Official hearing page

9 May 2023 – Barbara Longley

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(10.00 am)

Mr Blake: Good morning, Chair. Can you see and hear me?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, I can, thank you.

Good morning, Ms Longley.

Mr Blake: Ms Longley, I think we can hear you. Can you just speak a little louder or can your volume be turned up?

The Witness: Hello?

Mr Blake: Can everybody in the room hear? If I could ask you to affirm, and we’ll test the volume.

Barbara Longley


Questioned by Mr Blake

Mr Blake: Thank you very much, can you give your full name, please.

Barbara Longley: My name’s Barbara Longley.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Ms Longley, you have produced two states in this Inquiry. Do you have them in front of you?

Barbara Longley: Yes, I should do.

Mr Blake: Thank you.

Barbara Longley: Are these witness statements? Yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. The first is dated 12 September 2022.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Could I ask you to have a look at the final page, page 6. Is that your signature, at the end of the statement?

Barbara Longley: Yes, it is.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much. Is that statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Barbara Longley: Yes, it is.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much. Your second witness statement is dated 8 February of this year. Could I ask you again to turn to the final substantive page, that’s page 11. Just confirm that’s your signature.

Barbara Longley: Yes. Yes, it is.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Is that statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Barbara Longley: Yes, it is.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much. For the purpose of the transcript, those statements are WITN04500100 and WITN04500200.

Ms Longley, those two statements will go into evidence and will be published on the Inquiry’s website so the questions that I’ll ask you will be supplementary and add to that, although I’ll cover a little bit of the same ground.

First of all, thank you very much for attending the Inquiry today. I’m going to begin by asking you about your background. You joined ICL retail in the 1980s; is that right?

Barbara Longley: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: You joined SSC, the Software Support Centre, in January 1998 as SSC coordinator.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: SSC coordinator sounds like a very grand title but I think you’ve said in your witness statement it was a clerical role; is that right?

Barbara Longley: Mainly, yes.

Mr Blake: Can you tell us in broad terms what that involved?

Barbara Longley: Doing the rotas, keeping annual leave, sick leave, making sure that anything like the air-conditioning is working, photocopier is working and then, of course, the calls. Just general clerical stuff, stationery, maintaining the stationery cupboard.

Mr Blake: Thank you. You said that one of your roles involved the calls. I’m being told that people can’t hear in this room. A message has gone to RTS, the providers, to try to turn up your volume. Sorry, you won’t be aware of this issue but at the moment it’s just a few of us who can hear you. On the plus side, I should say we have plenty of time.

Thank you. We’ll try again. You joined the SSC before what we know as the national rollout of Horizon, the 1999/2000 period. You don’t recall, I think, specifically the rollout of Horizon; is that correct?

Barbara Longley: No, no, I didn’t.

Mr Blake: But presumably you were aware when you joined that you were in the early days of Horizon?

Barbara Longley: I don’t know. I can’t remember whether I did read something or not. I did print something out when I went for my interview with Nick but I can’t remember what it said.

Mr Blake: You stayed at the SSC until your retirement in 2005?

Barbara Longley: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: Can you tell us something about the training that you received for this role?

Barbara Longley: I went over to the Feltham office where my predecessor was doing the role and I spent four months with her every day, just sat with her and noting what she did and she’d sort of be instructing me as we went along. So I was sort of learning from her, who was passing all her knowledge on to me.

And then after the four months I went back to the office in Bracknell.

Mr Blake: Can you tell us her name, peace?

Barbara Longley: Hazel Salvat.

Mr Blake: Presumably again, Ms Salvat would have had little experience using Horizon in 1998 because it was a new system. Was that something you were aware of or not?

Barbara Longley: I think she’d been with the system for a lot longer before I met her. She didn’t say too much about what she did before, because I’m not sure what her role was, but she did work on the Horizon System before.

Mr Blake: Would it be fair to summarise that when you joined and were trained, you weren’t told about this being a brand new system or you don’t recall being told about this being a brand new system?

Barbara Longley: No, I don’t recall. No, I don’t recall being told much about the system.

