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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Common Issues trial transcript: Day 9

This is the transcript of the ninth day of the Common Issues trial in the Bates and others v Post Office group litigation. The hearing below took place on Wed 21 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 9 witnesses

Angela van den Bogerd, People Services Director, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
This was the third and final day of Mrs van den Bogerd's evidence, for day 1 click here and day 2, click here.
Timothy Dance, Retail Transformation Integration Manager, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Helen Dickinson, Security Team Leader, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Michael Shields, Temporary Subpostmaster Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here) - day 1. The concluding day of Mr Shields' evidence can be found here.

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

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

Day 9 full transcript:

                                    Wednesday, 21 November 2018
   (10.30 am)
          MS ANGELA MARGARET VAN DEN BOGERD (continued)
            Cross-examination by MR GREEN (continued)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Good morning.  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  Ms Van Den Bogerd, a couple of quick follow-up
       points from yesterday.
           Can we look please, at {G/12/1}.  This is
       a document, it looks like an information systems review,
       is that a reasonable guess for "IS", or does it mean
       something else?
   A.  I don't know what it means.
   Q.  Look at row 1:
           "Deliberate/accidental miskeying."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the recommendation was:
           "Double entry and cross validation of free form
       transaction values at the counter for all financial
       products ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The operational impact is said there to be:
           "May add some time to process at counter ..."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then the system impact:
           "Changes to Horizon required to prompt for double
       entry and cross validation should not be overly
       complicated or expensive."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then "Opportunity":
           "Approximately 80 per cent in reduction in disputes
       and claims, saving 800K per annum in compensation, agent
       debt and business write off for bill payments, POCA ..."
           Et cetera.
           And "Action":
           "Assess cost of system changes to Horizon and time
       window."
           And then there is a shared box about something else
       for the moment.  Do you know whether action was taken on
       that in 2008 or is that outside your area?
   A.  Yes, I am not aware of that in 2008.
   Q.  But you would accept, wouldn't you, that there are
       things that can be done with the Horizon system to make
       it more error repellent?
   A.  There are some things, yes, I would accept.
   Q.  And that is a fair example of one?
   A.  That would be.  And some of them have been tried before
       but they have limited impact.
   Q.  Then a quick --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you keep your voice nice and high,
       please.
   A.  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  A couple of quick points in relation to training.
       You will remember we looked at the spreadsheet
       from November 2011 of the feedback from the trainers.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That spreadsheet.  Can we just look at {E5/161/1}.  This
       is the invitation to Mrs Dar on 24 September 2014.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So about three years on from the feedback that we were
       looking at.  You will see the classroom training there
       she has been invited to is now three days.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then if we can look forward to {F3/215/1}, we can see
       about four months later in January 2015 there are some
       "exciting changes" mentioned in the first line there:
           "... to the way we induct and train new
       postmasters."
           And then if you look at the fourth bullet point down
       under "Key Changes":
           "The classroom courses are being rewritten so they
       focus more on practical exercises.  Everyone will attend
       a two-day course and we will add an extra classroom day
       for Mains and WH Smiths branches ..."
           So it is right, isn't it, that just charting the
       final destination in relation to training in this arc
       that we have looked at historically, we have ended up
       with some fairly major changes to how the training is
       delivered?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And we are now down from three days in 2014 to two days
       in 2015 of classroom training?
   A.  Yes.  The change for this was that online training was
       done in advance.  So this change was -- a proportion of
       the classroom training was put into online training,
       which is done in advance of the classroom training, and
       the classroom training was meant to spend more time on
       the practical.
   Q.  Thank you very much.
           Just a brief point in relation to the sort of
       investments that subpostmasters were making.  We saw
       reference in the training feedback yesterday, one of
       the trainers had said, well, subpostmasters are making
       quite a big investment so they should reasonably expect
       decent training.  I am paraphrasing.
           You are aware, aren't you, that the subpostmasters,
       who were outgoing subpostmasters, would sell the
       goodwill of their business, typically, to incoming
       subpostmasters?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is part of the investment made by incoming
       subpostmasters?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And historically if it was a new sub-Post Office,
       Post Office would actually charge a goodwill charge
       upfront to an incoming subpostmaster in a new
       sub-Post Office?
   A.  An introductory fee, yes.
   Q.  In relation to basically to taking on -- borrowing some
       goodwill from the Post Office brand?
   A.  It was never set up as a goodwill, it was set up as an
       introductory fee.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What is the difference so far as you are
       concerned?
   A.  So the goodwill that would be sold on with the business
       is for the overall business but more in relation to
       the resale, because the ongoing business doesn't have
       the right of assigning the Post Office, the Post Office
       is always something that we would appoint the
       postmaster.  So an outgoing postmaster could, in effect,
       sell their business to an incoming person and that
       person might not be approved by us to become
       a postmaster, which is why the similar conditions in
       the transfer documents.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I'm not sure I necessarily --
   A.  The introduction fee was --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can I just tell you, I happen to know in
       accounting terms "goodwill" is a term used to describe
       the difference in value between the actual assets and
       the value of the business, is that what your
       understanding of goodwill is?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So if somebody buys a business where the
       actual assets are only worth a million but they paid
       2 million for the business, they have paid £1 million
       for the goodwill.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Does that accord with your
       understanding?
   A.  So for the goodwill of the business that postmaster or
       potential postmaster might buy, yes.  The introductory
       fee was never about goodwill, it was a charge that we
       made to recognise that they were new coming into the
       organisation, and there was a degree of additional
       training or support that we would have to give in
       the early days.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So who was introducing who to what?
   A.  It was an introduction -- so this was for a new
       postmaster that they weren't buying the business from
       an outgoing postmaster, it was something that
       Post Office would make a charge to that new postmaster,
       but not in a situation where they had what we call
       a commercial transfer where they had bought the whole
       business from an outgoing postmaster.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So it was for the introduction of the
       Post Office business to that branch, was it?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  Mr Green.
   MR GREEN:  Let's have a look at the change that was effected
       in 2002 which is in {F2/28/1}.  We can see this is
       an ACC, Agency Changes Communique, 37/20.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Those are internal communiques about policy changes,
       aren't they?
   A.  They are.
   Q.  It says there:
           "In April 2001 the appointment remuneration scale
       for standard contract sub-Post Office branches was
       abolished, as was the 3 month introductory payment made
       when a modified sub-Post Office branch transferred from
       one subpostmaster to another."
           Mr Bates in fact had a 25 per cent reduction in his
       first year of remuneration, didn't he?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that would be three months.  So that is one sort of
       charge.  But if we look at halfway down the page:
           "One potential barrier to future network change and
       in particular network reinvention is the current
       introductory payment arrangements.  One way to reduce
       start-up costs would be a significant reduction in
       the level of introductory payments sought by the
       business.  It has therefore been decided that from
       10 June 2002, the introductory payment for Post Office
       branches throughout the UK will be an amount equal to
       3 months of any advertised annual remuneration plus VAT.
       This fee will apply to all branches of all contract
       types except in the circumstances outlined in this
       communique."
           We will just go over the page, if we may {F2/28/2}.
       We can see that there are -- if we look at {F2/28/3} at
       paragraph 4.1, you will see "Transfer with relocation".
       Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is dealing with discretionary fund issues.  If
       we go over the page now {F2/28/4} and look at the top:
           "In all three circumstances there is no commercial
       connection between the outgoing and incoming
       subpostmasters.  The incoming subpostmaster does not
       have to make any payment to the outgoing subpostmaster
       in respect of any enhancement to the goodwill value of
       the overall business due to the presence of a
       Post Office on the premises.
           "Therefore, it is appropriate for the incoming
       subpostmaster to make an introductory payment to
       Post Office Limited of an amount equivalent to 3 months
       of the advertised remuneration plus VAT."
           In the light of considering that document, would you
       like to reconsider your answers to his Lordship earlier?
   A.  This is an old one.  I am referring to one that came in
       after this and we did -- I forget the year it was, but
       we actually stopped charging introductory fees at all.
   Q.  Yes, but what I was asking you about was the practice,
       historical practice of charging introductory fees, and
       I am going to suggest to you now that, in substance, the
       introductory fees essentially represented a charge for
       goodwill.
   A.  In reading this document, yes, I agree.
   Q.  You would accept that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Thank you.  Can I just ask a couple of points in
       relation to the business support programme which you
       will remember you mention at paragraph 15 of your
       witness statement.
   A.  Sorry, the branch support programme?
   Q.  The branch support programme.  Just to summarise, the
       branch support programme you worked on I think between
       August 2013 and March 2015?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Did you regard that as a politically sensitive project?
   A.  Not -- politically sensitive, no.  What I regarded it as
       was making improvements to how we operated as
       an organisation.
   Q.  We saw in the terms of reference, do you remember I took
       you to the table, one of the KPIs was the robustness of
       the Horizon system?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we look at the document at {G/40/1}, this is dated
       12 June 2014.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is right in the middle of the period of the branch
       support programme, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it is dealing with an issue which you had
       identified, or had been identified in the terms of
       reference, as one of the KPIs, robustness of the Horizon
       system?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Your evidence was that you weren't aware of the document
       at {G/40/1}, is that right?
   A.  Yes, I said I hadn't seen this one before.
   Q.  I am going to ask you a couple of questions very
       carefully because there is a dispute about whether the
       title of this document is privileged.  So I am not going
       to ask you what it is.  But you know what the title is,
       don't you, of this document?  The redacted word?
   A.  No.  I don't recall seeing this document, so I can't --
   Q.  Are you aware of a project group, named after an animal,
       which has been working in relation to issues raised by
       Second Sight or similar?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I object to this.  This is obviously
       privileged.  This has been redacted.  And once you get
       into the title or name of some area of investigation,
       then you are beginning to get into privileged areas and
       questions of waiver.  There is a reason why this
       document title has been redacted.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What I am going to do, I am actually
       going to ask you to just go outside court for a few
       minutes, Mrs Van Den Bogerd, and someone will come and
       fetch you.  It should only be about five minutes.
                     (The witness stood down)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender, is it a single word that
       has been redacted?
   MR CAVENDER:  I believe it is there, but you go into the
       document and other parts are redacted --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I know that because we went through the
       document yesterday.  I actually made a note to myself,
       which I was going to deal with at the end of the
       witness's evidence, about this document because it seems
       to me the basis of the redactions is going to have to be
       reviewed by counsel, not least because it appeared to
       me, which now I think is common ground, that the single
       word is said to be privileged, and I am struggling with
       that but --
   MR CAVENDER:  It depends where you go with it, and as soon
       as you unravel a privilege then you get a difficulty.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am not sure that is necessarily right
       but that is why I am going to invite review by you
       anyway.  It is difficult to grasp how a single word
       could be subject to litigation professional privilege or
       any of the other types of privilege, so I am going to
       invite you I think to review that.
           But so far as this morning is concerned, Mr Green,
       you obviously can't ask any questions about anything
       over which privilege is asserted.
   MR GREEN:  Of course.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Your question was, and I know you said
       you were phrasing it very carefully:
           "Are you aware of a project group, named after an
       animal, which has been working in relation to issues
       raised by Second Sight or similar?"
           It could be capable of being answered yes or no, in
       which case there would be no question.  But it equally
       could be capable of being answered in a way which would
       stray into privileged areas.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So I am just going to listen to
       Mr Cavender about why you should not be allowed to ask
       that question, then I am going to decide whether or not
       the witness should be either given a warning and invited
       or in fact I am going to disallow the question.
           So Mr Cavender, your objection is that this is --
       I think you said off-the-cuff it is obviously
       privileged.  The question itself isn't privileged, but
       your concern is, would you like to explain it to me?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, this is relating to, as we can see as
       my learned friend was saying, a project, he says, with
       a title named after an animal.  Once this witness gets
       into that, and assuming, as we contend that that is
       covered by litigation privilege, it's a report or piece
       of work following legal advice as to matters subject to
       litigation, once you get into and start getting into
       that area at all --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Obviously we can't and we are not going
       to go anywhere into privileged areas.
   MR CAVENDER:  But let's assume for a moment the witness says
       "Yes, I know, it is called X", and then "Oh, you've
       waived it.  Can we see X, please".
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that.  It seems to me there
       are two ways forward.  One is for the question to be put
       with a warning from me she can only answer it "yes" or
       "no", the other is for me to disallow it altogether.
           Let's work on this basis: if the question is re-put
       in the careful terms Mr Green put it, and the witness is
       told only to answer "yes" or "no", (a) does
       that trespass on privileged ground?
   MR CAVENDER:  It might --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand your submission to be:
       there is a concern it does.
   MR CAVENDER:  Well, quite.  Because if my learned friend
       accepts that it does, and he just wants the name of the
       furry animal on the transcript, happy days.  But if he
       then says "Ha ha, you are now saying that.  I now want
       to see the report".
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that and I'm not sure he
       would get anywhere if it he did try his "Ha ha".  But
       even so far as the question is concerned, if it is
       answered "yes" or "no" does it stray into privileged
       territory on not?
   MR CAVENDER:  Can I take instructions?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, do take instructions.  (Pause)
   MR CAVENDER:  You might think the answer might be
       straightforward.  Apparently there is a number of
       projects and they have a habit of calling them after
       animals, and I'm not quite sure what this witness's
       knowledge is as to the particular animal for this
       project my learned friend is aiming at.
           The other point, I'm not quite sure the relevance
       of --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That was the secondary point --
   MR CAVENDER:  -- whether she knew the furry animal or not.
       Let's put that to one side.  What do you then ask of any
       relevance that you are entitled to ask, is really my
       practical point.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have come to the following conclusion
       and I am just going to explain what it is.
           It seems to me, Mr Green, in the circumstances I am
       not going to allow you to put that question.  For what
       it's worth, although obviously I have far less knowledge
       collectively than all of you, it doesn't seem to me that
       the title of any such project group takes things any
       further at all.
           I am going, Mr Cavender, to invite you, please --
       well, I am not going to invite you, I am actually going
       to tell you but I know you don't need more than
       an invitation -- to review this specific document.  For
       the life of me, I can't see how a -- let's say pick any
       furry or non-furry animal, I don't see how that word
       could be privileged but you will review the document for
       me.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I think in all privilege debates,
       let's say it was said it was monkey, of course that in
       itself.  But if you then say, and this is the concern in
       the way some questions had been put, "Oh well, you have
       accepted there is a document called Monkey, you've
       waived privilege in its existence, therefore we want
       it".
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That argument wouldn't get very far with
       me.  The reason for inviting your attention to all of
       these redactions is whoever has redacted this has
       obviously concluded that the word itself is privileged.
       If that is their basis for redactions, it needs
       reviewing.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So I am going to invite you to do it.
           Mr Green, what you are allowed to ask, and what
       I would be grateful if you would ask, please, because
       this might have an impact, Mr Rees, Miss or Mrs McGinn
       and Miss or Mrs George is entirely unclear to me what
       their job titles are.  And it might be unclear to this
       witness, she might not know.  But if any of them,
       for example, happen to be in-house legal people then --
       well, I am dealing with evidence.
   MR GREEN:  Of course, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The situation would be rather different
       than if they are not.
           So you are, so far as this page is concerned,
       please, to identify with the witness (a) if she knows
       what any of their job titles are, and (b), if she does,
       what they are.  But I'm not going to let you ask the
       question about the ...
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, the --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Flora or fauna are off limits and that
       is out of an abundance of caution.
   MR GREEN:  Of course, and I quite understand why.
       Your Lordship will have expected us to have done the
       research on who those people are.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am dealing with evidence.
   MR GREEN:  Of course.  And I am happy to ask that.  But the
       follow-up question I wished to ask, but it is probably
       better to clear it with your Lordship before the witness
       comes back, is simply to identify, even if this witness
       wasn't aware of this particular document,
       notwithstanding its apparent link, whether she was aware
       of a project looking into that aspect of her KPIs as
       part of the branch support programme.  Unnamed.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender, would you object to
       a question like that?
   MR CAVENDER:  "That aspect", are we talking about Horizon
       here?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  By "her KPIs", I was going to invite Mr
       Green to define exactly what he meant by that.
   MR GREEN:  It was the one in the branch support programme
       about robustness of Horizon, my Lord, which was in the
       document.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Into the robustness of Horizon.
           Do you want to -- Mr Cavender, you will want to
       listen to this, because Mr Green is about to rephrase
       the question so that I can rule on its admissibility
       before he puts it.
           Right, what is the question?
   MR GREEN:  The question will be: were you aware of a project
       or group looking into one of your KPIs in the branch
       support programme, namely, the robustness of Horizon at
       the time this document was produced?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you object to that question?
   MR CAVENDER:  "This document" is the document on the screen?
   MR GREEN:  Yes.  (Pause)
   MR CAVENDER:  I am told that we want a short adjournment so
       I can get proper instructions on that question.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  As to whether you would object to it or
       not?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You would like some time for
       instructions, would you?  This isn't a committee debate,
       Mr Cavender.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no.  At the moment I don't understand
       the basis for us objecting to this and I need to take
       instructions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think you should.  Because on the face
       of it, it seems to me a witness's awareness of a project
       identified in those terms can't possibly stray into the
       field of privilege.  But would you like five minutes?
   MR CAVENDER:  If I could, my Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right, this is what I am going to do,
       because it is unfair on Mrs Van Den Bogerd to keep her
       outside.  We will bring her back in, please.  I am just
       going to explain to her what is happening.  And I will
       explain to the witness the reason I asked her to leave.
               (The witness returned to the stand)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much, Mrs Van Den Bogerd.
       The reason for asking you to leave, and please don't
       read anything into it at all, is just because it was
       related to the way questions might be put and there was
       a little bit of a debate about it.  Mr Cavender has
       asked for a few minutes to consider one particular
       point.  Again, please don't read anything into that at
       all.
           Is until 11.05 am long enough?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I will rise until 11.05 am.  You can
       either stay there or go outside; I didn't want you just
       sitting out there hanging on, Mrs Van Den Bogerd.  When
       we come back, Mr Green will put either one or two
       self-contained questions about this document and then we
       will continue.
   A.  Thank you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It rather puts into context your claim
       of five more minutes last night.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right, 11.05 am.
   (11.00 am)
                         (A short break)
   (11.05 am)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, thank you for that short adjournment.
       The position is we are content for that question to be
       asked on that basis, providing there are no follow-up
       questions, to test the scope of the answer.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Future questions will have to be either
       objected to or not.  But you are not objecting to that
       question.
   MR CAVENDER:  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  No.  All right.  There is no objection,
       so you can put that question.  You might want to clarify
       you are expecting a "yes" or "no" answer.
   MR GREEN:  In fairness to the witness, I was proposing to
       show her the KPI first.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You still have to put the questions on
       those three people, remember?
   MR GREEN:  Absolutely right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, do that first, please.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, my learned friend has asked for
       permission to put a question he has read out.  We are
       happy for that question.  If he starts going back and
       creating another background then that causes problems.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You will have to wait and see, won't
       you, what the question is.  If he is going to remind her
       what the KPI -- I think what we have to do, Mr Cavender,
       we have to just be a bit conventional about this.
       Insofar as he puts a question to which you object,
       please stand up and object.
   MR CAVENDER:  All I am saying is --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  He hasn't even framed the question yet.
   MR CAVENDER:  No, but I am trying to be sensible because he
       has asked permission for a particular framed question.
       We have taken instructions and we say that is okay.  If
       he goes back again and creates a different background to
       that question opening up the question of KPIs,
       et cetera.  He reframed on the basis the robustness of
       Horizon, that is the way he reframed it to
       your Lordship, and on that basis I said I am not
       objecting.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand that, and that is
       the question he will be putting.
           Would you deal with the three people, please.
   MR GREEN:  Indeed.
           Can you look on the screen, Mrs Van Den Bogerd
       {G/40/1}.  You will see there under the revision history
       of the document there are three names.  Those are the
       same names that appear in the overview as author,
       reviewer, review and sign-off, yes.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And we can see ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, it is really very simple.
   MR GREEN:  Well, who are those people?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you know who those people are?
   A.  I only know one.  I don't know James or Emma, but
       Julie George used to work for us, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you know what their job descriptions
       are?
   A.  If I recall, it was information security was
       Julie George's role.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you know the job descriptions of the
       other two?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are any of them, so far as you know,
