For yesterday’s write up and live tweets - please go to postofficetrial.com
Henry Warwick (HW) asking how much MLS would tell a temp about the situation they are taking over - how much they would tell them about a suspension and the reasons for it.
HW you have a target of 5 days
HW and that’s a Post Office target
MLS yes - but that doesn’t mean we will open in 5 days - other things need to be sorted out first sometimes
[discussion about the process of finding a temp]
MLS it’s so the incumbent and a temp can talk terms, access etc
HW you seem to miss out quite a large chunk of your job in your WS
MLS not necessarily
HW also you ask them if they want a contribution from the temp for rent, lighting etc
MLS I wouldn’t say lower their expectations
HW you do in your witness statement say “lower their expectations”
MLS yes I would sometimes have to lower their expectations
MLS the branch is shut, and if they don’t accept the temp then the branch will remain shut
HW but you don’t say - if you remain shut that will have an effect on local people
MLS no that would not
HW asking about the deal between the temp, SPM and the PO when a temp comes in. querying MLS’s evidence when set against Mr Breeden’s [also from the PO] on Monday.
Judge has intervened
J - so you don’t know if that £200pw is deducted or not?
MLS - no, don’t know.
HW were you aware of this when you wrote your WS?
HW you’re not aware now, but youwere when you wrote your WS?
MLS don’t know what you mean.
HW have a look at your WS
MLS incumbent SPM isn’t paid and the temp one is paid.
HW did you know this because it’s in your statement or you know it because you wrote it
MLS I wrote it. I know it.
MLS not in my experience - we pay the temp not the suspended SPM
[we move on]
MLS yes - some of them I know v well
HW how many times do you have to put in a temp per year. Last year it was 10 -15 per month. This year it’s increased. At the moment I’m doing about 20 a month.
New Rose, Potent and AN Other I missed.
HW you know them, you know their terms
MLS explains the process for
MLS now talking about not being able to find a temp and if they can’t find one...
HW and the pO has the power to shut the branch
HW even if the incumbent wants it to stay open
[time being of the essense]
HW now talking about a PO document which state's temp’s right toexclusive use of the counter - is it right that the temp should have exclusive use of the branch?
MLS no that’s not right. I don’t know where that’s come from
HW do you give this policy to SPMs
MLS I don’t
MLS I don’t know that the are
HW do you ever tell them that if SPM and temp can’t agree a deal that the SPM might get paid directly by the PO that they install
MLS well sometimes they get given a choice of temp
MLS a CA might make me aware there is a suspension at the branch coming
HW and then you talk to the potential temp
MLS yep but I wouldn’t give them details about the branch
HW do YOU ask temps to do things to support the PO’s case against suspended SPMs
MLS not in my time
You were asked about policy that gives PO a written copy of agreement between temp and SPM. You said you don’t get it.
J - are you aware of these docs being created or they don’t get recorded anywhere
MLS they might be orally or in
J - but you dont’ see it
J - what do you record then of the deal personally
MLS - nothing
J - do you know what the liability is for a temp for any losses incurred in branch
MLS liability for any losses incurred in branch. I make that clear
MLS ther is a temp contract
J - something between PO and temp
J - and that makes them aware they are liable
MLS yes and I tell them that too
J - thank you
Mr Abdulla was adamant Ms Adams and Ms Stevens were the same person.
EL says they most certainly are not.
Patrick Green QC for the claimants is on his feet.
Wants to ask EL about what she said a few minutes ago to Mr Cavender.
PG QC clarifying that EL has no recollection of her interview with Mr Abdulla. Just that its her signature on the document. Which is why your WS is littered with the phrase “would have” as you cannot recollect
QC you can recall Mr Abdulla ran a branch before? or you’ve been reminded
EL I’ve been reminded
QC it’s helpful for his lordship to know which areas you are more confident on and which you’re not
EL you are not an employee, you cover discrepancies, you are responsible for any discrepancies, standards in the branch, training and employing staff
EL yes - I say it could be a pound or a thousand pounds - you are responsible
QC Mr Abdulla is adamant you didn’t. Is it possible you didn’t?
EL yes - I can’t remember
[this was a three person interview - EL and Christine interviewing Mr A]
QC Mr Abdulla says this definitely was not mentioned
EL accepts she might not have said it. She can’t remember
[goes to different piece of EL’s WS]
QC asking about another SPM. EL did interview him but can’t remember when
EL says she knows what she told SPMs down the years...
QC notes her colleague Brian Trotter has a checklist which he uses to show what he has discussed with claimant.
EL this document has changed down the years
QC it has - look - first thing on the checklist here - record the
EL I don’t remember when it came in.
QC reads her a document about the change of policy. Do you remember that?
EL sometimes it came in earlier
QC but you didn’t record your interview so you werent using that checklist
QC this is very different from 2006 when Mr Abdulla was interviewed.
QC let’s see what does exist for Mr Abdulla…
QC letter to EL asking interviewe MR A using “standard interview pack"
QC - Letter also asks EL to fill in a checklist for Mr Abdulla’s iv - reels these off…
EL says that is what she was working to and a different sheet she no longer has which gave her points together.
