Secret email about the Post Office Scandal. Shh!

Day 9 – live tweets

Reporting the class action against the Post Office at the High Court

Here are today’s live tweets from Day 9 of Bates and others v Post Office at the High Court adjusted for legibility and formatting. Please remember they paraphrase what was said. Nothing is a direct quote unless it is in direct quotes. You can read today’s tweets at Thread Reader or the originals here. Or just scroll down…

Morning all. We are in court 26 of the Rolls Building awaiting the start of Day 9 of the Bates v Post Office common issues trial.


And we’re underway. Mrs Angela van den Bogerd being cross-examined by claimants QC Patrick Green. It’s her 7th hour in the witness box.

Public gallery much quieter than yesterday.

QC You would accept there are things that can be done to make Horizon more error repellent?

AB there are, yes.

QC pointing out training for SPMRs has changed significantly. It’s gone from 3 days of classroom training in 2014 to 2 in 2015.

AB points out that more training elsewhere was offered.

QC now onto investments SPMRs make into their branch and notes a PO trainer making a point that SPMRs make a significant investment in their business so their training should be up to scratch.

QC onto goodwill payments and introductory fees for payable by incoming SPMR

AB says for a new SPMR it’s an introductory fee not a goodwill fee

Judge asks what the difference is in her view

AB explains –

Judge says he’s not sure he understands her explanation. Explains his understanding of the difference in accountancy terms

AB broadly agrees that it is the same

Judge so the incoming SPMR pays an introductory fee to the PO to take on the branch?

AB yes

QC moves on to a new area – remuneration for SPMRs

oh no he doesn’t he is still making a point about the difference between introductory fees and goodwill. It’s clearly an important point as the QCC asks if in the light of a document they are looking at whether indeed the payment an SPMR makes to

the Post Office is an introductory fee or a goodwill fee. QC asks if AB would like to reconsider her previous answer to the judge. She does. She accepts in the light of the document they are looking at, the introductory fee is a goodwill fee.

QC has brought up an internal Post Office document which has a title in which a single word in the title is redacted under privilege. QC asks if she knows of an internal PO group named after an animal, working on Horizon.

PO QC objects

PO QC says this question cannot be asked

Judge asks AvdB to leave the room. There begins a discussion about the privileged information which includes a single word in the name of the project.

Judge says he is struggling to understand how a single word can be privileged.

There is a torturous legal argument underway (partly about the PO’s habit of naming top secret projects after furry animals). The judge does not allow the JFSA QC to ask the question, but he also asks

then corrects himself to say tells – he is telling the PO QC to review the claim of privilege on the title. He says whoever has redacted the title has decided that a word is privilege. Judge wants to know how.

This is the longest stretch of legal argument about a top secret PO programme – a KPI [?] named after a furry animal into the robustness of Horizon.

There is some doubt as to whether AB is allowed to be asked about this or not and if so what.

Judge invites AB back in, then rises for 5 minutes whilst PO QC takes instruction. This is clearly a very sensitive document. Possibly named after a furry animal.

Judge is back. PO QC will not object to Mr Green’s line of questioning as presented.

AB is asked first of all about three names on this document. Author, reviewer, review and sign-off. Does she know who they are? Are they lawyers?

We establish we are pretty sure none of them are

[[this would affect the privilege of the document]]

QC back to the document System? and KPI is robustness of the system?

AB yes

QC were you aware of a group looking into the robustness of the Horizon system at the time this doc was produced

AB not into the robustness of the system

QC the H system generally?

AB says she wasn’t really focusing on Horizon, it’s an early version of the document and so no – not into the robustness of the system

QC but part of this project was to look into the robustness of the system on the back of the SS report

AB I wasn’t personally involved in looking at the Horizon system

QC but the robustness of the Horizon system was part of the concerns raised by SS so how did you not look at the Horizon system

AB says they only looked at the individual matters raised and found no problems with H

QC says isn’t the reality that the Branch Support programme existed to deal with sensitive issues around Horizon which is why you only mentioned it in passing despite the fact the issues you dealt with are of central importance to this case.

