Profile picture
Nick Wallis @nickwallis
, 84 tweets, 32 min read Read on Twitter
In court awaiting the start of Day 3 of Bates v Post Office trial, court 26, the High Court’s Rolls Building. Former Subpostmaster Pam Stubbs due to continue being cross examined by Post Office QC David Cavender. Presiding judge Mr Justice Fraser. Claimants’ QC is Patrick Green.
The hashtag for this trial is #postofficetrial. I don’t always use it whilst live-tweeting but it’s a good way of getting your point seen.
I write in threads, which means you should be able to read what I’ve written in chronological order by clicking on “show this thread” in twitter or tweetdeck. #postofficetrial.
I roll each session - morning and afternoon - into separate threads, and then unroll those threads at the end of the day and paste them into my blog
(where I have just put up a new post featuring documents discussed on Day 1 of this trial) #postofficetrial
I will then also put up a blog post about the day’s evidence, which appeared quite late on Days 1 and 2, something I am hoping to rectify today. #postofficetrial
We have started, court very busy today - lots of claimants and quite a few observers from the Post Office’s side. #postofficetrial
PO QC asking about who could observe what she was doing - was she supervised by PO management behind the counter. #postofficetrial
Pam Stubbs: No
PO QC says there’s no way PO could know if you’d handed wrong amount of cash to customers.
PS agrees
PO QC says if you entered the wrong sum into Horizon PO would not know
PS I suppose not
PO QC and if one of your staff was dishonest you wouldn’t know that
PS I would know that if I followed up
PO QC but you don’t check their pockets
PS no
PO QC moves into the portakabin era of PS time as SPMR in Barkham in Berkshire. He says until she moved into the PO she didn’t have any problems.
PS well there was one time where the balances were all over the place
like sailing on a choppy sea
PO QC leaving that to one side...
You didn’t have any particular problems.
Judge intervenes to ensure what that means.
Pam clarifies - she means yes she had no real problems until she moved into the portakabin
(Pam moved into the cabin in late 2009) They are now discussing errors at Pam’s branch, but there is a hiatus as there is a problem with the stenographers’ live feed...
… finding a document everyone is meant to be looking at, and the necessity to move the monitor the documents are being shown on closer to Pam.
These problems are not being swiftly resolved the judge says rather than put people under pressure with everybody watching, he will rise for 5 minutes. He has risen...
The stenographers were asked by the judge how they were getting on before he left. They said they were rebooting the system. It would be glib to draw attention to the fact that a GLO about possible IT system faults has been stopped by IT error. #postofficetrial
But that is what has just happened. Judge has come back in for update and told there is someone on their way to fix things. He asks Pam Stubbs to leave the witness box and rises again. I wonder what @Karlfl from @ComputerWeekly makes of this. He’s here today. #postofficetrial
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly Okay we’re back. David Cavender QC for the Post Office cross-examining Pam Stubbs former Barkham SPMR. They are looking at problems she has had down the years with Horizon. #postofficetrial
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly They are reading out mismatches and cash errors between the PO and the branch - PO QC there are many errors.
Are these typical of the errors caused by you our your assistants at the time?
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PS starts addressing the specific errors. She says that one of her assistants would do multiple rem-outs “she seemed to have a mental block”. PS says she found out through the helpline how to resolve this issue, but some may have slipped through
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PS took to standing over this assistant as she remmed cash and cheques out to make sure she did it correctly. #postofficetrial
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PO QC takes her to losses in the Portakabin. He is asking her about her shortfalls from Dec 2009 to May 2010. The sums range from £900 to around £5000 a month culminating in a total “loss” of £28K. #postofficetrial
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PO QC - you knew you could dispute these items?

PS Not at first - with my initial discrepancy in Nov 2009, I was told to pay it as it would come back to me as a transaction correction later down the line.
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PO QC - let’s move on to the £9000 in Jan. Why didn’t you put this into dispute
PS I didn’t know I had to formally dispute it until I was told I had to - I thought by flagging it as an issue I didn’t think was right, I was automatically disputing it. #postofficetrial
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PO QC - But once you knew this, you didn’t have a problem with the system of disputing a discrepancy?

PS No - not at all.