       in-house counsel at Post Office?
   A.  Sorry, in-house ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Counsel, in-house lawyers.
   A.  Not that I am aware, but I don't know James Rees or
       Emma McGinn.  I've never come across them.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That has dealt with the three people,
       Mr Green, I hope in slightly quicker order.  Would you
       now like to put your question.
   MR GREEN:  Yes.  Could I ask one supplementary question to
       your Lordship's question: you do know the lawyers for
       Post Office?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes.  And you don't know these people, the top two?
   A.  No, not the top two.  I know Julie, yes.
   Q.  I am grateful.
           Having taken you to that, could we please look at
       {G/15/4}.  In fairness to you, just to show you what
       I was putting to you before, which you very fairly
       accepted, the bottom of this table, which we looked at
       yesterday, says "System" and the KPI is robustness of
       the system?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That was the premise of the questions I was already
       putting.  I would like to ask you: were you aware of
       a project or group looking into one of your KPIs in the
       branch support programme, namely, the robustness of
       Horizon, at the time this document -- the document we
       are looking at with Julie George's name on it -- was
       produced?
   A.  Not specifically the robustness of the system.
   Q.  Into the Horizon system generally?
   A.  Sorry, I don't -- so the version of the terms of
       reference that you showed me yesterday was an early
       version.  That wasn't the finalised version of the terms
       of reference.  So I -- without seeing the document,
       I don't believe that one flowed through into the work
       that we did because I didn't focus on that.  It was the
       quality of the training provided and it was some of the
       other processes, but not particularly the robustness of
       the system.
   Q.  Second Sight had raised robustness of the system, hadn't
       they?
   A.  Yes, they did.
   Q.  And the branch support programme was set up in response
       to the concerns raised by Second Sight?
   A.  Particularly to look at the training and support and the
       processes to support, yes.
   Q.  But one of things you did include and look at in context
       of the branch support system was the Horizon system
       itself, wasn't it?
   A.  I didn't look at the Horizon system itself, no.  Part of
       what I was doing at the time, which was when the working
       group was set up, I was investigating the claims coming
       into the initial mediation scheme.
   Q.  And some of those raised issues with the Horizon system?
   A.  Some did, yes, and that was what I was looking at --
   Q.  So how did you look at those claims about the Horizon
       system without being aware of anyone looking into the
       Horizon system?
   A.  We took each of the claims in -- as a case in itself to
       the team I had working on it at the time, they
       investigated the claims, and where there were
       allegations of system failure or issues being caused by
       Horizon, then those particular issues were raised with
       Fujitsu when we looked into those.  But we didn't find
       any evidence to support those claims at the time.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, I think that is probably about
       as far as (a) it is sensible to go, but (b) it is
       relevant to go, given we are in the Common Issues trial.
   MR GREEN:  I understand, my Lord.
           Just a final point in relation to the way you have
       dealt with the branch support system -- branch support
       programme in your statement.  I asked you earlier
       whether you regarded that programme as politically
       sensitive.  Could you please look at {G/95/1}.  This is
       your LinkedIn profile.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go down to the second page and we look at
       "Programme Directorate Post Office" for the relevant
       period, August 2013 to April 2015, which covers the
       period we are talking about at least, doesn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say:
           "Senior leadership role accountable for the delivery
       of a high profile and politically sensitive business
       improvement programme."
           Would you like to reconsider your earlier answer as
       to whether you regarded the branch support programme as
       politically sensitive?
   A.  So that was -- what I'm referring to is wider, things
       I was looking at which is part of the working group as
       well.  This is business improvement programme.  Branch
       support programme was quite specific in terms of the
       terms of reference there.  I didn't make any reference
       to anything I was doing with the working group or the
       investigations into the scheme at all.
   Q.  What was politically sensitive?
   A.  What was politically sensitive at the time was me
       investigating the issues that were being raised with the
       working group and the claims that we were dealing
       with -- that were running in parallel with this
       timeline.
   Q.  Isn't the reality that the branch support programme
       itself necessarily involved a recognition of some
       shortcomings by Post Office and that is why, in your
       witness statement, you only mention it in passing even
       though it is of central relevance to the issues raised
       in this litigation?
   A.  No, the main thrust of that was the training and support
       and that is covered in quite some depth in my statement
       around the difference in the training, and particularly
       around some of the improvements that we made, which is
       one of the documents you showed me, which is the update
       to -- I think it was the G document you showed me
       yesterday.
   Q.  Give me one second.  Can we look back, please, just
       quickly, finally in relation to this to {G/15/3}, well
       starting on {G/15/2}.  This is the branch support
       programme, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And these are the people going to be involved.  If we go
       to {G/15/3}, you will see "IT, Dave Hulbert", do you see
       that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go, please, to {G/38/2}, 30 January 2015?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This is a chain of emails about whether or not
       Post Office can remotely access Horizon in preparation
       for Ms Vennells' appearance before the Select Committee.
       If you look at the top email you will see Mr Hulbert's
       name in the copied in group?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And on the right-hand side you will see Julie George's
       name?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So Mr Hulbert, who was working -- listed as working in
       your branch support programme on the IT side, is being
       cc'd in relation to these IT related issues with
       Julie George?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Did Mr Hulbert and Julie George work together?
   A.  They weren't ... they weren't in the same team, but I do
       believe, if I can recall, Julie George was part of the
       IT -- that was part of the IT function at the time.
   Q.  While we are on this document, I put to you yesterday
       that we saw examples in the documentation, the payments
       mismatch documentation, of the suggestion of Fujitsu
       changing data in Horizon and you accepted that clearly
       said that could be done, do you remember that?
   A.  Yes, I remember the document.
   Q.  And we also saw reference to changing data later on.
       And if we look, we are now in 2005, after those two
       dates.  Can we go down, please, to the next page
       {G/38/3}.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We are in 2015?
   MR GREEN:  I am so sorry, 2015.
           If we look at page {G/38/4}, please, we see
       Paula Vennells to Mark Davies and Lesley Sewell.  Who
       are they?
   A.  Mark Davies is comms director, Lesley Sewell was the
       chief information officer at the time.
   Q.  And she says:
           "Dear both.  Your help please in answers and in
       phrasing those answers in prep for the SC:
           "(1) 'Is it possible to access the system remotely?
       We are told it is.'  What is the true answer?  I hope it
       is that we know this is not possible and that we are
       able to explain why that is.  I need to say no, it is
       not possible, and that we are sure of this because of
       XXX and that we know this because we have had the system
       assured."
           Then the last substantive paragraph:
           "Lesley, I need the facts on these.  I know we have
       discussed before but I haven't got the answer front of
       mind.  Too many facts to hold in my head!  But this is
       an important one and I want to be sure I do have it.
       And then Mark to phrase the facts into answers, plus a
       line to take the conversation back up a level, ie to one
       of our narrative boxes/rocks."
           Did anyone approach you in relation to the answer to
       that question at this time?  Because you actually
       appeared with Paula Vennells.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I'm not going to ask you about the content of what was
       said at the Select Committee but the fact you appeared
       there is true, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, I was in the Select Committee with Paula.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you keep your voice up.
   A.  Sorry.  Yes, I was at the Select Committee with Paula.
   MR GREEN:  Can we go to {G/38/2}.  Look at the bottom,
       please:
           "This question often phrased by applicants and
       Second Sight is 'Can Post Office remotely access
       Horizon?'
           "Phrasing the question in this way does not address
       the issue that is of concern to Second Sight and
       applicants.  It refers generically to 'Horizon' but more
       particularly is about the transaction data recorded by
       Horizon.  Also the word 'access' means the ability to
       read transaction data without editing it.  Post Office
       and Fujitsu has always been able to access transaction
       data, however it is the alleged capacity of
       Post Office/Fujitsu to edit transaction data that
       appears to be of concern.  Finally, it has always been
       known that Post Office can post additional correcting
       transactions to a branch's accounts but only in ways
       that are visible to subpostmasters."
           Then in bold:
           "It is the potential for any hidden method of
       editing data that is of concern."
           And at the bottom:
           "Can Post Office or Fujitsu edit transaction data
       without the knowledge of a subpostmaster?"
           If we go over the page, please {G/38/3}:
           "Post Office confirms that neither it nor Fujitsu
       can edit transaction data without the knowledge of
       a subpostmaster."
           And then:
           "There is no functionality in Horizon for either
       a branch, Post Office or Fujitsu to edit, manipulate or
       remove a transaction once it has been recorded in the
       branch's accounts."
           And then there are safeguards set out.
           By this stage, it is right, isn't it, that it must
       have been known that in accordance with the letter of
       response which I referred to yesterday, one account had
       been altered by Fujitsu, at least one, following up from
       the payments mismatch?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So can you be shown, please --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And that had been done without the
       knowledge of the subpostmaster?  That was what was dealt
       with yesterday.
   A.  So what I said --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that right?
   A.  Sorry, is what right?  Without the knowledge of the
       postmaster?  That question?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   A.  I believe the postmaster knew about it, that is what
       I said yesterday.  I wasn't aware of the particular --
       of that specific case.  I wasn't involved in that
       either.
   MR GREEN:  If we can go to the Generic Defence at
       {B2.3/27/26}.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Where are we going now?
   MR GREEN:  The Generic Defence, my Lord, just on this point.
       {B3/2/26}
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Paragraph?
   MR GREEN:  Paragraph 57(3) and (4).  There it deals with the
       ability to inject transactions at 57(3), and 57(4),
       privileged access user rights.
           Given that that is the case, in 2015 it would be
       wrong to say, wouldn't it, that Post Office could not
       remotely access Horizon data?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, with great respect to my learned
       friend, he has to be very careful in the way he is
       putting this question.  He has taken the witness to (4)
       which is the case that it required a rewriting and using
       a privileged access for a wrongful purpose.
           The answer he referred to in a document was: is
       there any functionality within Horizon?  Which is
       a rather different question.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The question that he has put, as I see
       it on the screen, is:
           "... in 2015 it would be wrong to say, wouldn't it,
       that Post Office could not remotely access Horizon
       data?"
           Are you objecting to that question, Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  I think it is an unfair question because it
       elides the two things.  He ought to take the witness --
       the difference between functionality in the document he
       has shown, ie is there a function within Horizon, and
       the answer at (4) which he has fairly but is very
       different to that, talking about privileged access and
       rewriting software to do it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Where he goes with the answer is rather
       different.  But the phrase "remotely access Horizon
       data" is one that has been used.  Is that phrase
       something you are objecting to?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no, not the line of questioning, but
       the way he has put it -- you can see my point.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Alright.  Mr Green, would you repeat,
       please ...
   MR GREEN:  That was meant to be uncontroversial.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I know.  I am going to have certain
       observations at the end of the evidence.  But I think
       the most important thing is to continue with the
       cross-examination.
           Mr Green, you put at page {Day9/33:11}, it starts
       "Given that ..."  Do you see that?
   MR GREEN:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't think you need the "Given that",
       to be honest.  So ignore the subordinate clause at the
       beginning which is just cluttering things up, would you
       like to put that question again just with the main
       clause in that sentence, please, and I will hear what
       the answer is.
   MR GREEN:  In 2015 it would be wrong to say, wouldn't it,
       that Post Office could not remotely access Horizon data?
   A.  Post Office can't.
   Q.  Could it do it through Fujitsu?
   A.  Through Fujitsu, then, yes, they can.
   Q.  And there is a difference between accessing and altering
       the data, isn't there?
   A.  So what my understanding is, and I'm not an IT expert,
       as you know.  My understanding is that they can, as they
       did in that case, send a transaction in to correct
       something in there.  That is with the knowledge of the
       postmaster, is my understanding.
   Q.  But you accept that in 2015 they had the ability to do
       what you have just described?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Thank you.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  I don't believe any subsidiary
       questions following on from that are going to be of the
       remotest assistance.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I am moving on.
           Can I now ask you what you understand to be the
       account between subpostmasters and Post Office.  Because
       there is a suggestion, I think you mentioned the agency
       relationship --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- between subpostmasters and Post Office.  And you
       regard subpostmasters as bound to account to
       Post Office, don't you?
   A.  As agents, yes.
   Q.  So can you tell the court, where is the account
       information contained?  Is it just the information in
       the Horizon system?
   A.  I'm not sure I am quite understanding the question.  So
       the Post Office account, is that what you are referring
       to?  The individual branch Post Office account?
   Q.  Yes.  There is a phrase, it may require some
       explanation.  There is a legal phrase about rendering
       an account to a principal of what transactions you have
       done on behalf of the principal.  If we look,
       for example --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't think you need to go into the
       legal definition, Mr Green.  This witness has vast
       experience of the way a branch deals with its accounts.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
           Practically, in the branch, how does the
       subpostmaster account to Post Office for the
       transactions that they are doing?  It's through the
       Horizon system, isn't it?
   A.  Yes, on a daily basis, and then they do the branch
       trading at the end of the month.
   Q.  And when they do the branch trading statement at the end
       of the month, that is also information which is in
       the Horizon system?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Yes.  So when they receive a transaction correction that
       they don't believe to be correct, and they have to press
       "Accept now" on the Horizon system --
   A.  To settle -- are you talking about settle centrally now?
   Q.  Yes.  Let's look at --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, you seem to want to get so
       overly complicated on what are quite simple points.  You
       can just put them as a series of simple points, can't
       you?
   MR GREEN:  I am trying to be as fair as possible.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Well, fairness and over-complication
       seem to be being blurred, if I may say so.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful for the indication, my Lord.
           The subpostmaster has to accept either by paying in
       cash, paying with cheque or settle centrally?
   A.  Settle centrally, and dispute if they feel so, yes.
   Q.  And there is no option to dispute on the Horizon system
       itself?
   A.  Not on the system, no.
   Q.  So when a transaction correction comes in, let's say it
       is a gain?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the subpostmaster does not believe they are entitled
       to that money?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  The system requires them to press "Settle centrally" if
       they wish to dispute it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And what is recorded on the Horizon system is that they
       have accepted that gain?
   A.  So they have two choices.  They can make good, which in
       that scenario means they could actually take the money
       out and put the account level, or they can settle
       centrally and dispute it and say "I don't think this is
       proper to me".
   Q.  Take those examples in turn.  If they believe they are
       not entitled to the money, and they take the money out
       of account nonetheless?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that wrong?
   A.  No, because they have generated -- so what that would be
       doing is they have generated a surplus in an account,
       and the same principle is whether they generated
       a surplus or loss.  The point of disputing a discrepancy
       is that I don't believe that either the evidence
       supports it or I don't believe that that is proper to my
       office for whatever reason.  So that isn't wrong in
       terms of taking the money out at that point.  Because
       when they take it out, then it's on the understanding
       that if another error notice comes in to counter that
       gain that they would then make that good.
   Q.  You would accept that the system forces them to accept,
       by pressing "Settle centrally", transactions whether or
       not they agree they are correct?
   A.  It makes -- at the end of the branch trading it makes
       the clear out of account, so that is one of choices,
       yes, to accept.  And if they don't think it is proper to
       them they can dispute it through the system -- not
       through the system itself, but through the process by
       contacting NBSC.
   Q.  Just to clarify your answer.  I asked: would you
       accept -- you would accept that the system forces them
       to accept, by pressing "Settle centrally", transactions
       whether or not they agree they are correct, and if they
       are not putting in money or taking money out, the only
       option is to settle centrally?
   A.  As a first step, yes.  But as I said, they have -- that
       process is the first step of disputing if they don't
       think it is proper to that branch.  It's a two-stage
       process.
   Q.  So in terms of the information recorded on Horizon, they
       are compelled to make a record on Horizon with which
       they may very strongly and fundamentally disagree?
   A.  In accepting, yes, they can -- the choices are, yes,
       make good or dispute and -- sorry, settle and then
       dispute.
   Q.  So that there is no doubt about it, you accept that the
       system forces them to make a record on Horizon with
       which they may fundamentally disagree?
   A.  No, because that is the first step of the process so
       I don't accept that.
   Q.  Within Horizon that is true, isn't it?
   A.  There isn't a dispute function on Horizon, no, there is
       not.
   Q.  Let's look at {F3/72/2}.  To be fair to you, this is
       a debt recovery review with various proposals.  If we go
       back to the previous page to get your eye in {F3/72/1},
       TC, transaction correction, debt recovery review, it's
       a document we looked at before.  Do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "They are forced to accept debts they do not agree with
       at branch trading."
           Yes?
   A.  Uh-huh.
   Q.  If we go over the page {F3/72/2} you will see "Rejected
       proposals":
           "Dispute button on transaction corrections - TCs are
       issued with evidence.  The use of a dispute button
       simply provides a delaying mechanism and requires P&BA
       to resupply the evidence."
           I put it to you that including a dispute button
       would have avoided forcing subpostmasters to accept
       transaction corrections with which they fundamentally
       disagreed?
   A.  Through the system, yes.  But, as I said, coming back to
       that the process is that they can dispute anyway.
   Q.  Yes.  But a dispute button on Horizon would have allowed
       subpostmasters not to accept transaction corrections
       which they believed not to be correct?
   A.  Possibly.
   Q.  Not "possibly".  Definitely?
   A.  I think -- the feedback here is around -- so the process
       is if you get the transaction correction with the
       evidence, then that should be clear, then you should
       accept.  If the evidence isn't sufficient or there
       isn't -- or you don't believe that it is correct then
       you still have the process to do that now.  Whether
       there is a button on Horizon or not, you still have the
       process.
   Q.  Yes.  But it is not one of these around issues, is it
       Mrs Van Den Bogerd?  The question I am putting to you,
       it's a very simple one, I put to you that a dispute
       button on Horizon would allow subpostmasters not to
       accept a transaction correction with which they
       fundamentally disagree, and you said "possibly", and
       I said "definitely".
   A.  Not accept even one that they did agree with, which
       would be the risk.  But yes, I take the point.
   Q.  You accept that?
   A.  I take the point.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Having put the question three times --
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  -- I can hopefully assume you are not
       going to put it again.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I have only one final question.
           The principal and agent relationship is on the
       footing that postmasters are transacting Post Office
       business on Post Office's behalf?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Look, please, at {C2/1/24}, your paragraph 80 of your
       witness statement.  This is in relation to provision of
       information to subpostmasters.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say that if:
           "... Post Office has to effect all customer
       transactions for branch accounts to be accurate and
       then, as a necessary consequence, provide subpostmasters
       with access to all client data, [that] would be
       completely unworkable."
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And at 80.2 you say:
           "It would undermine one of the key benefits of the
       subpostmaster relationship - that Post Office handles
       this on behalf of the subpostmaster."
           And you would stand by that evidence?
   A.  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I have no further questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.
           Mr Cavender, re-examination?
   MR CAVENDER:  Sorry, my Lord?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I assume you might have one or two
       questions.
   MR CAVENDER:  I do.  Yes.
                  Re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  If we go to the transcript on screen from
       Day 7, page 166 {Day7/166:1}.  What my learned friend
       was putting to you was a scenario involving a £9,000
       shortfall suddenly appearing, do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Just cast your eye over that to get yourself into the
       area.
           At line 20 {Day7/166:20}:
           "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 ..."
           So what you are doing is you are not really happy
       with the example because you don't think it is
       realistic?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  Can you explain to me why it is you are saying that.  To
       your way of thinking, in these scenarios we have been
       dealing with, and you have a £9,000 loss that occurs on
       an audit, what would be the steps immediately before
       that that makes you think this is not a realistic
       scenario that was put to you?
   A.  On a daily basis the branch would have been making their
       cash declarations, and in making a cash declaration then
       if there had been a £9,000 loss that would have been
       evident at the time, so it would be highly unlikely that
       that would happen on the day.  It could happen on the
       day, but what I am saying is in an audit situation then
       we have had insight into the trading of the branch in
       advance.  So it would be very unusual for us to turn up
       randomly and find a £9,000 loss that we weren't
       expecting to see from the information we would have seen
       previously.
   Q.  So what information might you have seen previously to
       alert you to maybe going to have a look at a particular
       branch?
   A.  So things like cash declarations not been done or being
       done sporadically, or a number of cash declarations
       being done in quick succession and with different
       amounts being declared.  So, for instance, in this
       situation if it were to be £9,000 then one example might
       be we would have an early cash declaration on the day
       that said a figure of, say, £100,000.  That would say
       that they were £9,000 short.  And then the redeclaration
       would be with £109,000 to make up the difference.  Or it
       might be a case of branches might have been ordering --
       trying to order additional cash through the cash centre
       when actually the records that we saw said they had
       enough to be able to operate.  And that would normally
       point to there is a problem with the cash holdings
       there.
   Q.  Would you expect in the ordinary case, where you find
       a loss of £8,000 on audit, that to have been
       an overnight loss?  Or would you ordinarily have
       expected that in the way of things to have been built up
       over a period of weeks?
   A.  Usually built up over a period of weeks.
   Q.  And during that period of weeks would there have been
       earlier stages when the postmaster would have been
       alerted to that?
   A.  Do you mean within the branch?
   Q.  Yes.
   A.  So in doing their cash declarations and doing the
       balance snapshot and the trial balance then, yes, they
       would have seen that previously.
   Q.  Can we go now to transcript Day 7, page 183
       {Day7/183:1}.  This was the stage when a number of the
       letters to Mrs Stubbs seeking payment were put to you
       and you were asked for your comments on the letters and
       the procedure.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I think you said at pages 186 to 187, if we put that up
       {Day7/186:1}, it was your view that these were
       effectively automatically produced letters.
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  It was put to you at page 188 {Day7/188:1} that it was
       a thereby attempt -- at the top:
           "... deliberate attempt to collect more money than
       you are entitled to."
           And you were also asked about your reaction, how you
       thought Mrs Stubbs would react to receiving these