AB suggests that is not the case

Sorry – mentioned it in passing in her Witness Statement

[an email chain has just been discussed in court which I am reluctant to set out in tweets for fear of getting it wildly wrong. It deals with Paula Vennells prep for her select committee appearance in 2015 about the possibility of remote access to Horizon data…

… and appears to acknowledge something explosive, then express a desire to find an alternative way of saying it in front of MPs. I don’t really want to add any more than this until I see the document. Which, right now, I can’t.]

QC says in 2015 there was an understanding that PO can alter Horizon data

AB Post Office can’t

QC Post Office can through Fujitsu?

AB yes.

AB but my understanding it would not be without the knowledge of the SPM

Judge asks QC to move on. He says he was going to.

QC asks about the SPM being bound to account to the SPM. How does the SPM account to the PO through for their actions?

QC it’s through the Horizon system, on a daily basis

AB and when they balance their accounts

QC so when a SPM wants to dispute a TC – they have to settle centrally

AB and then dispute it

QC but on H they have no choice to dispute.

QC let’s say a TC creates a gain that an SPM believes they are not entitled to. They have to accept it and then raise it. If they take that money out, is it wrong?

AB no

QC the system forces them to accept TCs whether or not they believe they are correct

AB yes but

AB but having done that they can then dispute it through the processes.

QC clarifies

AB yes – it’s a two-step process

QC you accept the system forces them to make a record on Horizon with which they fundamentally disagree

AB no I don’t accept that – it’s a two step process

QC there isn’t a function to dispute on Horizon

AB no there isn’t

QC points to a document entitled debt recovery review in which the idea of a dispute button on Horizon is rejected. He says a dispute button would stop SPMs from having to accept TC with which the profoundly…

… disagree.

AB possibly

QC not possibly, definitely

[AB pushes back]

Last q from QC.

QC SPMs are carrying out PO business on PO’s behalf. He raises AB’s WS

QC you say giving SPM access to all branch data would make it completely unworkable. You say one of the benefits of the relationship is that Post Office handles all this on behalf of the SPM. Do you stand by this statement?

AB yes

QC no further questions

PO QC stands up and starts his re-examination. He goes back to the JFSA QC’s hypothetical situation of a £9K loss she was given on Monday afternoon. PO QC suggests she was not happy with this scenario because it just wasn’t realistic.

PO QC asks why

AB says they work by looking at the wider perspective – looking for warning signs before carrying out an audit.

PO QC what about a multi-thousand pound loss – do they happen over night or over a period of weeks

AB period of weeks – they’d usually be aware of it.

PO QC moves on to letters demanding payment from Pam Stubbs. reminds AB that she said these were automatically produced demands. PO QC says it was put to her that this was a deliberate attempt to collect more money than you’re entitled to….

PO QC moves to Mrs Stubbs evidence during her re-examination by JFSA QC – where Pam Stubbs says she expected she would get these kind of demanding letters every month or so…

AB I read into this that she accepts this is the sort of thing she’s going to get every month. But we should have put it on hold and we should have stopped the letters going out.

PO QC moves on.

PO QC it was suggested to you that there was no document which tells a subpostmaster they can settle centrally rather than settle to cash.

QC goes to a 2006 document…

[[there is some confusion]]

PO QC starts looking for the hard copy…

PO QC has the hard copy. Points to bottom of the page. It is a PO instruction which tells an SPM they can settle centrally and should do so for amounts over £150

Judge intervenes to say that the clause before notes that settle centrally will be activated automatically…

… and funds recovered. Wants to know if this can be read together with the clause the PO QC read out.

AB it can be

Judge and this relates to the recovery of money through SPM pay.

AB it does.

PO QC asks AB what the purpose of a TC at a v basic level.

AB to correct something that has been transacted incorrectly in branch

[[is that right? – just the branch?]]

PO QC asks about a 2011 functionality being introduced.

AB is not aware of it

PO QC it’s a seek evidence function…

JFSA QC objects – she’s already says she doesn’t know.

