Nick Wallis Profile picture
25 Mar, 188 tweets, 35 min read
Good morning and welcome to Day of R v Hamilton and others at the Court of Appeal. Today we will hear argument for and against the three appellants referred by the CCRC to the court. The Post Office is opposing their appeals. Live-tweet thread to follow.
Yesterday’s court report and all three previous days transcripts can be found here:
All my work this week is crowdfunded. If you find any of the stuff of the website useful there is an option to contribute here:…
… rewards include a forthcoming book on the scandal and access to the “secret” email - sent on an irregular basis when there are interesting things happening as the story moves through the courts, inquiry and parliament.
We are about to start...
[we have started. please note everything I tweet is a summary or paraphrase of what is said. nothing is a direct quote unless in “direct quotes”]

Sam Stein QC on his feet, representing Stanley Fell, aged 69. Mr Fell was...
… convicted of False accounting on 27/7/07 at Leicester Crown Court.

SS goes to Fraser J emphasizing the problems of Subpostmasters (SPMs) par 1117 ...
" Suspended SPMs were not paid for their period of suspension but in order to keep their branches open had to pay Temporary SPMs to run them. Even if reinstated, they had no right to be paid their remuneration for their period of suspension.”

SS I mention this as a...
… background. Mr Fell was a 3rd gen post office worker. He ran his PO from 1976 without problem until his suspension in 2007. He was a fine upstanding member of the community who was known for his kindness.

SS we say the denil of a proper system of closure had an effect...
… in Mr fell’s case. Even tho there was a plea of guilty, where there is material which could lead to an application to stay proceedings is should be disclosed.

Justice Picken (JP) is your primary focus Limb 1 or 2

SS we say he is entitled to both
SS we say on the visit by Ms Bailey on an audit after he made complaints to them about numbers not adding up, I am sure Mr Altman will say he made an admission which the PO relies on.

SS it was a time when there was no apparent system of disclosure - the PO say this was not...
…. an H case. We say it was. There was a standard declaration of H’s function in the prosecution.

SS Mr Fell (SF) was not living the high life. No money was being shifted around into bank accounts. No other evidence. In terms of disclosure this was at a time when...
… there was no wider discussion about H’s reliability [H is the PO’s Horizon IT system - central to this scandal].

SS - SF told the auditor he’d be using shop money to balance discrepancies in H balance. This is in the CCRC referral.
SS the H system was installed in SF’s branch 2001. It was a traditional rural PO. SF did not find this a natural transition. He found the training difficult and the operation of H difficult. To support the grocery business he’d entered into a contract with First Choice...
… which required a certain amount of stock being turned over each month, and this was part of his explanation for taking money out of the PO till at a certain time. As we will see...
… both parties recognise SF had reported 4 “make good” discrepancies aggregating to more than £1K each. This is important. After the First Choice contract comes in this is on the face of it SF making good discrepancies. As far as we know this is not material that was available..
… to the legal team instructed on behalf of SF. It could have been told to them by SF. OR it could have come from the PO. It’s hard to know at what stage this was known. The point we make is that SF, like so many others, working in this unequal contract terms with the PO...
… is not going to know what is in his interest to tell his own lawyers. This evidence provides some insight into what was going on in his post office. It is the first iteration of H. the WORST iteration of H. It is accepted H could cause SPMs unexpected losses.
SS We also have no ARQ data from his account. We have a circular problem that this court is prevented due to the denials of the PO about H from conducting a proper investigation into his situation. The PO in denying problems with H have caused a knock-on problem for this court.
[SS goes to a document - reads from it too quietly]
SS - SF says helpline advice was often contradictory and told if he was unable to balance his contract was at risk
SS - SF made 721 calls from 2000 to 2006 averaging more than 2 a week. PO says it is reasonable to assume the helpline advice was satisfactory as he did not complain about it.
Lord Justice Holroyde (LJH) it’s hard to do anything nowadays without being told our calls are being recorded. were these calls recorded?

SS I’ll check

[pretty sure they weren’t until recently]
SS we go to Second Sight’s review of SF”s case by Mr Warmington… the point that was made there was that SF complained about the shortage of cash himself is a pretty solid indicator that he didn’t know he was running a deficit.
SS SF found himself in a v grave position. We can expect people in this situation to act logically - to provide his own legal team with useful information in the absence of disclosure. There is some evidence on which we suggest that if the PO had been open and plain and...
…. accepted there were problems with his H, his legal team could have asked relevant questions of both the PO and Mr Fell. We all know sometimes our clients aren’t able to help us unless we put them on the right path, which would have been helped by disclosure.
SS had that disclosure been available from the PO they might have been able to help. Instead SF took responsibility and his legal team assisted him on that basis. No crit of his legal team.
[That’s it from SS on SF]
[Brian Altman for the PO on his feet]
BA what makes this a case?
… re the reliability of H data? The court knows the law on the issue of the plea. S4 of the @ccrcupdate’s statement of reasons sets out the case law. They cut through all of the cases the court has to deal with today. When the appeal follows a plea of guilty, the circs to allow
@ccrcupdate … an appeal are limited. [reads from more case law - it says it’s basically tough for lots of reasons to overturn a guilty plea]
BA the question is whether this is a H reliability case. the test is of the safety of the conviction [reads from more legal guidance] the scope for finding a guilty plea to lead to an unsafe conviction must be exceptional and rare
[more case law]
[which go to how the issue of how a court can overturn a conviction based on a guilty plea]
BA these principles are in the CCRC’s statement of reasons. We say this is not an H case. If it was not an H case there was no obligation to disclose H data. Therefore it cannot be...
… abuse of process.