       letters, Mr Kellett having said, if you remember, that
       it was being put on hold.  Do you remember that line of
       questioning?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we go, please, to Day 3, page 68 {Day3/68:1}.  If we
       look at line 18 {Day3/68:18}, this is the evidence of
       Mrs Stubbs.  This is the re-examination I think by my
       learned friend.
           If we go down to line 24 {Day3/68:24}:
           "What did you think when you received that?  Was
       that what you were expecting?"
           And over the page {Day3/69:1}:
           "Answer: I don't know.  No, it wasn't, but I assumed
       that I would continue to get these every month or a
       version of them every month."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is Mrs Stubbs' evidence.  Does that help you answer
       the question as to how you thought a subpostmaster in
       this position would have reacted, on receiving such
       letters, having been told that the thing was on hold?
   A.  From this response I would read into this that she
       accepts it is an automatic thing that is going to happen
       every month, because they are automatically generated.
       I think that would have been obvious.  But in terms of
       reaction, if we had said we were putting it on hold,
       then we should have put it on hold and we should have
       stopped the letters going out.
   Q.  I understand.  Can we go now to Day 8, page 13
       {Day8/13:1}.  This was the portion when you were asked
       about questions -- it was suggested to you that if
       an agent was paying off an amount by deduction from
       salary and during the repayment period a further loss
       occurred, that loss would need to be made good
       immediately, and you disputed that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go on to page {Day8/14:1}, then on to {Day8/15:1},
       you said that that was the case from 2005, we see that
       at the top at line 6 and through to line 9, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It was suggested to you at page {Day8/16:1} that there
       was no document saying you could settle centrally, do
       you remember that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can I show you a couple of documents to see whether that
       is in fact the case.  Can we go to {F4/21/30}, please.
       This is a branch manual from 2005/2006, I think it is.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is it the part next to "Please
       remember ..."?
   MR CAVENDER:  I will just look at the hard copy.  If we go
       to the bottom of that, so stock is rolled over to the
       next branch period et cetera, and then at the bottom:
           "This will allow you to use the 'Settle centrally'
       option and continue the branch rollover process ...
           "Please note: The 'Settle centrally' option is only
       available in the case of discrepancies over £150."
           Is that your understanding of what the procedure was
       in 2005/2006?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If you go to --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Just before you move off that, Mr
       Cavender.  Doesn't that go with the paragraph before it,
       Mrs Van Den Bogerd:
           "If you can explain the reason ..."
           Or are those two paragraphs to be read completely
       separately?
   A.  Yes, it is --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do they go together or not?
   A.  They can do, they can go together.  It is about a
       transaction correction, yes.  But equally then if they
       had a discrepancy at that point they could have settled
       it centrally as well.  And what it goes on to say is
       that if a transaction correction isn't issued -- because
       in 2006 when this was issued it was -- we'd just moved
       from the old system where they could hold things and
       they were forced in 2005 to settle at the end of the
       month.  What this is saying is that you can settle
       centrally pending a transaction correction to correct
       an error in branch, and if that doesn't happen then we
       talk to you about how you are going to repay the loss.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You started reading that last sentence
       but I don't think you got to the end.  Where it says:
           "However, if a transaction correction is not issued,
       the 'Settle centrally' option will be activated and
       funds recovered from remuneration."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are those last few words referring to
       the process that was discussed of a postmaster paying it
       over a period of time?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  Thank you very much.
           Mr Cavender, sorry.
   MR CAVENDER:  Not at all.
           Then in terms of a policy, saying -- going to this
       point at {F3/212/1}, please.  This dates from a bit
       later.  I think it starts in September 2013, we see from
       page 1.
           Can we go to {F3/212/11} and {F3/212/12}.  So we
       start there with "Debt disputes - transactional debt" at
       the top, it breaks it down into transaction corrections
       and branch discrepancies.  At 13.3.1 transaction
       corrections.
           Go over the page {F3/212/12}, and under the heading
       "Branch Discrepancies", 13.4.2, if you read that.
       (Pause)
           Does that reflect your understanding of the
       procedure?
   A.  Yes, it does.
   Q.  Moving on.  You were asked about transaction corrections
       generally and the dispute process at length.  Can I ask
       you a very basic question, and it is a really basic
       question: can you explain to the court what the purpose
       of a transaction correction is at the most basic level.
       What is the purpose of it?
   A.  To correct something that has been transacted
       incorrectly in branch.
   Q.  Thank you.  We have seen it has been put to you on the
       basis you can settle it centrally and dispute it.  Can
       we also go back on the policy in 2011 at least
       {F4/84/1}, we see the policy there, and in relation to
       balancing it says:
           "You can select the 'Seek evidence' option if the
       original information supplied by product and branch ...
       is insufficient for you to accept the validity of the
       transaction correction."
           Can you explain, what is that functionality that is
       being introduced in 2011?
   A.  I haven't -- I'm not aware of that one actually.
       I haven't seen that one in operation.
   Q.  What it seems to be is there was a "Seek evidence"
       option --
   MR GREEN:  My Lord ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What?
   MR GREEN:  The witness has just said she wasn't aware of it.
       I have been quite generous so far ... anyway.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Are you objecting?
   MR GREEN:  If the witness says she doesn't know about it and
       my learned friend tries to explain it to her --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think that is a little unkind,
       Mr Green.
           Mr Cavender, were you just about to ...
   MR CAVENDER:  No, I have finished with that.
           Can you go, please, to {F4/175/28}.  This is a more
       recent version of this same functionality.  Are you
       aware of that?
   A.  I haven't actually seen this one, I have not seen this
       in operation, but I can read what it says.
   Q.  The mismatch issue, do you remember the mismatch
       document that was put to you yesterday?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you remember there were three options and I think it
       was recommended to go for the second option, that
       evidence, do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  My learned friend said it is all very complicated and
       I'd got it all wrong.
           Can we see how it was in fact resolved.  Please go
       to {H/2/97} and read paragraph 3.7.  Remind yourself of
       what paragraph 3 says, it's "Payments Mismatch".  This
       is the letter of response from Womble Bond Dickinson,
       I think you were shown bits of this yesterday as well.
       So cast your eye over paragraph 3 at the top.  It is
       really 3.7 I want you to comment on as to whether that
       helps you know how the mismatch issue was in fact dealt
       with.  Does that help you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So were the postmasters notified?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And were the people who had a loss refunded?
   A.  So the people who had a loss, yes, either refunded or
       they weren't held accountable for that, and those that
       had a gain we didn't ask for the money back.
   Q.  Thank you.
           You were asked about your Horizon statement.
       I don't know if you have a copy there.  You were asked
       various questions about it.  Is there a copy still in
       the witness box?
   A.  Yes, there is.
   Q.  Would you like to cast your eye over paragraphs 28 to
       30.  (Pause)
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Does paragraph 30 accurately reflect the mode by which
       you prepared the witness statement?
   A.  Yes, it does.
   Q.  Thank you.
           Training.  You were taken through flanks of
       different training documents over a period.  One you
       were taken to was at {F3/18/1}, please.  By reference to
       this document, it was suggested that you only got 30
       minutes' intro to balancing.  And we can see if you look
       at that, 11 on the left, intro to balancing 30 minutes,
       do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That was put to you and it was said, well, that isn't
       very long.
           Can you help by looking through the other entries on
       this as to whether there was any other balancing
       training or related training.  The ones underneath,
       balancing a check stock and balancing a desk stock, does
       that involve balancing?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Would that involve -- it looks like three and a quarter
       hours, those two, have I got that right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go over the page {F3/18/2}, is there any more
       balancing going on on that page?
   A.  There's balance desk stock.
   Q.  How long is that for?
   A.  An hour.
   Q.  An hour and a half, I think, isn't it?
   A.  And further down, there are two.
   Q.  I see, yes.  Thank you.
           Similarly on training, again this was all put quite
       broadly but let me just ask you a question.  {F4/5/1},
       you were shown this document, I think one or two pages
       of it.  And if we go to Day 8, page 133 of the
       transcript, please {Day8/133:1}.
           Effectively it was suggested at the top there:
           "Question: ... I'm not going to show you the whole
       document but we're not seeing a lot of guidance ..."
           That it is not really very helpful and he invites me
       to take any helpful passages in re-examination.
           Without taking up that challenge entirely, but only
       slightly, could we go to the document at {F4/5/1} again,
       please, and go to {F4/5/10}, for instance.  Do you think
       that is a helpful piece of advice as to how to do
       a balance snapshot in practice?
   A.  Yes, and that would -- that is part of the training that
       we give, is always pull off a balance snapshot because
       that gives you the insight into how your branch is
       looking before you get to the final balance.
   Q.  If we look at the bottom there:
           "If they do not agree, correct the error (see
       Section 4: Correcting errors on Horizon and out of hours
       procedures)."
           Do you see that in blue in parenthesis?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Go to page {F4/5/75}, please.  Dealing with losses,
       making good losses.
           Going over to {F4/5/76}.  In the middle there, is
       that a worked example?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you think that is helpful to a postmaster?
   A.  Yes.  And the idea of the book is that if postmasters
       aren't having to use this every week, that they go -- it
       takes them through the steps.
   Q.  Then page {F4/5/80}, please.  What is this section
       dealing with?
   A.  Correcting errors on Horizon and out of hours
       procedures, errors found when checking reports before
       cut-off.  How to correct errors before you cut off.
   Q.  Going over to the next page {F4/5/81}.
   A.  Then errors after cut off.
   Q.  And to the next page {F4/5/82}.  This seems to be going
       through reversals and errors in various stock types, am
       I right?
   A.  Yes.  So that's how to correct an error if you found
       one.
   Q.  Would that be helpful to a subpostmaster?
   A.  Very helpful.
   Q.  Can we go to Day 8, page 144, please {Day/144:1}.  If
       you remember, there was an exchange with the court and
       with my learned friend about what became the Mr Bloggs
       example, do you remember that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And whether he would or wouldn't have bought the stamps.
       That was by reference to a document at {F4/18/1}.  Do
       you remember?  Particularly the bottom at 5 that these
       discussions were being had.  The debate was around
       whether or not it was a fake transaction in the stamps
       example and I think you said at one time they might have
       made a mistake.
           Reading the examples given there, am I right in
       thinking it depends on what has occurred?  Because
       am I right in saying that in one example Mr Bloggs may
       in fact have paid for the four extra stamps but they had
       not been given to him?  That is one example, isn't it,
       where --
   A.  Possibly, yes.
   Q.  So would I be right in summarising it that either it is
       reflecting a transaction that has taken place that has
       been incorrectly entered, that is one example.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Or it could be, in another example, trying to correct
       the position as it should be?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could we go then, please, to {F3/195/1}.  You were taken
       to this document yesterday.  Do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is headed "Camelot Losses".  What do you infer from
       that title as to the content of this document?
   A.  This is where we would be having transaction
       corrections, problems with inaccuracies of Camelot
       products.
   Q.  Of Camelot products?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go to -- and particularly it was paragraph 2 of
       that that was put to you about the percentage of
       training, do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  About Camelot et cetera, Horizon training, the operators
       et cetera.
           If we go to page 163 of the transcript for Day 8
       {Day8/163:22}, at the bottom there it is put to you:
           "Question: It would be quite helpful for you to know
       that, wouldn't it?  The two-thirds of those surveyed in
       the first box said they needed more training on Horizon
       and only 1/7th scored the training as good."
           Over the page {Day8/164:5}:
           "Question: It appears to relate to Camelot losses at
       the top and two aspects of the training.  One is Camelot
       training which is dealt with first, seems to be quite
       good, and then Horizon training, not so good."
           In relation to that, your understanding, what is the
       Horizon training element of that relating to?
   A.  How to put your lottery transactions through the Horizon
       system.
   Q.  Because it is being suggested to you here that it is
       relating to Horizon training generally.  Is that right
       or is that wrong?
   A.  That wasn't my understanding from that specific document
       because it was referring to Camelot only.
   Q.  Thank you.
           You were asked some questions today, page 38 of the
       transcript, where my learned friend put to you very
       dramatically about the button, that if you changed the
       button on Horizon it would make some difference.  This
       is page {Day9/39:21}, where the word "system" was used.
       Your evidence was, you can see there, pages {Day9/39:1}
       and {Day9/40:1}, that you saw Horizon as the first
       stage --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- and then you could dispute.  If you look at the
       "system" as including all elements, so I am using that
       generically now, about Horizon and the connected
       procedures.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Does the system allow you to "accept" a transaction
       correction and settle it centrally and dispute it?  Does
       the system allow you to do that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  I have no further questions, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.  I have some.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am going to put the questions now and
       then we will have a break for the shorthand writers
       after that.
           At the beginning of your evidence you were asked
       some general questions by Mr Green.  I will just read
       the transcript reference for counsel but it is not
       necessary to go to it, it's Day 6, page 156
       {Day6/156:1}, when he explained to you that Mr Bates had
       been asked about his long involvement as a campaigner
       and how he could differentiate that from his own direct
       evidence.  He put to you that you had been involved in
       defending the claim for some time, he said, and you
       objected to the -- well, you didn't accept the word
       "defending".
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But in the course of your answer,
       I don't think you said how long you had been involved
       in -- and I am choosing a neutral phrase -- dealing with
       these issues on behalf of Post Office.
           So how long has that been?
   A.  I think probably about six or seven years.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Six or seven years going back from now?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So about from, what, 2011, 2010?
   A.  2010/2011, yes.  So my role would have been at the time
       to -- part of my "business as usual" role would be to
       look at some of these issues anyway, and that is how
       I became involved.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Because of your involvement as "business
       as usual".
   A.  The day job, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And then -- I will have this document
       pulled up just so you can see what it is {G/66/1}.
       I think this is a Post Office document in relation to
       the mediation scheme.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  In which Second Sight were involved, is
       that right?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you just tell me what exactly, so
       far as you understand it, what exactly was
       Second Sight's involvement?
   A.  They were brought in as independent investigators.  So
       there were a number of claims being made by individuals
       and they were brought in to have a complete independent
       view on what had happened and looking into the
       postmaster's account, and then accessing information
       from us to basically put together what had happened and
       try to understand what had caused the loss.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.  Within this document could you
       go to {G/66/9}, please.  You see at paragraph 34 it
       says:
           "Second Sight identified a number of what it calls
       'thematic issues' arising from its general assessment of
       the applicants' complaints."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "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."
           Were you involved in that part of the response?
   A.  I was -- yes, I would have been involved in most of
       this.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So does that second sentence reflect
       what your view was at the time that this response was
       compiled?
   A.  Yes, it does.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Does it reflect your view as at today?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is still your ...
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Why don't you explain to me what you
       mean by "thematic".
   A.  There were some things that were common to all and there
       were others that were quite different, and the -- what
       we established when we investigated is that all the
       claims that were being made were not common to every
       case that we were investigating.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is rather different from what that
       says, though, isn't it?
   A.  In some of the issues that were coming through then
       there were a number -- so a number of things -- so what
       we did was we listed everything that was raised as
       an issue and then we investigated.  So there were some
       common things that were coming through, things like
       training.  There were others that even though initially
       they were felt to be an issue, a thematic issue, on
       investigation they weren't found to be running through
       every case, there wasn't that theme running through
       every case, even though at the initial -- the start of
       what they were putting to us they thought that there
       was.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So as far as you are concerned all the
       cases are different?
   A.  Not -- so there are some things that would be common
       themes throughout cases, but then there would be things
       in there that would be quite different as well.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Right.
           I am going to ask you about something else now and
       I will ask this document to be called up {F3/87/10}.
           Do you see there at the very bottom:
           "During the review it became apparent ..."
           This is about a review of transaction corrections:
           "... that because the majority of blocked
       transaction corrections are sitting in the debt teams GL
       accounts it was the belief that the responsibility to
       manage and close them sat with the debt team leaders."
           Do you see that sentence?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What is a GL account?
   A.  General ledger.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  General ledger.
   A.  Yes, I believe.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would that be a general ledger of debits
       and credits for the whole of that debt team?
   A.  It would be -- I believe it would be the broader
       Post Office account.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The broader Post Office account --
   A.  This is within the Finance Service Centre but
       I wouldn't -- I wouldn't --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you don't know ...
   A.  I wouldn't be precise on that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And where it says:
           "It was the belief the responsibility to manage and
       close them sat with the debt team leaders."
           Am I right in interpreting "manage and close them"
       as finally resolving them one way or the other?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that what it means?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much.
           The next question is -- it's at transcript Day 8,
       page 74.  It might be on the next page down {Day8/75:1}.
           Just give me a moment.  Mr Green put to you that --
       he had taken you through a lengthy sequence of documents
       exploring with you Post Office's internal view about
       Horizon.  And at the end he said to you, and my
       reference is page 74 but it appears to be an incorrect
       reference.  He said was there any reason why he
       effectively had to get that information out of you by
       means of a lengthy cross-examination rather than reading
       it in your witness statement?  Do you recall that
       question?
   A.  Sorry, what was this about?  Sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We are just going to take a moment while
       I find the relevant passage.  It was a general point,
       really.  Let me go through yesterday's transcript.  For
       some reason my Opus has stopped working.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, apparently it's at the bottom of
       page 76.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You think bottom of page 76?  Thank you.
   MR GREEN:  Line 25 I think it begins.  {Day8/76:25}
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  So if you just read that screen to
       yourself, Mrs Van Den Bogerd.  Then the important
       question started at the last line:
           "Why don't you mention any of these difficulties in
       your witness statement?  Why have we had to find all
       these documents and put them to you to correct the
       impression in your witness statement?"
           And your answer is at line 4, would you just like to
       read that to yourself {Day8/77:4}.  (Pause)
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  The part I just want to ask you about is
       the first two lines where you say:
           "... I suppose the length of my witness statement,
       it is what information went in there."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Was it your understanding that there was
       a restriction on the length of your witness statement?
   A.  It was -- the witness statement is quite lengthy in
       itself anyway and I suppose it was just myself, just how
       much actually went into that statement in itself.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So it was your judgment.
   A.  Yes, what information was relevant to go in there or
       not.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.
           Next question on a different subject.  One of
       the other -- or in fact two of the other Post Office
       witnesses referred to something called core principles,
       Post Office core principles.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you know what they are?
   A.  In relation to ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is a phrase they used which was an
       umbrella phrase for the principles under which or by
       which Post Office conducts its business.  Is it
       something you are aware of as a thing, core principles?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are not aware of them.
   A.  Not really.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  My next question was going to be where
       would one go to read what they are but if you are not
       aware of the core principles it is unnecessary to ask
       you that.
           The fifth question --
   A.  Sorry, can I come back to that.  It depends in terms of
       core principles around -- is it behaviours or?  I can't
       remember what it was in relation to.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you don't have a detailed knowledge
       of it, not to worry, I can get it from another witness.
           Today in re-examination Mr Cavender took you to
       a document which is at {F3/212/1}.  It was about twelve
       minutes ago he asked you.  You see that is from
       December 2014.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If we could go to page {F3/212/11},
       please.  You will see there is a section that begins at
       section 13.  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "There are two routes by which
       postmasters might instigate the dispute process:
           "Transaction corrections.
           "Branch discrepancies."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then there is a section that starts
       "Transaction Corrections" at 13.3.  And if we go over
       the page {F3/212/12} to 13.3.4.  13.3.3 and 13.3.4.
       Basically this document seems to be dealing with
       transaction corrections in two ways.  One where there is
       sufficient time to investigate and one where there is
       insufficient time to investigate before the branch
       trading rollover, do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  In 13.3.2 and 13.3.3 it is dealing with
       what happens when supporting information is sent in by
       a subpostmaster.  If you want, we can go back to page 11
       so you can read the bottom of page 11.  Do you want to
       do that?
   A.  Yes, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Back to page 11 {F3/212/11}.
           You see under "Transaction Corrections":
           "Branches should contact transaction correction
       issuer within 7 days of acceptance at branch to
       challenge the evidence provided to support the
       transaction correction wherever possible.  Where time
       permits ... branches should challenge prior to
       acceptance."
           So that is if they have enough time to challenge it.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  If you could go to {F3/212/12}:
           "If the challenge is accepted ... a compensating TC
       will be issued ..."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "On receipt of supporting information
       the issuing team will suspend the debt recovery process,
       if the transaction correction was settled centrally,
       until a response has been made."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That suggests to me, and if I am wrong,
       please tell me, that if one settles something centrally
       the debt recovery process would then begin to be
       performed unless the issuing team suspended that
       process.
   A.  That is correct.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that correct?
   A.  That was referred to as being blocked, was the other
       terminology we used.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then if we go to the next page, please
       {F3/212/13}, at 13.5.2, that is effectively the same
       point.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Which is something has to happen to
       suspend the debt recovery process if something is