QC goes to letter 9 Nov 2006 inviting Mr A to interview.
QC also attaches brief summary
EL they might want to discuss them
QC but they’re not told to bring it to discuss it are they?
EL yes cos that’s their business plan
QC but there’s not mention of the terms. They’ haven’t seen the contract yet.
EL no my understanding was that in those days it would be kept in branch.
They are going through various documents surrounding Mr Abdulla’s Subpostmaster (SPM) application
QC now he didn’t mean a legal partnership?
EL no - might not have been his words they were my words
QC so when you’re talking about the sort of things you would have...
EL the contract was quite a big thing for him to read, I think. "It would have put him off straight away!"
There are 14 documents in the interview file. EL has been shown almost all of them.
QC it’s not the case that Mr A’s file has been lost, is it?
QC the reality is there was no standard checklist in 2006
EL I had a standard checklist given to me by my colleague when I started and that’s where the later list comes from
EL no I didn’t I say that. I said I have used this checklist, but not for Mr A.
QC it’s dated 2012. it’s the one Mr Breeden said he has used.
EL yes we do.
QC you want to know how many hours personal service they intend to provide
EL yes but that might change
EL that is to help them pay for cover staff
QC you’re smiling - you’ve probably been told this lots of times
QC and the reason for this is because the relationship is...
EL it is yes.
QC notes that in the contract that SPMs don’t have to be present in branch providing a personal service - need to notify area manager etc
QC i’ll just ask you.
QC for the purposes of statutory sick pay the law treated SPMs as employees.
EL yes. But it’s not.
EL no - not at first
QC can you remember it
EL not at all - just what I’ve seen from the papers
EL don’t know
Misuse of post office services.
Quoting 12:12 in the contract (“all lossses caused... by negligence, carelessness or error”)
EL starts interview stating situation including a accepting a TC and not making it good
QC notes figure of £1092, then -£1092, then a month later £1092 and there’s another £1092 back in May, none of which are linked to a reason, whereas other TCs are. Why?
EL don’t know
QC it’s odd, isn’t it?
QC in Mr A’s interview he kept repeating there was something wrong and brought up the £1092 repeatedly
EL yes I could have used it to find other errors too
QC yes you could have seen this other figure which was erroneous and actually showed there was at least £2K in here which he was being held accountable for
QC you just had to wing it didn’t you and decide whether to suspend him on what you felt might have happened
EL yes - on the information I had available to me at the time.
[they go into discussion and review of about the next part of the process - internally reviewing the suspension, termination, appeal etc]
QC did you request any info from Horizon any ARQ data?
EL no that was something that was not done
QC so let’s look at the response to his appeal
EL can’t comment
QC Did your PO colleague ask for any additional info before the appeal
EL don’t know
EL don’t know why. it’s just the way it is
QC Even when they were accused of false accounting?
EL if they were accused of false accounting
QC but in this interview you accused him of false accounting. yet he’s still not allowed a lawyer
QC even tho what he says to you in this interview can be relied upon by another team down the line.
PO QC on his feet now going back through JFSA QC’s questioning of EL on her Witness Statement
PO QC is asking her to clarify her recollection of I don’t remember saying things. She hardens it up to a probable 8 out of 10 likelihood
EL no - if someone indicates they are going to work 18 hours a week then I’ll just put a note about it so someone can help find holiday cover
EL there’s still a £1092 difference [against the SPM]
J - what is your understanding of “the mutilated notes”.
When you say there is no TC for that, that is based on...
EL no it might have been, it should still be in the record
J but your assertion there is no TC is based on what
[agree it is two till rolls and the list from the debt team]
Do you remember that?
EL i remember the spreadsheet but not every entry.
J but the four entries are still on there. with no supporting info. If this was the only info you had are you confident you had enough information to explore the charges against him with him.
J - you don’t think it would be helpful to have the extra document with the extra text in it
J - thank you - that’s been very useful
EL Mr A implied he accepted a TC after he last rolled over. but I couldn’t find one.
PO QC and if he had done that it would have reduced the loss?
David Longbottom in the witness box now. Bald early fifties, black suit, striped tie. Sworn in.
Patrick Green QC asks - would it be fair you are more likely to remember audits that were unusual?
DL yes that’s fair.
QC Mrs Golding has 4 branches - you audited it about a year and a half ago. can you remember it?
DL if you give me the name
DL I remember
QC the word audit might not be right. it’s what she called it. What can you remember anything of that visit?
DL my memory would be if...
QC how big?
QC yes because to print out the whole lot…
[starts talking about a collaborative process “they know their branch better than me”]
QC were you surprised
DL yes but she could have asked for them
QC what you were trying to do was find the root cause of the problem
QC context of LS transfer was that the outgoing SPM had been waiting quite a while for this to happen.
DL no - not my area.