Mr Blake: I’m now going to ask you about error logs and, to help you prepare for today, you’ve been provided with what are known as PinICLs and PEAKs. Do you remember those?

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Yes. Now, you described your role in relation to administrative matters. In broad terms, what was your role in relation to PinICLs and PEAKs?

Barbara Longley: The calls would come over from Stevenage, Helpdesk, and arrive on a stack now either first thing in the morning, the duty technician would have been monitoring and doing pre-scan. I went in about 9.00 and if there was anything urgent then it would be dealt with straightaway or somebody might have been dealing with it previously, before the call came.

And then just throughout the day I would monitor what was going on and take phone calls, sometimes from Stevenage, if somebody wanted an update, but basically I was just copy and pasting information from the calls, back into the calls, so that everybody could see it. Because some people, and I can’t remember exactly who, which people it was, not everybody could see everything in the call. But if I copied and pasted an update showing progress of the call into the call, then everybody could see it. Does that make sense?

Mr Blake: Thank you very much. I’m going to take you to the expert report that the Inquiry saw in Phase 2 of the Inquiry, that’s EXPG0000001. Thank you very much. Can we turn to page 116.

Barbara Longley: I’ll look at the one on the screen.

Mr Blake: Yes, thank you. The page after that, please. So the Inquiry’s expert carried out some analysis and he refers to what are referred to as “PPs”, those are PEAKs and PinICLs. You appear there, if we could scroll down the page, in the highest number of PPs in the period before the rollout, so 1996 to 2000. Can you tell us why you think your name appears so often in those logs?

Barbara Longley: I know why my name appears so often, because every call, or nearly every call that came in, would have to pass through my hands, so to speak. Every call that came in, if I dealt with it, I would be the one to do the pre-scan which is sort of looking at it, checking it, and assigning it to somebody and maybe making a change to the title, because the titles came in exactly as spoken to the Horizon people at Stevenage, and they just type it in.

So when the call came in, it automatically had a title that was the first conversation held. So I had got the power to change that, to look further into the call and see what the actual problem was and make that title.

Then I’d assign it to one of the technicians to deal with. So every call that came in, they might have been passed through me two or three times in the day, maybe. Every time I put an update on, then my name would appear on it. So …

Mr Blake: If we look at that list, Lionel Higman, for example, is that somebody you remember at all?

Barbara Longley: I do remember Lionel, mainly from my four months’ training. He was over at Feltham. I can’t remember if he came over to Bracknell at any stage.

Mr Blake: Do you remember what his role was?

Barbara Longley: I can’t remember exactly but I think he did something like he would set you up on the system, so you’ve got a password to get in. I don’t really – I didn’t –

Mr Blake: So again, more of an administrative role?

Barbara Longley: I think so. I didn’t have a lot to do with him.

Mr Blake: Are there any names on that list that’s on screen at the moment that stand out for you in your recollection?

Barbara Longley: People that I know, um, Richard Coleman, who left to become a priest. John Simpkins sat behind me. Diane Rowe at to the side of me. Paul –

Mr Blake: They were engineers, were they?

Barbara Longley: Yeah, the technicians. Paul Steed, he was a technician, he left. I don’t know, the name – Eric Jennings, I don’t know. I’ll carry on down. Mike Croshaw was one of the technicians on the other side of the floor. Pat Carroll was on the other side of the floor. Steve Warwick, I think he was one of the big bosses that resided upstairs. I didn’t have much to do with him at all.

Mr Blake: Thanks very much. Let’s look at our first PinICL, FUJ00010355.

Barbara Longley: I’ll look at it on screen.

Mr Blake: Thank you. This is from January 1998 and, about halfway down, it says:

“I have set up Privilege Plus access for Barbara Longley.”

I think you’ve said in your first statement that that probably gave you access to the call logging system; is that right?

Barbara Longley: Yes, this is the four months when I joined over at Feltham, so I had to be set up on the system because I was a new joiner.

Mr Blake: Does that give an indication as to when you started, 23 January?