BA it has been suggested that PO approach to the three cases being heard today, it is not. Nothing in this case was reliant on H data. IN cases where H was in play there should have been disclosure. So where H reliability was essential - that is why...
.. we conceded on G1 of the CCRC grounds.

BA here there was nothing to vitiate the plea - the guilty plea are not undermined and are in fact direct evidence of guilt
BA earlier ref was made to SF’s position - this incuded info to pay unexplained losses from the Post Office’s money, among other points. He admitted to a PO manager he took money from the PO to pay shop bills. The CCRC thinks it’s important that he also took money FROM the...
… shop to balance H. That’s the CCRC’s position. The evidence came from SF, but it is an unsupported assertion.
BA - SS agrees and it was agreed that SF had made good on four occasions. SS relies on a 2013 email in which Mr Warmington gives - one can’t really call it an...
… expert opinion, an opinion in which he states that the lack of cash deposits was not unusual.

BA so what are the facts? SF admits a single count of false accounting, and admits that in 2004/5 he entered into a contract with First Choice to supply stock. I hoped to turn...
… around the poor sales. It did,, but the contract required me to spend £2000 a week on stock. I did not have the cash for this, so I “borrowed” money from the PO to fund it and I admit I falsified my accounts. At no time did I intend to deprive the PO. I always was going to...
… pay it back and I now have. My intention was not dishonest.
BA - SF made no claim to covering up H generated shortfalls, rather than to prop up his retail business. In his plea he made not claim to repay what he made good in the past. If he made that claim a differnt approach
… may have been taken. But he didn’t. He took money from the PO to prop up his business and covered it up.
BA his later claim that he had been putting money into the PO to balance problems with H came later. He did report balancing problems with H, but that never formed...
… the basis of his plea.

BA Second Sight describe that the PO and SF agreed that £1K had been put into the PO by SF. If the money SF falsley declared, pled guilty to and repaid - £19K - roughly equated to the amount he put in, then okay but it’s not even close.
BA - evenin the early days SF offered the PO a cheque for a shortage "would that be the end of it?” - then SF set to Ms Bailey he had been v stupid and that he hadn’t wanted to take money from the PO but he needed it. He then told the auditor it was a foolish thing to do and that
… “he might have been found out a while back” but the person who came and did an audit in the past had not doen it competently an missed what SF was doing. He also told another person he “had not taken any more money for quite a while."
BA - SF the burden of my actions became so unbearable that I considered taken my life, but I would like to apologise to the PO and my family for my financial negligence, but I want them to know I always intended to pay it back
BA so his defence was lack of intent to deprive.
BA his defence statement puts his situation to a decline in trade and bad management on stocking the shop. There is also the solicitors letter which first came up during mediation (the 2013 mediation scheme) “you received full advice regarding you plea” and on repayment on...
… the £19K - you have always accepted you caused a loss by taking monetary funds to keep your shop afloat. A privileged letter. No reference to unexplained shortfalls.

BA A few final submission from me - if this had been a case where H reliability was essential...
… it would be a case. but it’s not. and because it isn’t, material which should have been disclosed in other cases was not disclosable in this case. The relibaility of H data was not essential. if the argument is it is incumbent on the pO to disclosed SF’s other...
… discrepancies - why didn’t SF? He could have done. But he had th chance to. It wasn’t in his mind, because it was entirely consistent with his case that he use PO funds for his shop. He borrowed money to pay his contract and the idea that H was central to his case is not...
… supported. The total sum he ever made good was £1K. The figure in the indictment was £19K - this didn’t take account of the £1K. The financial sum is not a material averrment. Clearly there is £18K which is not unexplained. It’s all totally explained.
BA this was never a case dependent on H data. So for these reasons in this appellants case, that the CCRC’s central reason for making the case cannot apply and so it’s not made out on either ground of abuse of process.

[Lord Justice Holroyde (LJH) goes to auditor statement…]
[LJH reads how auditor needed to check the cash because it didn’t match up with what H is showing.]
BA when SPMs false account, they are showing they have more cash thatn they actually do. They find themselves making untrue declarations in terms of the cash on hand and because...
… of that it will trigger remittance requests. If that cash is not sent back it might trigger an audit.

LJH is this Mr Warmington’s point re a cash delivery?

BA no. Mr W’s point is his complaint to the PO about the shortage of cash… actually yes it is… in our submission...
… it is a typical symptom of an SPM having not enough cash to run the branch because they were over-inflating the cash and not getting any deliveries. A typical symptom of false accounting.

