precautionary suspend --
   Q.  Or the cheque that is in the till is undated.  Or
       something like that.  Precautionary suspension.  Then
       the contract adviser on the basis of this slide gets
       a report from the auditor, yes, and other documents and
       decides if the precautionary suspension should continue.
       And, if so, writes to the agent confirming an interview.
       But there is no step here showing that the contract
       adviser speaks to the subpostmaster about what those
       documents show at that stage.
   A.  Not at that stage, no.
   Q.  No.
   A.  The contract adviser will have spoken to the
       subpostmaster on the day of suspension.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  And then, if the decision is to suspend, naturally
       notifies the subpostmaster of that, and that is where
       you end up going through the first two bullet points
       there to find out whether the premises are available for
       use by a temporary subpostmaster.  From that point on
       the information will start to come to the contract
       adviser, which he or she will start to review.  Now, in
       some instances it might be that we got the decision
       wrong to precautionary suspend, so we would look to
       reverse that decision.
   Q.  And would you pay the subpostmaster for the period they
       have been suspended?
   A.  Under the terms of the contract, I can do that and
       I would look favourably on doing that in that instance,
       where we have made the wrong decision to precautionary
       suspend.
   Q.  Where you have made the wrong decision as it turns out
       once you have investigated?
   A.  On information that has subsequently come to light, yes.
   Q.  Even if you didn't know that information at the time?
   A.  Even if I didn't know it at the time.  As I say, on the
       day, you haven't got everything, on the day of the
       precautionary suspension, but if something comes to
       light subsequent to the date of precautionary suspension
       that means we got the decision wrong, okay, yes, I would
       look at the clause that is in the contract about paying
       remuneration and look at that favourably.  If we got it
       wrong -- we do get it wrong, I suppose.  We are only
       human.
           What would happen then is the normal sort of flow
       would be that the contract adviser gathers the
       information and then would send a letter to the
       suspended subpostmaster.  I think the colloquial term is
       the "Reasons to Urge" letter and that would be sent to
       them explaining what has gone wrong, what the charges
       are, what the breaches of the contract are and inviting
       them into a meeting.
   Q.  And those charges would usually be similar to the ones
       that were spelled out in the suspension letter?
   A.  Yes, misappropriation of funds, whatever it is, and what
       breaches of contract that are there.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.  My Lord, is that a convenient
       moment?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  Mr Breeden, you are in the middle
       of giving your evidence.  Please don't talk to anyone
       about the case.  If you can come back for 2 o'clock,
       I would be very grateful.  Thank you all very much,
       2 o'clock.
   (1.00 pm)
                     (The short adjournment)
   (2.00 pm)
   MR GREEN:  Mr Breeden, just before lunch you were giving
       your evidence about how you would, you know, if you got
       it wrong, on a suspension, postmaster lost out on their
       remuneration, and if you got it wrong you would make
       that good?
   A.  Yes, if they were reinstated, when we had made the wrong
       decision to precautionary suspend, I would look to
       reimburse the remuneration.
   Q.  The period to which that would relate would be the
       period of suspension which might in some cases be quite
       a long time?
   A.  Not in that instance, I wouldn't have thought, no.
       Because we would be -- if we precautionary suspended
       today we would be looking at the evidence straight away
       if we felt we had got it wrong at that point, so it
       would be I think days.
   Q.  Days.  What about if you didn't realise you had got it
       wrong straightaway and you realised you had got it wrong
       at the end of two months, for example?
   A.  I would take the same consideration.
   Q.  The same approach?
   A.  Yes --
   Q.  Because some of these things take, if you are looking
       for the root cause of something, it might take more than
       a few days?
   A.  It could do.
   Q.  Look, please, at {F3/161/1}.  This is a document
       entitled "Guiding principles for payment of remuneration
       to a subpostmaster upon reinstatement following a period
       of suspension".  It relates to the SPMC contracts?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And family, rather than the NTC contracts?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In bold:
           "The following points should be noted:
           "Any payment is at the absolute discretion of
       Post Office Limited."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You would accept you shouldn't exercise that
       capriciously or on a whim --
   A.  Yes, you should be fair minded about it.
   Q.  And:
           "Payment will not be made in respect of product
       pay ..."
           That is in relation to the element of remuneration
       that relates to product transactions made in
       the Post Office?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So the subpostmaster would lose in that sense, wouldn't
       they, if that is right?
   A.  That -- yes.
   Q.  Of course, though, that hides the question: is this
       actually what you do?  Would you normally just make up
       their remuneration in full if you had got it wrong?
   A.  If there -- you have to take into account also if there
       has been a temporary subpostmaster appointed as well and
       what that individual has been paying for, which I think
       is covered in this document.
   Q.  Let's have a look.  Are you saying that you don't pay
       the subpostmaster back if there has been a temp in
       there?  Or what are you saying?
   A.  I think it is at point 8.
   Q.  Obviously if the subpostmaster has been paid something
       by the temp, you are not going to pay twice --
   A.  Absolutely --
   Q.  That is totally fair. --
   A.  I think it depends on what the -- we would have to
       understand the arrangement between the temporary
       subpostmaster and the suspended subpostmaster.
   Q.  I don't think this is the controversial point.  So,
       for example, if a temporary subpostmaster is paying the
       subpostmaster £100 a week to be there, has been
       suspended for four weeks, you pay back what they would
       have earned less £400?
   A.  Yes, I think that would be a fair way of summing it up.
   Q.  We see at item 3 it says:
           "Payment should only be considered where, on the
       basis of the facts known at the time, Post Office
       Limited had acted unreasonably in making the
       suspension."
           That is different to what you were saying, isn't it?
       What you were saying was a bit fairer than that.
   A.  Well, perhaps, yes.  I think so.
   Q.  You appreciate there is a difference?
   A.  Yes --
   Q.  And you accept that what you told the court is fairer
       than what is on the document?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you know what this document is?  Because it is one of
       the --
   A.  Other than what its title is, no.
   Q.  Is this a document that should be followed, or is it one
       of a number of things that might cover the same area, or
       what?
   A.  I don't know when the document refers to because
       unfortunately there is no timeline on this.  So at the
       time of issue that would be the guidance that we should
       be following.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The document is the guidance that should
       be followed?
   A.  That is the way I would interpret that.
   MR GREEN:  Can you remember a time when you were doing what
       it says here rather than what you told the court?
   A.  No, I can remember more about what I told the court.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So would you have ever followed this
       document?
   A.  This document is not at the front of my knowledge.
       I don't remember the document explicitly.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Breeden, I don't know if that is
       a careful answer or if I have just misunderstood.
   A.  Sorry, no, I don't remember the document itself.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.
   A.  But if, like I have already said, if we made a -- if we
       precautionary suspended somebody and we had got that
       wrong, then I would look to repay any withheld
       remuneration.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Again I don't know -- I am just going to
       follow up it with a question so I can be clear what your
       evidence is.
           Mr Green is putting to you that this is rather
       different than how you explained it to me a few minutes
       ago, and you accepted it was.  I understand you don't
       remember the document.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But if you were considering a position
       where a subpostmaster were being reinstated --
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- so far as your evidence is concerned,
       would you be remunerating them on the basis of this
       clause 3, or did you remunerate them on the basis of
       this clause 3, or on the more reasonable basis that you
       explained orally about four minutes ago?
   A.  On the latter, sir.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  On the latter.  All right.  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
           We have already covered the fact that the period of
       suspension might vary, sometimes it can actually be
       quite long, it can be months.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that would allow Post Office in principle and
       of course the subpostmaster both to look into the
       charges or the allegations that had been carefully set
       out in the suspension letter?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So you have got two parallel tracks.  You have
       Post Office able to investigate --
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  -- what they have set out in writing in the suspension
       letter, and you have the subpostmaster possibly trying
       to investigate what they have been told in
       the suspension letter?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Have a look, please, at {E4/68/1}.  This is Mr Abdulla's
       suspension letter.  What specific allegations are set
       out there that he can investigate?
   A.  Nothing.  Because that is at the point of suspension,
       I am assuming?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  That would then be followed up after that.
   Q.  Yes.  But this morning before lunch I carefully asked
       you whether or not the suspension letter itself would
       spell out the charges, and I prefaced the questions to
       you just now with: during the period of suspension, both
       Post Office and the subpostmaster could investigate the
       charges that had been set out in the letter.
   A.  And I thought I had said to the court that it was the
       RTU letter that set out the charges, not the suspension
       letter, which is the notification of suspension on the
       day that that decision was made.
   Q.  The transcript will speak for itself so don't worry
       about that for the moment.  Let's press on.
           So after suspension and prior to a reasons to urge
       meeting, Post Office is investigating?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because that is why it is not holding the reasons to
       urge meeting straightaway.
   A.  Well, it is doing both.  It is trying to get the
       investigation done and bring the reasons to urge --
   Q.  Yes.  You can't have the reasons to urge meeting until
       you have investigated, can you?
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  And you have to investigate if it is a serious matter?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So Post Office is investigating what has been -- the
       person has been suspended for.  And prior to actually
       sending out the invitation to the reasons to urge
       meeting, the subpostmaster has a letter of suspension
       which in Mr Abdulla's case did not specify what was said
       against him.
   A.  That is right.
   Q.  Let's look, please, if we may, at {E2/81/1}.  This is
       Mrs Stubbs' suspension letter:
           "I refer to our recent telephone conversation and
       confirm that you have been suspended ... in respect of
       the above branch ... This suspension is made under
       section 19 ... does not mean that your contract is
       terminated."
           Then the next paragraph deals with the temp and
       asking confirmation of the arrangements attached.  There
       is nothing there about the allegations against her
       either, is there?
   A.  No, but -- I apologise if I misled the court, but at the
       point of suspension the charges wouldn't be detailed.
   Q.  That is at least consistent if we look at E6 to get
       a more recent one, May 2016.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is this Mrs Stockdale's --
   MR GREEN:  It's Mrs Stockdale's suspension letter, yes.
       It's {E6/145/1}.  Do you see this one?  This is the
       modern version.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because to be fair to you, Mr Breeden, quite a lot of
       Post Office's procedures and things have been updated in
       the last few years, haven't they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it's useful to look at a 2016 one:
           "I confirm that Mrs Stockdale has been suspended
       from operating ... This suspension is in accordance with
       part 2, section 15.1 of the agreement."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "I will contact you ... to confirm the consequences and
       confirm what will happen next."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it is quite difficult for the subpostmaster or
       subpostmistress to know with precision what is being
       said, isn't it?
   A.  Could you just --
   Q.  It is important -- the reason that grounds of suspension
       are normally confirmed in writing is so that the person
       who has had a traumatic experience of being told in
       branch "you're suspended", on the phone, then gets
       a letter which actually sets it out that they can refer
       to and look back and say is that right or is it wrong?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is not happening here, is it?
   A.  That -- no, in these -- that is not the normal process
       that we follow.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So normally the letter of suspension
       should include the reasons, should it?
   A.  No, no.  When you -- the conversation will have been
       held with the subpostmaster on the day of the
       suspension, explaining what has happened or why we are
       doing it and explaining that they are suspended.  Then
       they get confirmation -- after that verbal confirmation
       they get confirmation in writing, an example of which is
       the letter that we are -- is on the screen at this
       present moment.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Breeden, the reason I am asking you
       these questions is just to try and save time.