Barbara Longley: Yes, that’s how I worked out where I started. It was in January to April because I think on some of these ones, 1998, we might see Hazel’s name on them. So everything on a call that was 1998, those first four months, would not have been my words. So I’d have been dictated by Hazel or somebody else. Because I wasn’t fully trained then so I wasn’t able to be let loose on the calls, so to speak.

Mr Blake: Am I right in saying you can’t recall exactly what “Privilege Plus” meant but you had some abilities to, for example, add and amend entries in the logs?

Barbara Longley: Yes, I presume it means that I can deal with extra things on the calls. I’m not – I’ve not seen that bit. I didn’t see that when I was working, as far as I can tell. I don’t remember seeing “Privilege Plus”.

Mr Blake: Thank you.

Barbara Longley: It would only be a guess if I said anything.

Mr Blake: Thank you. I want to ask you about how calls were assigned. You’ve addressed that at paragraph 7 of your second witness statement but I want to take you through step by step. The first step, it seems, was that the Horizon Helpdesk would put calls on your stack and you’ve talked about a stack. Can you tell us again, what is a stack or what was a stack?

Barbara Longley: It’s just a list. It’s like your mailbox with your mails coming in. You’ve got a list of calls rather than a list of emails and it’s all set out, you know, you’ve got PinICL number, description, I think at the top, what –

Mr Blake: Those came in from what we know as the Horizon System Helpdesk; is that right?

Barbara Longley: They came over from the Stevenage Helpdesk.

Mr Blake: Can you tell us, did you have a view at the time or, looking back, do you have a view, as to whether those calls were filtered appropriately to you?

Barbara Longley: No, I’d just take them as they come over and I don’t know what happened to them before then, unless somebody had specifically typed in there what they’d done.

Mr Blake: Do you recall any conversations with any colleagues that there are too many coming over from the Helpdesk, too few coming from the Helpdesk or anything like that?

Barbara Longley: I don’t remember anything like that, no, no.

Mr Blake: The second step was that you would allocate calls to an SSC technician. How would you know which technician to allocate calls to?

Barbara Longley: Sometimes the clue was in the actual problem. I have a sort of idea that after four months who did what, there were sort of key words like it was – I think, is it AS – would be a communications problem? You know, like a phone problem or something.

Mr Blake: ASDL, was that?

Barbara Longley: I think so, yes something like that. It would go to a technician who was dealing with that sort of thing. Basically, it was the technician or technicians that dealt with that particular problem and over time you learnt, if it wasn’t that person, they would either say, “Oh no, that is wrong, give it to somebody else”, when I was first starting out. So there wasn’t any chance that I would give it to the wrong person and that it would stay with the wrong person. (Unclear) straightaway when I was new at it, sort of thing.

Mr Blake: Was there a list, was there a manual of some sort that told you who specialised in particular areas or was that just something that you were expected to know?

Barbara Longley: I was expected to know and learn as I went along.

Mr Blake: You’ve said in your statement that some of the engineers were interested in particular problems.

Barbara Longley: Oh yes, particularly if it was one that had come over before I got into work because they quite often would phone up and they’d have conversations with the Helpdesk. Somebody might say “There’s a call on the stack, can I have that because I did something similar the other week?” or “I know a little bit about that one, could I have it, please?”

Some of the technicians could do multi-tasking, you know. They knew various other subjects, besides their specific subject.

Mr Blake: How would you familiarise yourself with who was interested in what?

Barbara Longley: If they said they were interested in it or had done something similar, then they’d get the call because it made sense, if they knew about the call, for them to carry on and they wouldn’t have to go and start the research all over again.

Mr Blake: Can you tell us what would happen when, for example, a new engineer joined, a new technician joined. How would you familiarise yourself with their particular interest or speciality?

Barbara Longley: I think everyone who joined, in the technicians, had a mentor and they would sit with the mentor so, obviously, whoever the mentor was, their specialist subject would be passing on to the new person. So that would mean that the new person would be doing the same subject as their mentor.