LJH it seems inevitable this sort of thing comes to light v quickly

BA not sure...
… it depends on the central office processes. I wouldn’t like to say.
[BA ends. SS back on his feet]
SS SF’s position is set out here
[goes to doc - prepared statement within his interview]
SS Sf gives his name age and details [reads too quickly and quietly] appointed as SPM...
… in 1976. In 2005 the manager came in to my branch re a complaint I had made to them I did not have enough cash to run my branch. So he is bringing this to the attention of the post office. The oddity is that BA is saying he’s taken the money and he’s telling the PO he is.
SS the background to this is the unexplained losses for which we have no infor and no help from th PO about. Do they say it was his fault? Were they H faults? He was not told either. SF didn’t know how SF could go wrong. His legal team weren’t able to help because they...
… didn’t have this info. The numbers not matching are irrelevant. The fact is there were problems before and they weren’t resolved. we don’t know what caused them. Against the lack of disclosure going on at the time SF or his legal team could not act the right questions.
JP if this is not a limb1 is it a limb 2?
SS yes because the abusive nature of the acts by the PO at the time were an affront to justice
SS against the factual nature of the abuse which has been identified - this is not the level of a murder or similar. We are entitled to look at the scale of approach against the abuse which has been perpetrated, there is enough here to take Mr Fell’s case home.
Justice Farbey (JF) what gets him into limb 2?

SS same position as other SPMs, unequal contract, lack of knowledge - the point being made it’s nothing to do with H - what we are left with on behalf of SF is indiciation that if anyone had investigated to look at his shortfalls...
… they might have found something different.

JF he made remarks actively admitting it

SS and he didn’t tell them about his balancing problems either. He did not react well to his situation after coming under investigation and tried to take his own life.
[SS finishes, Tim Moloney QC on his feet (TM)]
[We are going to deal with Wendy Cousins case now]
[Ian Henderson from Second Sight is going to be cross-examined over his investigation into her case]
TM Wendy Cousins was convicted of theft and she raised the reliability of H AND…
… whether there was any theft.
TM it’s common ground this appeals on whether H evidence was essential to the prosecution. Wendy Cousins (WC) has spelled out the weakness of the case against her. There is no evidence she stole - we concede that thos features are insufficient...
… to render he conviction unsafe on their own, but we rely on them if the court decides H was essential to her case.
TM I’d like to call Mr Henderson to be xe
JP do you want to make G2 as well as G1 - the ground 2 abuse turns on whether H was essential to the case...
… in short form she should not have been prosecuted. If we succeed on G1 then we say G2 is made out.
[Ian Henderson is sworn in. He has prepared a report into WC’s case]
TM do you adopt the contents of your report
IH I do
Zoe Johnston QC for the PO (ZJ) - we have your report
ZJ you along with Mr Warmington are directors of Second Sight (Warmington will be RW)

ZJ you are the co-author of the Interim Report July 2013, Briefing report July 2014 and Briefing report pat April 2015. Your remit was wide, I believe not just the H IT system, but...
… also operational systems around it.

ZJ in p35 of your report you say at par17 - this matter relates to cash payments associated to cash payments, Pensions and Allowances and vouchers/giros - your report is prediacted on WC’s use of P&A vouchers
ZJ yes you interchange green giros and P&A vouchers

IH welll there is some confusion between the teo

ZJ that’s not right at all - you have extensively quoted from a paper prepared by the PO to help you with your SS reporting
IH yes

ZJ if we go to p38 please ou start quoting PO “PO has previously stated the following - there are various methods by whichbenefits can be recieved by customers - P&A books provided by DWP to customers entitled to benefits…” etc
ZJ again on p40 you go to a section entitled “Green Giro” and customers on temp benefits or who lose their POCA cards could be sent Green Giro cheques. So - would you accept insofar as PO is concerned these are two separate methods of dispensing benefits to customers...
IH yes but this prosecution related potentially to both P&A books and green giros, but she was only only prosecuted in relation to green giros.

ZJ yes and with P&A you get a book and the book is scanned - yes?

IH - yes but there are 10 different sources of allowance including
… MOD etc

ZJ yes and one of the differences is P&A come in a book, a green giro is sent to a customer as a single check - not torn out of a book.

IH yep that’s my understanding
ZJ and P&A vouchers are sent to a processing centre in Northern Ireland, but green giros are sent to Alliance and Leicester then Santander in Bootle in Liverpool

IH slightly more complicated before that there was a giro bank

ZJ at the time this court is concerned...
… the giros were sent to Allicance and Leicester in Bootle.

IH yes

ZJ we have a giro which TM wil confirm went to Bootle

TM confirms

ZJ your report is predicated on on these cheques going to NI and you criticise the checking regime conducting there

IH not just NI...
… when I started my review I looked at the evidence and I looked at the PO documents on the understanding that I would engage with the PO in order to get to a mamorandum of understanding - but that didn’t happen

ZJ so are you not clear on the checking procudure for green giros?
IH well I was raising on a slightly speculative basis as to the nature of the checking systems, the transaction corrects etc I am speculating that the PO system as described was not the same as reality. I raised it on the basis that I could receive more information from your...
… expert and come to an agreed position, but that didn’t happen.

ZJ so is it fair to say you are unclear on the reconciliation process of green giros

IH that is my position

[we move on]

ZJ let’s look at whether H is central to this. the first H matter on the schedules...
.. are “ID” and I think that refers to counter position

IH yes the PO investigator sets this out in some detail. I would hope the description is not controversial

ZJ the description is not. Can you confirm there was only one counter position at this branch

IH yes

ZJ did...
… the user ID get shared with her assistant

IH yes - it might be more than that - son and husband might have worked there too - all on the asme ID - impossible to say who was doing what

ZJ don’t need to worry about the husband for the moment.
[now a very technical discussion about a document I can’t see]

ZJ where the giros were received we would have the giro date and number - week number, encashment date and time - they are mechanical amounts that apply to all post office business
ZJ sessnoin number iD, mode, Product number - I thin you can confirm when WC was engaged in this there would be an icon for green giros

IH yes but session ID is not a unique number - multiple transactions might have the same session ID. [gives examples in the schedule]

ZJ let's
… just finish this if we can. WC checks the green giro manually enters the amount that needs to be handed over to the customer.