Judge overrules

PO QC moves on anyway

PO QC asks about the resolution of the payments mismatch error discussed yesterday. It is a letter from Womble Bond which outlines how this payments mismatch was resolved.

PO says on reading this are you satisfied all the SPMs were informed?

AB yes

PO QC asks about the discrepancy

AB all the SPMS were refunded or not held accountable and all those who had a surplus were allowed to keep it.

[[this has implications for JFSA QCs assertions that an SPM might have had their branch account altered without their knowledge]]

PO QC taking AB through correcting branch errors on Horizon procedures as outlined in PO documents, how to dispute. etc Would that be helpful to an SPM?

AB very helpful

PO QC onto a hypothetical discussion about a “fake transaction” about stamps in which AB agreed with JFSA QC it could be a mistake [by PO], PO QC suggests it could easily be an error in branch

AB agrees

PO QC now is on to document entitled “Camelot Losses” – what is this about

AB losses on camelot products

PO QC CAMELOT products

AB yes

PO QC now onto camelot training “good’ and horizon training “not so good” – what does this relate to?

AB Processing camelot products through H

QC suggested to you it was H training generally

AB no i see this as just camelot processing training

QC earlier m’learned friend rather dramatically put it to you that a dispute button on H would help SPMs. Take the H system as a whole – not just the computer system, does the H system allow for the dispute of transaction corrections

AB yes

PO QC no further q’s

Judge now has questions.

you said you objected to the word defending the PO’s position but said you’d been involved. How long have you been involved in these issues

AB since 2011. It was part of my natural area of responsibility at first

Judge asks what SS’s involvement in…

… in the Complaint Review and Mediation scheme.

AB completely independent investigators brought in to look at the nature of each complaint and asses what caused the loss.

Judge raises difference between SS’s assessment of thematic issues and PO’s view it was completely discrete and separate problems unliked.

Was that YOUR view?

AB yes

Judge – is that still your view now?

AB Yes

Judge – explain please.

AB’s explanation is that they took these things as themes and investigated and found that things SS thought were different were in fact not issues.

Judge – so you don’t see there are any thematic issues at all?

AB says there are some areas where some SPMs have raised concerns…

… which may have some overlap.

[[pls remember this is paraphrase NOT direct quotes – do NOT use them as such -they are to give you a flavour of what’s happening in court]]

Next q from judge is wrt to a question put to hte JFSA QC yesterday…

in which he asked why she hadn’t put her views about difficulties in her Witness Statement – why did he have to chase you for info, and you answered [something] about the length of your WS

Judge asks did you understand there was a restriction on the length of your WS?

AB [doesn’t really say anything]

Judge so you judged the length of your WS yourself?

AB yes

Judge asks what AB understands by Post Office core principles

AB doesn’t know what they are

Judge I was going to ask where I might find them, but if you don’t know there’s no point

Judge now asking about supporting information which can be sent in by SPMs to challenge TC evidence. This is presuming there is enough time before the rollover to do this.

Judge talks through the process in the PO document and suggest that from his understanding the moment something is settled centrally it starts an automatic debt recovery process unless it is stopped.

Judge asks what is the difference between a suspense account and settled centrally?

AB suspense account sits in the branch, settle centrally takes it out of the branch with the SPMs name on it.

PO QC back on his feet making a point about the judge’s question on the length of her WS. Says you set out your own scope in terms of relevance?

AB yes

PO QC did you get advice on that scope?

AB yes I took advice on what elements for this trial and what was for the Horizon trial

PO QC asks about judges question on settle centrally debt recovery automation and disputing a TC.

AB explains

JFSA QC back on his feet to discuss point raised by judge. Asks for AB to be shown a document re suspense accounts as she has just discussed them. JFSA QC is now asking about the Post Office general suspense account and individual branch suspense account

AB says branch is held in branch. General suspension is held by PO

We take a break. AvdB is leaving the witness box and the court.

We’re back. Timothy Dance from the Post Office is in the box – I’m not going to get his statement till lunch, I think.