Mr Blake: Are you able to assist us in any way whether there was a turnover in those technicians? Did they come and go? Were there some that were constant?

Barbara Longley: It varied. We had some that had been there for years, and there’d be some that stayed sort of probably a year.

Mr Blake: Are there any that you recall that were particularly experienced and knowledgeable?

Barbara Longley: Probably the ones that had been there the longest. Like Steve Parker, John Simpkins, Pat Carroll. Paul Steed had been there a long time.

Mr Blake: Sorry, can you just say that again for the transcriber?

Barbara Longley: Paul Steed.

Mr Blake: Paul Steed?

Barbara Longley: He was right at the beginning.

Mr Blake: Thank you. We may see some names as we go through documents and if any stand out to you that you recall of being of particular experience or knowledge, then do feel free to say.

Barbara Longley: As far as being experienced and able to do the job well, that would not be for me to say because that would go into their appraisal. Their manager would be the one who would know more than me.

Mr Blake: Certainly but, if you were allocating calls to particular people because you had in mind that they were particularly experienced in something or had a particular knowledge, then please do say if you can where we come across those names.

Barbara Longley: Okay.

Mr Blake: Thank you. You’ve spoken about the room and you’ve said that some people sat behind you, some people sat across the room, some people were on different floors. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what the set-up was?

Barbara Longley: Upstairs was top management. Well, people above Mik, above the manager, the top managers, and a few other types. I don’t really know. We didn’t go up there very often.

The floor was divided one side of the building and the other side and people tended to sort of – I just had sort of like, John and Diane next to me and then Steve was over the way.

Mr Blake: Were they sitting in accordance with any particular specialism? Was there a particular reason why those technicians were nearer you?

Barbara Longley: Not the technicians, no. There were other sort of little groups that came in from time to time, we had people come over occasionally from Belfast. I can’t remember what they did but they always sat in one area. Then I think there were some test people. They all sat in one area. People who tested equipment, people, they were away from us down the other end of the floor.

I’m trying to think now. I think the technicians, more or less, were just sort of spaced around in the middle of the building.

Mr Blake: Were you aware of them sharing their own knowledge between themselves of things like bugs, errors and defects in Horizon?

Barbara Longley: Oh yes, everybody helped everybody. I don’t think people kept their stuff to themselves. I think that if somebody could help somebody they would.

Mr Blake: Did they specialise in particular bugs, errors or defects, for example, or was there a generalised sense of knowledge relating to the Horizon System or a base level knowledge of bugs, errors and defects?

Barbara Longley: I’d say probably general. Most people could step in if needed to help out.

Mr Blake: Are you able to give us any examples of where a particular problem had to go to a particular engineer? Is there anything you can recollect?

Barbara Longley: Not specifically, no.

Mr Blake: You’ve said that you also used key terms to work out who to approach and you, I think, mentioned one may be ADSL, or something like that. Are you able to assist us with that, how you became familiar with those key terms?

Barbara Longley: Just from seeing them in the calls and knowing that those words meant that it was a communication and I gave it to the person who was dealing with that.

Mr Blake: It’s right to say that you didn’t have any expertise in technical matters?

Barbara Longley: No, no. No, I’d not heard about Horizon when I joined. It was all a mystery to me when I joined.

Mr Blake: The third step in the allocation process, once you had allocated to a particular engineer, was that you would update the calls, you’ve said in your statement, as instructed.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Who would instruct you in relation to updating the PinICLs or PEAKs?

Barbara Longley: Do you mean when they came in first of all or in progress when, say, an engineer had done something or – and –

Mr Blake: Either or both?

Barbara Longley: Either. I was able to, as I say, change the title. I could correct the spelling and I was usually told – I’m trying to think what it was called now. If it was a new batch of software that had been sent down to the Post Office overnight to say it had a different – I can’t think of the word.

Mr Blake: A release?

Barbara Longley: Yes, a release. I could change that. They’d tell me “All calls coming in from now on are going to be this release, so change that on the call”.

Thank you for helping me out on that.

Mr Blake: Did that, to the best of your recollection, lead to a call being closed if there’d been a release or did it lead to something else?

