Good morning secret emailers and welcome to the first day of the second trial of the Bates and others vs Post Office group litigation.
This is, of course, the Horizon trial, and as with the Common Issues trial it is going to be held in court 26 of the High Court’s Rolls Building in central London.
It starts at 10.30am. Proceedings are open to all, and whilst it is acceptable to wander in at any time (make sure you bow towards the judge at the door on both entry and exit), it’s probably best to take your place whilst the judge isn’t present.
This is the layout of court 26 (one of the Rolls Building’s mega-courts), to give you an idea of how things are set:
Where it says “Me and other journalists” on the right is where we started sitting during the Common Issues trial, but we soon shifted over to the far left hand side of the court by the water jugs and spare tech because we couldn’t hear what some of the more softly-spoken witnesses were saying.
This trial is all about how good Horizon is – whether it is, or has been, fit for purpose.
If the judge decides it’s not very good, it will strengthen the claimants’ case that they shouldn’t be held responsible for the figures it throws up. If the judge decides it’s more or less okay, it will weaken their claim.
I have long been told by people in the know that the Horizon trial, far more than the Common Issues trial, will throw up the fireworks. I remain to be convinced. I suspect the Post Office will concede there have been a few problems with Horizon, but very few caused negative discrepancies at branch Post Offices.
They will probably argue that none caused large discrepancies in claimants’ branches and most of them were fixed pretty quickly. We’ll see what the claimants come up with.
The “impressive” Mr Patrick Green, as with the Common Issues trial, is the claimants’ QC:
but the Post Office have a different QC to David Cavender. They’ve brought in Mr Anthony de Garr “incredibly intelligent” Robinson:
Today the judge, Mr Justice (Peter) Fraser (pictured below) will hear both parties’ opening arguments. He is actually very cool and doesn’t take any ****.
You can follow proceedings through the filter of my live-tweets, simply by clicking here, or wait until I post everything to you via email later in the day.
If you are coming to court I’d be delighted to say hello, but previous experience has usually taught me that I am insanely busy, usually before and after all sessions – re-ordering material and uploading it to the internet, or emailing people in the brief downtime I have before the sessions re-start, or before I have to scamper off home for childcare duties. Forgive me if I appear distracted.
Okay that’s it. We’re all set. Let’s hope there are a couple of spectacular legal rockets to admire over the next few weeks.
PS If anyone has an effective treatment for drain fly, please let me know. We’ve had the critters for six months and I started to treat them a while back (on some web advice) by pouring vinegar, followed by salt, followed by baking powder followed by boiling water down our kitchen sink, which definitely subdued them, but I went away for a few days and they’ve started creeping back. I’ve started the treatment again, but if anyone knows of anything more effective, please let me know.
Please feel free to forward this email. The more people who read it, the more people find out about what is the biggest trial going through the UK courts right now.