   A.  Yes, that is fine.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You just said in that answer:
           "... the conversation will have been held with the
       subpostmaster on the day of suspension, explaining what
       has happened or why we are doing it ..."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green is asking about the "why we are
       doing it" part.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Whatever is said to them, do they get in
       writing an explanation of the reasons of why you are
       doing it?
   A.  Not until, under the old type contract, the reasons to
       urge letter is sent out.  So we are doing this because
       there is a loss, and then that will be expanded upon
       further in that letter.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is under the older contract.  And
       under the newer contract?
   A.  There isn't the same letter.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.
           Back to you, Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  I am most grateful.
           Have a look, please, at {F3/165/13}.  This is in
       a document, I will show you the cover in a moment, it's
       an appeals handbook, and at 3.3 you can see "The Rights
       of the Individual".
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  At the top of the page you will see "Appeals Handbook
       2001".
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Bottom of the page, you can see it has been revised
       November 2004?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it says "Rights of the Individual", and it refers to
       a number of other guides that document the rights of the
       individual.
           Then it says:
           "Appeal managers are however reminded that there are
       rules of natural justice ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  " ... which require that:
           "The appellant should know the case against them ...
       the charge must be specific and the evidence against
       them made known to them.
           "... chance to state their case ...
           "... No bias ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I can.
   Q.  You would accept there is nothing controversial about
       that?
   A.  I would.
   Q.  In the appeals stage?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And indeed the rules of natural justice would equally
       apply at the original stage?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we look, please, at the authority of Lalji in the
       Court of Appeal.  It's in the authorities bundle at
       {A1.1/22/1}.  This was a case against the Post Office in
       the Court of Appeal.
           Can we go to the final page of that {A1.1/22/5}.
       This is -- we probably should go back to page
       {A1.1/22/4} to give you the context.  It's at the bottom
       of paragraph 26.  I'll give you the full context
       perhaps.  If you look at paragraph 24:
           "24.  So far as concerns the taking of a decision in
       Mr Lalji's absence, no legitimate ground of complaint
       can arise.  Mr Lalji was twice offered the opportunity
       to attend and twice failed to do so.  It is too late for
       counsel to tell us now that he was too depressed to
       attend.  The least that could be expected of someone who
       was not wholly incapacitated is that he would have told
       the Post Office that this was so.  At worst he should
       have made use of his right of appeal.
           "25.  But it does not follow that his silence left
       the Post Office free either to terminate the contract
       summarily rather than on the due 3 months' notice, nor
       arbitrarily to forfeit the remuneration which it had
       meanwhile withheld.
           "26. As to the first of these, I see nothing at
       present in the evidence which justifies the Post
       Office's resort to the drastic remedy of summary
       termination.  As to the second, it seems to me cogently
       arguable that clause 19.6 of the contract, which
       purports to give an unfettered power to forfeit
       remuneration withheld during a period of suspension,
       falls foul of section 3(2)(b) of the Unfair Contract
       Terms Act."
           Now you have the context, Mr Breeden, look at 27
       {A1.1/22/5}:
           "The Post Office's concession that the power must
       not be exercised capriciously (I assume in its favour
       that it will at least be able to pass this test) will
       not be enough to meet the requirements of 1977 Act if
       section 3 applies.  How the section operates -- whether
       by avoidance of the offending provision or by reading
       down -- does not have to be determined at this stage.
       It may well have to be decided, however, at trial."
           You very fairly accepted that any decision relating
       to remuneration during a period of suspension you would
       have to make fairly?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Fair-mindedly?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And would you also accept in accordance with the rules
       of natural justice?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If there is any -- they are all the same idea, aren't
       they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is basically openness, transparency and fair dealing,
       isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can you understand why it is distressing for
       a subpostmistress or subpostmaster to be unable to get
       at their own records when they are suspended if they are
       trying to address concerns that they may even have
       raised before they were suspended?
   A.  Yes, I can understand that could be very frustrating.
   Q.  Have a look, please, at {E2/123/1}.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is a letter to Mrs Stubbs.  She is being told:
           "I have been requested to investigate the losses ...
       currently totalling 28,000 ... In the circumstances, as
       you were the subpostmistress at the time, I would like
       to arrange to meet with you to give you the opportunity
       to explain to me why you think the losses have occurred.
       I would be grateful if you could therefore please
       contact me on one of the numbers below ..."
           That is Mr Wilcox.
           And then if we look at {E2/124/1}, there is a letter
       from Mrs Stubbs recording a conversation that she had
       with Mr Allen on 28 August 2013.  In the second
       paragraph she says:
           "I received a telephone call from Nigel Allen this
       morning.  He basically reiterated what Horizon had said,
       that there is no problem with the system.  Therefore the
       only possible solution is that I, or someone on my
       staff, has taken this money."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Before we go on, let's just look at that carefully.  You
       can have a Horizon -- a purely computer-generated
       problem, it is possible?
   A.  I would imagine that is possible, yes.
   Q.  The payments mismatch for example, a bug that we have
       got evidence in court about, yes?  You could have a pure
       Horizon computer system problem, but you could also have
       a problem from client data integrity?
   A.  I wouldn't be aware of those sorts of areas.
   Q.  Wouldn't that be -- let me list them out and then I will
       ask you the question.  Client data integrity could be
       a problem, and then there is human error in Post Office
       reconciling data, potentially, isn't there?
   A.  I imagine that could happen, yes.
   Q.  Post Office employees are no more perfect than
       subpostmasters, are they?
   A.  No.
   Q.  No.  So there are a number of possible reasons why there
       might be an error?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And for you to be overseeing the investigations of these
       things, it would be important for you to be aware of
       those possibilities, wouldn't it?
   A.  I don't think you could exclude any areas.
   Q.  But it is difficult to take things into account if you
       are not really familiar with them, isn't it?
   A.  It is harder, yes, I would have thought.
   Q.  Harder.  When I was asking you about client data
       integrity issues, which we will deal with later on with
       other witnesses, you weren't really very familiar with
       that as a thing, were you?
   A.  I'm not familiar with it at all.
   Q.  No.  How long have you been in your present role?
   A.  My current role, since April 2017.
   Q.  What was the nature of your role before that as regards
       these issues?
   A.  It was managing a team of contract advisors.
   Q.  Yes, so similar relevance in your prior role to the one
       you have now?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  No less, anyway?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So for many years you had been doing your role on that
       basis?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we look, please, at {G/28/32}.  Just to orientate
       you within this, Mr Breeden, the heading is "Data that
       is not available after suspension" which is what I want
       to ask you about?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  If we go to {G/28/1}, this is the mediation scheme and
       it is Post Office's reply.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Do you see underneath the big heading "Reply of
       Post Office ..."?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go back to {G/28/32}, at 10.13 it says:
           "Paragraph 10.10 of the report ..."
           That is the Second Sight report which you probably
       heard about?
   A.  I have heard of that, yes.
   Q.  "... highlights that some applicants were refused access
       to data following their suspension and access to their
       own records that may have been seized upon audit."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Pausing there, it is common for the records in the
       branch to be either contained or taken away at the
       moment of suspension, isn't it?
   A.  I think it is contained.
   Q.  Sometimes they may be taken away if they want to look at
       the -- if there are paper records and they want to go
       through them?
   A.  Possibly, yes.
   Q.  Well, they would need to look at them if they were
       there, wouldn't they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If someone had made careful handwritten records of
       balancing, you couldn't sensibly and fairly investigate
       if you didn't try and match up their handwritten records
       with the Horizon records?
   A.  No, okay, I understand that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you just tell me what "contained"
       means.  I am sure I can guess but I would rather not.
   A.  I think the context was it remained in the office.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But they couldn't have access to them.
   A.  No.  These are records that have to be retained for
       a period of time as per data retention and stuff like
       that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.
   A.  And they are retained on site.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I just want to know what Mr Green and
       you were exploring.
           Mr Green said:
           "It is common for the records to be either contained
       or taken away at the moment of suspension."
           And you said:
           "Contained."
   A.  Believing that was on site.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Does that mean, for example, if the
       subpostmaster or postmistress has been suspended, they
       can get at them if they are contained and or they can't?
   A.  They shouldn't get at -- there should be somebody with
       them from Post Office Limited, in my view, if they are
       going to get access to them.
   MR GREEN:  So the primary position is -- it's my fault for
       saying "contained", Mr Breeden, but to clarify, the
       primary position is they are locked out of the
       Post Office part of their branch, aren't they?
   A.  Yes, they haven't got access to that.
   Q.  And the records are within that part?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  So your point is they are only going to be able to look
       at those if they are allowed in by Post Office?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And you are suggesting to the court I think that that
       will only be with someone accompanying them?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Let's go back to paragraph 10.13, please, the line I've
       already to you:
           "... the report highlights that some applicants were
       refused access to data following their suspension and
       access to their own records that may have been seized
       upon audit.  As a result they say that they were unable
       to defend themselves from any claim made by Post Office
       for the recovery of monies."
   A.  Yes, I understand what it is saying.
   Q.  Pausing there, it is a consequence of the way
       Post Office operates the system that effectively they
       are fixed with a debt on the system which they then have
       to dispute?
   A.  Right.
   Q.  That is how the system works.  That is not
       controversial.
   A.  No, okay.
   Q.  Yes.  So really they are the ones who are left having to
       try to explain why they are not liable for a figure they
       don't accept, aren't they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So it is even more important than it might be in other
       situations that they have access to the relevant
       information to try to do so?
   A.  I can understand why you say that.
   Q.  That is a fair point, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it's a fair point.
   Q.  It follows as night follows day.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you can see why if that had happened, I'm not asking
       you to comment at this point on whether it did, but you
       can see why if that had happened they would be unhappy
       about it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If it had happened?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Because it feels a bit unfair, doesn't it?
   A.  It is very difficult to do anything if you haven't got
       the information.
   Q.  Exactly.
           Look at 10.14:
           "Whilst Post Office are aware that some applicants
       have raised the issue that their own records were
       removed and not returned to them, there is no evidence
       produced or referenced by the report to support the
       position that data being withheld has prejudiced
       an applicant in any way."
           So Post Office's response to that is that people who
       weren't able to get the information to prove that they
       were right -- yes? -- had not been able to come up with
       the information to prove that the information they
       hadn't had would have proved them right?
           Do you see what I am saying or shall I put it more
       simply?
   A.  Yes, perhaps more simply.
   Q.  What Post Office is saying is it says there:
           "Whilst Post Office are aware that some applicants
       have raised the issue that their own records were
       removed and not returned to them, there is no
       evidence ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "... produced or referenced ... to support the position
       that data being withhold has prejudiced an applicant in
       any way."
           So the focus there is on not accepting the point of
       principle that unless you have the information you can't
       even try to defend yourself.
   A.  Right.
   Q.  It's also pointing to the lack of any particular
       evidence at that stage that they have been prejudiced?
   A.  Right.
   Q.  Yes?
   A.  I can read the statement.  I don't know any of the
       background to that statement.