       settled centrally, is that correct?
   A.  That is correct.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Then my final question is just
       a terminological one.  Hopefully you can answer this
       without necessarily there being a need to take you to
       any documents.
           What is the relationship, so far as you know,
       between settling something centrally and the suspense
       account?
   A.  Sorry, repeat that question, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  In various documents there are
       references to "the suspense account".
   A.  Right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What is your understanding of the
       relationship between settling something centrally and
       the suspense account?
   A.  There's a suspense account within the branch, it holds
       the amount within the branch although it takes it out of
       the payments and the receipts balance line.  Settle
       centrally takes it out of the branch account and takes
       it into the bigger Post Office account.  It is
       associated with the postmaster customer account but
       not -- it doesn't affect the branch account at the time
       it is taken out of it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That is very helpful.
           Any questions arising?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I have two, if I may.
              Further re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  You were asked one question by his Lordship in
       relation to your witness statement and its length.  If
       we go to page {Day9/67:18} of the transcript, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Today's transcript?
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes.
           You gave an answer there.  Can we go to your witness
       statement at page {C2/1/23}.  Look at footnote 22.  Do
       you set out there the limitation that you had set in
       terms of scope of evidence?
   A.  Yes, it was what I said about being relevant.
   Q.  Without telling me what other people may have advised
       you as to relevance, did other people give you any
       advice as to the scope of the issues for this trial that
       you were dealing with in your evidence?
   A.  In terms of what I thought this trial was about, it was
       around, yes, the implied terms of the contract, as
       opposed to the Horizon evidence being into the next
       trial.
   Q.  Thank you.
           Then at page {Day9/71:1} his Lordship asked you
       a question about transaction corrections by reference to
       those two documents.  And it was put to you that
       assuming nothing else happened then the debt recovery
       process would commence.  And I think you said yes, if
       nothing else happened.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If you were going to dispute a transaction correction
       would something else have happened to prevent the debt
       recovery process occurring?  And if so, what?
   A.  When a transaction correction is issued to branch, it is
       issued with a contact name and number on it that says
       "Any queries about this, please contact ..."  And
       I would expect the branch to contact that person and
       they would have a conversation.  At that point they
       would put that -- if there is a dispute they would put
       that on hold then.  It would be triggered that way.  So
       rather than through the NBSC, it would be triggered
       direct to the transaction correction team.
   Q.  If it is a situation where there is no time, at
       rollover, would that transaction correction amount be
       settled centrally?
   A.  It could be, yes.
   Q.  And is there a method of disputing the transaction
       correction on rollover in that mode?
   A.  Yes, you would dispute it through NBSC.  You'd ring
       NBSC.
   Q.  I see.  And if that happened would the debt recovery
       process continue or would it stop?
   A.  So the process is it goes into NBSC and they would then
       contact the respective transaction correction team,
       whichever the product would be, and then they would
       suspend it.
   MR CAVENDER:  Nothing further.
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, I had a question but I couldn't find the
       reference for it.  It arises in relation to the suspense
       account question your Lordship asked.  May I put that to
       the witness?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It arises out of my question?
   MR GREEN:  Indeed, the general ledger and the relationship
       with the suspense account.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I didn't ask a question about the
       general ledger.  I asked what GL stood for.  Put your
       question and we'll see.
              Further cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.
           Could you be shown {G/36/6}, please.
       Paragraphs 2.17 and 2.18.  Second Sight say:
           "We have been advised that, in each of the financial
       years 2012, 2013 and 2014, amounts in excess of £100,000
       have been taken to the credit of Post Office's P&L
       Account and we have asked for a detailed breakdown ..."
           Then in 2.18:
           "In addition to the credits being taken to
       Post Office's general suspense account we have been
       informed very recently that at each year-end substantial
       unreconciled balances existed on many of the individual
       suspense accounts."
           Can you just explain to the court what the
       difference between a general suspense account and an
       individual suspense account is?
   A.  The individual suspense account is the one that is held
       within the branch accounts, within -- within branch
       accounts.  The broader suspense account is that -- is
       held within Post Office accounts as a business,
       Post Office accounts, and they are quite separate.
   MR GREEN:  I am grateful.  My Lord, that was all.
   MR CAVENDER:  I have no questions arising.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I didn't imagine you would but I wanted
       to give you the opportunity.
           Thank you very much, Mrs Van Den Bogerd.  I suppose
       it might be a half marathon but it was certainly
       a lengthier stint than most witnesses are going to have.
       You are free to go if you wish.
           We will now have a short break for the transcribers
       and then we are going to have Mr Dance next, is that
       right?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We will come back in ten minutes.
   MR GREEN:  With your Lordship's leave, Ms Donnelly will be
       taking Mr Dance.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I had expected some distribution of the
       cross-examination across your magnificently numerous
       team.
   (12.26 pm)
                         (A short break)
   (12.37 pm)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I call Mr Timothy Dance, please.
                   MR TIMOTHY DANCE (affirmed)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Have a seat, Mr Dance.
   MR CAVENDER:  Mr Dance, in front of you there should be
       a bundle of documents.  Could you turn to your witness
       statement {C2/5/1}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Go to paragraph 28, please {C2/5/9}, you should have
       next to you a replacement page.  I think there is a typo
       in line 3?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  And you want to correct that, the final digit of the POL
       document number to zero so that it reads 0155770, is
       that right?
   A.  Yes, please.
   Q.  If you go to your witness statement, to the back of it,
       there is a witness statement of twelve pages.  On
       page 12 {C2/5/12} you see a signature.  Is that your
       signature?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  Subject to that one amendment to paragraph 28, are the
       contents of this statement true?
   A.  Yes, they are.
   MR CAVENDER:  Wait there, please.  You will be asked some
       questions.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Ms Donnelly.
                 Cross-examination by MS DONNELLY
   MS DONNELLY:  Mr Dance, you are the retail transformation
       integration manager currently?
   A.  Yes, I am.
   Q.  What does that role involve?
   A.  It is a programme management office role.  It involves
       reviewing the performance of programmes and ensuring
       project governance.
   Q.  Who do you report to?
   A.  I report to a lady called Debbie Jones.
   Q.  Prior to your current position you were the finance
       performance manager, is that right?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  If we could have on screen {C2/5/2}.  Looking at
       paragraph 8 of your witness statement, you describe
       there what you did in that role.
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  I am just looking from:
           "My responsibilities included supporting Sharon Bull
       in the governance of the NT programme's financial
       processes.  By governance, I mean ensuring that
       financial processes are in line with Post Office and NT
       requirements for due diligence in the business plan
       evaluation and payment to subpostmasters.  This, in
       turn, included overseeing the governance of procedures
       for reviewing:
           "8.1 Business plans submitted by potential new
       subpostmasters ..."
           Perhaps in slightly more everyday language, just to
       understand, were you responsible for the content of
       business plans, the pro forma business plans that were
       sent out?
   A.  Yes, in relation to network transformation.  So the --
       I should clarify.  The business plan application process
       is an established process that has run for many years
       before my time in the role.  Network transformation was
       quite a unique programme, it had slightly different
       aspects in terms of the business, so I was asked to look
       at: did what we already have fit what was required for
       network transformation?  Were there any adaptations
       required?  And, as part of that work, any changes to
       a programme that would then have to be considered as
       part of "business as usual".  You couldn't have two
       different things, you had to make them so that
       ultimately they would be aligned.  But I would look at
       any changes that might be required, yes.
   Q.  Changes that might be required to the content of the
       pro forma business plans, yes?
   A.  Yes, the content and how they were assessed.
   Q.  Thank you.  Just on that latter point, how they were
       assessed.  How did your role relate to the business plan
       finance team?
   A.  So, effectively, I headed up a small team of two people
       originally.  I perhaps should try and clarify the
       structure at the time.  So I reported to a lady called
       Sharon Bull, she had a number of finance performance
       managers covering the network function, so there was
       a chap called Ron Greenfield who was my equivalent in
       terms of the "business as usual" side.  I was the
       finance performance manager for the network
       transformation.  I had two people in my team, he had
       some people in his team.  He would review business plans
       as part of the "business as usual" churn for cases and
       my team would look at the network transformation ones.
       We also had a separate team that sat within central
       finance that looked at business plans as well.  So there
       were various people.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Dance, you are going to have to talk
       quite a bit more slowly.  And could you also keep your
       voice up, please.
   MS DONNELLY:  When you came into this role, you said you had
       to look at what you already had, and what you already
       had would have been in relation to the subpostmasters
       contracts, pre-NT.  When you came into this role was
       there a period where you familiarised yourself with the
       existing documents and processes relating to business
       plans?
   A.  Yes.  In fact in the start of my role the training was
       very much looking at how we assessed business plans.
   Q.  And would you have had access to historical documents,
       how we had done it over time?
   A.  It was online -- sorry, it wasn't online.  It was
       sitting down with a member of the team who had moved
       across when I joined, effectively on-the-job training.
   Q.  But if you had wanted to see some business plans for the
       previous year or a couple of years before that,
       presumably that would have been no problem?
   A.  Yes, in terms of what would reasonably have been
       assessed in the weeks before I joined.  But as processes
       change over time it would make more sense for me to look
       at the most recent ones.
   Q.  But your witness statement isn't limited, is it, to just
       the business plans in relation to network
       transformation?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  Could we have on screen, please {C2/3/4}.  This is part
       of Mr Breeden's witness statement.  If you see at
       paragraph 14, he sets out some key steps.  Do you see
       those?
   A.  Yes, I do.
   Q.  "As far as I am aware from my own experience and from
       speaking with colleagues who worked for Post Office
       before my time, they have been broadly the same for
       nearly 30 years.  The steps are as follows:
           "1. A person decides that they want to be
       a subpostmaster and they make an application to
       Post Office.
           "2. The application will include a business plan
       which is reviewed by Post Office."
           Just pausing there, it is obvious, isn't it, that
       the standard form business plan that is sent out by
       Post Office to the applicant is at a very early stage in
       the process?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  So it is before the interview?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it is before they have seen a copy of the contract
       or any contract terms?
   A.  I wouldn't get involved with that in terms of what
       an applicant saw.  All I know is that effectively
       a potential new operator would be asked would they be
       interested in applying for a role.  You know, in terms
       of applying for a Post Office, what information they had
       seen at that point, I wouldn't necessarily get involved
       with.  I would see the business plan as it came in.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Dance, slowly please, and remember
       you really need to speak so that the person right over
       there at the back of the court can hear you as well.
   A.  Okay.
   MS DONNELLY:  Let's look then, please, at {E3/23/1}.  This
       is a letter sent to Mr Sabir which he described in his
       witness statement included the standard form business
       plan for him to return.  We can see in the middle of the
       page there is reference to:
           "All costs, liabilities and expenses ..."
           Being at the applicant's own risk?  Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  Under that:
           "Subpostmasters hold a contract for service ...
       consequently agents not employees."
           So that was included?
   A.  Okay, yes.
   Q.  Over the page {E3/23/2}.  We can see on that page
       information about remuneration and opening hours.
   A.  Yes, I can see that.
   Q.  And over the page again, please {E3/23/3} at the bottom
       of that page -- just halfway down there is reference to
       some restrictions on products and services.  Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And then "Proposed conditions of appointment."  They
       would be -- this would have been required works that
       Post Office might require for the branch, say, if there
       were some updating works to be done that might cost some
       money that needed to be included in the business plan,
       that is what those proposed conditions of appointment
       might be?
   A.  It could include that, yes.
   Q.  If we could go to the more recent version.  {E6/2/1}.
       I think this might be referred to in your witness
       statement.  It's an email to Mrs Stockdale and if you
       see at bullet point 3 there is a link to download the
       business plan.  Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  There are various other attachments that we can see
       there.  None of them is the standard contract, is it?
   A.  No, not based on that.
   Q.  If you see just one of them.  Point 4:
           "There is a guide to assist with the preparation of
       the business plan ..."
           If we go please to {E6/5/1}.  That is the guide that
       is being referred to there, isn't it?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  I think you describe at paragraph 14 of your witness
       statement {C2/5/5} that:
           "The AAPT sent applicants a standard form business
       plan to complete in full, along with detailed guidance
       to assist with its preparation covering, for example,
       scope of information required."
           And one of the documents you are saying provided
       that detailed guidance is the document that we just had
       on the screen, is that right?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  The guidance that is really being provided in this
       document {E6/5/1} is what Post Office requires the
       applicant to fill in in particular tabs, is that right?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  If we just go forward another page, please {E6/5/2}, and
       then the final page {E6/5/3}.  That is the extent of
       that guidance.  If we could also go to {E6/42/1}.  This
       isn't a document that was on the email, the email to
       Mrs Stockdale, but it is the other document that you
       referred to in your witness statement, isn't it?
   A.  That is, yes.  That is correct.
   Q.  This is a hard copy document that would have been sent
       out?
   A.  It possibly could have been sent out electronically.
       That I don't know.  It would be the AAPT team that would
       send it out.
   Q.  If we have a look in this document, please at {E6/42/2}.
       There is information in this document -- you can see
       for example on the bottom half of the page about what
       needs to be filled in in particular tabs and particular
       sections, isn't there?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  If we go to {E6/42/5}, looking at the bottom half of the
       page, it is right, isn't it, that applicants are
       required to sign a declaration?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  So looking at declaration number 1:
           "For use where the prospective operator is
       an individual.
           "Declaration: I confirm that the information and
       documentation contained within this financial assessment
       is a true and accurate reflection of my
       personal/business financial position as at the date of
       my signature below.  I also confirm that the business
       plan which is attached has been prepared with reasonable
       care and skill and that it is accurate to the best of my
       knowledge and belief."
           Why did Post Office require applicants to sign
       a declaration like that?
   A.  Because the business plan is information that the
       applicant is providing to be assessed as part of the
       consideration for a Post Office and it was to make it
       very clear to them that the assessment, for instance,
       within my team, that would be performed, was not asking
       them any kind of professional advice or guidance.  It is
       information that they should provide to the best of
       their knowledge.
   Q.  It's a bit different, isn't it?  It is not dealing with
       whether Post Office is providing any advice or guidance.
       That is separate.
   A.  Apologies --
   Q.  This is a declaration about information and
       documentation being true and accurate and the plan
       having been prepared with reasonable care and skill.
       Again, being accurate.  What would be the consequences
       if an applicant provided untrue information or
       inaccurate information, say -- and was appointed and
       Post Office found out, say, six months into their
       position?
   A.  That would then refer to the contract and the terms of
       the contract.
   Q.  What might be the consequences for the person?
   A.  It would come back to a potential breach of contract
       I would imagine, based on the actual contract terms.
   Q.  So Post Office includes this declaration with a view to
       potentially relying on it as against the applicant?
   A.  Yes, very much so.  It is essential to the business plan
       that an applicant provides a true and fair -- or
       accurate information.
   Q.  In your witness statement, please {C2/5/2}, paragraph 5:
           "Post Office's solicitors have provided me with the
       documents referred to in this witness statement relating
       to Lead Claimants Mrs Elizabeth Stockdale and
       Mrs Louise Dar to use as examples when discussing
       business plans for the purposes of preparing this
       statement."
           We can look on to {C2/5/4} please.  We see there at
       the end of paragraph 12 that you are referring to
       Mrs Stockdale's business plan -- you are referring to
       the content of Mrs Stockdale's business plan there,
       aren't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Using hers as the example?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  On to page {C2/5/5}, please.  Paragraph 15 at the
       bottom, you are relying on the business plan sent to
       Mrs Dar for the point you mentioned earlier; that
       Post Office takes the position that applicants shouldn't
       rely on anything in the pro forma business plan?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  Now, Mrs Stockdale and Mrs Dar, their business plans are
       obviously the most recent versions of all the lead
       claimants, aren't they?
   A.  Yes, they are.
   Q.  And before preparing your witness statement, presumably
       you had also seen the documents relating to the other
       lead claimants?
   A.  Not at the time of my witness statement.  I don't recall
       that.  I was asked to look -- asked for my involvement.
   Q.  Earlier, when I asked whether your statement was
       confined to just network transformation business plans,
       you confirmed that, no, it wasn't, it was wider than
       that.  Are you saying that, when you prepared your
       witness statement, you didn't look at all at documents
       relating to business plans for lead claimants other than
       Mrs Dar and Mrs Stockdale?
   A.  I would have looked at business plans generally.  So
       I was asked to provide a witness statement and, to
       refresh my mind, I had to go back and look at previous
       business plans, yes.
   Q.  So did you look, for example, at the business plan of
       Mr Bates?
   A.  No, I did not.
   Q.  Mr Sabir?
   A.  No.  Not as part of my witness statement, no.
   Q.  Have you looked at them since preparing your witness
       statement?
   A.  Yes, I have seen their witness statement, yes.
   Q.  Have you looked at the documents relating to business
       plans as referred to in their witness statements?
   A.  Yes, I have.
   Q.  Those business plans are very different, aren't they,
       from the business plans of Mrs Dar and Mrs Stockdale?
   A.  Yes, they are, in terms of the format of them, not
       necessarily some of the content areas.
   Q.  If we can go back to page {C2/5/4}, please, in your
       witness statement, the paragraph I asked you about, at
       the end of paragraph 12 referring to the business plans
       of Mrs Stockdale.  You say:
           "I confirm that the pro forma used here was
       consistent with the business plans being requested by
       Post Office at the time."
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  What is the intended span of that phrase "at the time"?
   A.  That was to mean that, at the time that these applicants
       applied, that was the pro forma in use at that time.
   Q.  But your witness statement is giving the impression that
       Mrs Stockdale's business plan is representative of
       a period of time, isn't it?
   A.  At that time; the time that she applied.
   Q.  So it's only representative of the day she was sent it;
       is that your evidence?
   A.  No, there would be -- there would -- so the process --
       or the pro forma used would change over time.  At the
       time that Mrs Stockdale applied, that was the pro forma
       that was in use at that time.  That would not be solely
       for her application, that would be for any other
       applicant during the time that that version of that
       pro forma was in use.
   Q.  So the version that was sent to Mrs Stockdale, how long
       was that the current version?
   A.  I am afraid I do not know off the top of my head.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So I should really read that sentence
       as:
           "At the time she applied ..."
   A.  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But you don't know what period of time
       it was before it was changed?
   A.  Not off the top of my head I don't, no.
   MS DONNELLY:  Could we go to {E6/27/1}.  I think this is
       Post Office's copy of Mrs Stockdale's business plan
       which she sent back, is that right?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  Do you see there is a disclaimer at the bottom of
       the page?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  "Post Office Limited hereby excludes its liability for
       any act or omission, negligent or otherwise, and for any
       negligent mis-statement on the part of itself, its
       employees or agents in connection with this financial
       model.  It should not be assumed or implied that the
       financial model has been prepared, checked, approved or
       endorsed either as a whole or as to any particular part
       by Post Office Limited.  Figures included in this
       financial model are estimates in all cases and no
       warranty or guarantee as to their accuracy is given by
       Post Office Limited."
           It's quite defensive, isn't it?
   A.  It is a statement.  It makes it very clear the position
       of -- what I see as the business's position.
   Q.  It is quite defensive, isn't it?
   A.  I think it is important to leave an applicant under no
       illusion as to the way the information is used and
       assessed, and ...
   Q.  Why is that important?
   A.  Because somebody who is applying to run a Post Office
       may think that an assessment that has been undertaken by
       a department in the Post Office may in some way give
       credence to that business plan.
   Q.  This isn't the financial assessment, this is the
       disclaimer on the business plan.
   A.  Yes.  So if they -- if it was ... (pause).  In that
       I was referring to -- where it says:
           "It should not be assumed or implied that the
       financial model has been prepared, checked, approved or
       endorsed either as a whole or as to any particular part
       by Post Office Limited."
   Q.  Go to the next page, please.  {E6/27/2}.  We have the
       disclaimer on that page as well, haven't we?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the next page {E6/27/3}.  A disclaimer on almost
       every page of the business plan?
   A.  It's on, yes, a number of pages.
   Q.  If we could go to {E6/2/1}, which is the mail we were
       looking at, sent to Mrs Stockdale, do you see the
       pro forma was sent to her on 8 November 2013?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  Can we now go to {E5/31/1}.  Do you see there an email
       sent to Mrs Dar.  It says "Day to Day Express, Lenzie".
       That was the name of her shop?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  It is dated 18 September 2013.  Do you see that?
   A.  I do see that, yes.
   Q.  "Please find attached a copy of the latest business plan
       which you may complete for your application for Lenzie."
           If we go to {E5/32/1}.  That is the version of
       a Post Office business plan sent to Mrs Dar, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.  It looks like the pro forma.
   Q.  Have a look, please, at the disclaimer at the bottom of
       the page.  Do you see it has become even more
       comprehensive?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  I'm not sure if we have moved on from the first page.
       Is that the page we were looking at?  Look at the bottom
       of that page.  If you see about four lines down:
           "It should not be assumed or implied ..."
           Sorry, just above that three lines down:
           "Post Office Limited hereby excludes its
       liability ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  Just read to yourself from there.  Those lines look
       quite similar, don't they, to the disclaimer we saw in
       the version sent to Mrs Stockdale?
   A.  Yes, I agree.
   Q.  I think "financial model" has been replaced with the
       words "business plan" here.  But otherwise what appears
       in the middle of this text is the same disclaimer
       effectively that we saw on Mrs Stockdale's version?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But there are now some new additions.  So:
           "Post Office Limited has included some formulae in
       this spreadsheet by way of an illustration to assist you
       with the preparation of this business plan, but it gives
       no warranty that the formulae are accurate or
       appropriate in any respect whatsoever and you must take
       your own advice when preparing the business plan."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  Then do you see the words "estimates of year 1 fees"
       about mid-way through -- do you see 80 to 90 per cent?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  Just above there:
           "The estimates of year 1 fees are based on the
       volumes of transactions at the existing branch for the
       last 12 months assuming a customer migration rate of 80