Barbara Longley: No, it would be dealt with the same way. It would just be a call that was being dealt with with a different release from, say, a previous one the week before or something, before the –

Mr Blake: So would you update all cases that related to a particular release?

Barbara Longley: If I was told that all the calls coming in were this new release then I would. I’d change it.

Mr Blake: Who would tell you?

Barbara Longley: Probably Mik, Mik Peach.

Mr Blake: Was he your manager or –

Barbara Longley: Yes, he was the manager at the SSC.

Mr Blake: I’m going to take you through some logs to see if you can assist the Chair. Can we start with FUJ00010388.

Barbara Longley: That one on the screen?

Mr Blake: Yes. So this a PinICL, it’s an early PinICL dating back to January 1998, and the summary at the top there is “PM [postmaster] has run a weekly report and 1 payment is missing”.

So it relates to a missing payment. If we start with the substantive activities that are logged there it says the user “Customer Call”. Would that information from a customer call be put in by yourself and your colleagues in a similar position, or would it appear there from the Helpdesk, for example?

We can talk in general terms. It doesn’t have to be about this particular PinICL but where we see information – we will come in subsequent PinICLs and PEAKs to information from a customer call. Would you input the customer call information or would it –

Barbara Longley: It looks like it’s been put in already, I think, looking at it.

Mr Blake: This may not be the best example because I think this is one of those early PinICLs, where –

Barbara Longley: So someone has rung the PM. I didn’t have any contact with the PM at all, so that might have been John did that, John Simpkins. I can’t see that I – I think it –

Mr Blake: If we turn over the page, we see your predecessor’s name, Hazel Salvat, becoming involved on 22 January?

Barbara Longley: Yes. She’s asking Paul, that would be Paul Steed.

Mr Blake: Typically in these PinICLs and PEAKs what we’d see is a customer call and then followed by further logs and really my question is the information that relates to customer calls, is that information that you at the SSC would put in or is that something that would already appear before your involvement?

Barbara Longley: Which bit is the call log? Are you talking about something that’s been put in –

Mr Blake: The entries before, for example, Ms Salvat’s name where it says “Customer Call”?

Barbara Longley: “Customer opened” – that would be from Stevenage, that would be opened by Stevenage, I think. “Customer opened date”, “customer” would be the Post Office person phoning in, I presume.

Mr Blake: I think you said that you didn’t have any contact with the subpostmasters?

Barbara Longley: No, no, they didn’t have my phone number. They wouldn’t ring me but the technicians could because technicians could contact the postmaster but I had no contact with them.

Mr Blake: During your time as SSC coordinator, do you recall at any time speaking to subpostmasters or their managers or assistants?

Barbara Longley: Only about twice, when a little group came over and they came to my desk to sign in, in the visitor’s book, and then it would only be sort of general chit-chat, you know, sort of “Where’s the coffee machine?”, “Did you have a nice journey?” Nothing about work or anything like that. Very occasionally, as I say – I only remember two lots coming over.

Mr Blake: Do you remember what kind of a group was it, was it an organised group like the NFSP or was it just a –

Barbara Longley: It was just a little group of people. I didn’t know who they were or anything. I just knew that they worked for the Post Office.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Can we turn to page 5 of this document and you become involved at this stage. You’re named for the first time on 26 January 1998.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Now, as I say, this isn’t the best of PinICLs because this one seems to be a little bit out of order. Some of the wording is out of order but if we look at the very bottom, it says:

“Having spoken to Margaret Brunton/NELSON VILLAGE SPS – she is …”

Now, I think if we go two up, it says:

“happy for this to be closed.”

That might be a single line suggesting that the customer is happy for the call to be closed. If we look at the customer name at the top it has “Margaret Brunton/NELSON”. Where it says, “Have spoken to” so it has your name as the person entering the information.

Barbara Longley: I wouldn’t have spoken to the postmaster. I don’t know whether Hazel did because this was all done under supervision. She’d have got me sort of typing stuff in to get used to typing the stuff in, the responses, and doing the cut and paste. And the wording looks more like her wording than what I would have probably put.