   Q.  You would accept, wouldn't you, that it would be a basic
       principle of fairness and natural justice that if you
       are being required to try and prove what the actual
       cause was, you have to have the information?
   A.  I would have thought so, yes.
   Q.  That must be right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And if the information that is relevant is held by
       Post Office or by Fujitsu, then the subpostmaster has to
       have a way of getting that?
   A.  If it's held by a body like that, I would have ...
   Q.  Yes.
           Can we look please at {E2/99/4}.  This relates to
       Pam Stubbs' case.  Shall we just go back a page
       {E2/99/3} to give you context.  It's to Nigel Allen at
       the bottom.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Go over the page {E2/99/4}:
           "Nigel, no probs with requesting data from Fujitsu
       but it will take around three weeks.  Has Jason agreed
       to take this case on, because we don't hand over Horizon
       logs to an SPMR.  It needs an expert to understand what
       it says and usually this requires one of the
       investigators."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  If you give the Horizon logs to a SPMR they can try and
       find an expert themselves, can't they, to help them with
       it?
   A.  I would imagine so.  I don't know what the logs look
       like so I can't imagine how the data is being presented.
   Q.  So it's difficult for you to appreciate in your position
       how important they might be to investigating a loss?
   A.  It is difficult for me to understand how easy or
       difficult it is to interpret.
   Q.  You understand that they might be important to
       investigating a loss?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And if we look at the bottom paragraph there, he says:
           "Is this for our benefit, as there is a cost
       attached to ARQ requests, we do get a supply free of
       charge as part of the contract but we usually don't have
       enough, therefore we usually charge the defence
       lawyers."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do see that.
   Q.  Are you aware of the cost?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Do you think it is satisfactory for Post Office to wait
       until there is a civil or criminal case and those logs
       are requested by lawyers before they make them
       available?
   A.  Speaking personally, no.  It seems a fairly long way to
       have to go.
   Q.  Can we look, please, at {G/19/13}.  This is a report by
       Detica and you will see under 3.3.3 "Inconsistent
       Audits" as a heading?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And can you see a number of bullet points?
   A.  I can see that, yes.
   Q.  The second one says:
           "Due to the lack of data and information available
       to the teams raising special (urgent) audits, these are
       currently often poorly targeted resulting in high false
       positive rates and therefore poor utilisation of
       resource."
           Is that something that you have experienced?
   A.  No.  I am just really trying to clarify what they are
       saying there.  So ... they are requesting a special
       audit and:
           "... often poorly targeted resulting in high false
       positive rates ..."
           I'm not sure what that particular line means.
   Q.  Well, the most favourable interpretation to Post Office
       is that it is high false positive rates for suggestions
       of a need to make an audit.  Ie, they are going and
       doing audits when they needn't.
   A.  I ...
   Q.  If you can't help on it --
   A.  I'm sorry, I have never seen this document before and
       I don't -- I don't think --
   Q.  It's a third party report by Detica in relation to
       Post Office practices.
   A.  Yes.  I have never seen that document --
   Q.  Have a look at the bottom bullet point, it deals
       directly with suspension itself:
           "The seemingly opaque nature of suspending
       decision-making.  Suspension SPMRs is a commercial as
       well as ethical decision at the discretion of the
       contract manager.  Whilst expecting and empowering staff
       to exercise their judgment is an important principle,
       the absence of clear and fair disciplinary guidelines
       leaves the Post Office open to criticism of prejudice
       and sending mixed messages on toleration of poor
       business practice."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do see that.
   Q.  Do you think that is a fair observation?
   A.  Personally, no.  And I don't know what facts that has
       been based on.
   Q.  Can we look, please, at the issue of termination.  You
       deal with this in your witness statement?
   A.  I do.
   Q.  Have a look, please, at {G/84/1}.  This is an agreement
       between Post Office and the NFSP in 1989.  There is
       a formula for provisions there for a scheme in relation
       to subpostmasters in certain circumstances to receive
       discretionary payments., namely, those set out at 1(a)
       and 1(b):
           "... subpostmasters who:
           "(a) without invitation terminate their contracts
       and whose sub-Post Office is either closed on their
       resignation or re-established in premises other than
       those which were occupied by the resigning subpostmaster
       ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I can see that, yes.
   Q.  Or:
           "(b) whose contract is terminated by Post Office
       Counters in order to close the sub-Post Office
       permanently."
   A.  I can see that as you say.
   Q.  To be fair to you, number 2:
           "In entering into this agreement Post Office
       Counters Limited declares that it does not accept any
       liability whatsoever to compensate subpostmasters who
       terminate their contracts."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I can.
   Q.  It's right, isn't it, that the broad picture over the
       years is that Post Office doesn't actually use the
       termination provisions, even on three months' notice,
       unless something has gone badly wrong at the branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that fair?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it only compulsorily closes branches under various
       programmes which I think you and Angela Van Den Bogerd
       have described, various change programmes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And in relation to those there have been various
       agreements in relation to remuneration to be paid by way
       of discretionary fund payments to the affected
       subpostmasters?
   A.  Under the change programmes there are terms set out for
       those who are leaving the business.  I'm not sure
       whether it links to the discretionary comment you made
       there.
   Q.  If we look at {G/85/1}, that updated the 1989 agreement
       we have looked at.  And at the bottom hole-punch:
           "Under A and B above for calculation purposes ..."
           And it gives the last date.
           Then third line:
           "Payment is calculated by taking the gross
       remuneration figure (last 12 months payments ...)
       dividing it by 12 and multiplying by 26 to get
       the amount of any discretionary payments due if
       warranted."
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  So that was 26 months at that stage.  The purpose of
       that is in order to compensate the subpostmaster for
       really loss of their investment and the commitments they
       have made long-term, as it were?
   A.  Yes, the closing of an office on a permanent basis.
   Q.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you could just keep your voice up.
   A.  Sorry, I do apologise.
   MR GREEN:  We can see at {E1/34/1} that in relation to the
       network reinvention programme, on 9 April 2002 Mr Bates
       received a letter setting out how that programme would
       operate.  Yes?
   A.  Yes.  I have not read it all yet.  Would you like me to
       read it?
   Q.  It may be a bit burdensome for you to read the whole
       thing but it is typical, as I think you mentioned
       earlier, when there is one of these change programmes,
       Post Office writes to the subpostmasters to inform them
       about the terms and how it is going to work.
   A.  Yes, I think that is the general practice.
   Q.  Yes.  And I am suggesting to you that this, on the face
       of it, appears to be one of those letters?
   A.  I am not able to disagree with you there, so ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, if you are going to ask any
       detailed questions on it, it is probably -- burdensome
       or not -- fair for Mr Breeden to read it.
   MR GREEN:  It is only one point, my Lord, and I think he can
       just read the relevant paragraph on {E1/34/2}.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Before we go there, just go back to
       {E1/34/1}.  Mr Breeden, just have a quick read of that
       page so that you have the paragraph you are about to be
       asked about in context.  (Pause)
   A.  Okay.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And then page {E1/34/2}, please.
           Back to you, Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  I am most grateful.
           In the middle of the page you will see:
           "Post Office has reached a provisional agreement in
       principle with the National Federation of Subpostmasters
       on the level of compensation which would be offered to
       subpostmasters leaving the network under the network
       reinvention programme."
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  So this is a particular agreement about this programme,
       isn't it?
   A.  That is the way I would interpret that.
   Q.  Yes.  It says:
           "This will be funded by the Government and as
       European and UK clearances have yet to be confirmed, you
       will understand that we are not in a position to
       guarantee the outcome.  However, we have proposed that
       outgoing subpostmasters would receive a payment
       equivalent to 28 months of their remuneration."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Then I think it talks about the purpose of that in the
       next paragraph.  Look at the next paragraph:
           "This amount is intended to help compensate urban
       subpostmasters leaving the network for loss of business
       and investment and for any exit costs which they may
       incur.  Our proposals for the scheme are based upon the
       long-standing arrangements which have been operated by
       Post Office Limited and the National Federation of
       Subpostmasters through the joint discretionary fund."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Just pausing there.  The way it works is, as you very
       fairly pointed out I think in your answer to an earlier
       question of mine, there is the earlier agreements, the
       long-standing arrangements about the discretionary fund,
       and then there are these particular agreements reached
       in relation to each programme which may be based on the
       discretionary fund arrangements but are actually
       specific to the particular change programme?
   A.  Okay, yes.
   Q.  Is that a fair summary?
   A.  Yes, I think that is my understanding.
   Q.  You were in court I think when Mrs Rimmer gave her
       evidence, were you not?
   A.  I was this morning, yes.
   Q.  You remember when she was talking about her role in
       liaising between Post Office on one hand, the outgoing
       subpostmaster and the incoming subpostmaster, and also
       there being a separate person arranging dates?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you remember that evidence?
   A.  Yes, I recall that.
   Q.  When somebody does resign --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- from their appointment, what actually happens in
       practice is you try to ensure a smooth handover from the
       outgoing to the incoming subpostmaster, don't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we just look at this in Mr Sabir's case, for example
       {E3/9/1}.  This is the letter dated 24 November 2005.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it is giving notice of resignation.  Can you see at
       the end of the first paragraph:
           "... your provisional last day of service will be
       24 February 2005."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The word "provisional" is because it may not be possible
       for Mr Sabir to come in and Mr Rooney to leave by
       24 February 2005.  They may need to delay that date.
   A.  Yes, and that is based on the notice period in that
       particular contract.
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  So that would be the three months.
   Q.  So the three months is to 24 February 2005, but
       Post Office will inform the outgoing subpostmaster if
       the date needs to be later because they are not ready to
       have an incoming person?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  We can see that the second paragraph, consistent with
       your last answer, says:
           "It not possible at this stage to confirm the actual
       date when a new subpostmaster will take on the
       appointment as the recruitment process has only just
       begun.  Every effort will be made to arrange a transfer
       of cash and stock ... by the date above although we may
       have to agree a revised date with you."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In practice that is what tends to happen.  We have
       {E3/10/1}, Mr Rooney's resignation form, confirming
       24 November 2005 at the bottom.
           Then at {E3/54/1} we have a letter to Mr Rooney on
       30 June 2006 informing Mr Rooney that Mr Sabir will be
       attending an interview on 10 July 2006.  So three months
       for Mr Rooney expired in February.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But the process hasn't yet been completed.
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  And sometimes it may be very difficult for Post Office
       to find a subpostmaster to go to a branch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it may very much want to still have a branch there?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So they are informing Mr Rooney that -- at least keeping
       him appraised of the progress being made?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we look at {E3/64/3}, we have the letter of
       13 July 2006.  Perhaps go back a page {E3/64/2}.  And
       back to page {E3/64/1}, please.  13 July 2006, this is
       a letter to Mr Sabir?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is congratulating him -- or informing him of his
       application having been successful.  So we are now
       getting towards five months from the February date when
       the three months' notice would have expired.
           If we go to page {E3/64/3} of that letter, you can
       see halfway down the top paragraph on the right-hand
       side:
           "The present subpostmaster has been asked to contact
       you and if this date is acceptable to you both, I would
       be obliged if you would complete the form held by him to
       confirm the arrangements."