       to 90 per cent and are based on the then current fees
       rates for the relevant products/services.  There is no
       guarantee that these are the actual fees you would
       receive or that these levels of customer migration would
       be achieved."
           And it goes on on a similar theme for a number of
       lines in relation to fees, disclaiming liability in
       relation to fees estimates, doesn't it?
   A.  It does, yes.
   Q.  Was that an addition specific to the network
       transformation programme?  Those additional words to the
       disclaimer about the migration rate, is that
       an expansion of the disclaimer taking into account
       aspects of the network transformation programme?
   A.  No, it should be standard with other business plans as
       well.  Because an estimate is given of the range of
       remuneration that a potential applicant could receive.
   Q.  What we see, two business plans, very similar period of
       time.  They are about seven weeks apart.  One has
       a smaller disclaimer, although still attempting to be
       extremely comprehensive, and one now has reference to
       formulae and about fees, migration.  So do you know
       which is the later version?
   A.  Unfortunately there isn't a version number, so my
       apologies.  If it has more information on it, normally
       that would be the later version.
   MS DONNELLY:  My Lord, is that a convenient moment?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, it is.  We will come back at
       2.05 pm.
           Mr Dance, you are in the middle of giving your
       evidence, being cross-examined.  You are not to talk to
       anyone about the case.  If you would come back at
       2.05 pm, I would be very grateful.
   (1.05 pm)
                     (The short adjournment)
   (2.05 pm)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes, Ms Donnelly.
   MS DONNELLY:  {C2/5/4}.  We were looking at paragraph 12,
       Mr Dance, before lunch.  Do you see mid-way through this
       paragraph "NFSP" appears in bold?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Just above there:
           "Post Office would discuss with the
       National Federation of Subpostmasters (NFSP) the
       questions asked in business plans.  The NFSP, therefore,
       was aware of what information applicants had to provide
       in their business plans."
           Did you have those discussions with the NFSP?
   A.  I did not.
   Q.  Who did?
   A.  My boss, Sharon Bull, sat on a steering committee.  So
       there is -- with the programme there is a steering
       committee on which the Federation of Subpostmasters
       would also sit.
   Q.  So would any change to a business plan be discussed with
       the NFSP?
   A.  If it was a significant change affecting the nature of
       the information asked, normally, yes, it would be
       presented at the steering committee.
   Q.  What about adding or amending disclaimers?
   A.  Normally, yes.  I was not present at it but I would
       assume that would be discussed at the steering
       committee.
   Q.  Do you know?
   A.  I don't know as I did not attend it.
   Q.  Why did you think this was something relevant to put in
       your witness statement?
   A.  Because we are asking applicants for information,
       sometimes they approach the Federation of Subpostmasters
       for advice in terms of what sort of information can be
       provided.
   Q.  Were there any discussions with the NFSP, to your
       knowledge, about the process of assessing business
       plans?
   A.  Not that I took part in myself.  No.
   Q.  Or any that you are aware of?
   A.  Not that I am aware of, because the majority of this
       process pre-existed when I joined the role.  So it is
       not that it massively changed during my role, there
       would be slight amendments to the process.
   Q.  But you just don't know?
   A.  That is correct, I don't know.
   Q.  That is the bottom line.
           Could we look, please, at {E1/2/1}.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can we just go back a minute to the
       document we were just looking at.  {C2/5/4}
           Just so I can be clear about what your last answer
       meant, when you say "the majority of this process
       pre-existed", is that the process you are talking about
       that you have been asked questions about, the
       discussions with the NFSP?
   A.  Yes, my Lord.  The information in paragraph 12 of my
       witness statement, the majority of that information
       didn't change during my time in the role, it was there
       before my role.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think you rather -- we might be at
       cross-purposes.
           In the middle of the paragraph you say:
           "Post Office would discuss with the NFSP the
       questions asked in business plans."
           Is that what you are saying happened before your
       involvement?
   A.  Yes, and if there were any changes during my role.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So therefore the next sentence which
       asserts that the NFSP was aware of what information
       applicants had to provide, is that a conclusion drawn by
       you from information someone else has given you?
   A.  It is a conclusion drawn from me also because the
       information we send out to potential new operators, the
       applicants, is very visible to the Federation of
       Subpostmasters so they would see the sort of information
       that we would ask for.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Sorry, I don't understand that answer at
       all.
   A.  Sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What does "very visible to the
       Federation of Subpostmasters" mean?
   A.  The application, so for example, the business plan, the
       information we ask for, the questions that we ask would
       be visible to the Federation because it is standard
       information that we request for an applicant to fill out
       for a business plan, so the process.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I still don't understand that answer but
       I will leave it to Ms Donnelly to pursue that.
   MS DONNELLY:  Mr Dance, is your last answer effectively
       saying the Federation would know about the business
       plans because they could look at a business plan?
   A.  No, that is not what I am saying.  I am saying they
       could look at the information we would request and
       an applicant could ask the Federation questions.
   Q.  What you are referring to, "they could look at the
       information we request", so someone in the Federation
       could look at a business plan?
   A.  If the applicant had sought advice from the Federation
       is my understanding.
   Q.  That is what it boils down to?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  They could have a look at the business plan?
   A.  Yes, if one of their ...
   Q.  And as I understood previously, you don't know if they
       were consulted or any discussions happened with them
       about Post Office's process of assessing business plans?
   A.  Only that I would prepare information for my boss, and
       my boss would attend the steering committee.
   Q.  And you don't know if there were any discussions at the
       steering committee about the behind the scenes
       assessment of business plans?
   A.  I did not attend so I don't know.
   Q.  Thank you.
           Go now to {E1/2/1}.  This is the cover page of the
       business plan, standard form business plan sent to
       Mr Bates, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.  I haven't looked at this, but, yes.
   Q.  I thought earlier, Mr Dance, I asked whether you had
       seen the business plans or documents relating to
       business plans for other lead claimants before preparing
       your witness statement, and you said other than Dar and
       Stockdale no.  But whether you'd looked at other
       business plans and documents prior to your evidence
       today, I thought you said yes?
   A.  I said yes.
   Q.  So have you seen this document before?
   A.  Sorry, I was -- because -- I was presuming you were
       going to turn to the next page.  This is a cover page.
       So I haven't seen Mr Bates' business plan.
   Q.  You have seen this page before?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Are you saying you have only seen the cover page of
       Mr Bates' business plan?
   A.  I am saying that I have looked at certain of
       the business plans but I have not looked at Mr Bates'
       business plan.
   Q.  Okay.  Let's have a look at page {E1/2/10}.  This
       appears to be the first internal page of the standard
       form business plan sent to Mr Bates.  Are you saying you
       have never seen this before?
   A.  No, I have seen this before in relation to other
       applicants.  Mr Bates' application was also before my
       time in the role so the process was slightly different.
   Q.  So you would have seen this, would you, in part of your
       role, a plan like this, not for Mr Bates, but part of
       your role would have involved looking at plans from this
       era, is that how I understand your answer?
   A.  My role involved looking at business plans from when
       I joined the role onwards.
   Q.  If you hadn't seen Mr Bates' before just now, how have
       you seen this page that we are looking at before now?
   A.  Because when I've looked through old documentation
       I have seen some of the examples of what was used in the
       past.
   Q.  Okay.  So as part of your role you had looked through
       some previous versions of business plans, historical
       documentation, is that fair?
   A.  Yes, that is fair.
   Q.  What you will know then is that if we were to scroll
       forward to the next page {E1/2/11}, and the page after
       {E1/2/12}, and after that {E1/2/13}, there are no
       disclaimers in this business plan, are they?
   A.  Not on the pages you are showing on the screen, no.
   Q.  Can we go to page {E1/2/21}.  At the top of the page,
       "Advertising and Promotion":
           "Even though you may think you are taking over
       a prosperous business it is still vital that you
       undertake some promotional activities.  After all, it is
       no good having attractive products at the right price if
       no one knows you are there!  POCL is very keen that you
       should advertise and promote the retail side of your
       business but you cannot compete with your nearest Sub
       Post Office for Post Office business."
           If we go to page {E1/2/27}, "Profit Budget":
           "What is the purpose of a profit budget?  The
       purpose of a profit budget (or operating budget) is to
       show at the end of a given trading period if a profit or
       loss has been made during that period."
           Then "Income":
           "Income is calculated from:
           "Sales - this is the figure that you charge your
       customers.
           "Cost of sales - this figure is arrived at by taking
       the sales figure from above, less the value of opening
       stock plus purchases less closing stock."
           Do you see that content, and it goes on down the
       page?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  That content reflects the fact that most applicants to
       the role of subpostmaster are not experienced business
       persons, doesn't it?
   A.  I could not make that assumption from this.  This is the
       document providing information to the applicant.
   Q.  Would you expect to see this in a contract with
       WH Smiths?
   A.  I would not because typically -- the difference with
       a company like WH Smiths is they would have internal
       professional advisors, so they would know what these
       terms meant.
   Q.  They are extremely basic terms, aren't they, and basic
       descriptions being given?
   A.  To myself as an accountant, yes.  But to somebody who
       did not have knowledge of what that meant, potentially
       not if they didn't understand, for instance, what
       a profit budget was.  That might mean different things
       to different people.
   Q.  What this document indicates is that Post Office's views
       at this time, 1998, is that the sort of person who needs
       to fill in this business plan is quite commercially
       naive, that is what this document reflects, doesn't it?
   A.  I would disagree based on my personal knowledge.
       I think this is an attempt to provide the applicant with
       as much information as possible.
   Q.  Look at the bottom of the page.  It's quite difficult to
       read but:
           "An example of a partially completed profit budget
       appears overleaf.  When you have studied the example,
       complete your own profit budget using the blank
       provided."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  So the reader is being directed to study the example.
       It suggests that they are not very familiar -- or the
       person who drafted this doesn't expect the person
       completing the form to be very familiar with a profit
       budget?
   A.  I think it is giving -- I think it depends on the
       reader.  I think it is probably trying to standardise
       what has been shown above, somebody might have
       a different view of what a profit budget was.  It is
       giving an example to try and standardise: this is what
       we mean by the words above.
   Q.  It is telling the applicant to study it.  So when you
       have studied it then try your own, then complete your
       own.
   A.  Based on the wording of that, yes, it is giving
       an example.
   Q.  Over the page to {E1/2/28}.  These figures have actually
       been completed by Mr Bates, so they are not the example
       figures, but the rows we see on the left are the rows
       that have been populated by whoever within Post Office
       prepared this business plan, aren't they?  It's part of
       the standard form.
   A.  Based on that, if that is what the numbers within this
       document are, then ...
   Q.  So when you see income, sales, less cost of sale,
       Post Office remuneration, 75 per cent, et cetera, and
       then overheads?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I'm just looking at the bottom half-ish of that column.
       Advertising, printing, stationery, those sorts of
       entries.  So the subpostmaster or subpostmistress
       filling this in is putting their figures against those
       rows, that is right?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  What there is not anywhere here is a specific line for
       account to be taken of losses, is there?
   A.  That is correct, based on this document there is not
       a line in there for losses.  There is however a sundries
       line.  But it doesn't specifically ask the question to
       do with losses.
   Q.  "Sundries including wrappings."
           Do you know what wrappings would be?
   A.  I can only take that to mean if it was cards and
       stationery.  Wrappings is an unusual term.
   Q.  {E3/27/1}, please.  Have you seen this document before?
   A.  Yes, I have seen this document.
   Q.  This is the business plan in standard form that was
       completed by Mr Sabir in relation to Cottingley.  Do you
       know that he applied for two branches?
   A.  Yes, Crossflatts and Cottingley.
   Q.  He made both those applications in 2006, didn't he?
   A.  I believe so, yes.
   Q.  This is the Cottingley version and we actually have on
       here, bottom right corner, "Version 1.5, 25 April 2003",
       do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  Go, please, to page {E3/27/5}, "Premises":
           "Where and how you run your business will contribute
       greatly to its success.  It is essential that the outlet
       you provide is welcoming to customers whilst also being
       pleasant for you and your employees to work in."
           It is a similar style, isn't it, to what we saw for
       Mr Bates, little bits of guidance throughout the plan to
       the applicant?
   A.  Yes, I would agree with that wording.
   Q.  Page {E3/27/9}.  Again you can see at the top:
           "If your business is to succeed, you must retain
       existing customers and try to attract new ones.  To do
       this you must have a clear understanding who your
       customers are, what they purchase from you and, most
       importantly, why they choose to shop in your outlet.
       You need to identify what price your customers are
       prepared to pay and the level of service they expect to
       receive."
           Again, you wouldn't have this sort of content in
       a document you sent over to WH Smith, would you?
   A.  I would agree you wouldn't.
   Q.  It's the sort of content that is being provided because
       Post Office expects people filling in this business
       plan, applying to be subpostmasters or
       subpostmistresses, to be quite inexperienced?
   A.  Yes, it is about -- about trying to help standardise
       what information we require and why.
   Q.  Sorry, I am just not sure whether your "yes" is you
       agree that Post Office expects people filling in this
       business plan, applying to be subpostmasters or
       subpostmistresses, to be quite inexperienced?
   A.  I wouldn't say they would necessarily be inexperienced
       but they may not have much information on preparing
       a business plan.  It would depend on the individual.
   Q.  Inexperienced at preparing business plans?
   A.  Some applicants may be.
   Q.  Page {E3/27/19}, please:
           "To get your business off the ground you may have to
       borrow money.  Even if you do not, you will certainly
       need to keep a tight control on the finances of the
       business especially in the early months.  The business
       plan allows you to assess the financial viability of the
       business by asking questions about start-up costs,
       business expenditure, et cetera.  These figures are then
       transferred to a cashflow forecast and profit and loss
       budget.  These documents are a very important part of
       your overall business plan."
           Look at the words there, "the business plan allows
       you to assess the financial viability".  Do you agree
       there that applicants are being told this business plan
       is a tool for them?
   A.  Yes, I would do.
   Q.  Page {E3/27/25}, please.  Same sort of content we saw
       before.
           Page {E3/27/28}.  We can see at the top, "Example
       cashflow forecast for period", and there are some lines
       striking through the page, aren't there?
   A.  There are, yes.
   Q.  The figures on this page are the Post Office example
       figures that are provided in this plan.  That is right,
       isn't it?
   A.  This I don't know.  So again this pre-dates my time in
       the role.  I have seen this document.  I could not tell
       you whose numbers those were.
   Q.  Mr Sabir provided his numbers in a separate document, so
       he is very clear that these aren't his numbers.  And
       I am putting to you that these are the Post Office
       example numbers that have been provided.  Can we proceed
       on that basis for now at least?
   A.  If you wish to proceed on that basis.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am slightly confused.  Have you seen
       this document before today?
   A.  I have seen in the witness statement a set of accounts
       that the applicant -- or the agent prepared and I saw
       a financial assessment that was done on that set of
       accounts.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That doesn't actually tell me.  Have you
       seen this business plan before today?
   A.  Yes.  Sorry, my Lord, I have seen -- sorry, I haven't
       seen what he submitted, I have seen a set of accounts
       that is in his witness statement.  Whether that is
       the same as what was submitted here I do not know.  So
       in the witness statement there is a set of accounts and
       a financial review of the accounts he submitted.
   MS DONNELLY:  I am going to proceed for now on the basis
       that these will be Post Office example figures because
       it has "Example" at the top, and it has two lines
       crossing it out, and because as you know Mr Sabir
       separately provided projections, didn't he?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  We see the same sort of rows as we saw in Mr Bates'
       plan, don't we?  So round the middle of the page
       advertising, printing stationery, motor expenses,
       et cetera?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Postage, do you see?
   A.  Sorry, where is postage?
   Q.  Number 4 --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So in the example postage is allowed at £4 per month, do
       you see that?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  Someone studying this example might well get the
       impression that the type of things they should have in
       mind are quite well covered by all those rows if
       something as low as £4 a month postage has been
       included, do you agree?
   A.  Sorry, could you rephrase the question?
   Q.  The impression given by postage with £4 a month is that
       this is quite a comprehensive document in terms of
       identifying all the things that an applicant should have
       in mind when planning their cashflow forecast?
   A.  This is an example, there might be other categories in
       this pro forma.  Yes, postage is a line that is a small
       number.  For some other applicants it might be a large
       number.  And also the lines above may not be fully
       inclusive of other types of business expense within
       a business.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you like to put the question for
       a third time?
   MS DONNELLY:  Yes.  By including the line for postage and
       an example allowance of £4 a month, it gives the
       impression to somebody reading this example that it is
       quite comprehensive, doesn't it?
   A.  Yes.  Yes, with a small number, I can see that.
   Q.  There is no line for losses, is there?
   A.  No, there is no line for losses.
   Q.  Go, please, to {E3/31/1}.  This is the pro forma that
       was sent to Mr Sabir in respect of his Crossflatts
       application, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  This version, if you look in the bottom right, is
       "Version 1.9, October 2005".  Do you see that?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  So although he made both applications in 2006 he gets
       one 2003 version sent to him, he gets one version 1.5,
       April 2003, and he gets one version 1.9, October 2005?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you know why that might be?
   A.  I do not.  This was before my time in the role.  Other
       than I know this is why in my -- during my time in
       the role we have introduced the electronic business plan
       because, due to changes over time, it is far better to
       have a kind of pro forma that is fairly standardised so
       it is not a live portal.
   Q.  You say that, but when we looked at the two electronic
       versions for Mrs Dar and Mrs Stockdale you weren't sure
       at first which came first, were you?  You had to study
       the disclaimer to work it out?
   A.  That's correct, yes, and that is why the review of
       business plans has moved to an electronic format.
   Q.  Is it fair to say there is some disorganisation in
       Post Office's processes when it comes to business plans?
   A.  I would disagree.  It is a process that has been
       followed for many years.  Yes, there have been changes
       to the process.  But in view of how the business plans
       have been reviewed and what has happened after the
       postmaster has been appointed I think it is a robust
       process.
   Q.  If Mr Sabir's Cottingley business plan had been lost,
       what would you -- which version would you have said he
       would have been sent in 2006, according to your robust
       process?
   A.  It should be the latest version that was available at
       that time when he applied.
   Q.  And that would be wrong, wouldn't it, because he was
       actually sent the April 2003 version?
   A.  Yes, based on what you've shown me.
   Q.  So it's not a robust process, is it?
   A.  I disagree.  There might be reasons why that has been
       happened that I don't know about.
   Q.  We don't need to go through it in great detail but you
       know most of the content of this document is the same as
       the document that he was sent in relation to Cottingley,
       isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it is.
   Q.  If we go to  {E3/31/3}, this page is the big change,
       isn't it?
   A.  Yes, it adds extra information.
   Q.  So here there is a new page, "Introduction" has been
       added.  "Introduction":
           "A business plan is a planning document that
       outlines in words and figures your proposed business
       idea."
           Then skipping down four lines:
           "When you are considering starting a new business
       there are many aspects to think about and putting these
       things down in black and white will help to highlight
       the areas you need to consider.  In order to complete
       the business plan fully, you will need to carry out
       sufficient investigation into customer requirements and
       local competition."
           It is a similar style of sort of cozy guidance to
       quite an inexperienced person, isn't it?
   A.  I would agree it is similar, yes.
   Q.  Then under the greyed-out box:
           "The business plan is a monitoring tool for you."
           So expressly telling applicants that this business
       plan is a tool for them.  Do you see that?
   A.  I see that, yes.  It says all those sections must be
       completed, yes.
   Q.  Now look at the bottom of the page:
           "Post Office Limited hereby excludes its
       liability ..."
           And it goes on, doesn't it?  A full disclaimer now
       appears.
   A.  Yes, there is a disclaimer there.
   Q.  So on the one hand the applicant is being treated as if
       they are quite inexperienced, they need their hand
       holding, they are being told this is a monitoring tool
       for them, but then Post Office is excluding any
       liability for anything to do with this standard form
       plan, is that right?
   A.  Based on the wording of this document, yes, I would say
       that.  Well, based -- yes, sorry, yes.
   Q.  Do you know whether there was any particular sensitivity
       around this time that led to the introduction of
       a disclaimer like this?
   A.  I am afraid I do not know.
   Q.  Could we go please to {E3/49/1}.  You have seen this
       document before?
   A.  I have, yes.
   Q.  This is an internal Post Office document, isn't it?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  It is the agency business plan financial assessment of
       Mr Sabir's business plan submitted for Cottingley?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  If we go to page {E3/49/2}.  Are you familiar with how
       this works?
   A.  I am, yes.
   Q.  If we look at the top half of the page, or more than
       just the top half, we see "Income" and "Expenditure",
       yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "Outgoing P&L" and "Incoming".  Is it right that
       the figures that appear under "Outgoing P&L" have been
       taken from the outgoing subpostmaster's last set of
       accounts?
   A.  That is generally what that column should be, yes.
   Q.  And the "Incoming" figures will be the amounts that
       Mr Sabir provided?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  His projections for the first year?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  When we look along to "Change", the percentages there,
       that is the financial analyst analysing the change?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  And then "Note", we see in that column 1, 2, 3, 4.  If
       we go to the next page, please {E3/49/3}, the notes
       relate to the notes we see at the top of that page?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  Back to {E3/49/2}, please.  When we are looking under
       expenditure about mid-way down we see all those
       advertising, motoring, rates, et cetera.  They have all
       just been pulled across from the business plan, haven't
       they?
   A.  Yes, that is correct.
   Q.  Now look under "Other Cash Impacts", do you see the line
       "Provision for Losses"?
   A.  I see it, yes.
   Q.  That is not something that was anywhere in the standard
       form business plan sent to Mr Sabir?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  That line, leaving aside the number?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So is it right that Post Office internally made
       provision for £1,500 of losses to be made by the new
       subpostmaster or subpostmistress in their first year?
   A.  At the time, yes, when this business plan was reviewed,
       that is -- that happened, yes.
   Q.  Is that a standard Post Office policy?
   A.  That I do not know.  I -- when I started in the role
       somebody mentioned to me that this was done as part of
       the old process and that it had stopped.  I don't know
       how -- from whence it came.  But, yes, I am aware,
       having reviewed these documents, that that happened
       during a period of time.
   Q.  If we go to {E4/28/1} there is a financial assessment
       for Mr Abdulla?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go to {E4/28/2} we see the same line, don't we,
       provision for losses, £1,500?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Mr Sabir and Mr Abdulla didn't know anything about this
       provision prior to receiving disclosure in this
       litigation.  It is not something that they were told by
       Post Office, was it?
   A.  Based on the evidence that I have seen as part of this
       and that I have looked at, it does not -- yes, it was
       not something they were told about.
   Q.  Based on your understanding of the Post Office policy
       that apparently had been discussed with you in your
       role, you weren't told that subpostmasters were informed
       about this, were you?
   A.  I wasn't told that this provision for losses was in