I tell a lie a very nice lady from WBD has just walked his statement across the court to me.

Mr Dance is explaining that he assesses SPMs business plans. He speaks a lot more loudly that AvdB

Although he’s just been told to speak more slowly and keep his voice up!

JFSA PO counsel has changed. It’s no longer Patrick Green. The new silk is Kathleen Donnelly – “A great technical lawyer, and a tenacious and effective advocate.”


Mr Dance has been told to slow down and speak up again.

I’m only saying all this because we’re still talking about his job role.

Ah now we’re on to Mr Sabir (lead claimant) and his business plan.

And we’re on to a website which another lead claimant Liz Stockdale used to make her business plan. It’s a PO website. KD notes none of the links on that website links to the SPM contract.

KD says links to guidance for the business plan – what the PO needs from prospective SPMR in terms of filling out the application

– and a declaration of truth and accuracy

KD why the need to sign a document?

TD to state ensure they haven’t relied on any advice from us

Sorry this chap in the witness box is called Timonthy Dance and he is the Retail Transformation Integration manager.

TD has had permission to look at Louise Dar and Liz Stockdale’s business plan in order to prepare his WS. TD says LD and LS are the most recent examples of biz plans. Have you seen the other lead claimants?

TD no

KD you didn’t look at all at documents relating to biz plans

relating to the other lead claimants?

TD I looked at other biz plans

KD Mr Bates?

TD no

Have you looked at them since writing your WS?

TD yes

KD v different aren’t they?

TD yes

KD asking about when proforma biz plans TD has studied and which period of time they represent. TD says they represent a period of time wider than the day they completed, but he can’t say how wide.

KD reading a disclaimer on the proforma business plan. It is a wide…

… ranging disclaimer making clear that this proforma biz plan is essentially a dummy and cannot be relied on.

KD its’ quite defensive isn’t it?

TD no it’s necessary

KD its defensive

TD no

KD why does it have to be expressed in this way?

[[there is some documental confusion briedfy]]

KD it’s on every page of the proforma business plan

TD yes

KD onto email sent to Louise Dar by the PO saying she may copy the business plan they are sending her for her application to run the Lenzie Post Office. Notes the disclaimer has become even more comprehensive on LD’s proforma biz plan.

We have spent a good 15 mins on the disclaimers on all the biz plan wrt formulae, fees, migration rate etc

Asks if the additional clauses in the NT biz plan proforma is unique to biz plan proforma.

TD no it should be universal

KD do you know which of these is the more recent…

… between the proforma biz plan sent to LS and the one sent to LD?

TD – no unfortunately they’re not marked so I can’t tell you which one came first.

KD would this be a convenient moment, my Lord?

Judge – it would.

He rises. We are back after 2pm. I am going document hunting.

Karl Flinders (@Karlfl) from @ComputerWeekly wrote this today about the #postofficetrial

Post Office held back information about Horizon IT system errors

Post Office director admits to Horizon errors and not sharing their details with subpostmaster network

mentions And we’re back in the room. Kathleen Donnelly for the Postmasters cross-examining Timothy Dance from the Post Office.

KD asking him about the NFSPs involvement in negotiating the terms of the NT. Why did you put this in your WS?

mentions TD because sometimes SPMS go to NFSP for advice on biz plans

KD what involvement do NFSP have in biz plans?

TD don’t know

mentions Judge asking if NFSP were aware of what is in biz plan info?

TD it would be very visible to the NFSP as they are aware of what we send to potential SPMs

Judge – what does very visible mean?

TD explains

Judge still doesn’t understand but leaves it

mentions KD picks up – do you mean they would look at a business plan because they can ask to do so

TD no cos SPMs would take biz plans application to NFSP sometimes.

mentions KD on to cover page of biz plan sent to Mr Alan Bates [lead claimant].