           So the way it works in real life is that Post Office
       tries to get someone to fill the vacancy that will be
       created on resignation?
   A.  Or the outgoing subpostmaster puts somebody forward.
   Q.  Or they put someone forward.  And sometimes that takes
       longer than the three months.
   A.  If they put somebody forward it is usually at the point
       of resignation.
   Q.  Indeed, but sometimes it takes longer than three months
       as we have seen here.
   A.  Yes, the applicant might not go through the process as
       quickly as we would hope.
   Q.  Yes.  Or they may decide to stop without having somebody
       in mind.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we look at {C1/3/11}, that is Mr Sabir's statement at
       paragraph 59, and you will see the date that branch
       transfer actually took place in his case was
       8 September 2006.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So although the subpostmaster can give three months'
       notice, the reality is to pass it on to someone else
       they effectively have to wait while Post Office
       organises the transfer date?
   A.  Yes.  I'm not sure if it is just the organisation of the
       transfer date that has delayed that.  I don't know what
       has happened for it to take --
   Q.  Sorry, I wasn't trying to be discourteous about
       the efforts that Post Office is making.  Post Office has
       to have an interview process, send people documents, the
       application documents to fill in and so forth, but
       sometimes that just takes time?
   A.  And you are reliant on the applicant returning those
       promptly and complete as well.
   Q.  Then if we just look quickly at Mrs Stockdale's case if
       we may briefly at {C1/6/11}, paragraph 55 of her
       evidence.  She says there that she signed what she
       understands to be her Post Office contract on
       17 February 2014.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is the date that she returns what was sent to
       her in the Post Office's letter of 14 February.  Then if
       you look at the bottom of the page, there are further
       documents signed and returned at 56.
           Then if we look at paragraph 89.2 {C1/6/18}, she
       makes various financial investments during this period.
   A.  You are in paragraph 89, sorry?
   Q.  89.  You can see she is setting out there what she has
       done.  Then if we look at her paragraph 50 {C1/6/10},
       she explains in the context of those matters:
           "I was originally expecting to start my appointment
       toward the end of February 2014 since this was the
       timeframe Karen had been given by Post Office."
           This is Karen Collinson who was the previous
       outgoing subpostmaster:
           "Karen was keen for the changeover to happen as
       quickly as possible.  She wanted the changeover to
       happen in advance of her daughter's wedding on 5 April
       and was not happy when she learned of the timeframes
       Post Office was working to which included a further site
       meeting planned for March 2014 and then works proceeding
       and also my classroom training which was booked for the
       end of April/early May 2014."
           Can we look at {E6/45/1}.  You can see this is
       an email from Karen Collinson to Shirley Lamont at the
       Post Office.  Do you know Shirley Lamont?
   A.  No.
   Q.  She says:
           "Thank you for your response to our queries.  We did
       read further and took the assumption that all parties
       meant Liz and I.  As the contract was written by
       Post Office, one would assume they were already in
       agreement.  A date should not have been included.  Liz
       had her interview nearly three weeks ago and we would
       have expected to have some indication of a date by now
       or at least a date for the next meeting.
           "With regard to the period leading up to and
       including my daughter's wedding, I will continue as
       I have done for the past 8 plus years.  I will take time
       off and leave my staff looking after the shop and Post
       Office.  If I had not been given indications that this
       would be completed before that date it would never have
       been an issue.  Your initial time period to Liz and
       I back in September when she applied was end of February
       which gave us both false hope.  As time has gone on this
       has kept changing.  It has now already been 6 months."
           Then she makes the point about her daughter's
       wedding and so forth.
           Sometimes things won't go perfectly, but the point
       is that Karen Collinson is effectively hanging on rather
       unwillingly there in the branch until such time as the
       branch can be taken over by Mrs Stockdale.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And she is not very happy about it.
   A.  She doesn't appear happy about it.  I can't talk on the
       specifics of this particular case.  This is a programme
       that was affecting 7,000 branches over a period of time
       because I think this was under network transformation.
       So there is -- like you say, big projects can sometimes
       have some slippage.  I don't know what the specific
       issues were at this location.
   Q.  In relation to appeals now, if we can turn to the topic
       of appeals.  Why were appeals stopped for the NTC
       contract for termination?
   A.  I don't know the reason they were taken out.
   Q.  Do you know they have been stopped?
   A.  Yes, I did know they had been taken out of the NT
       contracts, but I couldn't tell you the reason for that.
       I wasn't party to --
   Q.  I understand.
   A.  That is not part of my job to --
   Q.  If you don't know, there is no criticism for something
       you don't know purely because you don't know it.
           Do you know whether any processes have been adjusted
       in relation to any decision to terminate under an NTC
       contract to reflect that there is no appeal process?
   A.  Yes, I am aware of that.
   Q.  So can you tell his Lordship what has happened in
       relation to termination?
   A.  Okay.  Should I just go through what originally happened
       with the old ...
   Q.  Certainly.
   A.  The traditional contract.  So the decision was made by
       the contract advisor to either terminate or reinstate
       the subpostmaster at the end of having been previously
       precautionary suspended.  If the decision was to
       terminate, under the terms of the contract that
       terminated subpostmaster had the right to appeal and
       they should have lodged that appeal within ten working
       days of being notified.  So there had been a deadline to
       do it in.
           If they appealed, that case would then be referred
       to a trained appeals manager, the appeals manager would
       be a senior manager within Post Office Limited and would
       have -- would have had no previous involvement
       whatsoever in that case.  In effect, the appeal is
       a full re-hearing of the case and they would go through
       all of the documentation that the contract advisor had
       drawn together as part of their investigation to
       actually make their decision.
           What happened with the introduction of the network
       transformation contracts was that the facility to appeal
       a termination decision was removed.  So what happens now
       is that the contract advisor recommends a decision on
       the case, whether to terminate or reinstate, and that is
       actually ratified by their line manager.
           So there is still a two-tier system in place whereby
       the decision is now made by the line manager based on
       the recommendation and the case papers that the contract
       advisor prepares.
   Q.  But the point is that if the contract advisor has
       something wrong, which the postmaster wants to point out
       is wrong, under an appeal process at least there is
       a chance to say, well, you appear to have made it on
       this basis, if the basis is explained.  You say that
       basis is clearly wrong.  But there isn't that
       opportunity between the decision of the contracts
       advisor and the decision-maker is there?
   A.  Not on -- on the NT side we do not have that
       conversation, no.
   Q.  So it would be essential, wouldn't it, to try to make
       sure that any such decisions were taken as fairly as
       possible, or at least the recommendation is formulated
       on the basis of the fairest possible procedure before
       the recommendation is passed up?
   A.  I think the recommendation is based on a fair procedure
       because the contract advisor could have had
       conversations with the postmaster, so they have gathered
       their facts and on the basis of those facts made
       a decision.  Or made a recommendation, should I say.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am just struggling with that a little
       bit.  You say it is fair because the contract advisor
       would have had conversations with the postmaster.
   A.  There would have been interaction.  I think during the
       period of suspension there could have been calls or even
       a meeting between the contract advisor and the
       postmaster that was suspended as part of their
       investigation.
   MR GREEN:  In terms of corrective action, that term is used
       to refer to dealing with subpostmasters who are failing
       meet the performance standards, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  So if someone might be needing support with balancing --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- that would be appropriate for corrective action
       rather than termination, wouldn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Normally?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And subpostmasters, given the importance of balancing,
       could reasonably look to Post Office to help them and
       support them in that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You probably heard me refer to the -- you may have been
       in court when I referred to the induction booklet that
       Mr Bates was sent.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we can have a quick look at it {E1/12/10}.  If we
       look at "Training" on the right-hand side of that page.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "Training for new subpostmasters is usually delivered by
       an agency trainer.  The duration and content ... varies
       from office to office to meet your particular needs.
       However, as a basic guide, the training available is
       outlined below ..."
           And on-site training, if you look, second line:
           "It covers a full range of transactions, accounting
       procedures, security and customer care issues ... it
       varies ... and is tailored to individual requirements."
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Under "Ongoing Training":
           "Further training is provided at timely intervals as
       necessary.  This will be assessed by your retail network
       manager."
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  None of that is controversial.  That is what everyone
       would expect, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, I don't think that is controversial at all.
   Q.  Unless people are actually trained how to do it, there
       is no way of them actually performing their role
       properly?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go over the page to {E1/12/11}, on the right-hand
       side, "Other Training Issues":
           "In addition to transaction processing your training
       will fully cover ..."
           And it lists various things there.  Managing cash
       and stock is one of them?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then dealing with problems is another?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So that is what people would expect, that is what
       Post Office would expect to deliver and that is what
       subpostmasters would expect from Post Office, is that
       fair?
   A.  I think so on the basis that it is written down there.
   Q.  I think the document also says: this sets out what our
       expectations are of you and what you can expect from us.
   A.  Right.
   Q.  Just look over one further page, please, in this
       document {E1/12/12}.  Just in relation to support you
       will see halfway down that page on the left-hand side,
       internal page 20, "Customer/Subpostmaster Helpline: "
           "A Helpline exists to enable Post Office Counters to
       provide an excellent service at all outlets by:
           "Providing speedy, accurate information and support
       to staff, agents, clients and the public on all
       Post Office Counters enquiries and services.
           "Handling complaints in an efficient and unbiased
       manner."
           There is nothing surprising about that.  That is
       what you basically need to provide, isn't it, to have
       run the service well?
   A.  I would have thought so, yes.
   Q.  That is what you would expect Post Office to provide?
   A.  I would expect anybody who is providing a helpline to be
       one that can respond quickly and ...
   Q.  Accurately and helpfully?
   A.  I think any customer would do that.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, would that be a convenient moment for
       a short break?  I am about to take stock and see --
       there are a couple of points I may need to deal with
       briefly.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We will have a ten-minute break for the
       shorthand writers.  The usual score.  Don't feel you
       have to sit there but be back in ten minutes, please.
           Thank you very much.
   (3.11 pm)
                         (A short break)
   (3.21 pm)
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I have no further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender, any re-examination?
   MR CAVENDER:  A few points, if I may.
                  Re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  The first one, can we please go to the
       transcript of today at {Day7/69:1}.  At the bottom
       there, you were asked about a document which I am about
       to take you to.  But to refresh you, this is the chasing
       correspondence, Mrs Stubbs.  Do you remember that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  At the bottom here you are asked at {Day7/69:5}:
           "Do you see it is from Mr Kellett himself?"
           And you say:
           "I see it is from -- yes, the name at the bottom of
       the page is Paul Kellett, yes."
           Do you see that answer?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we put on screen, please {E2/47/1}.  Bearing in mind
       your answer, when we look at this document and look
       under "Yours sincerely" --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- to your mind has Paul Kellett himself signed and sent
       this document?
   A.  I don't know if that is Paul Kellett's signature that is
       at the bottom of that letter.  But the name is
       Paul Kellett.
   Q.  But above that, the marking we see, do we derive
       anything from that?
   A.  You mean the marking between "Yours sincerely" and
       "Paul Kellett"?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  I am not deriving anything from that.
   Q.  No.  Okay.  Do you know whether from your experience in
       the way of things that these sorts of letters would be
       seen by someone at the level of Paul Kellett or would it
       be someone in his team lower down?  Can you help with
       that at all?  If not, just say.