DL I wouldn’t know about this
QC but you got the impression when you did speak to her that she was keen to get on with it
DL oh yes
Judge wants the QC to hurry up and make the point.
DL the date that popped up would have been the opening audit?
QC is it not the same day as the transfer audit?
DL not with the Network Transformation often there was a gap
DL yes we could do it on the old kit in the old branch with the stock that was there.
DL that’s what it says
QC you wouldn’t get involved?
QC but it’s normal for payments from PO etc
DL yes I would guess so
DL it was at the time
QC it was procedure then, but not now
DL no now we bring it with us on transfer day
DL usually yes
[QC now taking DL through docs needed on transfer day. there are lots]
DL yes but they went to different places
QC showing official secrets act doc for outgoing SPM to sign
DL apart from their copy of that
QC apart from their copy of that
QC what would happen if a TC came in to an SPM after they have been terminated, in their favour
DL it would go to the [finance] office which would chalk it into the accounts
QC suggests this is difficult
DL harder, but so long as we remember to get everything done…
QC points out documents which are missing from this handover.
DL perhaps it was less busy in this case
QC but it was still busy
QC so you hand to get all things signed by KC and LS
DL KC would have signed all she needed to sign when her PO closed.
QC what then, were you making her sign? emphasis? a flourish?
DL don’t know - it’s just something we’ve always done.
DL [reads document] I would say this is just something the business wants you to read and sign
DL no no SPMs have raised those things with me
QC did you have any doubts about..
DL personally speaking no
QC if an SPM asked you about the terms of a document you were asking them to sign, could you have told them?
DL no not unless I was sure I understood it. I wouldn’t want to give them advice.
DL I wouldn’t know - it’s not my area.
Incoming - 12 or 13
Outgoing - 2 or 3
No further questions. DL stands down
MW and KD agree he is very experienced 16 years unbroken auditing for the PO
KD showing him a doc he hasn’t seen before by a PO trainer painting a picture of transfer day as absolute chaos. Says transfer audit shouldn’t happen on same day as opening
DL depends - can be most relaxed of the audits you do.
KD you are comparing them with other audits. For the SPM on opening day it is a stressful day
DL I would imagine it is, yeah.
DL yep with different people leading them
KD so when your initials are first, you lead them?
Sorry - I’ve been DLing Michael Webb. Tired.
KD is talking to Michael Webb. Hereafter MW
MW says it was quite a relaxed process
MW has no recollection of it other than being there. Doesn’t remember the SPM
KD but that’s the limit
MW so when you say how long you would have spend on things - you’re speculating
KD what you’re saying is I can’t remember anything about it therefor nothing unusual must have happened.
MW - yes
KD why don’t you refer to them in your WS?
MW i’m still doing audits now we do lots of audits [suggests they all look the same]
KD are you sure you read Mr Sabir’s transfer audit?
KD takes him to the documentation around this audit. Showing him checklists in transfer pack going to Mr Sabir’s predecessor Mr Rooney.
MW standard practice.
KD so Mr Sabir couldn’t have seen the docs sent to Mr Rooney?
KD in your WS you say you would briefly explain the documents
MW it’s a document asking for final acceptance of the position of SPM
KD so your job is to identify the document.
MW yes it’s very much a formality
KD and these docs are being presented as a formality
KD so if asked what would you say a Post Instruction was?
MW I’d have to refer that back
KD brings up 40 page document. what if you were asked about that?
MW I’d have to refer it back
KD have you read the SPM contract
MW they’re a formality. I guess the whole thing would fold if they didn’t but no one’s forcing them
KD they don’t have any choice
MW we’re not twisting their arms
KD but you’re not saying “here are some important docs...
MW not its very much a formality to seal all the legalities.
KD no further questions
Michael Webb is done and dusted in record time for a witness in this trial. We also have no further witnesses today.
Second trial is 11 March for 5 weeks to 11 April
J there are 3 alternatives for T3 are groups of issues, fully trying individual claims or test claims
J yes which individual cases to try you might no know, but whether it’s a large group or a small one can be decided without a judgement on this trial
Basically the QCs want the trial in September 2019 and the judge wants it in June 2019.
PG QC wants a case-management date in Jan after this trial’s ruling and says it will have a massive bearing on what T3 is if needed at all.
Says the right claimants for part 3 is essential and based on the issues that are agreed are problems.
Judge weighs in. No you say a rush for October - that’s 11 months away. This action was started in 2016. The earliest any of this will get resolved is middle of 2019. The way
PO QC yes, unless you try a couple of the Lead Claimants from this trial.
J it is my job to manage litigation. This case is already old and I am going to resolve it. We will revisit this at the end of Monday.
J I am grudgingly persuaded that June is too soon. It is difficult for an average person to get
J I am minded order T3 for October 2019 and put you on notice that unless there are very good reasons not to that is when it will happen.
[We don’t need to talk about the wheels of justice do we? Blimey. Not sure what I’ve got myself into.]
This is what happens when there is little or no media involvement in a story. It drags on for decades. I am not blaming anyone for this (certainly not the media). It is just an observation.