TD I haven’t seen this

KD you said you had seen other business plans

TD yes

KD but not Mr Bates

TD correct

mentions KD have you seen a business plan from this era

TD I only dealt with BPs from when I joined onwards [AB’s is before his time]

KD but you will have seen historical BPs

TD yes


KD now reading out bumf from stuff sent to prospective SPMs back in Alan Bates day [late 90s]. It is chummy bumf telling people how to sell stuff and profit budgets. This is basic stuff.

TD yes to me as an accountant

KD suggests PO thought that their potential SPMs…

… were quite commercially naive.

TD disagrees and says that this is just about giving as much info as possible.

KD using more language to suggest this is really low level basic stuff for people who are not hard-headed businesspeople. TD is pushing back. The key phrase was…

“commercially naive”. It was used by the PO QC to every lead claimant suggest to all of them that they weren’t “commercially naive”. I suspect this phrase has a lot of weight in law.

KD notes that the draft biz plan for late 90s applicants had an example of a profit budget and nowhere for losses.

KD moved on to a later SPM biz plan doc. it is different language but still very chummy. You wou;dn’t put this in a contract between the PO and WHSmith

TD agrees you wouldn’t

KD this is because the PO expects them to be commercially naive?

TD no not inexperienced, but maybe not experienced in writing business plans

KD SOME inexperience?

TD maybe

KD says the business plan allows “you” to assess the business’s viability. So does this make the business plan a tool for THEM? {SPMs}

TD yes I would

KD going through the examples in the proforma business plan. This is could give the impression of being a comprehensive business plan?

TD waffles

KD asks again

TD waffles

Judge intervenes – would you like to put that question for the THIRD time?

KD This example could give the impression of being comprehensive?

TD Yes

KD but there’s no line for losses?


KD going on about the range of business plan proformas in circulation – suggests it’s a bit of a mess.

TD disagree. it is robust

KD what BP should mr sabir have got in 2006?

TD the latest one available

KD but he didn’t, did he, he got the 2003. So it’s not robust.

TD I disagree..

… there might have been a good reason for this.

KD goes back to the language of another document. Makes point that the language is touchy-feely for inexperienced types, it is a tool FOR SPMRS and the PO slaps massive disclaimers everywhere on it.

TD agrees

KD now goes to internal PO assessment of Mr Sabir’s BP and is going through all the columns. A lot of the figures in Mr Sabir’s BP have been lifted from the standard proforma business plan. She also notes a loss line – which was not given in the SPM example

KD she says the loss line expects a £1500 loss in the first year. Is it true the PO expects the SPM to make a £1500 loss in the first year. Notes it is the same for Mr Abdulla’s application.

KD says Mr Sabir and Mr Abdulla were only told under disclosure that the PO were xpecting them to make a loss in the first year. There is no good reason why this would be withheld from Mr Sabir and Mr Abdull

TD says its a risk assessment and starts waffling.

Judge – would you like to ask your question again Ms Donnelly…?

She does

TD says I think there is cos if I were to applying for a mortgage I wouldn’t expect the bank to show me their risk assessment

KD it’s differnt tho isn’t it? This is their tool to assess their business

KD why would you withhold the information. Is it fair?

TD agrees it might not be fair. says the policy has changed

KD there was a standard policy to put a loss into the business plan

TD yes

KD how long did this go on for

TD don’t know

KD but this document isn’t new to you. Did you not try to find out?

TD no because it was before my time.

KD why do you think those losses might be written in…

… to the BP.

KD suggests the first year loss might be down to naiveity on SPM’s part

TD says no – it’s a cash business there is risk attached for a new starter

KD when do you first become aware of this policy

TD after I did my witness statement

KD that’s why there’s nothing about this policy in your Witness Statement

TD correct

KD so this practice doesn’t go on any more

TD it diesn’t

KD but you don’t know when it stopped

TD I don’t

KD your WS doesn’t explain at all the current process of financial assessment

TD it doesn’t no

KD raises more issues with TD’s witness statement re risk scoring SPM BPs

KD have you chosen not to put any of this info in your WS

TD because I thought this was about the process rather than detail

KD is now onto the modern BP process. It’s very businesslike – the touchy-feely language has gone. but the sort of SPMs who apply hasn’t changed. What was the thinking behind a line for losses being inserted into the proforma BP

TD that it was not realistic to have…

… a business plan without a line for losses.