   A.  I'm not sure.
   Q.  You are not sure.  Thank you.
           Can we please go to the transcript at {Day7/97:1}.
       This is now dealing with the question of suspension and
       the suggestion made to you that you had I think changed
       your evidence and hadn't made clear about when reasons
       were given in that area.
           If we go to {Day7/97:1}, it's the big answer at the
       top of the page but it is really -- so read that and in
       particular lines 8 and 9:
           "What would happen then is the normal sort of flow
       would be that the contract adviser gathers the
       information and then would send a letter to the
       suspended subpostmaster.  I think the colloquial term is
       the 'Reasons to Urge' letter and that would be sent to
       them explaining what has gone wrong, what the charges
       are ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In terms of the reasons to urge letter, can I take you
       to two documents to see whether these help.  {E4/75/1}.
       Look at that letter for me.
   A.  Yes, I can see that letter.
   Q.  How would you regard that letter in terms of forming
       part of the process?
   A.  I would see that as a reasons to urge letter.
   Q.  So putting some skin on those bones, what do you say it
       does?  What are its material bits?
   A.  It is basically saying what our intention is there:
           "... consider the summary termination of your
       contract for services ..."
           And the reasons for that, which talks about the
       audit loss and also the breaches of the contract that
       have been identified relating to that.
   Q.  You were asked questions at transcript
       page {Day7/113:18} of today, please.  You were asked
       questions, there and following, about the possibility of
       technical or IT issues --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- related to a particular issue, shortfall, I think,
       which might lead to a suspension.  It was questions in
       that area, do you remember that?
   A.  I do recall.
   Q.  Imagine there was a such a situation where you were
       involved, one of your team was involved in asking your
       advice in relation to such a suggestion of an IT or
       technical reason for a shortfall, what would your
       reaction be to that?  What would you do if that
       occurred?
   A.  I would just get as many facts as we possibly could at
       the time and perhaps have a look -- ask other teams to
       investigate that for us.
   Q.  Are there other teams within Post Office with IT or
       technical expertise?
   A.  There is one area of my own particular team that I would
       refer that to, which is the support services resolution
       team, who are skilled at interrogating the accounts and
       identifying any issues.
   Q.  Thank you.
           If we go to page {Day7/126:15} of today's
       transcript, you were asked the question:
           "It's right, isn't it, that the broad picture over
       the years is that Post Office doesn't actually use the
       termination provisions, even on three months' notice,
       unless something has gone badly wrong at the branch?
           "Answer: Yes.
           "Question: Is that fair?
           "Answer: Yes."
           So just in that area, obviously my learned friend
       didn't explain any more to you what "badly wrong" meant,
       so let me ask you a couple of things.  If you had
       a situation where you had a persistent failure to meet
       standards?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Would you regard that as a situation where you could use
       this three month power?
   A.  I would, yes.
   Q.  Termination under the NTC.  You explained that there is
       no right of appeal and you also explained that under the
       new procedure there is a two-tier situation where the
       contracts manager puts together a pack and
       a recommendation and the line manager make the decision,
       do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The question was put to you as to in that kind of
       example what is the procedural -- the ability of the
       postmaster to interact and input.
           In that connection could you go to {E6/155/1},
       please.  So this is in relation to Mrs Stockdale.  Have
       a look at that document for me.  Look at the heading in
       bold, the last line, what does that say?
   A.  "Invitation to attend informal discussion."
   Q.  Right.  Then look down through the document.  It says,
       starting:
           "This informal meeting ..."
           Read that to yourself.  (Pause)
           Is this an invitation to a meeting after suspension?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  And would someone at this meeting be able to receive any
       representations or evidence from the postmaster?
   A.  Yes.  The contract advisor.
   Q.  Would be able to?
   A.  Yes, would be -- I think this letter would probably have
       come from a contract advisor.
   Q.  Would they be able to take that into account when
       deciding whether or not to dismiss, ultimately?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much, my Lord.  No further
       questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have a couple of questions.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  In your answer to Mr Cavender just now,
       when he asked you, at page {Day7/148:14} of today's
       transcript, about whether you had other teams within the
       Post Office that you could either pass a matter to or
       seek -- he asked it in the context of some questions
       Mr Green had asked you.
           In your answer you said that one such team was the
       support services resolution team.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "... who are skilled at interrogating
       accounts and identifying any issues."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By "identifying any issues", do you
       include within that any IT issues, or is their role
       interrogating the accounts at the branch?
   A.  Interrogating -- more interrogating the accounts that
       come from the branch.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That come from the branch.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So would it be that team -- cutting to
       the chase, you know what the substance is of this whole
       group litigation.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It's software defects or bugs in Horizon
       that threw up shortfalls.  Would the support services
       resolution team, or would you expect the support
       services resolution team, to investigate those sorts of
       issues?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would that be a different team?
   A.  I believe that team can do that type of investigation.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So your understanding is that team could
       also investigate shortfalls that the subpostmaster or
       the subpostmistress were maintaining had been thrown up
       due to software issues?
   A.  Yes, from the data that they are able to get hold of.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  And that would be data both
       emanating from the branch, is that right?
   A.  Yes -- well, it will be -- yes, there will be data
       available from the branch, but I would imagine there is
       almost a set of secondary records that are held from
       Fujitsu, because reference to Arc Data I think was made.
       I think that is a source of data.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So the support services resolution team
       would be able to compare data from the branch with data
       between Post Office and its clients?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that right?
   A.  I think that would be a fair -- my understanding of it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But your understanding is that it would
       be the support services resolution team that would do
       that?
   A.  That is the first port of call I would make, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  That is sufficient for my
       purposes for the moment.  Thank you.
           Then the other question, which is possibly a little
       less complicated, and you are the first witness I have
       asked this to but it has intrigued me for some time, do
       you have any idea why the Post Office refers to itself
       without the definite article, simply as "Post Office"?
       I have asked this question twice in these proceedings
       over the last few months and nobody has ever been able
       to tell me other than that is convention.  Do you know
       why?
   A.  Not really.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Have they referred to themselves in that
       way throughout your whole time at the Post Office?
   A.  No, in my earlier years it was Post Office Counters
       Limited.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is rather my point.
   A.  They used to use the longer phraseology.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So they used to call themselves
       Post Office Counters.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And then when they dropped "Counters"
       they just called them Post Office, is that right?  It's
       not a big point, I am just intrigued.
   A.  I must confess I have never really thought about it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Alright.
           Gentlemen, anything arising out of that?  No.
       Mr Cavender, anything?
   MR CAVENDER:  If you are really interested in that question,
       my Lord, I am instructed there might be a copyright
       reason.  That if you refer to "the Post Office", you
       might lose it, but if it is "Post Office" -- I think it
       is an issue of copyright.  That's not from my own
       professional --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is actually the first logical
       explanation I have had so I am very grateful.
           Thank you very much for coming, Mr Breeden.  You are
       now free to leave.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  May I please call Ms Angela Van Den Bogerd.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
          MRS ANGELA MARGARET VAN DEN BOGERD (affirmed)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do have a seat.
   MR CAVENDER:  In front of you there is a bundle of witness
       statements.  Can you turn to the tab with your witness
       statement {C2/1/1}.  Is that your witness statement in
       front of you?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  If you flick through to internal page 39 there is
       a signature at the bottom of that page. {C2/1/39}
   A.  That is my signature.
   Q.  Is that your signature?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And are the contents of this statement true?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, with your permission, I have a couple
       of questions in-chief, if I may.
           Firstly, if we go to your witness statement at
       paragraph 14 {C2/1/4}, you deal there with
       communications with the NFSP.  I think you were in court
       the other day when evidence was given about
       the negotiation of the NTC contract, do you remember
       that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  Can you tell me when the NTC contract was first agreed
       with the NFSP for use.
   A.  It was cleared for use early October 2012.
   Q.  In terms of Post Office use, when was it cleared for use
       within the Post Office?
   A.  That was the official date it was cleared.  We had been
       using some variations of the contract earlier than that.
       So discussions with the NFSP, that we refer to as
       the Fed, would have been going on much before that as
       well.
   Q.  At paragraph 23 of your witness statement {C2/1/6} you
       deal with the number of branches now.  You said there
       are roughly 11,500 branches.  And at paragraph 27
       {C2/1/7} you break that down.  If you go to the third or
       fourth line you say:
           "Agency branches take a variety of different forms.
       The majority are owned by independent small business
       owners."
           Then you go on to say:
           "Some branches are operated by larger commercial
       chains such as WH Smiths or The Co-operative."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can you tell me roughly to your knowledge how many of
       the branches are operated by companies small or large?
   A.  That would be about 3,300.  The multiple partners are
       about 2,100 within that.  Sorry, no.  In terms of the
       company -- the company contracts that we have is around
       7,500.
   Q.  So of the 11,500, 7,500 roughly --
   A.  Are on the company new contracts.
   Q.  -- companies small or large, is that right?
   A.  Sorry, yes.
   Q.  And more broadly, how many branches are operated by
       subpostmasters or corporates who run multiple branches?
   A.  Multiple branches.  So we have two classifications in
       there.  We have the subpostmasters that are classed as
       pluralists, they have about 1,200 branches, and then the
       multiple partners operate about 2,100 branches.
   Q.  So it's about 3,300?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I wonder if you could just talk a little
       bit more slowly.
   A.  Sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You said:
           "We have the subpostmasters that are classed as ..."
   A.  Pluralists.  So these are where they have more than one
       branch, but not as a corporate as in multiple partners
       like Tescos or WH Smiths.
   MR CAVENDER:  So to recap then, branches operated by
       subpostmasters or corporates who run multiples, about
       3,300 if you add those two figures.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Moving away from that to the claimants in this case, of
       which I think there are 557, do you know how many are
       companies or partnerships that contracted with
       Post Office through companies?  How many in that
       category?
   A.  Sorry, I can't recall.
   Q.  And how many operate more than one branch, do you know,
       of the 557?
   A.  I think that was about 80.  Around that number, I think.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much.  If you would like to
       wait there, you will be asked some questions.
                  Cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  What is your preferred title?
   A.  Sorry, my preferred title?  Angela, if you can.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mrs, Ms or Miss.
   A.  Mrs.
   MR GREEN:  Mrs Van Den Bogerd, I think you were here when
       Mr Bates gave his evidence.
   A.  I was.
   Q.  And do you remember he was asked by my learned friend
       Mr Cavender about the fact that he has been campaigning
       for a long time on behalf of subpostmasters, do you
       remember that?
   A.  I do remember that.
   Q.  It's fair to say that you also have been involved in
       defending Post Office's position in relation to
       the matters that arise in this litigation for some time,
       haven't you?
   A.  Not in defending.  I have been involved as part of the
       working group and I was brought into that situation to
       investigate claims that were being made at that point.
   Q.  You are the People Services Director for Post Office?
   A.  Until quite recently, yes.
   Q.  What is your title now?
   A.  Business Improvement.
   Q.  Business Improvement Director?
   A.  Sorry, yes, director.
   Q.  You are the most senior witness called by Post Office at
       this trial, I think?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  In relation to the matters you said that you were called
       upon to look into, Second Sight was an independent
       consultancy appointed by Post Office to investigate the
       complaints raised by subpostmasters in relation to
       Horizon, wasn't it?
