Louise has a quiet voice with, I hope I’m right, central Scots accent.
LD calls taking over a Post Office as “exciting” and “incredibly” important - it was her family’s future.
QC probing on terms she was “happy” to accept as part of the deal.
QC so you did that yourselves [he is asking in the context of whether she had legal advice in signing the lease]
LD Yes and for the community
QC you knew you weren’t going to be an employee, is that right
LD it wasn’t that clear because they’re trying to sell you the idea
QC I suggest it became clear
QC they say they are going to send you a general draft contract and they say they’re going to do that by posting an information pack. Do you remember seeing that?
LD not at that point
LD I did send an email in fact because I didn’t get it and the PO person said they had sent it
QC so you must have received it
LD I do remember I didn’t get a draft contract.
LD I didn’t tell my husband and father about every email I got
QC surely you would have asked for it if...
There is some confusion here about what documents LD should have received, said she received and the QC thinks she was sent.
We move on to her interview with Mr Trotter from the PO.
QC “If you had received the contract, which I suggest you would have done, you would have had it for 2 months by this stage”
LD I don’t think so, no.
LD that’s just the kind of person I am - this was about the service I was providing
LD you can’t assume anything, that’s the point - I wanted to be involved with everything.
QC asks about the concerns she mentioned about training.
LD starts to answer
QC could you answer the question?
LD I was and you won’t let me finish.
LD I’d like to see the whole transcript again before I agree with that.
LD I thought it was going to be a partnership
QC but nowhere in here is the word partnership mentioned
QC but you said you’d read this and listening to the tape.
Judge intervenes to say it’s a little unfair to expect her to remember everything in a 25 page document. He will arrange for LD to read it later.
QC the net effect of the iv was that the proposal was never going to work.
LD didn’t say “never” he just said it wasn’t going to work as was
QC so the interview ended
QC so you apply again in Jan 2014 and have another interview in Feb 2014 - this was the start of the process again
LD well - I was resubmitting a business plan if I had to start
QC so the business plan passes the assessment stage and yo have another interview with Mr Trotter
LD yes it was referred to as a discussion but I treated it as a second interview.
QC also points out Termination clause - 6months
LD yes but it wasn’t something we were considering. we thought this was for life
QC You got everything the bundle sent to you. reads from it and...
QC Did you receive this?
LD I don’t remember
QC you disclosed it as part of this action so you did get it
LD I had a whole cupboard full of documents
LD at least 6 months
QC [reads] "if you are not happy to accept the legal obligations
QC I think the PO is suggesting you need to read these very carefully.
LD I did read them but I was full of excitement and adrenaline “fired up and excited about the business”. She intimates the full import did not strike her.
QC is that really true?
Do you agree that this refers to your contract.
LD it’s not that simple - the auditor was in a hurry and it was just “sign here"
Judge intervenes to tell LD she should not be concerned about speaking openly.
LD I was in Pakistan visiting my mother-in-law. Someone experienced was working my place
QC says there appears to have been some deliberate falsification of cash figures by the locum
QC you say in your interview that you counted it before you went away you must have put it in the wrong place.
LD it didn’t
QC you balanced to zero before then
LD I never balanced to zero once - not once since I started. She started talking about the auditors telling her she was “laughing” if she was up or down £30...
LD talks about her experience at hotel where in a £150 float if you were 50p down you had to find it. She starts talking about being in the PO late at night trying to find the source of her problem. She is crying again.
Describes having to balance on rollover day by 7pm or it would break down and she had to do it again the next morning...
QC asking about some specifics of the audit. Point out she declared hte night before an audit there was 400 x £2 coins. When the auditor arrived there were 2.
LD no never I was never dishonest. I would never do that.
QC asks what investigations she did do
LD answers about her post-suspension
She was in tears earlier about the auditor who left her branch in a “mess”. Here’s what she says about it in her WS...
her around 2 hours to even get in to the system.
In the weeks leading up to the branch opening, Post Office had delivered various labels,
forms, and other items...
said I would be lucky if I was only £20 to £30 down when balancing. I was concerned about
this, and specifically asked Ms Guthrie what do if the system wasn’t balancing...
said to call the Helpline and that they would resolve any problems I told Ms Guthrie that I
wasn’t comfortable opening the branch without any troubleshooting training and I asked if...
have to get on with it and call the Helpline if I had problems.
"After branch opening Ms Guthrie stayed on site for 6 or 7 days. She was shadowing me, and
intervening in customer transactions. I often didn’t find her interventions helpful, and she was sometimes rude to customers."
at particular times of the day, but a main reason for opening the branch in the shop was that
it had existing customers."
QC now puts it’s to LD that the helpline was in fact helpful
LD disagrees. This is what LD says in her WS
which was obviously not helping me to find the specific problem, and was just covering it up.
They told me they ‘shouldn’t be doing this’ but...
I had. This felt wrong and it was concerning to me that there were little ’work arounds’ to
dealing with the Horizon system, this really suggested that there was some kind of fault in
given by Post Office representatives.”
This has just been discussed in court.
QC This did not happen.
LD It categorically did.
QC so what did you do.
Judge “No you can’t actually. This is about a very specific area of cross examination”
JFSA QC makes to politely protest. “No I’m sorry Mr Green” - judge says if has to make a point he can do so after LD has been xe’d on...
The assistant she sacked for gross misconduct was Jasbir Sohi.
Her husband, who I believe is here in court today, is called Rehman.
September said that Ms Guthrie would support me with my first
balance day, which was 3 December 2014...
attended the Thursday before, on 27 November 2014 and prepared for rollover on that day,
but that was not the same process and this did not assist me with my balancing….
training or support she did not. In fact, the first time Ms Guthrie came back was on 15 July
2015 to carry out an audit."
and signed on 2 July 2014, or the acknowledgement of appointment on 19 November 2014.
I had understood from Mr Trotter...
nothing too complex or concerning in the contracts. I don’t fully...
how Post Office would operate the contract in practice."
QC hasn’t asked any question yet.
LD is explaining she did have reservations and did discuss them.
ie reservations about taking on the PO contract.
Previously the QC suggested she didn’t express reservations.
LD points out the expression “hand in hand” is emblematic of her understanding that this was a partnership.
LD says no - it has to be looked at all together.
QC suggests that she changed her story on what she was told during interview
QC its not a small thing - you tried to say there was legal advice discussed in this interview and I think we both agree now it wasn’t..
LD sorry I thought that was an interview but I accept now that that was referred to in emails not as a meeting.
No further questions from the QC.
JFSA QC asks about the time Mrs Guthrie suggests a discrepancy might be down to dishonesty.
JFSA QC: no further questions.
He now shows her a PO memo (which I will request) about an “intervention” visit.
Judge: “All of those 3 documents relate to what is called - quotes ‘Missing Cheques’”
“Am I right in thinking this relates to cheques that you were sending out from your branch which weren’t being received.”
LD the PO finding them.
PO QC on his feet discussing the cheques.
LD says yes
Judge says - oh - I thought I understood, it but let’s explore this further.
Gets to the point that Jas, her assistant had sent the cheques to the PO but...