KD so it’s important to include a line for losses. It’s a cash business. I thought it needed to be included.

Judge – so was this your idea?

TD – losses and retail shrinkage, yes.

KD asks if any of the guidance sent out drew attention to the things we need to be thinking about?

TD no but they could ask our field advisors or google

KD what? “losses”? There’s no description of the sort of losses here is there

TD no

Now talking about Louise Dar’s business plan – which came in after TD made changes to the BP. It has no provision for losses. Why not?

TD don’t know.

KD Why don’t you know? You just said it was important to have a line for losses in there.

TD I don’t know.

KD so when a plan did have losses in as a line – there was no guidance on what they might be and when there wasn’t there was still no guidance.

TD no never seen any

KD has finished. David Cavender QC for the Post Office is on his feet for re-examination of Timothy Dance. He is looking back at the list of expenses in one of the PO proforma BPs. Are there any gaps in this information?

TD it depends on the size of the business. It’s very difficult to have a one size fits all.

PO QC but would you need to ask further questions to ascertain how comprehensive it was.

TD Potentially yes.

Judge asks about BPs for Mrs Dar and Mrs Stockdale.

and BPs for Mrs Dar, Stockdale, Messrs Sabir and Bates. Judge trying to clarify what TD had or hadn’t seen of BPs. Judge points out he contradicted himself in 90 minutes. When did he see Mr Bates BP?

TD first time was today…

Judge: thanks.

TD has been stood down. The next witness I think will be Helen Dickinson who deals with fraud risk and dishonesty in branches for the Post Office.

It is. She is sworn in. Patrick Green QC is back asking questions. QC immediately raises the point that in HD’s witness statement she says most SPMs are honest. “In my experience a large majority of SPMs are honest…

…. Those that do commit acts of dishonesty are not necessarily “bad” and often don’t have histories of dishonesty.” goes on to talk about the Fraud triangle then adds “problems start small and then grow into larger and larger frauds.”

QC raising an example where a large discrepancy is raised and settling to cash or settling by cheque is difficult. Cos if you can’t get the cash you’re stuck, and if you don’t have funds for a cheque you are committing an offence.

HD yes.

QC talking about a lack of a dispute button on Horizon itself. There isn’t one is there?

HD can’t answer that. Don’t know.

QC you are an investigator. you learned how to trace assets and recover them through Proceeds of Crime Act.

QC and you have done this on behalf of Post OFfice.

HD yes

QC and to get an order under that legislation you have to get a conviction. How many cases?

HD roughly 10 as I was in and out of the role

QC and you had no knowledge of absence of dispute button on Horizon

HD agrees she wasn’t aware of such a button

QC so when you talk about rendering accounts you’re talking about figures on Horizon

HD yes – declared accounts

QC were you aware of times when an SPMR would be forced to accept a transaction they profoundly disagreed with

HD I didn’t get involved in that

QC didi you know

HD I was aware if they disagreed they could settle centrally and dispute after.

QC did you know it was treated by PO as a debt the SPMR had accepted?

HD my understanding was that it was parked there to be discussed.

QC moves on.

QC asks HD about paragraph in her WS which sums up the SPMR’s bind. I will write it up in today’s blog post because it shows an understanding of the false accounting dilemma perfectly.

QC is going back to Louse Dar’s cross-examination in which she talks about being told to essentially false account by the Horizon helpline as a work-around.

HD not familiar

QC would you believe if if you heard an SPM say they’d done this on advice?

HD I’d have to know more about the circumstance.

QC moves on

Goes to document about widespread dissatisfaction with Horizon among SPMRs and notes a line in which an investigation found widespread workarounds and non-conformance to rules. Was she aware of this?

HD no

QC goes on to change in policy on suspending Subpostmasters which changed in 2014.