   A.  Yes, it was.
   Q.  Were you involved in choosing or instructing
       Second Sight at all?
   A.  No.
   Q.  That was at the behest of a Parliamentary Select
       Committee, wasn't it?
   A.  It was, yes.
   Q.  A number of MPs had been raising concerns in relation to
       their constituents, hadn't they?
   A.  Yes, there were some complaints from MPs.
   Q.  Both Conservative MPs and Labour MPs.  There may have
       been some others as well?
   A.  Yes.  I believe they were across all parties -- perhaps
       not all of them, but I'm not sure if it was confined to
       Labour and Conservative, I think there were more as
       well.
   Q.  In the Second Sight investigation, Horizon was very
       widely defined, wasn't it?
   A.  Yes, from my recollection.
   Q.  Including training and Helpline and so forth, because it
       was really the interaction of subpostmasters with the
       Horizon system as a whole that they were complaining
       about?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Second Sight made an interim report, do you remember
       that?
   A.  Yes, I remember.
   Q.  In response to that, you were appointed I think
       programme director of the branch support programme in
       2013, is that fair?
   A.  I'm not sure it was in direct response to that, but it
       was around that time that I was looking at how we
       supported our postmasters, yes.
   Q.  And there was a branch support programme in 2013, wasn't
       there?
   A.  Yes, there was.
   Q.  And that is the role that you mention at paragraph 15 in
       your witness statement {C2/1/4}?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  I don't think anything more is said about it in your
       witness statement?
   A.  No, I don't think so.
   Q.  What were the improvements that you were considering at
       that time?
   A.  There were a range of improvements.  Really a couple of
       the improvements that came about from that work that we
       did was looking at the number of transaction corrections
       that were being processed, and looking at what the root
       cause of those corrections were and how we could look to
       mitigate that.  So one of the improvements that
       I introduced was -- so there was a check -- the check
       rem up process --
   Q.  Can you slow down a tiny bit because someone is trying
       to transcribe very quickly.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you also keep your voice up.
   A.  Okay.  So the check rem up process which I think we have
       mentioned as part of this hearing.  So at the end of the
       day, the branches basically summarise their cheques if
       accepted and rem them out, and part of the process on
       Horizon was that once you did that you had to go back
       into the system and then rem them out.  So one of
       the improvements, this improvement that I introduced was
       where that became an automatic process rather than
       having to remember to go and rem out cheques.  So that
       was one of the improvements that I introduced as part of
       that support programme.
           Shall I ...
   MR GREEN:  By all means, if --
   A.  There was another one which was around the bureau de
       change transaction, which is the foreign currency
       transaction, where if payment was being accepted by way
       of a card, as opposed to cash, then the system or
       postmaster needed to print off -- request from the
       system a print-off, a receipt, so they could record some
       details from the card that would need to be kept in
       branch in the event of a fraudulent claim by the bank
       because the money -- if it was a fraudulent card.  So
       again what I introduced was to make that an automatic
       receipt print rather than relying on the individual to
       remember to print the receipt so that it reduced the
       errors, potential errors in branch.
   Q.  You had useful insight in relation to what was necessary
       for the branch support programme through your
       involvement in Post Office's response to the
       Second Sight reports?
   A.  I did, yes.
   Q.  Can we look at {G/28/1}, please.  This is the
       Post Office reply document, do you remember this?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  And you had input into this document, didn't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It's dated 22 September 2014.  And look at page
       {G/28/3}, please.  It recites at 1.1 that they had been:
           "... engaged as a firm of forensic accountants to
       provide a logical and fully evidenced opinion on the
       merits of each applicant's case."
           And it refers to the briefing report part two.
           Then at 1.3 you say:
           "Post Office has been unable to endorse the
       report ... in order to correct inaccuracies in
       the report and to provide information that the report
       omits."
           Were you effectively the author of this?
   A.  I don't recall being the author.
   Q.  Or one of the authors?
   A.  I was involved in terms of the investigations that I was
       leading on and the interactions I was having with
       Second Sight at the time.
   Q.  And also formulating this response?
   A.  Partly, yes.  Yes, I would have been.  But I don't
       believe I signed this as being the author of this
       document.
   Q.  I'm not suggesting you signed it, I am just trying to
       identify how you were involved.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you had signed it, Mr Green might not
       even need to ask you the questions.
   A.  I haven't seen the last page, so I couldn't ...
   MR GREEN:  If we look at page {G/28/32}, that is the page
       that we looked at a moment ago with Mr Breeden.  At
       10.13 dealing with data that is not available under
       suspension, and the response to the issue raised by
       applicants that we see in 10.13, complaining they are
       unable to defend themselves, the response at 10.14 is:
           "Whilst Post Office are aware that some applicants
       have raised the issue that their own records were
       removed and not returned to them, there is no evidence
       produced or referenced by the report to support the
       position that data being withheld has prejudiced
       an applicant in any way."
           Was that a part of the report you were involved in
       formulating?  Part of the reply?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you think it is -- would you agree with Mr Breeden
       that it's difficult for a subpostmaster to defend
       themselves if they can't get their hands on the relevant
       information?
   A.  It is about the timing of that.  So Mr Breeden referred
       to the reasons to urge letter that did spell out which
       parts of the contract they had breached, and those are
       the -- the areas of the contract that they were being
       invited into the meeting to discuss, and at that point
       they would be taken through the areas that were being
       questioned in terms of that contract.
   Q.  Yes.  But that is only one side, isn't it?  So they are
       taken through, at the reasons to urge meeting, the
       errors that have been mentioned in the reasons to urge
       letter?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  But their own opportunity to investigate their own
       transactions and what may have gone wrong outside the
       branch possibly, a mistake in client data integrity,
       for example, problem, those sorts of matters, or the
       actual computer system of Horizon itself, such as the
       payments mismatch problem, those sorts of things they
       haven't had any opportunity to investigate, have they?
   A.  That would depend when the issue -- when the issue
       happened.  So if it was something that happened in
       branch, they had an issue with a transaction in branch,
       then whilst they were in branch they had the opportunity
       to investigate, they could have access to all the
       information from the Horizon system, they had that.
           After the event, if it was something that occurred
       just on audit and hadn't had any lead in to that
       situation, then they wouldn't have access to that
       because they would have, as we have heard before, not be
       able to get information from within the branch.
   Q.  So that would make it difficult for them to prepare what
       they would like to say at their reasons to urge meeting,
       wouldn't it?
   A.  Well, it depends, as I said, whether they were aware of
       the situation prior to that audit taking place.  So --
   Q.  Let me postulate an example, unless I have unfairly
       interrupted you?
   A.  No, okay.
   Q.  Let's say that someone at the end of the branch trading
       period has a £9,000 shortfall suddenly appear?
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  They make a call to the Helpline and let's say
       hypothetically they are told they will be called back,
       so they are waiting to hear from Helpline and they don't
       hear from the Helpline.  Then they are suspended.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  From that point on they don't have any access to
       information, do they?
   A.  No, they wouldn't.
   Q.  So that would be quite difficult?
   A.  Can I just say, in the scenario you have just described
       there, what you have said is that the £9,000 loss would
       actually arise, it would have to have arisen on that
       particular day they were doing the balancing, because
       had they done their cash declaration the night before --
   Q.  Let's assume it did.
   A.  Yes, okay.  So in that situation, yes.
   Q.  They are in a very difficult position?
   A.  Yes.  But had they put the call into the NBSC -- so it
       would -- audits -- to do an audit on a branch it usually
       isn't -- it is usually because we can see something in
       the account that doesn't look quite right, so there is
       usually a lead in time to going in to do an audit.  So
       it would be very unlikely, I am not saying it is
       impossible because it does potentially happen, but it
       would be unlikely that that scenario would present
       itself.
   Q.  But that is the hypothetical scenario I have offered
       you.  I think you fairly accept the subpostmaster would
       be in a very difficult position?
   A.  I accept that from that scenario, yes, I do.
   Q.  And you wouldn't need any evidence that they are in
       a difficult position because it is just the nature of
       the situation that makes it difficult for them?
   A.  Because at that point, other than the day that they
       discovered that loss, they wouldn't have had much
       opportunity to investigate, yes.
   Q.  So just revisiting the concern at 10.13, it would be
       fair-minded, wouldn't it, to accept that it could cause
       subpostmasters prejudice in particular situations?
   A.  On -- yes, potentially on that.  But my recollection is
       there weren't any of those situations in the mediation
       scheme.
   Q.  Let's look at how the mediation scheme ended.  It was
       terminated by Post Office, wasn't it?
   A.  Yes, it was brought to a close by us, yes.
   Q.  And Second Sight's appointment was terminated by
       Post Office by a letter of 10 March 2015 with effect
       from 10 April 2015?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  Then subsequently Post Office published a further report
       at {G/66/1}, "Post Office Complaint Review and Mediation
       Scheme", which was effectively Post Office's wrap up of
       the outcome from Post Office's perspective, is that
       fair?
   A.  That would be fair.
   Q.  You had input into that as well, didn't you?
   A.  From my recollection, yes, I did.
   Q.  Look at page {G/66/9}, please.  At paragraph 34 you will
       see that:
           "Second Sight identified a number of what it calls
       'thematic issues' arising from its general assessment of
       applicants' complaints.  Although a number of cases do
       have some features in common, Post Office's assessment
       is that each case is demonstrably different and
       influenced by its own particular facts."
           Then you say:
           "Nonetheless, now that Post Office has completed all
       its investigations into each complaint made under the
       scheme, the findings of those investigations, together
       with opportunities for the Post Office to make
       improvements to various processes, procedures and ways
       of working, have been cross-referenced with the thematic
       issues identified in Second Sight's report.  These were:
           "Transactions or transaction corrections not entered
       by the postmaster or staff.
           "Transaction anomalies associated with cash or stock
       remittances ..."
           And so forth.  They are all listed there, aren't
       they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Including at F:
           "Transaction anomalies associated with lottery
       terminal or scratch cards."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And D:
           "... anomalies following telecommunication or power
       failures."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Was the branch support programme in 2013 aimed to try to
       address some of those things as well?
   A.  Some of those.  The programme itself was -- the purpose
       was to look at ways of improving support to postmasters.
       Some of the things that we had had insight into from the
       mediation scheme and others from business as usual.  So
       it wasn't just around the mediation scheme, it was more
       broad.  Across Post Office as well.
   Q.  One of the points I think -- we can find it if
       necessary -- that was made was that you felt I think
       Second Sight hadn't taken into account the whole
       universe of contractual terms that applied between
       Post Office and subpostmasters.
   A.  Can I see that, please?  You said you could find it.
   Q.  We will find the reference and give you the reference in
       a moment.