       the policy.  I didn't see a policy document that said to
       include a provision for losses, but this was before my
       time.
   Q.  There is no good reason, is there, why if Post Office
       was making provision for £1,500 of losses in the first
       year, Post Office shouldn't tell applicants about that?
   A.  The way I look at it is this is a risk assessment, so
       based on all the risk assessments that I performed this
       is an internal risk assessment that is performed.  And
       from what I can understand, again trying to look through
       old documentation as to how this was prepared, it was
       based on a percentage of agent remuneration in the first
       year up to £1,500.  It is not done like that anymore but
       we do look at sensitivity.  So effectively it would say
       what is the net profit of the business?  What are
       the risks to that in terms of income changing, costs
       changing?
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you like to put the question
       again, Ms Donnelly.
   MS DONNELLY:  There is no good reason, is there, why if
       Post Office was making provision for £1,500 of losses in
       the first year, Post Office shouldn't tell applicants
       about that?
   A.  I don't necessarily think that Post Office should tell
       applicants about that.  As an example, if I were to
       apply for a mortgage, the mortgage company would assess
       me, they wouldn't tell me the checks they have performed
       on me.  If they did something that ran a simulation that
       said they had included a provision for something, they
       wouldn't necessarily tell me, they would just tell me
       whether it was pass or fail.
   Q.  A couple of things are a bit different here, though,
       aren't they?
   A.  Yes, it is different from applying for a mortgage, I
       would agree.
   Q.  Quite a few of the documents we have looked at are
       expressly telling the applicants the business plan is
       a monitoring tool for them.  That is one thing that is
       different?
   A.  It is their business, so effectively it is their
       business, they are applying to run a Post Office.
   Q.  No.  The documents that applicants are seeing are
       saying: your business plan is a monitoring tool for you.
       That is one thing.  Another thing is they are being told
       to study example cashflow forecasts which have provision
       for very small amounts, therefore giving the impression
       they are comprehensive.  Isn't it misleading for
       Post Office not to tell applicants that they are making
       provision for £1,500 of losses behind the scenes?
   A.  I don't know.  I don't know the policy at the time.
       This was before my time.
   Q.  If you look at the bottom of the page we're on just now,
       do you see it says page 3?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you see at the top of the page the electronic
       reference says page 2?
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  Are you aware that in both Mr Sabir and Mr Abdulla's
       financial assessments page 2 is missing?
   A.  I was aware, and I didn't know what page 2 was.  I had
       to look at other information to try and find out what
       page 2 was, again because it pre-dated my time.
   Q.  That is what we had to do as well.
           {F1/102.1/2}.  We have a financial assessment for
       another individual, haven't we?
   A.  This was exactly the one I looked at to get that
       information.
   Q.  If we go to page {F1/102.1/4}, we have the missing
       page 2 from Mr Abdulla and Mr Sabir's assessment.  Do
       you know why in the disclosed versions of Mr Abdulla and
       Mr Sabir's documents page 2 was missing?
   A.  I am sorry, I haven't got a clue.  I don't know.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  At some point can I have a hard copy of
       page 2.
   MS DONNELLY:  If we look under "Rows", you can see:
           "Income and expenditure are shown separately with
       net profit being calculated by deducting total costs
       from the gross profits.  Below this, other costs are
       shown and a provision is made for losses.  The provision
       is based on 5 per cent of first year salary up to
       a maximum of £1,500.  Discussions with retail network
       managers indicate that this is a reasonable allowance in
       the first year."
           So it's quite clear there was a standard policy at
       this time, isn't it?
   A.  Based on the assessment of the business plan this was
       certainly done for a period of time.
   Q.  Are you saying you don't know what period of time that
       was?
   A.  I am saying that, yes.  And it links to the fact that
       I didn't know how that was made up.  It was only by
       reading this document that I ascertained.
   Q.  But you have read this document before today,
       haven't you?
   A.  I have, yes.
   Q.  So have you tried to find out?
   A.  No, I have not, because it was before my time in
       the role.
   Q.  Provision for losses of £1,500.  Effectively what that
       would cover is, from Post Office's position, anything
       that Post Office claimed were losses under
       section 12(12) of the contract, do you agree?  The
       subpostmaster contract.
   A.  I don't know enough about the contract section.
   Q.  It indicates from reading this in context, discussions
       with retail network managers, it indicates that they are
       losses in branch, doesn't it?
   A.  Based on the way I read this, and the fact it was done
       as a first year, personally I took that to mean that if
       somebody was in the early stages of running a branch
       maybe they were less experienced, maybe there was a risk
       of losses.  That is me reading this document when I read
       it recently.
   Q.  So somebody, for example, receiving a transaction
       correction that wasn't very clear, invited to accept it,
       might in their first year accept it and incur some
       losses, whereas later when they became more experienced
       they might have realised it was wrong?
   A.  That I wouldn't know.  I didn't know anything about
       transaction losses.  I would take that to mean it is
       a cash business, there is a risk of loss of cash or
       theft or maybe accounting and there might be a loss.
   Q.  Or if Post Office had sent to the branch the wrong
       amount of cash, the inexperienced subpostmaster scans in
       the bar code, doesn't correctly realise -- I'll start
       that again.
           Post Office sends to the branch the wrong amount
       of cash.  The inexperienced subpostmaster scans in the
       bar code and doesn't correctly count the cash that is
       there, doesn't realise that Post Office has made
       an error.  They find themselves short at the end of the
       month.  This sort of allowance of £1,500 would cover
       that example, wouldn't it?
   A.  Potentially, yes.  It's a loss in cash.
   Q.  When did you first become aware of these documents and
       this policy?
   A.  I only became aware of this as part -- once I had done
       my witness statement and the claimant documents were
       shown to me or sent to me.
   Q.  So you are saying you hadn't seen any of this before
       preparing your witness statement?
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  And that is your explanation as to why none of it is in
       your witness statement?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is this a claimant document, this
       page 2?
   MS DONNELLY:  No, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is a Post Office document, is it?
   MS DONNELLY:  It is an internal Post Office --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I know that.  I mean in terms of
       disclosure.  This witness just said he hadn't seen it
       until he had done his witness statement and the claimant
       documents were shown to him.  But is this a claimant
       document, was my question.
   MS DONNELLY:  It is not, my Lord.  I had understood this
       witness's answers earlier to indicate that on realising
       that page 2 was missing from Mr Sabir and Mr Abdulla's,
       effectively a train of enquiry had led him to this
       document.
   A.  Yes, my Lord, that is correct.  I was trying to
       ascertain what the missing page was and then I received
       a copy of this.
   Q.  So do I understand your earlier evidence that this
       practice doesn't go on anymore?
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  But you don't know when it stopped?
   A.  I don't know when it stopped.
   Q.  It was something that was raised with you when you
       started in the role?
   A.  Yes, somebody -- when I was learning the role and the
       person was training me, I just asked about "Presumably
       we only use the information that's provided?"  The
       person training me said "A while back we did look at
       provisions for losses."  And that was the end of the
       conversation.
   Q.  Your witness statement doesn't explain at all, does it,
       the current process of financial assessment that is
       currently carried out?
   A.  That is correct.  It outlines the process but it doesn't
       explain the detail, no.
   Q.  If we go to {C2/5/7}, your paragraph 22, and looking at
       the end of that paragraph:
           "The business plan finance team would conduct
       an initial review of the business plan as a whole (which
       involved checking figures and financial information in
       supporting documents) to make a risk assessment of the
       applicant."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And the document you refer to there, {F1/156/6}, do you
       see at the bottom:
           "Review final business plan and determine if
       passed."
           Then:
           "Pass?"
           That tells us nothing, does it, about the actual
       assessment?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  Then back to {C2/5/7}, paragraph 23:
           "The initial review also involved the business plan
       finance team extracting numerical data from the business
       plan into the Excel marking grid tool that I referred to
       in paragraph 11.2 above.  This Excel tool would generate
       a risk score for the business plan to indicate areas
       where the plan has passed or failed the criteria.  This
       spreadsheet is shown in the document 'Record of Finance
       Plans' within the 'Agent Business Plans - Final Version
       of Business Plan Pack'."
           Then there's a reference.
           If we go to that reference {F1/117/1}.  I'm not
       missing something, am I?  There aren't any hidden
       formulae in this spreadsheet?
   A.  No, this is to give an example.
   Q.  So you see date, branch name, applicant, application
       number, finance analyst.  Yes?  And then there is
       a place to put scores or numbers for sales, rem, profit,
       et cetera?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  No indication in the document as to how those scores are
       reached?
   A.  No, but I can tell you that the information in this
       document comes from ultimately the Excel spreadsheet
       that is submitted with an applicant's business plan.
       There is an assessment that goes on behind the scenes in
       that, effectively Post Office has a version, and that
       generates risk scores.
   Q.  And have you chosen not to tell the court anything about
       that in your statement?
   A.  Because my understanding was it was discussing the
       process rather than individual cases.
   Q.  Can we go back to {E6/27/1}.  This is Mrs Stockdale's
       business plan that we looked at before.  If we go
       forward a page or two {E6/27/3}, the sort of chatty
       guidance we saw in the earlier business plans has gone,
       about advertising, understanding your customers.  That
       has all gone?
   A.  It has.  There were separate documents sent out with the
       business -- we looked at earlier in terms of business
       plans.
   Q.  I think, in fairness, even those documents don't have
       that sort of --
   A.  I would agree --
   Q.  -- cosy guidance.
           The type of person applying to be a subpostmistress
       or subpostmaster hasn't changed.  The business plan has
       changed, the standard form business plan has changed,
       but you are getting the same type of people applying as
       you had in 1998, 2005, 2006.  The same type of people
       are applying, aren't they?
   A.  Yes, other than you could research a lot of the
       information now online which you couldn't do before.  So
       you could do a lot of training oneself in terms of --
   Q.  For lots of people it will be their first business,
       won't it?
   A.  It could well be, yes.
   Q.  What was the thinking, because these plans are during
       your time, aren't they?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  During your time as finance performance manager.
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   Q.  So what was the thinking in Mrs Stockdale's plan and
       Mrs Dar's plan as to whether there should be a line for
       losses?
   A.  Sorry, could you repeat the question.
   Q.  Do you remember when we looked at the earlier plans we
       had advertising, motor expenses, et cetera.  I pointed
       out in a number of them, there is no line for losses.
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  So what was the thinking as to whether there should be
       a line for losses in these plans?
   A.  Sorry.  Basically it is a key part of a business.  The
       thought was that a pro forma that didn't include losses,
       it would be useful for an applicant to at least consider
       that as a possibility.  And it had both losses and also
       retail shrinkage was introduced.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that on this page?
   A.  Sorry, no, my Lord.  It will be on the subsequent page.
   MS DONNELLY:  I believe it is {E6/27/5}.
   A.  It is towards the -- halfway down, just below halfway.
   Q.  Under "Variable non-staff costs", advertising and
       promotions, bank charges, cleaning.  Familiar lines.
       And then we have losses here, don't we?
   A.  Indeed we do, yes.
   Q.  Motoring and travel expenses, postage and stationery,
       repairs and renewals, retail shrinkage, miscellaneous
       and sundries.
   A.  Yes.  If it also helps to answer your question around
       why it doesn't hold the hand so much of an applicant,
       under network transformation we had a lot more people in
       the field, so as part of the application we had a team
       of people called field change advisors.
   Q.  I don't think I did ask that question.  The question
       I was asking was that you had the same kind of
       applicants.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  So here, as I understand your earlier answer, you
       thought it was important to include a line for losses,
       so that they at least considered that as a possibility?
   A.  Yes.  In part of running a business, when I came to this
       I thought, actually, it is a cash business.  In any
       retail business there is always a risk of losses of some
       sort.  Not just cash, losses could include losses on
       disposal, so if you sell an asset you might lose money.
       It is something to factor into managing a business.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So was it your initiative or idea to
       include a line for losses?
   A.  Losses and retail shrinkage was something I said we
       should definitely have going forwards.
   MS DONNELLY:  Those lines were added to Mrs Stockdale's
       plan.  I think earlier we thought Mrs Stockdale's plan
       came first and then Mrs Dar's plan because she had a
       longer disclaimer, do you remember?
   A.  Yes, there was also -- I think sometimes applicants have
       more than one attempt at completing a business plan as
       well, so it can also be: have you got the first version
       or the second version, so they can --
   Q.  Yes, but on the two versions that we've looked at,
       between Mrs Dar's version and Mrs Stockdale's version,
       when we looked at the disclaimers, Mrs Dar's disclaimer
       was longer and we thought that probably came second.
   A.  Yes, given the extra wording I would agree.
   Q.  So here you have decided that it's important that losses
       and retail shrinkage are provided for.  Did any of the
       guidance sent out to applicants with this business plan
       tell them the sort of things that they should have in
       mind?
   A.  No, not to include that.  But they could ask the field
       change advisor.  Or in the case of retail shrinkage you
       could Google it, it is a fairly standard term.
   Q.  Losses?  It is not obvious what should be included
       there, is it?
   A.  It can mean -- yes, there were lots of types of losses.
   Q.  In fact this is Mrs Stockdale's completed plan.  She
       didn't make any provision, did she?  So she wasn't
       expecting any losses?
   A.  That is correct, and quite often that may be blank.
       It's up to the applicant whether they think they might
       make a loss or not in any area of the business.
   Q.  I don't know if you know, actually she had some feedback
       on her plan and made some amendments as a result, but
       she didn't have any feedback as to not making provision
       for losses, is that something you have looked at?
   A.  I haven't looked at it.  As somebody reviewing this, if
       somebody hadn't provided for losses that wouldn't overly
       concern me.  I would look at the rest of the business
       plan and the risks within the numbers of the business
       plan.
   Q.  If we go to {E5/32/1}.  I think we need the tab "Income
       Expenditure and Cash".  Do you see there, Mr Dance, at
       line 41, "Retail shrinkage"?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Where is the line for losses?
   A.  It is not on this document that I can see.
   Q.  So why has the line for losses been dropped?
   A.  I don't know the answer to that.
   Q.  This is during your time as financial performance
       manager.  You were a moment ago taking responsibility
       for losses and retail shrinkage being entered into the
       plan we were looking at for Mrs Stockdale?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So why is it that you can't explain why losses is
       no longer in this plan?
   A.  I don't know.
   Q.  Were you aware that losses was not in this plan before
       giving your evidence today?
   A.  No.  I looked at what I had in my witness statement and
       I looked at the lines there.  I didn't go back to this
       spreadsheet.
   Q.  So it's obvious, isn't it, when the plan did have losses
       included as a line, no guidance went out to applicants
       to explain what that line meant, what they should
       provide for?  And when the business plan doesn't have
       a line for losses, there is no guidance going out then
       either, is there, to inform applicants they might want
       to make provision for losses?
   A.  I have never seen any guidance on losses, no.
   Q.  Why not?  Why is there no guidance about losses?
   A.  Because it was an example -- in the pro forma it is
       an example line for them to consider.  As I mentioned
       earlier, for many they might think it is not a number
       they would put in and enter into their business plan.
   Q.  So many people wouldn't expect to have losses then?
   A.  It depends on the person and what they think -- their
       view of their business.
   Q.  And it depends on the information they have been
       provided by Post Office, doesn't it?
   A.  It could do, yes, in terms of you see a pro forma and
       whether it is on there, yes.
   Q.  In your witness statement {C2/5/9}, at paragraph 28:
           "Post Office did not give reasons for rejecting
       a business plan.  See for example item 5 (an example
       letter to an unsuccessful applicant from Post Office)
       within ... and which confirms it is against Post Office
       Limited policy to give reasons why a particular
       application has been unsuccessful."
   A.  That is correct.
   Q.  I think the original reference there was to {F1/116/1}.
       That clearly is not the right reference, is it, because
       it is "Dear outgoing agent"?
   A.  That is why it's changed.
   Q.  Yesterday we were told the correct reference should be
       at {F2/76.1/1} which is headed "Application for position
       as subpostmaster operator franchisee".  Are they options
       to delete?
   A.  Effectively, yes.
   Q.  These are letters going out from the agent recruitment
       team.  Are you familiar with their processes?
   A.  I am familiar with some of them but it is a separate
       team.
   Q.  Because the disclosure date for this document is
       22 June 2010.  So is this a document you would have been
       familiar with before preparing your witness statement?
   A.  I was aware of the principle.  I am certainly aware of
       the clause that we wouldn't normally give the reasons
       why it had failed.
   Q.  {F1/157/31}.  This is part of the agency application
       file which is exhibited by Mr Breeden and this document,
       according to its disclosure date, is 18 July 2012.  Do
       you see it looks like a template email:
           "Dear blank.  With reference to the vacancy at XXXX
       branch Post Office.  I have contacted you today as
       regards your business plan.  Unfortunately it has not
       met the necessary requirements.  However, I would like
       you to revisit the business plan and consider
       incorporating the feedback from our financial analyst."
           Do you agree, reading that document, it rather looks
       like feedback is provided on business plans?
   A.  That would normally only be if there was a small error
       like a number, if a zero has missed out or there was
       a fairly obvious error.
   Q.  You don't need a standard template email to tell someone
       they have missed out a zero.  This indicates that there
       is going to be some feedback from the financial analyst,
       not that there is a typo, doesn't it?
   A.  I'm not sure what this was used for.  I know my bit of
       the process.  So if ...
   Q.  That is exactly why I asked whether you were familiar
       with the role of the agent application team when you
       were exhibiting the letter we looked at a moment ago.
   A.  As I mentioned earlier, I am aware of parts of the
       process where we interact with their processes.
   Q.  Go please to {C2/13/3}.  This is part of Mr Trotter's
       witness statement.  Mr Trotter interviewed lead claimant
       Mrs Louise Dar.
           Look mid-way through paragraph 13:
           "I did not encourage her to re-apply ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  I see that, yes.
   Q.  "I did not encourage her to re-apply, although I can
       recall suggesting that as she was so eager to open a
       branch, if she still wished to be a subpostmaster, she
       would need to look at other options and resubmit her
       application with a new business plan as her first
       business plan was not financially viable due to high
       fixed costs."
           Do you agree that is giving feedback --
   A.  That is giving feedback, yes.
   Q.  So it's not a fixed position, is it, as your
       paragraph 28 might read, that Post Office didn't give
       reasons for rejecting the business plan?
   A.  I read that as outlining to the applicant they can
       resubmit a business plan.
   Q.  Go back to {C2/5/9}.  First sentence of paragraph 28:
           "Post Office did not give reasons for rejecting
       a business plan ..."
           Even on Mr Trotter's example they sometimes did,
       didn't they?
   A.  In my witness statement I am referring to specific
       reasons if somebody failed the business plan.  If it was
       you had failed the business plan but you had the option
       to reapply, then that is part of the process, that
       somebody can send in a second submission.
   Q.  So if Post Office rejects the business plan but there is
       an option to reapply, Post Office might give feedback?
   A.  It would depend on the situation.  Like I mentioned, if
       it was a small error, you don't want -- if somebody has
       made a very small, clear error in the business plan it
       would be a shame for them to go back to the start of the
       process and have to redo everything again when you can
       say to them, effectively -- we're not there to give them
       financial advice, but if there is an error, "Do you want
       to reconsider that section and fill out a declaration
       and resubmit that particular section".
   Q.  Leave aside the small errors and the typos because that
       is not what we are talking about.  Sometimes when
       Post Office rejected a business plan, and they were
       encouraging somebody to reapply, someone was thinking
       about reapplying, they might give more substantive
       feedback, mightn't they?
   A.  They might give a bit more information, that is
       possible.
   Q.  Your paragraph 29 {C2/5/9}:
           "Where the business plan did not appear to be
       viable, the applicant had to decide how to change it if
       they wished to continue their application.  Post Office
       never changed applicants' business plans or corrected
       administrative errors on applications."
           How are you in a position to say that was never
       done?
   A.  Based on my experience in the role.  And it is something
       that is part of the training, that people were told the
       applicants' numbers are their numbers.  As we have seen
       before, there are columns.  So there is a finance
       adjusting column, there is an applicants column.
   Q.  Go please to {C2/13/4}.  Still Mr Trotter's witness
       statement, paragraph 14:
           "In paragraph 12 of her Individual
       Particulars of Claim it is said that following her
       interview in December 2013, Mrs Dar sent me a draft
       revised business plan in February 2014 which I amended.
       I did adjust Mrs Dar's staff costs in her second
       business plan to reflect the fact that Mrs Dar's husband
       and a full-time staff member would be running the branch
       and retail business.  These were suggestions by me as
       I was trying to be helpful."
           So do you agree it happened on that occasion?
   A.  That is a surprise to me.  That is not normal process.
   Q.  {E5/85/1}.  Do you see there the actual email that is
       being referred to in Mr Trotter's witness statement:
           "Please find attached your amended business plan.
       I have adjusted your staff costs to reflect the fact
       that your husband and a full-time member of staff ..."
           Do you see it goes on?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Then the last sentence:
           "Can you now resubmit your plan to Sharon Bohanna
       with your most recent 6 months bank statements ..."
           And do you see a cc list there, a number of other
       people are copied in.
   A.  Yes, I see that.
   Q.  It doesn't suggest, just from looking at that email,
       that it was a particularly unusual process, does it?
   A.  Based on who is cc'd, possibly not.
   MS DONNELLY:  No further questions from me.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Re-examination?
   MR CAVENDER:  One question, if I may.
                  Re-examination by MR CAVENDER
   MR CAVENDER:  If we go back to page {Day9/113:3} of the
       transcript, please.  You were asked here by my learned
       friend about the £4 a month allowance.  Do you remember?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And it was suggested to you therefore the impression
       given that the numbers in that sheet were comprehensive.
       Do you remember that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It was put to you a number of times.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Can we put that document back on screen, please
       {E3/27/28}.  This is the document you were being asked
       about.  You see the £4 postage in the middle?
   A.  I see it, yes.
   Q.  Would you expect there to be any water rates incurred by
       a postmaster?
   A.  It would depend on the landlord.  So potentially yes,
       but sometimes as part of a lease that might include
       utility bills.
   Q.  The same for heating, lighting and power?
   A.  It is possible, yes.
   Q.  Telephone?
   A.  Possible.
   Q.  Bank charges?
   A.  Bank charges less so.  That would depend on the sort of
       business bank account they had.
   Q.  But in terms of its comprehensiveness, are there any
       gaps in the information there from those that you would
       normally expect to be filled in which would impact on
       your impression about how comprehensive or not it was?
   A.  It would depend on the size of the business.  If it was
       a smaller business, as long as -- if it was a building,
       as long as it was insured, had utilities, had key parts,
       you would expect as overheads, repairs, renewals.  The
       number of categories would depend on the type of
       business and it is very difficult to have
       a one-size-fits-all.
   Q.  But in order to know how comprehensive this page was,
       would you need to ask further questions as to the
       matters you have just answered me about?
   A.  Potentially, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have a question.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Could today's transcript at {Day9/89:19}
       be put on screen, please.
           This relates to some evidence you gave me just
       before lunch.  If you look halfway through page 89 at
       line 17 {Day9/89:17}, you were asked by counsel about
       looking at the business plans for Mrs Dar and
       Mrs Stockdale.  You said what you said there at line 19
       {Day9/89:19}:
           "Answer: I would have looked at business plans
       generally.  So I was asked to provide a witness
       statement and, to refresh my mind, I had to go back and
       look at previous business plans, yes.
           "Question: So did you look, for example, at the
       business plan of Mr Bates?
           "Answer: No, I did not.