HD not my area – don’t get involved in contracts

QC were you aware of it at all

HD I was roughly aware of it, yes

QC goes to document called: Managing Postmaster Material contract breaches notes at the time that

33 currently suspended – 112 kept in post who would have been suspended pre policy change with £552,000 made good which would otherwise become agent debt.

QC now going to August 2015 letter to Louise Dar which explains her non-suspension to her.

QC says this is in the light of change of policy

HD agrees

QC goes to FOI which shows PO prosecutions:

2010/1 = 31

2011/2 = 38

2012/3 = 42

then a total of 3 people over the next 4 years.

QC asks if this was a recognition within PO that their previous policy was wrong.

HD it could be because of the drop in suspensions. we would only investigate matters for criminal ends if the SPMR had been suspended. If they’re not suspended we wouldn’t get involved.

QC so you have no knowledge of whether that was a recognition that previous prosecutions were wrong

HD [indistinct]

QC were prosecutions made so that the Post Office could recover assets?

HD in some cases, yes.

QC No further questions.

PO QC has no re-examination questions

Judge asks how well HD could operate Horizon

HD a rudimentary working knowledge – we didn’t get involved in that side during an investigation

Judge and did you learn that in a classroom or pick it up

HD picked it up as she went along

Final Post Office witness of the day takes the stand Michael Lee Shields, a Contracts Advisor.

PO QC currently just going through slight corrections to his WS as requested by the witness.

Another silk asking questions for the claimants. A Mr Henry Warwick. He is, according to his website: “user-friendly, very bright and very thorough.”

His chambers’ website, to be more accurate.

We are still fact-checking MLS’s WS. Asking about changes to chronology to his WS.

HW asks if there’s anything else he wishes to now change in his witness statement or is the rest of it completely accurate?

MLS says it’s accurate

HW establishing that MLS’s evidence relates to the period post-2015.

HW asks if he’s had any involvement with the lead claimants?

MLS no

HW were you a Subpostmaster in your career?

MLS no

MLS basically appoints temp SPMRs.

HW asks if he is aware of the SPMRs contracts for temp SPMRs

MLS yes

HW are you aware of the differences between the SPMR contracts and the temp SPMR contracts and how they are appointed.

MLS don’t think so…

We go to the contracts.

HW is pointing out differences in the contract when it comes to the new arrangements for new SPMRs. You have seen this before?

MLS hasn’t seen the document

HW pointing out that a suspended SPM may be compelled in one of the contracts to provide his premises for an incoming temp SPM

MLS has not seen this document before

HW comes to the NTC local contract. Have you seen this one?

MLS yes

HW asking about what happens during suspension. have you seen this provision before?

MLS I’m sure I probably will have

HW in your role did you look at that contract

MLS no

[[sorry – that clause in the contract]]

HW [reads from NTC contract which talks about a substitute] what is a temp Subpostmaster? Are they effectively a substitute?

MLS never heard the word substitute used before, but yes that’s what the wording means.

HW going through the contracts and MLS, I’ll be honest, is not very familiar with the contractual basis on which he operated.

HW asks if he’s seen a mains contract before

MLS he has

[[they are looking at one now]]

PO QC asks what relevance is of mains contract

Judge asks if it is just to make a point that all temp provision clauses in contracts are different

MLS says yes.

We move on

HW mentions MLS’s WS about death in service and how temps are hired

HW asks if PO is happy for a staff member to step up to run a branch in case of death in service, but they’re not happy if it’s a suspension.

Sometimes temp SPMRs will run a branch in their absence. They are allowed to do this in case of death in service. Also PO will let staff run branch without a temp. But with suspension the PO insists on a temp being in place. Why?

MLS gives answer, but I’m not sure I understood.

That’s it for the day we are back at 10am tomorrow!

live tweets will be unrolled and posted with a match report on soon

I also just want to issue a clarification – the last question asked of Helen Dickinson was actually “were the cases referred to the investigation team so that you could trace their assets through POCA”? to which Helen Dickinson replied “In some cases, yes.”

This makes the meaning of what she said less clear to me but those are the words that were said.

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