IH correct

ZJ insofar as the processes and procedures are confirmed...
… I am sure you can confirm that every Wed WC would reconcile - which means printing out her summary of ggs cashed - let’s say 10 that week - and compare that with the phyiscal ggs pinned on the wall and they would match. H says 10 paid and her are 10 on the wall.
IH did we cover name and status?

ZJ that’s the author of the schedule

IH H does not have the capacity to record the beneficiary of the cheque - the name was recorded by the PO investigator, but it was deeply flawed - it was a guess by the investigator

ZJ I don’t agree...
… it’s deeply flawd, but that’s dependent on H is it?

IH not the last two columns, no

ZJ but on the weekly reconciliation process you have 10 giros paid out from H and 10 on thewall. So if any dupd transaction had crept in that would become immediately apparent, wouldn’t it?
IH explains overpaying and reintroduction

ZJ either would have been apparent to the SPM

IH yes

ZJ not least becaue you compare 10 transactions with 10 on the wall

IH overclaim or reintroduction results in a surplus of cash rather than a shortage

ZJ and you have speculated...
… that this might be the result of a bug

IH yes due to the new information and the investigators witness staetments - on the two occasions the auditors did not get it to balance first time it was £4.01 and then £32.91 - these are not the size of surplus for an overclaim...
… or reintroduction, both auditors found a surplus

ZJ extremely small amounts and when WC pleaded it was £13K

IH over 18 months - if you look at the weekly cash declarations, the turnover of this branch was £50K a week. Sometimes 100K a week so big transactions...
… I would argue given the volume of the transactions it would be easy for an overclaim to get lost.

ZJ that’s not how things developed - girobank contact the pO because they had not received giros - there was a protracted investigation which led to the prosecution…

IH I agree
ZJ you have speculated that a phantom bug may be respoinsible - without evidence

IH we have the evidence of Fraser J of bugs errors and defects and we have ROMEC engineers - look at the schedule and the ggs with no date on them - I would speculate and I agree its speculate...
… that this is what a bug would look like

ZJ the phantom transaction bug was in 2001

IH yes, but they can manifest themselves in many ways - we are looking at unreliable technology. Who knows that these defects could have had the effect I highlighted

ZJ at its highest...
… that would have been entirely apparent to WC immediately

IH not necessarily - the reason I say that is that I listened to 100 SPMS and when they raised that problem with the helpdesk they were told it would sort itself out. I am speculating but I can envisaged a situation...
…whereby WC might see an unresolved situation and expect it to be resolved.

ZJ no calls to the helpline about this

IH no but it may have been in her mind

ZJ this type of fraud depends on other features, customer evidence, physical evidence and the “packham” (?)
[oh “patterns”] demonstrated. All features of this prosecution.

IH yes but the first 18 items on the schedule are not supported by ggs, they are exclusively information derived from H. I am quite concerned about the reliabilit of a prosecution relying on a single source...
… of evidence. On top of that the reliability of the eivdence as to the beneficiary are extremely concerning.

[ZJ thnks IH, Tim Moloney stands up]

TM did P&A incorporate ggs or not

IH it was an overarching term to include all elements on behalf of all payments from DWP
TM have you ever seen any evidence green giros were checked more often
IH I don’t know

TN what about WC’s reconciliation process - did ZJ’s scenario preclude H figures being used in evidence for the prosecution?
IH no. the new evidence of bugs errors and defect bearing in mind the schedules where the transactions re not supported by physical giro cheques