           "Question: Mr Sabir?
           "Answer: No.  Not as part of my witness statement,
       no.
           "Question: Have you looked at them since preparing
       your witness statement?
           "Answer: Yes, I have seen their witness statement,
       yes.
           "Question: Have you looked at the documents relating
       to business plans as referred to in their witness
       statements?
           "Answer: Yes, I have.
           "Question: Those business plans are very different,
       aren't they, from the business plans of Mrs Dar and
       Mrs Stockdale?
           "Answer: Yes, they are, in terms of the format ..."
           If we could now go to page {Day9/110:19}.  About
       twenty minutes ago, when you were then asked about
       Mr Bates' business plan, I understood you to say you
       hadn't looked at Mr Bates' business plan.
   A.  That is correct, yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I am a bit puzzled as to why, within
       about 90 minutes, firstly you said you had and then you
       said you hadn't.  So you hadn't before today looked at
       Mr Bates' plan, is that right?
   A.  That is correct.  Was there another one as well?  I had
       kind of looked at one.  I think there were two.
       Mr Sabir's I had looked at, Mr Bates' I hadn't.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You had looked at Mr Sabir's before
       today.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  But you hadn't looked at Mr Bates', is
       that right?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  So the first time you saw Mr Bates' is
       when counsel took you through it this afternoon.
   A.  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  That helps me.  Thank you very much.
           Anything arising out of that from either of you?
   MS DONNELLY:  No, my Lord, although I have a hard copy of
       page 2 as requested of {F1/102.1/1}.  (Handed)
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you.  We are going to have
       a ten-minute break for the shorthand writers and then
       I think you are calling Mrs Dickinson.
   MR CAVENDER:  Yes, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much for coming, Mr
       Dance.  You are now free to leave if you want but
       of course you can stay and watch the trial if you would
       like to.
           I will come back in at 3.19 pm.  Thank you very
       much.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   (3.10 pm)
                         (A short break)
   (3.20 pm)
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, can I call Helen Dickinson, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.
                   MRS HELEN DICKINSON (sworn)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do have a seat.
   MR CAVENDER:  In front of you there should be a bundle of
       documents including a witness statement you have
       prepared in this action {C2/6/1}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Do you have that in front of you?
   A.  I do, yes.
   Q.  If you scroll through it and go to internal page 7
       {C2/6/7}, at the bottom of that page there is
       a signature.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that your signature?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  Are the contents of this statement true?
   A.  It is, yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  Thank you very much.  Wait there, you will be
       asked some questions.
                  Cross-examination by MR GREEN
   MR GREEN:  Is it Mrs Dickinson?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  You are presently the security team leader at
       Post Office Limited?
   A.  I am, yes.
   Q.  You weren't ever a subpostmaster or subpostmistress
       yourself?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Your evidence in your witness statement on page
       {C2/6/2}, the heading there is "Fraud in Branches".
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say:
           "In my experience, a large majority of
       subpostmasters are honest.  Those that do commit acts of
       dishonesty are not necessary 'bad' and often don't have
       histories of dishonesty."
           That is because you have encountered quite a lot of
       people with blemishless histories who you regard as
       having committed acts that you would characterise as
       dishonest?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And you go on to deal in your statement on the next page
       {C2/6/3}, at the top of the page, with something called
       the "fraud triangle"?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You say:
           "It is a well known model in the field of security
       that explains why an otherwise honest person may commit
       a dishonest act."
           And you say it starts when an individual is placed
       under financial pressure so that they need money.  Then
       there is a rationalisation of their actions as being
       permitted, and there's a self-perpetuating cycle, you
       say.  In paragraph 12 you give a typical scenario, you
       say, of how one small but improper step by an honest
       subpostmaster could escalate.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I think you then go on to describe how, once something
       like that has been done, it is very difficult then to
       make a clean breast of it.  If something has been going
       wrong, and perhaps you have been doing what you
       shouldn't be doing, it is very difficult to make a clean
       breast of it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is one of the features of what you are describing?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That has quite famously been applied to companies too,
       hasn't it?  Like Enron.  A fraud triangle has been
       applied to companies as well, hadn't it?
   A.  I'm not familiar with the Enron case.
   Q.  Are you familiar with the fact that there is quite a lot
       of articles about the fraud triangle in relation to
       fraudulent companies that take perhaps what begin as --
       improper steps, and then conceal them and conceal them
       and conceal them.  Are you aware of that?
   A.  In principle, yes, yes.
   Q.  Because there comes a point for the company that has not
       been completely open about what it's doing where the
       cost of being candid may appear to outweigh the benefit
       of being candid.  You can see how that would apply to
       companies just as much as to individuals, can't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Look at paragraph 13 of your witness statement, please.
       You say:
           "When completing their accounts, the subpostmaster
       might record that a shortfall has been made good without
       actually putting in the missing cash.  This may be for
       something like a simple reason that they have been
       unable to go to the bank to draw out the cash."
           Yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Let's give an actual example.  If they are hit by
       an unexplained discrepancy at the end of the balancing
       period, it's late at night perhaps on a Wednesday
       evening, the bank is closed, and the amount they would
       be required to put in in cash is more than the maximum
       allowed on any of their credit cards.  They can't get
       the cash, can they?
   A.  I wouldn't be able to comment on everybody's
       circumstances.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I don't think you are being asked to.
       I think it is a hypothetical scenario that is being put
       to you.
   A.  There could be some difficulty depending on the amount.
   MR GREEN:  If the amount is more than you can take out from
       the bank, from a cash machine when the bank is closed,
       the difficulty is a bit more than "some", isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  It is what we call impossibility, not difficulty?
   A.  There is also the retail cash as well: there are
       other --
   Q.  So they might have some retail cash --
   A.  Yes.  I wouldn't know what access they would have to
       cash.
   Q.  Let's look at --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Green, your hypothetical example,
       which I think you said was an actual example but is
       obviously hypothetical, is dealing solely with cash.
       There is also an option to put in a cheque,
       hypothetically, isn't there?
   MR GREEN:  Indeed.
           You are aware that deliberately writing a cheque
       that you know you are completely unable to pay can be
       a criminal offence?
   A.  Yes.  If you know there's no funds to clear that cheque,
       then basically ...
   Q.  Okay.  Let's look at the idea of accounts that you deal
       with at paragraph 19 {C2/6/4}.  The words you use there
       are:
           "The above scenario describes only one of the many
       ways that false accounts could be rendered so as to
       conceal shortfalls."
           You use the phrase "accounts could be rendered".
       What do you mean by that?
   A.  Submitted.  Prepared or submitted.
   Q.  I'm sorry?
   A.  Sorry, prepared and submitted.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Could you keep your voice nice and loud,
       please.
   A.  Yes, sorry.
   MR GREEN:  When you are talking about "submitted", you are
       talking about the figures on the Horizon system itself?
   A.  Yes, declared figures.
   Q.  If there is a discrepancy, I think you have been in
       court already for some of this evidence, that the
       subpostmaster doesn't agree with, they have no dispute
       button to press on the Horizon system itself, do they?
   A.  I am aware there are steps that can be taken where they
       can ring NBSC or put it in suspense.
   Q.  With respect, Mrs Dickinson, it's a narrow question:
       there is no dispute button on the Horizon system?
   A.  I actually couldn't answer that.
   Q.  You don't know?
   A.  No, I don't know.
   Q.  Okay.  Because you have been involved in investigating
       some of these matters, and we see from paragraph 9
       {C2/6/2} that you learned how to trace assets and took
       steps to recover these using the Proceeds of Crime
       legislation, yes?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is correct?
   A.  Not Horizon assets, that would be banking --
   Q.  No.  I am so sorry, I'm not trying to confuse you.  You
       can always clarify if you don't understand.
           What I understand you to be saying in paragraph 9 is
       referring to assets of agents who have not repaid debt,
       you learned how to trace such assets to recover monies
       from former agents on behalf of Post Office?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That was done, you say, using the Proceeds of Crime
       legislation?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And to get an order under that legislation you need to
       get a conviction?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I am not going to go into any detail about that, but how
       many cases roughly did you learn how to trace assets in
       that way through?  Can you remember?  Just roughly.  Is
       it one or is it ten or is it 100 or somewhere in
       between?
   A.  I would say roughly ten, because I was in and out of the
       financial investigator role.
   Q.  And throughout that, you had no knowledge yourself about
       the absence of a dispute button on Horizon?
   A.  No, that is referring to tracing the assets.
   Q.  I understand that.  But in your involvement in those
       criminal cases you never encountered the fact there was
       no dispute button on Horizon?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  "No" you are agreeing or "no" you are
       disagreeing?
   A.  No, I'm not aware of a button, a dispute button.
   MR GREEN:  You didn't know either way?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Whether there was or wasn't?
   A.  No.
   Q.  So when you are talking about rendering accounts, you
       are talking about the figures on Horizon, aren't you,
       that had been accepted by the subpostmistress or
       subpostmaster?
   A.  Yes, declared accounts, yes.
   Q.  Were you aware -- we have got your position on the
       dispute button and this may follow from it.  Were you
       aware there would be occasions when a subpostmistress or
       subpostmaster would be forced to accept on the Horizon
       system a figure with which they fundamentally and
       strongly disagreed?  Subject to phoning up the Helpline
       later.
   A.  I wouldn't get involved at that stage if there was
       a disagreement with the figures.
   Q.  So you didn't really know about that?
   A.  I didn't get involved in that, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Knowing about it and being involved in
       it are two rather different things.
   A.  Right.  Could you repeat the question then, please.
   MR GREEN:  Yes.  You didn't know that a subpostmistress or
       subpostmaster might be forced by the system to accept on
       the system a transaction correction or a discrepancy
       with which they fundamentally disagreed, did you?
   A.  I was aware that if they disagreed it could be settled
       centrally and discussed after.  If you are referring to
       a dispute button, I am not aware of a dispute button,
       but I know there are processes.
   Q.  Did you know that when they settled centrally, it was
       treated by Post Office at that moment, subject to any
       later dispute, as a debt that they had accepted?
   A.  The way I understood it is it was parked there to be
       discussed, that is my understanding, but ...
   Q.  If you look at paragraph 17 of your witness statement,
       please {C2/6/4}, you are talking about continuing to
       cover up shortfalls.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Which paragraph?
   MR GREEN:  Paragraph 17, "faced with a choice".  And you are
       referring to a difficult situation that a subpostmaster
       or subpostmistress might find themselves in at that
       stage.
           I would like to ask you about what might lead up to
       such a situation.  Were you familiar with the fact that
       the Helpline would sometimes tell a subpostmistress or
       subpostmaster that they could use a workaround to make
       a shortfall disappear from the accounts so they could
       roll over the trading period and then the shortfall
       would reappear in the following trading period?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Because Mrs Dar, if we could look at Day 5, page 65 of
       the transcript, line 16 {Day5/65:16}:
           "Answer: I have never altered figures apart from one
       time that the Helpline advised me to do that as a
       workaround to get around it.  I would never false
       account anything.  If I have a mistake or an error
       I will face it head on, no matter what."
           If we look at page 82, line 7 {Day5/82:7}:
           "Question: I suggest to you that the Helpline
       operator never said to you that you could get around
       Horizon, let alone do workarounds."
           She gives an answer:
           "Answer: I actually had a receipt for that.  I had
       a call reference and a name who told me.  I am sure that
       was in my evidence as well.  Because I remember that
       vividly.  That is why it kind of flagged up to me at the
       time and I thought: shouldn't be doing that.  Because
       even if you go in to adjust stock within Horizon, it
       says do not adjust stock unless advised to by NBSC."
           You can see there she is talking about workarounds,
       can't you?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that something you had ever come across?
   A.  It is not something I am familiar with.
   Q.  Is it something you would have believed had you been
       told it by someone who had a shortfall that had gone
       over?
   A.  NBSC advised on how to maybe untangle an error.  I am
       aware of that.
   Q.  Would you have believed a subpostmistress if you had
       heard that subpostmistress say "I was given
       a workaround".
   A.  Without knowing all the background to it I wouldn't
       know.  It could just be advice on how to correct
       an error or an input error.
   Q.  Let's look at {G/19/3}, please.  This is a third party
       report, professional report.  Prepared by
       Detica NetReveal for Post Office.  And it identifies the
       backdrop to the project in the second paragraph
       underneath "Overview":
           "The project has taken place again a backdrop of
       wide-ranging changes within Post Office including
       Network and Crown Transformation Programmes ..."
           Et cetera.
           And then can you see it refers to "public
       discontent", in the fourth line down:
           "... amongst subpostmasters relating to the Horizon
       system, review of the Horizon system by Second Sight and
       strikes by Crown branch staff.  Many of the issues
       encountered during the study underline the urgency with
       which Post Office needs to adapt its business practices
       and technology to respond to these changes."
           So this is just to give you the context to this
       document.
           Then look, please, at the bottom of that same page:
           "We have identified four areas which contribute to
       these risks."
           I would like to invite you to just read the first
       bullet point to yourself first.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  When they investigated they found:
           "Widespread non-conformance to Post Office policy
       and processes by branches with an institutionalised
       acceptance that errors, workarounds and non-conformance
       exists."
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Were you aware of the institutionalised acceptance of
       those matters in the course of carrying out your job?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Final topic, Mrs Dickinson, you will be pleased to hear.
       There has been something of a change in Post Office's
       approach to suspended subpostmasters since about
       April 2014, hasn't there?
   A.  As in ...?
   Q.  In the approach to suspended subpostmasters or
       subpostmistresses and how frequently they come back to
       the branch and how they are treated when a shortfall is
       discovered that they haven't declared before?
   A.  I don't deal with the contractual side of things.
   Q.  So you are not aware -- let me just take you to the
       documents, to be fair, because it leads to something
       I think you may be involved in.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Let's look at {G66/118/1}.  It's the bottom of the page,
       "Managing postmaster material contract breaches":
           "The suspended termination approach was launched
       in April 2014 to deal with postmasters where mitigating
       circumstances are such that it may be inappropriate or
       necessary to terminate the contract."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "The postmaster remains in post on the condition that if
       a further material breach of contract occurs in
       an agreed period ... then the contract termination may
       be triggered.  A condition of remaining in post is that
       the postmaster makes good the audit deficiency."
           Were you aware of that as a background to work you
       were doing?
   A.  I'm roughly aware of the change, yes.
   Q.  Yes.  If we look then at {G/33/2}.  That has been
       redacted and may not be the correct page.  Can we go
       forward a page, please {G/33/4}.  I'm pretty convinced
       I have an unredacted page, I am sure it is not in error.
       {G/33/1} please.  I have exactly ...
           Could we look at {G/33/35}, please.  Apologies, my
       fault.  I was going by the internal page numbers, I am
       sorry.  This is an update, a Post Office Group Executive
       update.  And if we could go forward one page {G/33/36},
       do you see at 5, "Managing postmaster material contract
       breaches"?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "The suspended termination approach was launched in
       April 2014 to deal with postmasters where mitigating
       circumstances are such that it is inappropriate to
       terminate the contract.  The postmaster remains in post
       on the condition that if a further material breach of
       contract occurs in the agreed period then contract
       termination may be triggered.  Postmaster suspensions
       are running at 33 at period 10.  112 postmasters have
       been kept in post who would probably have been suspended
       pre-policy change."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And there is £552,000 being made good which would
       otherwise be transferred to agent debt.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is the broad picture of which you were aware?
   A.  Yes, yes, an overview.
   Q.  Then if we look at a particular example of Mrs Dar, just
       very briefly.  At {E5/218/1}.  We can see on
       17 July 2015 she is suspended.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  If we go to {E5/226.1/1}.  You can see in August 2015
       shortfalls in branch accounts of £7,302 --
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  -- not previously made good, various other things.
           Then at the bottom of the page:
           "After review, and without prejudice to Post Office
       Limited's rights to terminate, Post Office Limited are
       prepared to reinstate your agreement with effect from
       28 August providing you accept and comply with the
       following conditions ..."
           Over the page {E5/226.1/2}:
           "... ensure correct procedures of completing the
       Post Office accounts are followed in accordance with the
       manual.
           "You ensure all procedures are followed for the
       proper running of the branch ...
           "On reinstatement you repay in full all monies
       outstanding ..."
           Do you see that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  That is the sort of thing that was happening in relation
       to this policy, wasn't it?
   A.  Yes, I believe so.
   Q.  Then could we finally look, please, at page {G/42.1/1}.
       This is a Freedom of Information request about the
       number of suspensions.  But if we go over the page
       {G/42.1/2} we can see a table with the number of
       prosecutions.  So 2010, 31 -- 2010/2011, 31.  2011/2012,
       38.  2012/2013, 42.  And then in the next four years,
       a total of three people over the next four years?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So far as you know, did that change in the number of
       prosecutions represent an internal recognition within
       Post Office that conduct which they had been treating as
       dishonest before was not in fact dishonest at all?
   A.  No.  We would only investigate matters as
       an investigating criminal offence if the postmaster had
       been suspended.  So if they are put back in post I have
       no dealing with it, my team has no dealing with it.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are letting your voice drop quite
       a lot.
   A.  Sorry.
   MR GREEN:  So you have no knowledge of whether that
       represented an internal recognition that things that
       Post Office had previously regarded as actually
       dishonest they could then see were not in fact dishonest
       at all?  You don't know, is that your evidence?
   A.  No, I wouldn't say that, no.  The suspensions are lower
       and then the cases that get referred to the
       investigation team are therefore lower.
   Q.  Were the cases referred to the investigation team so
       that POCA could be used to trace the assets?
   A.  In some cases, yes.
   MR GREEN:  Thank you very much.  No further questions,
       my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  No questions, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I have just one question.
                 Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you turn to paragraph 19 of your
       statement, please, at {C2/6/4}.  You use this expression
       in different places and I just want you to explain to me
       what you mean by it.  In paragraph 19 you say:
           "The above scenario describes only one of the many
       ways that false accounts could be rendered ..."
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Can you talk me through, and use
       an example if you wish, the mechanism by which you
       understand a subpostmaster or a subpostmistress would
       "render" an account.
   A.  When I say "render", that might be a northern term.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You don't need to worry about that.
   A.  It's basically submitting that account.  That could be
       inflating cash, it could be inflating stock, it could be
       hiding a shortfall in a different method, a product.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I understand the ways in which it might
       be wrong.  What I am interested in is -- you have used
       the word "submitting" the account.  What physically
       would the subpostmaster or subpostmistress do, so far as
       you know, to submit the account?
   A.  They would be declaring their cash and stock as a cash
       declaration on a daily basis, and then they would be
       submitting their accounts on a monthly basis.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And that is by doing whatever they do at
       the terminal.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  On Horizon.
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that right?
   A.  Yes, that is right.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Do you have any experience of using
       an Horizon terminal?
   A.  Only very basic.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Is that because you were sent on
       a training course or you picked it up?
   A.  A bit of both.  I originally went on a training course
       which would be the same as postmasters.  I was on with
       postmasters for that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  How many days was that?
   A.  Three.  And then basically you pick things up as you go
       along.  But ultimately I wouldn't work on the Horizon
       system because then that could cause a conflict with me
       investigating a matter.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.  Just bear with me one
       second.
           I have just one more question.  Before today, or
       before coming to court and sitting in, have you ever
       heard the expression "settle centrally"?
   A.  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  What do you understand by settle
       centrally?
   A.  The way I understand settle centrally is parking it to
       be discussed further.  So you either don't accept it or
       you are not happy with it or you can't afford to settle
       it at that time.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And what is your understanding of the
       correlation, if any, between settling something
       centrally and it going into the debt recovery system?
   A.  I don't know the answer to that.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  All right.
           Any questions out of either of those, gentlemen?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no.
   MR GREEN:  No, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you very much for coming.
                      (The witness withdrew)
   MR GREEN:  May I move out of the way for Mr Warwick.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Yes.  This is for Mr Shields.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, with this witness, with your leave,
       I need to ask a couple of questions by way of
       corrections that weren't conveniently put in typos just
       to clarify a couple of -- before I ask him to confirm
       his statement.
           I call Mr Michael Shields, please.
                MR MICHAEL LEE SHIELDS (affirmed)
               Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Thank you, Mr Shields.  Do have a seat.
   MR CAVENDER:  Mr Shields, in front of you there should be
       a witness statement with your name on it, is that right?
       {C2/7/1}.
   A.  No, this is Helen's.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It might be tab 10.  Have a quick look
       under tab 10.
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is my tab 10.
   MR CAVENDER:  Look at the front.  There is an index to that
       bundle which has been created by somebody helpfully.
       There should hopefully be a statement of Michael Lee
       Shields.  Could you turn to that tab number, please.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Take your time.
   A.  Under tab 6 it has Helen's.  It has my name on the
       index.
   MR CAVENDER:  Go to one either side of that.
   A.  It's number 7, sorry.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  It is 7?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  The statement that says, between tramlines,
       "Witness Statement of Michael Lee Shields"?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  I understand you want to make a few corrections or
       clarifications?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I am going to take you through and you are going to tell
       me, so we understand, what the clarifications or
       corrections are.  Yes?
   A.  Correct.
   Q.  Once we have done that I am then going to ask you
       whether the content is true.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Paragraph 1, you say:
           "I am a temporary subpostmaster advisor ..."
           Et cetera.  What is your role now?
   A.  I am currently a contracts advisor.  I was appointed as
       a contracts advisor after the date of signing my witness
       statement.
   Q.  Thank you.  Go to paragraph 7 of your witness statement
       please {C2/7/2}.  You say:
           "Following the conclusion of my fixed term contract,
       in May 2015 I started my current role within Post Office
       as temporary subpostmaster advisor."
           I understand there is a clarification you want to
       make to that.  What is that, please?
   A.  Between November 2016 and November 2017 I managed a team