There is some discussion with the judge who wants clarification.
@Karlfl @ComputerWeekly PS explains that by formally putting the discrepancy into dispute, the sum is taken by the PO for investigation and her balance is reset to zero. Though PS stops signing off her accounts now as she believes they aren’t correct. #postofficetrial
PS asked if she was worried about any of her assistants during this portakabin perion. No - says PS, but Anne Watts, one of her assistants was not great at maths so she had to do a lot of work with her to help her cashing up. #postofficetrial
PO QC what steps did you take to interview or investigate your assistants with regard to your discrepancies?
PS - everyone who came into the portakabin knew about it. All my assistants knew about it. They knew I was watching them very carefully.
PO QC did you sit them down and interview them?
PS no. Because there was nothing in the printouts I was getting which suggested money was mistakenly going out of the door.
PO QC wants to talk about massive Alliance and Leicester bank payins - PS says he ran a forecourt business and only she dealt with him as he’d come in before 9am and hand over very large sums of cash. She said she only made one error with his money and realised within the hour...
…. called him up and resolved it. She also noticed on occasions when he might be £20 short on what he was declaring and the actual cash, but was able to resolve this. #postofficetrial
PO QC back on PS’s discrepancies whilst in the Portakabin. Noting an internal document which states it is not a software issue.
Also mentioning a visit from PO man who visited and looked PS’s accounts and couldn’t see anything wrong. #postofficetrial
PS points out that he said she was doing everything right
PO QC and he couldn’t find any evidence of suspicious activity.
PS That’s right
PO what did you think it was then?
PS I considered Horizon a third partner in my accounts #postofficetrial
PS it could change my accounts or write entries into my accounts which I had no control of or on occasion, see.
PS I knew nothing we were doing was creating errors on the scale we were experiencing
PS I asked time and time again for someone from Fujitsu to come and compare the data they were getting from the branch with my data to see if we can get to the bottom of it. #postofficetrial
PO QC well you mention Fujitsu, let’s have a look at what they were doing, because [he refers to document which shows there was activity on the PO/Fujitsu side to try to work out what was going on whilst acknowledging PS would not be aware of this...
… and he points out there was quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing]
PS To me it felt like they were calling Fujitsu being told there was no problem and then they’d come back to me and say there was no problem
PO QC points out that these internal documents suggest…
… there was actually quite a lot of activity, which PS accepts, but she says you’d have thought they’d bring their data to my data and check it.
PO QC points out that after she was locked out of her branch the replacement had no problems…
… whatsoever with the same hardware.
PS accepts this and says she wanted the Horizon software tested whilst it was in play. She says the portakabin was shut down for two weeks, which she says…
… based on the fact it was common knowledge among SPMRs she spoke to that Fujitsu or the Post Office had remote access rights to their branches, she contests those two weeks gave Fujitsu ample opportunity…
… to fix the bug that was causing problems in her branch.
PO QC asks who told her there was remote access to branches.
PS says other SPMRs
PO QC how long were you aware of this
PS quite some time.
Judge intervenes to point out PO QC hasn’t mentioned that there was a Post Office auditor who came and sat with her and watched everything she did, whilst entering the same transactions on his laptop…. #postofficetrial
…. and at the end of their session she was around £190 down. He then said if he transferred his figures into PS’s Horizon terminal they would balance. He did so and the figures became a £376 loss, which caused some consternation. #postofficetrial
PS says the auditor was confused by this, but eventually decided that he would have to accept the figures as a loss to her, which he did.
So basically an auditor came in, checked what Pam was doing, checked all the figures, checked he was happy with his figures, put them into Pam’s terminal and it generated a discrepancy, which he then accepted, turning it into a loss. #postofficetrial
PO QC raises a £7000 discrepancy which occurred during an audit. PS explains how this arose - the auditor arrived as she was counting a bag of money a business customer had brought in. The auditor finished counting the money… #postofficetrial
… and afterwards, somehow, there was £7K which was not accounted for, but which was sent off to CashCo anyway, with the promise a TC would come back… #postofficetrial
Sorry I’m getting confused. The £7K was put into Horizon as a rem-out, but apparently not sent to cashco (by the auditor). PS was apparently left with £7K in her cash drawer which she then says was added to her “debt” after she was suspended. #postofficetrial
The argument here is that the £7K was remmed out firstly, erroneously, by the auditor, who failed to bag it up. It went into Pam’s safe. She didn’t know the £7K was in her safe erroneously, so she remmed it out the following week. #postofficetrial
Creating a £7K shortfall. This was corrected by a transaction correction after she was suspended, which PS didn’t see. #postofficetrial
Yet despite being settled on the account (which Pam wasn’t aware of because no one told her about the transaction correct), Pam says the Post Office was still chasing her for this £7K in 2011. #postofficetrial
So Pam says the PO was still demanding cash from her, caused by a mistake by her auditor, which had actually been resolved without her knowing more than 6 months after the event. #postofficetrial
The PO QC appears to be trying to make the point that the argument PS is making about the £7K is patently erroneous. I am not sure I understand *his* argument, but that is a reflection on my lack of knowledge of PO procedures and not him.
Ah right. His point is that this was not a Horizon error, and yet PS was trying to blame it on Horizon. He then goes on to start on another example which he says she blamed on Horizon. PS begins to…
...protest that the first error wasn’t a Horizon error, it was a Post Office error but is cut off by the QC. They go back to the strange session where an auditor watched her and put his own figures into… #postofficetrial
… a Horizon laptop in paralell and yet there was still a discrepancy, made worse when the auditor put his own figures into PS’s terminal… but the judge notes the stenographers need a break. He rises for 5 mins… #postofficetrial
This short break has allowed me to realise I have spelled “parallel” incorrectly in my last tweet, for which I apologise. Please do tweet me any other errors you spot. It proves someone is reading this…

We’re back in the room. Now discussing Pam’s suspension and her replacement.
He reads an internal email which discusses PS suspension and that her replacement had no problems.