TM was H data in your opinion essential to this prosecution

IH yes

TM why

IH because almost all the informaiton was derived from H
[IH expert evidence ends. LJH says it looks like we will finish the entire hearing today]
[break for lunch, back at 2pm]
[we’re back]
[Tim Moloney QC on his feet - finishing off Wendy Cousins’ case]
TM there were system flaws in the reconciliations of P&A vouchers, the investigation was flawed - which the PO concede. That concession reinforces the potential for duplicates to be down to Horizon (H)
and that is reflected in the other evidential failings. Also as agreed in the plea-bargains she was also away for one of the alleged fraudulent convictions.
[TM finishes, ZJ for PO]
ZJ H evidence was not essential in this case. The note [gives reference] is the bedrock of...
… the thefts involved green giros (ggs) they are sent by post by the DWP to customers who then take it to a PO counter clerk. The words, numbers and permissibility of gg must be checked, it is signed and entered into the H machine. The counter clerk retains the gg in...
… their stock. At the end of the week, the SPM checks the gg is the same in the system as the physical bundle, then the ggs are bundled up for sending off the next morning. With gg fraud - there were a number of weeks where gg transactions were being performed, but none...
… were being received by the PO. They wanted these missing pouches to be investigated. The gg’s in fact were not sent, they were being delayed until WC could re-cash them fraudulently. ..
ZJ the prosecution’s case that WC made a claim for giro that never existed - she pushed the button but there was no physical giro to accompany it. A more sophisticated tactic is the reintroduction of an already cashed giro - the clerk cashes the giro and keeps it to...
… reintroduce it, stamping it on the day it is fraudulently cashed. It’s important to understand the nature of the fraud when considering H’s involvement. H is not involved. Quite a lot else was. WC has tried to turn this into an H case by arguing (as IH did) that H was poor.
;… the design of H and the structure of H are wholly different question as to the reliability of H. When one actually analyses the element of H that was in play in this case… what was the measure and was reliability essential. the H elements were purely mechanical.
ZJ H is a glorified cash till and in this assistance that is correct. Date, time, amount - -they are all mechanical features and do not have any bearing on whether H reliability was essential. we place reliance on the system. According to WC H reliability was NOT essential….
… in her interivew. WC explains the system, she knows her customers, she explains what she did, pins it to the board for the ggs when she does the books
[reads from the interview]
ZJ still reading “I’ve never held back on any giros in this office… I do them up and I check...
… them”
ZJ this is critical evidence - this is not a H essential case - taking it at its highest - even saying there was a bug it would make itself manifest at this point. That is critical given what WC has said. Thre is no evidence - we have the call logs - that she...
… suffered any problems doing this exercise. These are not elements that go to H reliability and importantly all these criticisms were available at the time.
ZJ in his grounds TM made a number of non-H points. These are questions of evidential sufficiency - eg logins...
… was it definitely her on that login?
ZJ she says in her interview that it was her job. Her assistant gives a statement saying it was WC’s job. Fujitsu (F) logs were acquired by the prosecution in this case and importantly the proposed plea doc expressly disavows her assistant
ZJ again TM relies on the collection sheets and you will have seen a selection of them. [goes to one of the sheets] So when the postman came to collect special items on a thursday morning and under giro pouches there is 1 pouch. This is used as evidence in her favour...
… this was available at the time - these pouches could be ggs or giro deposits and withdrawals. So one cannot safely infer that ggs were being dispatched. It was never the crown’s case that they were stolen, just not submitted. In our submission all of that evidence...
… demonstrates that this case was not about H - and for that reason we rely on WC’s plea. It’s not a H case - nothing in the fresh evidence vitiates her plea of guilty, and let’s remind ourselves what WC pleaded to.
[goes to her plea]
ZJ - there is no argument that WC’s legal team had not enough material to advise her. They propose a guilty plea but note that many transactions may have been a legitimate transaction and on one of them she was on holiday. She doesn’t just enter those...
pleas on her indictment but in other docs.
ZJ mention has been made of the PO accepting some of the investigation is flawed. That’s a little high. What we say in our argument is that there were flaws in the original investigation, but the flaws were know to the defence at the...
… at the time of the investigation and did not go to H.

LJH why do you say TM was overstating?

ZJ it’s not H dependent - I do not wish to do TM a disservice, the last person I would wish to do, I was just hoping to supply context.
LJH okay

ZJ so the CCRC’s reasons do not apply. CCRC is about H reliability and this is not about that. So not unsafe.

[LJH asks at the basis of plea - could you explain par 3 - reliance placed on pattern]

ZJ in respect of the holiday?
LJH yes

ZJ I might to come back to this, but I think there was something on dates. Insofar as pattern was concern it was described as prposed basis of plea and she pleaded guilty on these counts and there was no trial. I take my Lord’s point it may seem to disrupt the pattern...
… but whether it goes to H reliability.

Justice Picken (JP) goes to the list of various counts - the 7th count is an overclaim. Does that help?

ZJ it wasn’t the point I was struggling to remember, beyond that I don’t want to fall into speculation. Unlike others.
[ZJ finishes. TM back up]
TM we say the fact of a guilty plea makes no difference if H is in plea. We express surprise at the argument that it may not be agreed that the appellant was not on holiday.
JP various counts including 7 were left to lie on file.
TM yes -
… perhaps there’s a semantic distinction between not accepted and disputed, but that would not be of concern to this court at this situation.
TM we take issue with the point that we can’t prove now that these pouches were ggs in the pouches. we haven’t misunderstood this case...
… we haven’t overstated the PO’s position.

TM there is no evidence as to how reintroductions were supposed to have taken place OR that they had taken place at all [reads from the skeleton]
TM also to say H was just mechanical - in all the other cases before the court the operation of H was mechanical. The system employed by WC did not preclude H error. And just because it was not The Phantom Transaction bug it doesn’t mean it wasn’t another one.
TM and IH said the court cannot rely on all those transactions being real. She wasn’t there for one of them.
TM what was not evailable at the time was a reliable evidence base that showed H was reliable.

[TM finishes. Mr Millington for appellant 42]
M - both limbs were pleaded.
[this is the QC for Neelam Hussain who is in court today]
M if I fail to persuade on G2, I want to keep G1 as a safety net.
M - the PO called Penelope Thomas from Fujitsu to give a witness statement in this case - wrong to say therefore H is not relevant
M - of course this was...
… a H case. They made it a H case by serving the statement of the analyst, but by failing to declare anything at all of the history of unreliablity of which they knew.
M - I’m going to just look at Penelope Thomas (PT) and her evidence. It runs to many pages. All about...
the Horizon system and it reads like technobabble. It’s not altogether easy reading, but the message in the statement is absolutely plain. The integrity of data is guaranteed at all times. There is reference to ARQ data on the next page of the statement...
.. but in the papers re this appellant there was not access or invesetigation of the ARQ data.