       of people which included anybody involved in the process
       to appoint temporary subpostmasters.
   Q.  Very well.  Then moving to paragraph 28, please.
       {C2/7/6}  We see there in the second sentence dealing
       with prospective temps:
           "Once we know this, and we have a transfer (audit)
       date from the network support admin team, production of
       a contract is requested from the contract agreement
       production team."
           Pausing there.  Is there a clarification you want to
       make about that?
   A.  Yes.  Currently the contract agreement production team
       do produce the temporary agreements contractual
       documentation, but there was a period of time when
       either myself as the temporary postmaster advisor or
       anybody that worked to me, when I had a team, they would
       produce that documentation.
   Q.  And then paragraph 29, finally, you say:
           "Post Office has the right to withdraw the
       appointment if the information is unsatisfactory.  If
       the checks are satisfactory, then the contract is
       created and sent out for signature."
           I understand you want to clarify the chronology on
       that.  Perhaps you could answer these questions.  What
       comes first, sending out the contract or doing the
       background credit checks?
   A.  The contract.
   Q.  Thank you.  If after the contract was sent out the
       background check comes back negative, what would you do?
   A.  The contract -- the appointment, the offer of
       appointment would normally be withdrawn.
   Q.  Very well.
           Subject to those corrections and clarifications, if
       we go to page {C2/7/7} of your witness statement there
       is a signature on that page.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that your signature?
   A.  It is.
   Q.  Are the contents of this statement, subject to the
       clarifications you have made, is it true?
   A.  Yes.
   MR CAVENDER:  If you would like to wait there, you will be
       asked some questions.
                 Cross-examination by MR WARWICK
   MR WARWICK:  Mr Shields, good afternoon.
   A.  Good afternoon.
   Q.  I have some questions on the corrections and
       clarifications you have just given the court.  If you
       will forgive me for going a little slowly, this is the
       first I have heard of these, so I wonder if I could just
       ask you about that now.
           Could you give me the date on which you were
       appointed a contract advisor?
   A.  3 September this year.
   Q.  Did you give consideration to asking to amend your
       witness statement on or after 3 September and, if so,
       can you tell me when?
   A.  I think it was last week I asked about it.
   Q.  Can you tell me precisely when last week, can you
       remember that?
   A.  I think it was Wednesday or Thursday.
   Q.  Could you turn, please, to paragraph 7 of your witness
       statement {C2/7/2}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You have caused an amendment to be made to paragraph 7
       in that you have added in -- there is an additional
       period of time between November 16 and November --
       do I have that right, November 2016 and November 2018?
   A.  No, sorry, November 2016, November 2017.
   Q.  Thank you.  When you managed a team of people dealing
       with the appointment of subpostmasters as temporary
       subpostmaster, is that right?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  When did you give thought to seeking to correct your
       witness statement to insert that change of role?
   A.  I think that was last week as well.
   Q.  Was that Wednesday last week?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Could you turn please to paragraph 28 of your witness
       statement {C2/7/6}.  You have asked for a correction to
       be made to paragraph 28 relating to the contract
       agreement production team.  You have asked for it to be
       clarified that for a period of time -- can I check
       I have this right.  For a period of time, and are you
       referring to that period of time when you were in charge
       of a team of others?
   A.  This would be between the period of time that
       the contract production would be done by either myself
       or a team working to me in terms of temporary
       appointments, that would be between November 2015
       and May 2018.
   Q.  I beg your pardon, November ...
   A.  2015.
   Q.  2015.
   A.  To May 2018.
   Q.  May 2018.
   A.  And either side of those dates in my time in the role of
       the temporary postmaster advisor the contract agreement
       production team would produce the contractual
       documentation.
   Q.  When did you give thought to asking to change your
       witness statement on that?
   A.  Again last week, at the same time.
   Q.  The change in chronology that you have asked to be made
       to what you describe in that paragraph, that is
       something you were aware of at the time you signed your
       witness statement?
   A.  It is, yes.
   Q.  Is it just that you didn't give careful enough thought
       to it at the time when you made your witness statement?
   A.  It is my witness statement, isn't it?  I have signed it,
       I have not picked it up so ...
   Q.  So we are completely clear on this right now, can you
       explain to his Lordship, is there any other matter in
       your witness statement that you wish to now give further
       thought to to clarify and correct, please?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Mr Shields, I would like to ask you some questions then
       about your period of time as a temporary subpostmaster
       advisor and, in addition to that, to the period of time
       that you spent from November 2016 to November 2017
       managing a team of people who performed that function.
           First on your background, please, Mr Shields,
       I gather from your witness statement you started off as
       a postman and in 2005 you worked in the human resources
       service centre?
   A.  (Witness nods)
   Q.  So you have a human resources background?
   A.  I worked in the HR service centre, yes, in the advice
       centre initially.
   Q.  So you took redundancy.  There was a hiatus period, if
       I can call it that, and then rejoined to be involved in
       the network transformation programme?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So really we are talking about the period of time --
       insofar as we are looking at your evidence, the period
       of time from May 2015 onwards, albeit you must have had
       some familiarity with this process by dint of your role
       in human resources, is that right?
   A.  Not a great deal, to be honest with you, prior to coming
       into the role.
   Q.  So your evidence relates to the period post-May 2015 and
       not any period before?
   A.  Yes, that is when my involvement in the temporary
       postmaster appointment process ...
   Q.  And you have had no involvement with the lead claimants
       in this particular trial?
   A.  No.  They all pre-date my time in terms of undertaking
       the temporary appointment process.
   Q.  During your career with Post Office, you have not
       yourself actually been a subpostmaster at all?
   A.  Never.
   Q.  In your witness statement at paragraph 18 {C2/7/4}.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You refer to a policy relating to temporary
       subpostmasters.  We are going to look at that in
       a minute, if I may take you to it.
           So that we are clear on this, that is a policy that
       relates to temporary subpostmasters in respect of agency
       appointments.  So it relates to subpostmasters who are
       agents and not Crown employees, for example?
   A.  Yes, subpostmaster appointments in the (inaudible).
       Temporary.
   Q.  So the policy relates to all agents?
   A.  Just temporary postmasters.
   Q.  The appointment of temporary postmasters in respect of
       all agency appointments?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  And that is under each of the contracts by which those
       agents might have been originally appointed to be
       a subpostmaster or subpostmistress with Post Office?
   A.  Yes, on a temporary basis, yes.
   Q.  Through your time, Mr Shields, as a human resources
       person, or indeed through your time as a temporary
       subpostmaster advisor or even a manager of others who do
       that role, you must have become familiar with the
       contracts, those agency contracts, insofar as they
       relate to temporary subpostmasters?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  Is that right?
   A.  Some familiarity, yes.
   Q.  Are there any differences between them of which you are
       aware?
   A.  Between temporary postmaster contracts and non-temporary
       appointments, do you mean?
   Q.  No, between the various subpostmaster contracts insofar
       as they relate to the situations where a temporary
       subpostmaster might be appointed?
   A.  Sorry, I don't know what you mean.
   Q.  Are you aware of any differences -- let's start this at
       one stage before.  You are aware, aren't you, that
       subpostmasters and subpostmistresses are appointed on
       various different contracts?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  You are aware of that?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So are you aware of any differences between those
       contracts that may have a bearing on the circumstances
       in which a temporary subpostmaster might be put in by
       Post Office?
   A.  I don't think so.
   Q.  Shall we have a look at them?  Because it might be
       helpful.
   A.  Okay.
   Q.  Can we go to the document at {D2.1/3/1}.  So you are
       aware, and I do not think it is controversial, that is
       the 1994 and onwards standard subpostmasters contract
       and the relevant section -- do you know which the
       relevant section is?
   A.  I don't because I'm not familiar with subpostmaster
       contracts.
   Q.  I will help you on that.  It is section 19.
           Could we go to {D2.1/3/87}.  This is a section of
       this contract that deals with suspension.  Were you in
       court when Mr Breeden gave his evidence?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Mr Breeden has given evidence in this trial and he has
       been asked about paragraph 4 there which is effectively
       the power to suspend.  I am place-marking it for you
       because I want to ask questions about this generally,
       but I'm not going to ask you about the power to suspend
       because am I right in thinking you are not the person
       who actually does that?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Albeit perhaps in your current role you are?
   A.  In the future, possibly, yes.
   Q.  Could we go overleaf to section 5, {D2.1/3/88}.  So
       there at 5 it says:
           "Where a subpostmaster is suspended, his
       remuneration in respect of any period of suspension will
       be withheld so long as such suspension continues."
           That remuneration is something you touch on in your
       witness statement, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  I am going to ask you about that in a moment.
           At 6:
           "On the termination of the period of suspension,
       whether by termination of contract or reinstatement, the
       subpostmaster's remuneration in respect of the period
       may, after consideration of the whole of the
       circumstances of the case, be forfeited wholly or in
       part."
           So it might be all of it or some of it.
           "If remuneration is paid, any rent or other expenses
       which may have been paid to him in respect of the
       continued use of his premises for Post Office purposes
       during the period of suspension will be deducted."
           You have seen that provision before, haven't you?
   A.  I haven't seen this document before.  I don't recall
       this.
   Q.  So you won't be aware then, but I would like to check,
       that it is completely silent on the issue of whether
       temporary subpostmasters may be appointed or not.
   A.  Yes, I wasn't ...
   Q.  Can we turn to the document at {D2.1/2/46}.  This is the
       modified subpostmasters contract in force from 1994
       onwards.  Could you look at -- it says section 15(M),
       I assume the M means modified.  Could you look at
       section 4 here, "Suspension from Office".  You will see,
       although I'm not testing you on this, but you will see
       it is the same words used there except there is one
       difference.  Can you see at the end, the last sentence,
       it starts three lines up from the bottom of that
       paragraph:
           "In such cases the retail network manager may
       require the subpostmaster to make his premises available
       at a mutually agreed rate of payment for the continued
       provision of Post Office services."
           Are you familiar with that provision?
   A.  I'm not familiar with that provision.  In terms of some
       of the documentation that I was provided to review it
       suggests quite some time ago, and it possibly is around
       this timeframe, that we might have made some sort of
       payment as a business to postmasters for the use of
       premises.
   Q.  Have you never seen this before?
   A.  This document is not familiar to me, no.
   Q.  Could we turn then, please, to the document at
       {D1.6/3/24}.  That is an NTC local contract.  Have you
       seen one of those before?
   A.  I am familiar with this, yes.  Local contract, yes.
   Q.  This is a contract entered into by one of the lead
       claimants in this trial, Mrs Stockdale.
           I wonder if we could turn over to page {D1.6/3/2},
       just to pick up a definition.  It is "Fees":
           "The fees payable by Post Office Limited to the
       operator for the proper performance of transactions in
       accordance with the agreement as set out in the fees
       booklet."
           That might have a bearing on the provision we are
       going to look at next.
           Could we please turn to {D1.6/3/24}.  You will see
       section 15 there headed "Suspension".  Your colleague
       Mr Breeden was asked questions about the power to
       suspend.  I want to ask you about what happens during
       suspension and that I think is at 15.2.
           Have you seen this provision before?
   A.  I'm sure I probably have seen this at some point, yes.
   Q.  Right.  Could I clarify is that -- there is some doubt
       in your answer, if you don't mind my observing.  Can I
       get a gauge on that doubt.  Is this something that you
       never really look at or have done sometimes?
           Shall we take that as two questions.  Do you look at
       that sometimes in your role -- sorry, I shouldn't use
       the present tense because I know you are not in that
       now, but when you were in that role did you look at this
       sometimes to check?
   A.  No.
   Q.  Can we see there it says:
           "During the period of suspension, whether under
       clause 15.1 or otherwise, Post Office Limited may ..."
           So that looks a little different to start with.
       15.2.1:
           "Suspend payment of all sums due to the operator
       under the agreement."
           15.2.2:
           "With the agreement of the operator appoint
       a temporary substitute ..."
           Can I just pause there for a moment.  Is that what
       effectively a temporary subpostmaster is; a substitute
       for the subpostmaster who was there?
   A.  I would say so.  I have never heard the term -- I'm not
       familiar with the term "substitute", but if I could just
       read it, just to clarify my understanding.  (Pause).
       Yes, I would say that that means a temporary postmaster.
   Q.  Picking the wording up again if I may:
           "... may, with the agreement of the operator,
       appoint a temporary substitute for the operator to
       operate the branch from the branch premises, in which
       case any fees ..."
           We have seen that before.  That is fees that are
       paid to subpostmasters and subpostmistresses in relation
       to the products they sell, isn't it?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  "... in relation to transactions carried out at the
       branch will be paid by Post Office Limited direct to
       such temporary substitute."
           It goes on.  I needn't necessarily trouble you with
       that part but if we go overleaf {D1.6/3/25} I would like
       to ask you about the parts at the top of that page.  It
       says here at the last part of 15.2, and please say if
       you would like to see the rest of 15.2.  Would you?
   A.  Yes, please, if you don't mind.
   Q.  Can we go back a page, please?  {D1.6/3/24}.  Do you see
       at the bottom there:
           "Post Office shall initially meet the cost of
       appointing the temporary substitute but shall be
       entitled to recoup some or all of such cost from the
       operator in accordance with clause 15.2.3 or otherwise.
       Following the end of the period of suspension,
       Post Office Limited may, in its discretion taking into
       account the relevant circumstances ..."
           Do you know what those are?
   A.  I would assume that contractually a contract advisor
       would probably make a decision, a rationale, around this
       sort of thing.
   Q.  "... agree to pay the operator all or part of such sums
       ..."
           So again all or part:
           "... as have been suspended in accordance with
       clause 15.2.1."
           Then on to 15.3.  This last provision here
       presumably is something you must have a sense of.
       Can I ask you that when you have read it, please:
           "Following the operator's suspension, whether under
       clause 15.1 or otherwise, the operator shall at its own
       cost and expense promptly take all reasonable steps to
       enable Post Office Limited to maintain access for
       customers during the period of suspension to products
       and services."
           Have you seen that provision before?
   A.  I'm not familiar with that provision, no.
   Q.  It is sort of an access requirement, isn't it?  But it's
       an odd one because it is one that requires the operator
       to allow Post Office to maintain customer access to
       products.  Do you agree with that?
   A.  I agree with that, but a suspended postmaster has to
       allow access to the premises and use of the premises for
       us to -- for me or anybody involved in the temporary
       appointment process to appoint a temporary
       subpostmaster.
   Q.  Could you tell his Lordship what the source of your
       knowledge for that answer you have just given me is?
       Where do you get that from?  Where do you get that
       understanding from?
   A.  That is the way it was passed over to me.  I think
       John Breeden's statement refers to the fact that
       a suspended -- or an incumbent postmaster would have to
       give their consent for the use of premises and, on that
       basis, then somebody who is interested in taking on
       a branch as a temporary subpostmaster will have to agree
       and negotiate terms of access.  So any contribution
       towards the rent, utilities, et cetera.  And that is
       part of my witness statement in terms of the temporary
       appointment process.
   Q.  Understood.  Thank you.  There is another contract that
       is relevant as well.  I will be brief on it, if I may.
       It is at {D2.1/13/1}.  This is a Mains NTC contract.
       Have you seen one of these before?
   A.  I have seen a Mains contract before, yes.
   Q.  Could you turn, please, to section 15.3 of that, which
       is on {D2.1/13/49}.  It's a long provision but have you
       seen that before?  Would you like to read it before
       answering?
   A.  Which point, sorry?
   Q.  Clause 15.3.
   A.  Okay.  I'm not familiar with this, so if I may have the
       time to read it, please.
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, I hesitate to interrupt but my
       understanding is there is no issue on a Mains contract
       in this litigation.  None of the claimants in this
       litigation anywhere I think were on Mains contracts.  So
       if my learned friend could clarify the relevance,
       I would be obliged, for your Lordship.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Warwick, anything turning on Mains
       contracts?
   MR WARWICK:  On the substance of it, no, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think the point is, isn't it, this is
       a differently worded provision with different
       obligations.
   MR WARWICK:  Absolutely, my Lord.  I was merely going to ask
       whether he was familiar with that in his job.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think he has already said he is not
       familiar with it.
   MR WARWICK:  I shall move on, my Lord.  So with those things
       in mind, Mr Shields, could I ask you then about
       the decision to put a temporary subpostmaster in place
       as that comes to you when you first receive your call.
           This, if I could pick you up in your witness
       statement, please, is paragraphs 9 and 10.  {C2/7/2}.
       At paragraph 9 you are explaining here, aren't you, that
       in the majority of cases you would be asked to appoint
       a temp by a contract advisor when the subpostmaster has
       been suspended?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  But that is not all of the situations.  There are
       others.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  They extend to where a subpostmaster or subpostmistress
       resigns or is ill or where there has been a death in
       service?
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  In the situation of a death in service, your evidence at
       paragraph 9 is that a subpostmaster's illness can often
       be covered by existing staff at the branch or planned
       for in advance and death can be -- presumably you mean
       death in service can be temporarily covered by existing
       staff whilst Post Office follows its death in service
       policy?
   A.  Yes, so the temporary postmaster doesn't have to
       provide -- sorry, the postmaster doesn't have to provide
       personal service, so that might be a way of mitigating
       something coming to me in terms of a request for
       a temporary appointment.
   Q.  But the general policy though in suspension cases, if
       I can call them that, is for a temporary subpostmaster
       to be appointed?
   A.  Sorry, yes, in terms of -- my last point was in terms of
       death and illness.  But in terms of temporary
       subpostmaster appointments for suspensions, yes, the
       postmaster will be suspended and will be advised by the
       contract advisor of the suspension, and then I would
       start the process subject to the postmaster -- the
       incumbent postmaster providing the use of the premises,
       being agreeable to the use of the premises.  I would
       then start the process to try and find a temporary
       postmaster to operate that branch.
   Q.  Right.  I would like to ask you though about the use of
       employees to run a branch briefly, if I may, in passing
       through here.  Because it strikes me, am I right, there
       is a distinction?  So with death in service you are
       content on occasion -- or Post Office is content
       sometimes for employees to run a branch but where there
       has been a suspension, Post Office isn't?
   A.  A death in service would come to me via a contract
       advisor.  So a contract advisor would advise me if there
       has been a death in service at the branch and would
       normally direct me to appoint -- or try and appoint
       a temporary subpostmaster and that would normally be
       a family member.
   Q.  I understand.  Later on in your statement you say that
       some temps don't actually intend to work in the branch.
       They are going to use the employees who are there.
   A.  Yes.
   Q.  So can I ask: what is the difference?  If Post Office is
       happy for employees to run it under a temp who is not
       actually there and is happy for employees to run it
       where there has been a death in service, what is the
       difference?  Why do you make a difference?
   A.  A postmaster, temporary or otherwise, doesn't have to
       provide personal service.  So they can allow people to
       operate the branch on their behalf.  They can appoint
       somebody who is an officer in charge.
   Q.  That is understood, Mr Shields, but why is it that you
       are happy for employees to be running the place without
       a temp there in the suspension situation and happy for
       employees to run it in a death in service situation but
       Post Office insists on there being a temp put in where
       somebody is suspended?  Does that make sense?
   A.  So any postmaster has a contract for service, don't
       they, in terms of operating a branch?  They don't have
       to provide personal service.  If they choose not to
       provide personal service, they are still contractually
       obliged with the operation and how that branch runs.
       So, for example, things that have been discussed,
       losses, et cetera, they are still liable because the
       contract is with Post Office and the agent, the
       postmaster, whether it be temp or otherwise.
   MR WARWICK:  Let's have a look at the appointment process
       you describe.
           I am mindful of the limited remaining time today,
       my Lord.  But if I start a new topic, I expect it is the
       most sensible use of time to run up to 4.30 pm than stop
       here.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I was actually going to suggest we start
       at 10 o'clock tomorrow but I wanted to ask Mr Shields.
           Mr Shields, I see from your witness statement that
       you live and/or work normally in Bolton, is that right?
   A.  Used to.  I lived near Bolton, yes.  But I am down
       here ...
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are not travelling back tonight?
   A.  No.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  You are staying in London?
   A.  I am staying in London.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Would you be able to come back at
       10 o'clock tomorrow?
   A.  Yes, absolutely.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think what we will do, based on
       progress generally today -- and I am not being critical
       because we are still broadly on track, but there are
       quite a few witnesses for tomorrow -- I would like to
       start at 10 o'clock tomorrow.  So I think that is
       a convenient moment.
           Mr Shields, you are in the middle of giving your
       evidence.  That means you can't talk to anyone about
       the case until after you have finished giving your
       evidence which will obviously be some time tomorrow,
       probably tomorrow morning.  If you could come back for
       10 o'clock, I would be very grateful.
           Is there anything that needs dealing with now?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, just one thing.  Mr Beal's disclosure.
       We got some of it the night before his cross-examination
       but we were told it still wasn't complete.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  And have you got some more or are you
       waiting for some more?
   MR GREEN:  We are waiting, but it would be very helpful to
       have it by close of play tomorrow because otherwise
       Monday is our last day.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  We can come back on another day if you
       need him recalled.  But have you been able to have
       a discussion with Mr Cavender about it?
   MR GREEN:  Not yet, my Lord, no.  I think our juniors may
       have tried to --
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  I think the best use of time is have
       a discussion between yourselves.  If you are going to be
       asking me for an order, then mention it first thing.
       I would be surprised if it were necessary, but it might
       be, and we will have a round-up at the end of tomorrow.
       Part of the reason for starting earlier is we need to
       have a round-up generally, not just about witnesses
       because by the end of tomorrow we will be nearly
       finished with the witnesses, just about the rest of this
       trial.
           Mr Green, anything else?
   MR GREEN:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  Mr Cavender?
   MR CAVENDER:  My Lord, no.
   MR JUSTICE FRASER:  10 o'clock tomorrow everyone.
   (4.25 pm)
        (The court adjourned until 10.00 am on Thursday,
                        22 November 2018)


                              INDEX
   MS ANGELA MARGARET VAN DEN BOGERD ....................1
                      (continued)

                Cross-examination by MR GREEN (continued) ........1

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

                Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ................61

                Further re-examination by MR CAVENDER ...........72

                Further cross-examination by MR GREEN ...........75

            MR TIMOTHY DANCE (affirmed) .........................77

                Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER .............77

                Cross-examination by MS DONNELLY ................78

                Re-examination by MR CAVENDER ..................141

                Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ...............143

            MRS HELEN DICKINSON (sworn) ........................146

                Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER ............146

                Cross-examination by MR GREEN ..................146

                Questions from MR JUSTICE FRASER ...............163

            MR MICHAEL LEE SHIELDS (affirmed) ..................166

                Examination-in-chief by MR CAVENDER ............166

                Cross-examination by MR WARWICK ................170




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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