           Another feature that you regarded as important in
       the response was postmasters' status as agents and
       Post Office as principal?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we just pull the camera back for a moment and just
       look at the relationship in more general terms.  One of
       the things you mention in your witness statement at
       paragraph 65.4 on {C2/1/18} is a benefit, as you
       describe it at paragraph 65, to subpostmasters:
           "... that would be very difficult for them to
       procure independently."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is that the Post Office provides the cash and
       stock needed to conduct transactions, yes?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  It does this on an unsecured basis, and therefore the
       subpostmaster has no working capital requirements for
       branch trading.  Yes?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  That is the whole basis of the relationship, that
       Post Office is providing the cash and stock, and the
       subpostmasters themselves are not putting their working
       capital into the branch, other than in relation to their
       investments more generally, but not actual cash into the
       transactions?
   A.  That is correct.  So we provide all the cash and stock,
       and then we ask them to keep it on site in the
       arrangements that we specify, yes.
   Q.  So the arrangement is -- what you are referring to here,
       if you look at 65.4, you are not suggesting that there
       are no working capital requirements for them to take on
       the Post Office, because there obviously are.
   A.  The set-up --
   Q.  Yes, the set-up costs.  You are not talking about those
       there, are you --
   A.  No, I am talking about --
   Q.  You're talking about branch trading --
   A.  -- the working -- the ongoing --
   Q.  Ongoing --
   A.  I mean, yes, there would be outlay for them in terms of
       if they are employing members of staff, assistants, so
       they would have that as an ongoing, but in terms of the
       cash and stock, that is what particularly I am referring
       to there.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Sorry, I missed the end of that
       sentence.
   A.  So as -- what I was referring to, the difference with
       initial set up for a postmaster where he would need to
       provide premises and perhaps make some adjustments to
       that to accommodate Post Office, one of the other
       ongoing requirements is that where they need to employ
       assistants to work in the branch, that would be
       an ongoing outlay for the postmaster.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.  So you are
       talking -- this is just as a hypothetical example.
       Mrs X wants to take over a sub-Post Office branch.  The
       capital needed to do that would be to acquire the
       building, any stock that the separate retail side might
       have --
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- and arrangements with the outgoing
       subpostmaster.
   A.  That is correct.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And what you mean here is they don't
       separately need to buy whatever the cash and stock is on
       branch transfer day because that is transferred from the
       outgoing one to them, is that right?
   A.  Yes.  So the cash and the stock is Post Office property
       and we provide that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I know that.  When you are talking about
       working capital requirements, you are referring there to
       working capital requirements for the Post Office cash
       and stock?
   A.  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
           And that is I think when you say for branch trading
       there, you are talking about Post Office cash and stock
       on an ongoing basis while they are running it for years
       to come?
   A.  For the Post Office, yes.
   Q.  Indeed.  And that is what the parties', effectively
       their expectations are going into the relationship,
       isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Post Office is going to provide the working capital
       requirements for branch trading, and the subpostmasters
       are going to do their bit by ensuring that enough
       assistants are employed and so forth?
   A.  Yes.  So effectively we provide cash and stock and we
       provide the products and services that they need the
       cash and stock to transact on their behalf, and they
       carry out the operation of the Post Office to meet their
       requirements and obligations, as we set out, yes.
   Q.  Just pausing there.  Let's take the example of
       a transaction correction given in error, okay?  The
       transaction correction arrives and is given in error,
       and the subpostmaster is required to pay it in cash, pay
       by cheque or settle centrally?
   A.  Sorry, when you --
   Q.  It is a loss.  Transaction correction for --
   A.  When you say given in error, do you mean we --
   Q.  Wrongly issued.  My mistake, I should have put it more
       clearly.
           So a transaction correction is wrongly issued to
       a subpostmaster, let's say for £10,000, and the
       subpostmaster doesn't have a dispute option on Horizon
       itself.  So the subpostmaster has a choice.  They can
       pay it in cash or pay by cheque or settle centrally.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Yes?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are those their three choices?
   A.  Not if it is issued in error, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  They are not their three choices,
       alright.
   A.  So an error notice or a transaction correction,
       depending on what time span we are in, it would come
       with -- the transaction correction would come with
       evidence to support the reason that that transaction
       correction has been issued.  What happens in advance of
       that is if that -- if the evidence isn't completely
       understood or there might be some queries around it, the
       team and FSC would ring the branch to discuss that with
       them before they issued the transaction correction.  So
       what should happen with the transaction correction is it
       would be received at branch, saying what the transaction
       correction was referring to, and it would have the
       evidence to support that transaction associated with the
       transaction correction.
           So assuming that that was all -- it all came to
       branch, then yes, they would have the options that we
       talked about then which is they can -- they would be
       required to accept the transaction correction into the
       system, and then they can either make it good or settle
       it centrally when it came to the trading statement.
   MR GREEN:  Just taking it in stages.  We will get into
       transaction corrections in more detail possibly tomorrow
       morning.  But for present purposes, I want you to
       consider an example where a transaction correction is
       issued to a subpostmaster incorrectly, they put money
       into the till to make it good.  Yes?
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  And then four months later a corresponding transaction
       correction is issued to correct the wrongly issued
       transaction correction?
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  If that is a substantial sum of money, the subpostmaster
       has in fact been required to provide working capital for
       branch trading, haven't they?
   A.  In the scenario you have described, yes.  But I think my
       earlier point is they have the opportunity to challenge
       that transaction correction and say "This is incorrect,
       I shouldn't be held accountable for this".
   Q.  I --
   A.  And then at that point they would not have been required
       to process that transaction correction.
   Q.  There are -- you well know that there are correcting
       transaction corrections, aren't there?
   A.  There would be on occasion, yes.
   Q.  That is a thing, that is something that is sometimes
       issued --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- to correct a previous transaction correction that has
       been wrongly issued?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The reason I am asking you about that situation is that
       is because Post Office has subsequently recognised that
       the transaction correction was originally wrongly
       issued?
   A.  Yes.  Or if it were raised by the postmaster at the time
       to say this is incorrect, yes.
   Q.  You accept that in between those two periods, the
       subpostmaster, if they have put cash or a cheque in from
       their own resources to cover that sum pending the
       correcting transaction correction, they have been
       providing working capital requirements for branch
       trading, effectively, haven't they?
   A.  In the scenario described, yes.  What I would also say
       is that transaction corrections, when they land in
       the Post Office, postmaster or the DMB branch, whichever
       it might be, because it happens in both types of
       branches, would actually look to see whether that was
       proper to them.  Because it is something that they
       potentially might not have been expecting; they might
       equally have been expecting it if they knew they had
       made a mistake.
   Q.  If you will forgive me, we are going to look at
       transaction corrections and how they work in some
       detail.  I was just trying to give you a closed-ended
       example.  And you fairly accepted that the subpostmaster
       would be providing working capital for branch trading
       effectively there, yes, during that period?
   A.  In the situation you described, however unlikely it
       would be, yes, I accept that.
   Q.  That is something that the postmaster wouldn't be
       expecting going into the contract, isn't it?  The whole
       point is that the working capital for branch trading is
       provided by Post Office.
   A.  The postmaster would be expecting, going into that
       contract, to be held accountable for any losses, and
       that would have been discussed with him at interview.
   Q.  Would you like to read back what you have just said?
   A.  What part?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think you will need the transcript
       page in front of you.
   MR GREEN:  If you look on the transcript.
   A.  The cash and stock?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Page {Day7/178:10}.
   MR GREEN:  Yes, page 178, line 10:
           "That is something that the postmaster wouldn't be
       expecting going into the contract, isn't it?  The whole
       point is that the working capital for branch trading is
       provided by Post Office."
           In accordance with what you have said at 65.4.
           And you say:
           "The postmaster would be expecting, going into that
       contract, to be held accountable for any losses, and
       that would have been discussed with him at interview."
           That is the very point that I have just been
       canvassing with Mr Breeden, that Post Office makes no
       distinction between the losses that subpostmasters are
       contractually liable for and any losses.
   A.  So if I come back to what I was saying.  So a
       transaction would come into a branch, and at that point
       it would be to correct a transaction that had been
       transacted within that branch.  In that respect, that
       would be an error on the part -- on either the
       subpostmaster's part or the part of their assistants
       within the branch.
   Q.  The example I gave you was a transaction correction
       which was issued on the footing that it was the
       responsibility of the branch and then later corrected.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So that is a perfect example of the sort of loss for
       which the subpostmaster is not contractually liable, and
       that is why the correcting transaction correction is
       later issued, isn't it?
   A.  Sorry, it comes back to what I said about the supporting
       evidence of that transaction correction.  Because there
       would need to be supporting evidence.  For a transaction
       correction of £10,000, which I think you referred to,
       there would need to be supporting evidence of that to
       support the error in branch.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, would you re-put your question
       from today at page {Day7/179:10}, please.
   MR GREEN:  Do you accept that Post Office habitually makes
       no distinction between the losses that subpostmasters
       are contractually liable for and any losses?
   A.  No, I don't accept that, because there are other losses,
       things like robbery and burglary, that would happen
       within the branch.  Provided that the branch had adhered
       to the security instructions they would not be held
       liable for that.
   Q.  Apart from robbery and burglary, do you accept that
       Post Office makes no distinction between the losses that
       subpostmasters and subpostmistresses are contractually
       liable for and any losses?
   A.  Where we have situations where we can see that they are
       not at fault then we would not hold them liable for it.
       So they would not be held liable for something they were
       not at fault at.
   Q.  While we are on the point of that, can we just look,
       please, at the losses and gains policy which is at ...
       just give me a moment ... {F3/8/1}.  Just have a look at
       this document.  This is the losses and gains policy
       within the Post Office Counters agency network.  And so
       that you understand the date of the document, go on to
       page {F3/8/2}.  Version 1, 20 November 1998.
           If we go to page {F3/8/4}, please, do you see almost
       halfway down:
           "From a purely contractual perspective ..."
           Do you see that paragraph?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "From a purely contractual perspective a subpostmaster
       or other agent is responsible for all losses caused
       through his own negligence, carelessness or error.  He
       is also responsible for all kinds of losses caused by
       the actions of any assistants, managers, relief
       subpostmaster employed by him.  However, this stance may
       be varied in appropriate circumstances."
           That relates to relief and things and hardship,
       doesn't it?
   A.  It does, yes.
   Q.  But the primary liability from what's called a "purely
       contractual perspective" is set out there, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you know why the word "purely" is used there?  Is it
       to distinguish the contractual position from what
       happens in real life?
   A.  Yes, I think -- and this is a very old document.
   Q.  Yes, it is.
   A.  1998.  So my reading into that would be that in terms of
       the contract terms itself, the postmaster would be
       responsible as it sets out in there.  But the document
       goes on to say that there are some situations where we
       would grant relief in certain circumstances and
       I think -- I am surmising because obviously I wasn't the
       author of this document, I would gather that is what
       that reference would be.
   Q.  Let's go forward, please, to {F3/8/14}.  You will see
       there at 3.1:
           "The subpostmaster is required to make good all
       losses however they occur ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can you explain to his Lordship why that is phrased
       in that way?
   A.  So they have -- when they take over a branch they have
       cash and stock, and that is their opening position.
       When they transact and they transact -- and this is
       1998, it would be before Horizon -- it would be a case
       of whatever they take in and out, it comes back to --
       that is your balance, it should come back to whatever
       the end position is -- or the start position, what they
       have taken in, money taken in, what they have given out,
       comes back to a position which should balance.  If they
       have made a mistake or an error within that, then they
       would be held responsible for that and to make good.