JP the likely reason for it was that your client did not raise thepossibility of H.

M - the way that individual SPMs and managers reacted to shortfalls varied...
… it varied between individuals and may have been said to have varied between those who called the helpline and that might be commended. Some, to protect themselves, did so through lies, falsification of accounts or cover-up, but from the perspective of the individual...
… it didn’t really matter whether you approached the PO for help or took matters into your own hands. The result was the same, conviction. My appellant was dishonest and covered it up, but the outcomes was the same as those who looked for support.

JF goes back to PT’s...
.. statement on ARQ data retrieval.

M the message that goes out from this statement is complete reliability in the system. I would suggest the precise meaning of the statement is ambiguous, but having seen that statement I might advise my client not to plead IT problems...
M - this woman had an audit at her branch and this statement is a gold standard seal of approval of the system.

M - the defence statement put hte respndent on notice there might be some kind of computer error. There was no reason her counsel could not explore it, but I...
… suggest she would have been told there’s nothing wrong with the system. The PO makes a fair point - the denial of the creation of the transfers into the GG stock account, but it doesn’t relieve the prosecution of their obligations to tell her the system isn’t that reliable...
… so that’s the force of the PT statement and it was always the position of the PO.

M - the first bit of bad press for the PO came from Computer Weekly in May 2009 because I wanted to see what the PO said about it and the response was that H was an extremely robust...
… system. And because that was their attitude, there were more proescutions, more disregard for disclosure obligation and it’s because of that that NH had difficulties. Or rather was said to have stolen cash to the tune of around £100K
M it was said she acted deceitfully. She did. They said she lied. She did. She created mythical amounts of stock and put it into a new unit. She did. But what happened to all of that cash? Over 3 or 4 months…

M In October she was issuing cheques - one for £8000
and then another one to the solicitor she was trying to negotiate the lease of the shop. Both were dishonoured through lack of funds. She was not exactly flush with cash.
M - NH told prosecutors she stole the money...
… to send to her mother in Pakistan. There is no evidence for that. She made it up to curry favour for mitigation.
M this was all a result of the pressure put on the defendant as a restult of the lack of disclosure. Basically unless she could come up with a good reason for...
… her discrepancy she was sunk. Which is why they came up with tall stories, or guilty pleas to theft or false accounting.

M this conviction is no more safe than any of the others.
M - "They called it legacy Horizon - I suspect its for the future to consider what sort of legacy has been left by this IT system”
[he is finished]
[BA on his feet]
BA compelling circumstantial evidence of theft here.
BA she created phantom stock units. The mere fact PT was asked to serve ARQ data no more makes this an H reliability one or not. It’s completely neutral.

BA her case now is that she created the GG stock unit tho denied responsibility in her defence statement which subsequently
… changed.
BA H records NH’s creation of the GG stock unit
[I am aiming to type sentence purely in caps letters shorthand soon]
BA we have the stock transfer from the BB unit to the GG stock unit £29K and £38K - she used an assistant’s login to do this, then there are three transfers...
…totalling £9K made from the BC stock unit to the GG phantom stock unit. In all they make some £83K. We know those H records are entirely accurate because the appellant accepts she did it. Over three weeks. The appellants case before she pleaded guilty was that GG...
… stock unit had been created, albeit not by her. That the 5 transfers had been done, albeit not by her. Further denies she used a colleague’s ID. The defendant maintains that any deficits may be due to accounting errors or other staff theft. She is not giving evidence before...
… this court and any assertion that she is saying she did not accept what the H record showed that is clearly no longer the case. The submissions made on her behalf not only support that the stock unit creation was her doing and her transfer. The transfers were not accounting...
… errors. The CCRC say a referral can be made on H’s reliability and in determining whether the conviction was unsafe, her belated admission in her grounds to having previously announced a false case is highly material. The CCRC’s reasons on non-disclsure are contingent...
… on the reliability of H data. We also note what Mr Millington adds if not in the speaking document, in another document, he says she deserves the same protection. It was immaterial because it was not a H case. Her plea as supported now by her acceptance shows thos records...
… are now reliable. She says why she pleaded as she did on the erroneous assumption that the accuracy and reliability of legacy Horizon had been made.
BA - sh said my lawyer said that the case against my brother would be dropped if I pleaded guilty. I did and the case against him was dropped. She goes on to say she pleaded guilty because H was against me. She says she wasn’t guilty because she hadn’t done anything wrong.
BA she says she was told the computer didn’t lie and in this case it didn’t. It showed her creating the stock units

BA this comes down to whether she covred up a shortfall of £83K or was she stealing it.

BA M says she was liable under the SPM contract. She wasn’t. She...
… was a manager and she was seeking to buy the leasehold from the SPM - Mrs Dudda (?)

BA we say she was involved in scheme to buy the PO and a home. She wrote a cheque for £85K on a colleague’s chequebook and made it out to PO for £85K - telling him a story about...
… a customer and government bonds. The cheque was later found in the till. Attached to that cheque when the auditors were in the branch was “to put in system sent application - growth bond”

BA later in December 2010 she told her colleague about hte stock unit transactions...
… and said she’d done it because she’d lost the £85K cheque.