PO QC says he puts it to her (and it will be the PO’s case in the breach trial) that all the losses were caused by her and her assistants and had nothing to do with Horizon.
PS I dispute that completely.
They move on.
PO QC says she could have used Horizon’s training function during her own time. which she didn’t
PS - didn’t have time
PO QC why not?
PS people who own businesses don’t have much time also it’s hard to do - we tried it

… it just took too long to switch between real Horizon and training mode.

PO QC now talking about training manuals she may or may not have seen. PS accepts she may well have received them all.
PO QC leaving the portakabin thing to one side, the fact you had no problems for 8 years suggests your training was good.
PS It was not sufficient for a member of staff who had never used a computer before. I had run our retail business.. #postofficetrial
… and had used the computer there, so I had some experience, but I did have one asisstant who did the half-day Horizon training and said she didn’t understand a word they were saying and walked out of the job. #postofficetrial
PO QC so you had to choose who you employed - you might have a computer whiz..
PS accepts this and also accepts it was her responsibility to make sure the assistants were learning and make sure they were trained correctly.
PS Now on to the assistance provided by helpline. PS says it was patchy. You might get someone who knew what they were talking about, but you might often get lots of difference advice. #postofficetrial
PS says Helpline really wasn’t helpful on a wednesday during balancing when lots of people needed advice. Explains that when she was tearing her hair out in her portakabin worrying about shortages, she…
… would call the helpline and get told to log her problem and someone would get back to her in 48 hours, which “was less than helpful.”
PS now telling court of her adventures with the Horizon/Post Office/NSBC helpline. When she was £26K down she was told the nodes had been checked and it was her problem.

PO QC says but there was an investigation going on and you were being informed about it.
PS No they werent informing me about it other than to say it was my problem.

PS says she wanted someone to come by and check their logs against hers.
PO QC you refused to send your logs to the PO. Why didn’t you just photocopy them and send them in?
PS one day’s worth is around 22 pages long on a quiet day. So 22 pages every day for 8 months?
PO couldn’t you have done that?
PS… yes…?
PO But you refused.
PS I did send them some copies I printed out. I just thought… I can’t do the instant maths.. but sending that many would be a bit much.
Judge: it would have been around 5,500 pages.
PS Thank you.
PS I thought it was more reasonable to ask someone from Fujitsu to come out and we could have sat down at my dining room table and gone through them side-by-side.
PO QC you did send some information yes, but really if an investigator is going to be able to do their job, they need to see it all.
PS I wasn’t about to give everything away to anyone who patently didn’t think H could ever be the cause of an error.
PO QC we now know that’s not true, because you’ve seen emails saying the PO was investigating on your behalf.
PS That is where we differ. I was told, as was my MP, that we would be told about the results of the investigation when it had concluded.
PS I believe emails exist which make it clear no investigation was being made because it suited the people who should have been doing it not to come to any conclusion that H was the source of the error
No further questions from PO QC.
PS now being re-examined by JFSA QC. He is taking her through a couple of emails about the extent of the investigation into Pam’s IT problems.
JFSA QC (Patrick green) pointing out during this investigation she was getting demands from the PO for money. In Feb 2010 she is told debts on hold during investigation. 3 weeks later she gets a demand for £10K+
In the letter she is also told she is responsible for all losses incurred at her branch - the full terms of section 12:12 of the SPMR contract having been removed (see for more on this)
So PG QC is pointing out PO sent a letter saying her debt will be on hold until investigation. Then demands for money before she’s been given the results of the investigation. PG asks how she feel about this.
PS that the PO had no intention of carrying out and investigation. To this day I have never seen the results of this investigation nor has my MP even though he has chased it several times.
PG now on a different document which says her priority internally as a cased had been classed by the PO as “low”
PG Did anyone tell you about this?
PS No one told me anything about any aspect of any ongoing investigation.
PG wants to see another document, but the system is down. He extemporises.
PG When you were told about your discrepancy being dealt with, various times…
No - no emails are being seen. PG finishes his questions.
Judge has one question which he can’t ask as the screens are down.
He tells PS she has finished giving evidence and he tries to deal with it with the PO QC.
It’s the question of a document which has been referred to in court by the PO QC which the judge notes is 95% redacted. The judge has asked that the document is checked again "by counsel” and the reasons for the redaction are explained to him.
We break for lunch.
@threadreaderapp unroll please
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Nick Wallis
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!