   Q.  I understand that.  I'm just asking you why the wording
       says "all losses however they occur" rather than "only
       losses caused by their negligence or error or other
       fault".  It's wrong, isn't it?
   A.  It's loose wording given what we have just seen on the
       first page, yes.
   Q.  Let's take a different example.  Look at {E2/45/1}.
       This is a -- you have been here, I think, when this
       document was looked at already?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This is asking Pam Stubbs to pay sums four days after
       she has been told that the debt collection is being put
       on hold.
           If we go forward to {E2/46/1} which is 3 March, you
       will see what appears to be a standard form letter,
       because we looked at other examples of the same wording.
       You have been sitting in court and you have heard that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Look at the second paragraph:
           "Since you are contractually obliged to make good
       any losses incurred during your term of office, please
       call the debt recovery team on the number quoted above
       to settle this amount via credit/debit card."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is not correct, is it?
   A.  It is not the wording that is used in the contract.  No,
       it's not.
   Q.  In that respect it's wrong?
   A.  Yes, I agree.
   Q.  Can you explain to his Lordship why this formulation
       appears in several places in Post Office generated
       documents?
   A.  I think it is very loose wording when -- so rather than
       quoting the actual term of the contract, they have made
       it -- they've taken some words out and made it,
       I suppose, in their respect simplistic, I suppose.  But
       actually it is not the terms of the contract as set out
       in the contract.  So it is incorrect.
   Q.  You are likely to collect more agent debt if it is
       presented in this way than if the fact that they are not
       liable, it is not their fault, is highlighted to them,
       aren't you?
   A.  I disagree with that because they would have been aware
       of what their contract said to them in that.  And if
       they wanted to challenge it then they could have
       challenged it.
   Q.  Have a look again and just consider that last answer.
   A.  The last paragraph, is that what you are referring me
       to?  If they have any in dispute then they would have
       known how to dispute.
   Q.  But this is relating to a sum which, as we know,
       Pam Stubbs had already disputed.  And she is being told
       that this may not be the full extent of your liability,
       in the last paragraph, because it excludes any other
       items that are still yet to be brought into account.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But she is being told she has to pay £17,670, isn't she?
   A.  The letter you just showed me, can we go back to the
       first one?
   Q.  Certainly.  Why don't you look at {E2/44/1} first.  So
       this is Mr Kellett saying to Mrs Stubbs:
           "I confirm that this matter is being investigated so
       we have put the request for payment on hold until
       a conclusion is reached."
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  The context is Mrs Stubbs getting very anxious and
       distressed about these demands for payment.  Yes?
   A.  I see that, yes.
   Q.  And so that -- you see the date is 11 February at the
       top?
   A.  In response to the 9 February from Mrs Stubbs.  Yes,
       I can see that.
   Q.  So on 11 February she is told: we have put the request
       for payment on hold until a conclusion is reached?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then we go to 15 February at {E2/45/1}, which
       I think is the one you wanted to go back to, the one
       I showed you first.  That is four days after the email
       from Mr Kellett and it refers to an outstanding debt as
       at 12 February 2010, so the day after.  The day after
       his email they calculated the outstanding debt and sent
       a request for payment, yes?
   A.  Can you flick on to the next page.
   Q.  Certainly, {E2/45/1}.  That is now 3 March --
   A.  Sorry, the one you just had me on.  The second page to
       that.
   Q.  It's one page.
   A.  It's one page.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can I just ask you, do you want to go to
       the next letter?
   A.  What I am concerned about here is I think -- so in terms
       of Paul Kellett, then this is his team, and what has
       happened here is, because a number of these letters are
       automatically generated.  And given the closeness of the
       dates, then I believe what has happened here is that the
       system hasn't been updated, so Paul Kellett didn't
       actually send out that demand to Mrs Stubbs because he
       knew that he had already agreed to put that on hold
       pending the investigation.  So the signature I have seen
       is not Paul Kellett's, I don't believe it is
       Paul Kellett's, I believe it is one of his team just
       initialling that letter that goes out.  So I think that
       is the logical --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you just like to listen to the
       question that Mr Green -- the reason we started going
       back through these documents is he asked you if you
       wanted to reflect on one of your answers which he
       invited you to read.  But we have now gone back through
       the line of correspondence.
           So if we can go back to the letter, please, which is
       the one after this.  Mr Green, do you want to put your
       question again?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
           Have a look {E2/46/1}, you are writing to somebody
       who is disputing that this is something they should be
       made liable for, and the second paragraph says:
           "Since you are contractually obliged to make good
       any losses incurred during your term of office, please
       call the debt recovery team on the number quoted above
       to settle this amount via credit/debit card."
           The question is: you are likely to collect more
       agent debt if you frame it that way than if you
       correctly recite the contractual liability clause,
       aren't you?
   A.  I don't agree with that.
   Q.  Isn't it obvious?
   A.  No, I don't think it is obvious.  So what you have here
       are a team that it is their role to send out letters to
       recover payment where it is outstanding.  The process is
       in place to dispute if a postmaster doesn't believe that
       they are responsible or they think the evidence they
       have been presented with is not right.  That is already
       in place.  So this is just what this team does.  If it
       is in dispute, as it says, then it would be in dispute;
       as what Paul said, he would hold it and not pull it
       through.  I think it is a mistake in that it has been
       pulled through, but I don't agree that the wording is
       there to get people to pay more quickly.  I don't agree
       with that.
   Q.  It is asking them to pay, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.  As per the terms of their contract, yes.  Albeit
       the wording is -- yes, the wording is loose in this.
       I accept that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green has put this in three or four
       different questions and, just to save time, he has put
       to you that paragraph 2 of this letter mis-states the
       obligations in the contract.
   A.  Uh-huh.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm still not entirely sure what your
       answer is to that.  Do you accept it does mis-state it?
   A.  Yes, I do accept that is not the wording that is in
       the contract.  Yes, it does mis-state.
   MR GREEN:  You also accept I think that that paragraph asks
       people to make a phone call to the debt recovery team,
       doesn't it?
   A.  Yes, it does.
   Q.  It gives a number and it asks them to do that to settle
       this amount via credit or debit card, yes?
   A.  Yes, it does.
   Q.  So the purpose of that very paragraph is to get them to
       phone up with their debit card or credit card and pay
       the sum in issue?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I am suggesting to you -- for the last time, and think
       about your answer carefully -- that framing it in this
       way by saying "you are contractually obliged to make
       good any losses ..." is likely to recover more agent
       debt than if you were to recite correctly the
       contractual position.  Do you accept that?
   A.  I think it would depend on the individual.  So if the
       individual knew what the clause of the contract said,
       then I don't think that would make him any more likely
       to pay --
   Q.  If the individual --
   A.  -- as a result of this letter or not.
   Q.  Let's take it in stages.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, you must wait for the witness
       to finish her sentence.
   MR GREEN:  I am sorry.  Did you have anything further to
       say?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Let's take it in stages.  You say it would depend on the
       individual.  If the individual had the precise terms of
       the contract in mind when they received the letter, you
       think it would make no difference?
   A.  So in this case then, in this particular situation if
       the debt had been -- so Mrs Stubbs has got a letter from
       Mr Paul Kellett saying that part of that had been put in
       dispute and they wouldn't look to recover it.  So then
       if that letter were received, then I would be
       challenging the letter saying: I've already had this
       conversation with Mr Kellett.  So I don't think that
       would make me more likely in that situation to pay.
   Q.  Have a look at {E2/47/1} please.  This is the last
       thing.  What about that one?
   A.  This is the one I am referring to, because I don't
       believe that is Paul Kellett's signature on there.
   Q.  Do you know Paul Kellett?
   A.  No, I don't.
   Q.  Have you ever seen his signature?
   A.  No, but what I am saying is in terms of the timescale in
       that, it would be automatically generated before he has
       put a block on the system.
   Q.  Mrs Van Den Bogerd, you might be doing yourself
       a disservice.  Have a look at the date on the letter.
   A.  Yes, March --
   Q.  It is 11 March.  So he has had a month to give the
       relevant instruction for a letter not to be sent out in
       his own name saying the amount is outstanding and
       otherwise it will be deducted from her future
       remuneration, hasn't he?  Do you think a month is long
       enough?
   A.  I do.  I just know the way they work.  It's the team
       that actually send the letters out.
   Q.  So are you suggesting that one explanation for these
       letters going out is that Mr Kellett still hasn't by
       this time told them to stop chasing the debt?
   A.  I think it has been a mistake on his part.  Yes, I do
       accept that.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, is that a convenient moment?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  Mrs Van Den Bogerd, you are in
       a rather unfortunate position because your evidence is
       going over into tomorrow.  You have heard me say this to
       other witnesses and it applies overnight as well, I am
       afraid: please don't talk to anyone about the case.  We
       seem to be on track on the timetable, so do you want
       a 10.30 am start?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So if you can return for 10.30 am
       tomorrow morning, please, that would be excellent.
           Is there anything else that needs to be dealt with?
                           Housekeeping
   MR DRAPER:  My Lord, just a couple of housekeeping points if
       I may.  The first is you asked, my Lord, for references
       to the system user guide to the balancing guide.  The
       Horizon system user guide is at {F4/3/1}.  Just to make
       a note, that is a document from 2000.  The Horizon
       balancing guide, there are three of those: {F4/5/1} is
       a 2002 document, {F4/21/1} is a 2006 document and
       {F4/175/1} is a 2017 document.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.  That is enormously
       useful.
   MR DRAPER:  The second point, my Lord, you asked by
       reference to the document at {E4/54/1} to be provided
       with copies of the manuals listed there.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR DRAPER:  Those are manuals from 2007.  Post Office has
       done the best it can to identify the manuals that would
       have been in force as at that date.  It can't be
       certain --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  These are the ones where I said
       I can just have a volume or two volumes hard copy.
   MR DRAPER:  It is slightly more than that.  Post Office has
       been able to locate 31 documents which amounts to six
       lever-arch files.  What it has done is, where it can't
       locate the 2007 version but it has one for shortly
       after, say 2008 or 2009, it has included that, and we
       have those six files available for you, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is excellent.  Thank you very much.
       The reason I thought they were one or two is that one of
       the witnesses last week said he thought it was one or
       two lever-arch files.  But it appears there are more
       than that.  If they could just be delivered tomorrow
       actually to the usual place for deliveries to my clerk,
       that would be great.  Anything else?  No?  Thank you all
       very much.
   (4.30 pm)
         (The court adjourned until 10.30 am on Tuesday,
                        20 November 2018)


                              INDEX
   MRS SARAH HELEN RIMMER (sworn) .......................1
       Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER ..............1
       Cross-examination by MR GREEN ....................2
   MR JOHN ANDREW BREEDEN (sworn) ......................48
       Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER .............48
       Cross-examination by MR GREEN ...................49
       Re-examination by MR CAVENDER ..................144
       Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ...............150
   MRS ANGELA MARGARET VAN DEN BOGERD .................154
                      (affirmed)

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

                Cross-examination by MR GREEN ..................158

            Housekeeping .......................................192




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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