BA so NH is saying now she created the stock units to cover up a shortfall. In considering the admission that there was no corroborative evidence she stole the money, the evidence surrounding the payment of £1500...
… from the BC stock unit to the phantom stock unit, we say is noteworthy.

LJH wants to know more about the balance transfers. Did the H records show cash going out of the GG unit.

BA no because it doesn’t exist. There are two reason for creating a stock unit works...
BA a phantom stock unit does not exist within the branch accounts. You can create it to cover a shortfall or to siphon off money and cover theft.

LJH how can it not show up in the accounts?

BA that was created in the audit

LJH well that’s the point of the audit
BA true but if not discovered at audit it won’t be uncovered - even the SPM didn’t know the GG stock unit existed

LJH I understand that but surely money going out would be queried
BA yes but audits happened very infrquently, allowing people to get away with it for as long as they needed to.

BA on the day of the audit, the reason for writing a cheque in her colleague’s name was to cover the loss of a growth bond cheque. We know she put a growth bond...
… into the system and then reversed it out. The next day she put the customer’s cheque into the system and then cash of the same amount came out.

So a customer gives a cheque for.a growth bond, transaction goes through, then reversed, then put into the system and cash is...
… paid out. Entering the cheque was a physical action with no explanation to increase the stock value. The stock is the cheque, the stock value therefore goes up by £50K and because H thinks cash has been paid out the cash value decreases. If the appellant did not remvoe...
… that cash when the system said it did, there would be a £50K surplus which would need to be declared. There was no cash surplus in the accounts, and if that’s right, and it appears to be right - and what that means is that she removed the customers cash represented by...
… that cheque and retained it until the customer came in and asked where her growth bond was. And the NH did nothing.

Why did the customer know something was wrong, because her cheque had been debited the next day.
So she decided to confront the appellant.

Mr Fitzgerald from the Bank of Ireland called the appelant whilst the customer was present and we have a transcript of that call.

BA in the call she accepts that she dealt with the customer and filled in the form for her and said she..
… had to wait until she was sent the growth bond.
[reads from the transcript at speed. it is NH explaining how she reversed the transaction because there was a mistake on the form. the next day a till assistant put the cheque through creating a £50K surplus]
[NH telling the man from the bank, the cash and the form is all in the safe ready to go.]
BA so she took the cheque and put it in the safe.
BA but it was NH who put the cheque through not her assistant. What she said on the call was therefore not true

LJH what actually...
… happened then?

BA I’m coming to the punchline. So NH agrees to give the customer £70 of interest because of the 3 month wait. When the cheque was put through the transaction was settle to cash, so the suggestion is that the customer either left the branch happy she had...
… her growth bond or knew it was in hand. Which suggests that the appellant took the cash out and put it back in three months later. But the cheque cannot be used as a reason for an H shortfall.
BA it links this growth bond at the point of audit. Her whole account to everyone...
…. was that she’d lost a growth bond cheque. It’s not without interest that the loss of the growth bond cheque is the amounth she pleaded guilty to - the cheque that was written on Mr Hayer’s cheque book - that’s why she dated it when she did - it relates back to this...
… transaction
[I am hopelessly lost - looking forward to reading the transcript of this]
BA we suggest you can wrap this around back to the audit. and they aren’t the only dots to be drawn - banking evidence…

JP hang on what you’re saying is the £50K of this growth...
… bond is hard money. Not a phantom transaction
BA as I hope I have demonstrated.
BA we think the activity over her growth bond and manipulation of her colleagues, payments of money from her brother into phantom stock units is strong circumstantial evidence of need of liquidity and theft. During this period it’s been accepted she was attempting to buy...
the branch premises.
[BA sits down]
[Mr M on his feet]
M if the GG stock unit was to cover shortfalls that required disclosure
the existence of hard cash going in and out of the account is circumstantial
she denied the charge about the £1500 cashing of her brother’s cheque...
… this is all about a shortfall in accounts which has not been explained.

LJH we are there a 4 day hearing has taken four days. a small triumph
LJH can I just spell out what follows - we are of course acutely conscious there are many people...
… who want to know the outcome as soon as possible.. We regret we can’t proceed straight to judgment. we have indicated to counsel that the date on which we iwll be in a position to give our decsions is Friday 23 April in this building at 10am. One counsel from each team to...
… attend. No appellant is required to attend, but they are welcome to either in person or remotely subject to current constraints. we will hand down a written judgment too long to read out, but we will give a brief oral summary. we don’t propose to issue a draft for...
… corrections.

I am conscious 23 will be re the judgment so we would like to record our gratitude to 3 groups of people - thanks to all counsel - today’s submissions...
… have maintained the high standard of the previous days. The submissions of counsel are genuinley of assistance to the court in coming to a just conclusion.

Sitting behind counsel are many who have assisted in the prep of these cases. There aren’t many times we deal with 42..
… cases there have been lots of documents and they have been marshalled admirably. We’d also like to put on the record our thanks in the appeals office and who have assisted with the two courtrooms and those who attended remotely. we would not want to finish proceedings...
… without mentioning this - there are three appellants - Julian Wilson, Peter Holmes and Dawn O’Connell - whatever the outcomes of their appeals they have not lived to see it. we extend our condolences and sympathy to their family and all those affected.

[court rises]
Okay that’s it from the Court of Appeal for this hearing. Four days in court has left us all a little battered. I am going to go home and write this up later, mainly because my brain is a potato after live-tweeting and it takes me a while to relearn how to think analytically, but
mainly because the RCJ press room is in a worse state than my student flat .
[that said Sian and Sam from the Press Association are both lovely and welcoming hosts and sources of exceptionally high-quality gossip]
As the judges seem in the mood for thanking people and I’ve just paid tribute to Sam and Sian I ought to also thank those legal people who have been co-operating with me this week - none more so than the Post Office team who have supplied transcripts and documents willingly...
… and expeditiously. There will be some who will say that having terrorised the appellants teams by what happened to two of their number last year, they knew that there wouldn’t be anyone too helpful on the appellants side, which meant they could completely control...
… the flow of documents to the media. It may have worked out like that, but it would be a cynical in the extreme to suggest it was deliberate. So thank you Post Office, thanks to those appellants teams who did attempt to cooperate, but the biggest thanks, as ever...
… is to the appellants and their families who were happy to be photographed, give interviews and just actually sit and chat. It was so welcome to be with such lovely genuine people for a few brief moments each day. My limited experience of working in a courtroom has...
… made me fervently hope I never, ever have a personal reason to be in one, and I really think we still need to keep thinking very hard about who justice is meant to be for and how we look after people who find themselves in the courts for whatever reason.

Okay I’m done...
… for a bit. There will be a post up tonight and then a secret email later.

All my work today has been crowdfunded. If you can make a donation there are some rewards - you can join the secret email list or buy my forthcoming book.

the link is here:…
Oh and by the way - the mighty @Karlfl has a scoop:…

Alan Bates from the Justice For Susbpostmasters Alliance rides again!!
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More from @nickwallis

25 Mar
NEW: Johnny Depp has FAILED in his application to appeal the libel judgment which found The Sun newspaper’s allegation he engaged in domestic violence against Amber Heard was “substantially true”.
Mr Depp will not be able to take his legal case further on this issue and the High Court judgment of Mr Justice Nicol stands.
Today’s ruling will be posted shortly (if it’s not already) on the judiciary website here:
Read 10 tweets
25 Mar
Just remembered after several hours slaving over it I forgot to tweet my report from the court of appeal yesterday.…

If a tree falls…

I am on my way to court 71 of the Royal Courts of Justice to hopefully pick up the Depp v NGN ruling on Mr Depp’s application to appeal the High Court libel judgment against him. Then it will be a question of legging it to court 4 for the resumption of the CoA Subpostmasters...
… hearing.

If Johnny Depp’s application fails, that is the end of the legal road for him in this country on whether or not The Sun’s article, which called him a “wife-beater” is substantially true.
Read 6 tweets
24 Mar
Still meditating on this quote from the CEO of the Post Office today:

"Our understanding and interpretation of the business model needs to be turned on its head.”

This is because the Post Office always saw the government as its client - not its Subpostmasters.
The government gives the PO money and the PO oversees AND POLICES its distribution.

Subpostmasters were its risk.
But the government wanted profitability from the Post Office. So the Post Office sweated its only asset - its Subpostmasters - thinking of them more as slaves to be controlled rather than potential revenue drivers for the business.
Read 7 tweets
24 Mar
Post Office annual report and accounts just dropped - this is the delayed 2019/2020 accounts which is when the Post Office were throwing the kitchen sink at the High Court litigation - the numbers and comments should be interesting:…
"we recorded a statutory loss of £307 million, largely because of the cost of settling the Postmaster litigation in December 2019 and the related legal costs; £153 million we have allocated towards the Historical Shortfall Scheme settlements...
… Chief Executive Officer Nick Read said: “Maximising the potential of Postmasters should be the priority and we should behave accordingly. Sadly, this has not always been the case...
Read 25 tweets
24 Mar
Good morning and welcome to Day 3 of the Court of Appeal hearing into whether 42 former Subpostmasters should have their convictions quashed after being criminalised by the Post Office. This will be a tweet thread of proceedings, which start at 10.30am. Some housekeeping...
… Everything I tweet from court is a summary and/or paraphrase of what is being said. Nothing is a direct quote unless it is in “direct quotes”.

We have had two explosive days in court so far. On Monday we found out that the Post Office had ordered documents...
… pertaining to discussions about the reliability of Horizon (the Post Office IT system, evidence from which was used to prosecute Subpostmasters) should be shredded:…

Yesterday (Tuesday) we found out who ordered the shredding - it was the Post Office’s
Read 208 tweets
23 Mar
Welcome to Day 2 of R v Hamilton et al at the Court of Appeal. 42 former Subpostmasters hope to have their criminal convictions overturned. Here is Ms Hamilton arriving at the RCJ this morning flanked by her barrister Tim Moloney QC (l) and her solicitor, Neil Hudgell.

Proceedings are due to start at 10.30am. Brian Altman QC will be speaking for the Post Office.

The clerk has informed us we will be observing the minute silence at noon in memory of the victims of COVID-19.
Seema Misra is in court today, as is Declan Salter, the new(ish) Post Office Director specifically charged with dealing with the fallout from this scandal. Neil Hudgell has taken his place in the gallery. Sam Tobin from the Press Association has to deal...
Read 259 tweets

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