Mr Blake: So from your involvement, if we see the words such as “Have spoken to” and it’s followed by a customer name, that wouldn’t signify that you in any way spoke to the customer because that wasn’t part of your job?

Barbara Longley: No, I never spoke to them. There might have been something – is there anything further up that I could have copied, maybe? It doesn’t look like it, does it?

Mr Blake: If we look at the summary, where it refers to a missing payment, this was very early in your job, in the SSC. Do you remember issues such as missing payments being issues that came across your desk?

Barbara Longley: I think I had calls about missing payments but I don’t remember any in particular. It’s like this one was – I’d only been probably in the job about a week or two – 26/01. I was –

Mr Blake: Can you give us an indication, let’s take missing payments as a topic. Is that something that would have come across your desk rarely, often, sometimes? Is it something you recall?

Barbara Longley: I can’t recall how many times, no.

Mr Blake: Is it a familiar phrase, “missing payments”?

Barbara Longley: Yes, yes. There would have been calls for missing payments. But I can’t remember anything much about …

Mr Blake: Let’s move on to the year 2000. Can we look at FUJ00086585. We’re now moving onto the PEAK system, so this is the system that followed the PinICL system and it says there in the summary:

“The pm [postmaster or mistress] is having problems rolling the office over.”

Now, again, if we talk about an indication of how often – a lot, sometimes, rarely – is that a kind of issue that would crop up?

Barbara Longley: I think it would crop up quite often. I can’t say how many times.

Mr Blake: Let’s look at the information, customer call. So again, this is a different format now but we’re looking at information that’s provided. It says “User: Customer Call”; do you recall who would have inputted that information?

I’ll read you the first part. It says:

“The pm is having problems rolling the office over. There are figures missing from the cash account which is one person entire work.

“Advice: got the pm to check all the stock unit and they are in [cash accounting period 06].”

Barbara Longley: That’s sounds very much like it was inputted by Stevenage Horizon desk, Helpdesk.

Mr Blake: So that’s coming in from the – that’s information you think –

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: – that has been provided by the Helpdesk that pre-dates your involvement?

Barbara Longley: I believe so, yes.

Mr Blake: Yes.

Barbara Longley: It sounds like they’ve been in contact with the PM and been trying a few things or giving advice, and –

Mr Blake: The advice there is advice that the Helpdesk had given?

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. I’ll just carry on a little bit. It says:

“Got the pm to try and get a trial cash account. It says balancing error receipts and payments do not match, investigate the error. The error may be corrected using the reversal function.”

Barbara Longley: That also sounds like it’s come from the Horizon Helpdesk at Stevenage.

Mr Blake: Thank you. “Receipts and payments do not match”, again, are you able to assist us in how often? You don’t need to give me an exact number but was it a lot, sometimes, rarely that those kind of issues would come across?

Barbara Longley: I suppose they would come over fairly recent – fairly often. It sounds very familiar, sort of thing.

Mr Blake: Thank you. If we scroll down about halfway, it says “AL1”. It’s on the right-hand side. Perhaps this could be highlighted.

Barbara Longley: “Her work is missing”, that one?

Mr Blake: Yes, exactly:

“… her work is missing from the CA [I think cash account]. When she did a balance snapshot she was £9,000 over and all her stock is showing as minus.”

Barbara Longley: That comes from Stevenage. That little update.

Mr Blake: Then you have the advice below, which says:

“I asked caller to do a reprint of the final balance for SU DD to see what the figures looked like. Everything is minus of what she sold. I think that she rolled over with nothing in her Stock, and everything went as an over. Advised caller to roll over the SU into the next BP and declare stock stamps and cash.”

Again, so is it your evidence that that is likely to have been advice from the Helpdesk?

Barbara Longley: Yes, it sounds like they tried something, something else with them and that’s the result.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Then at the very bottom of this page, there’s another piece of advice there and it says:

“… advised to go into stock bal and declare stock, then stamps then cash. Advised to then roll over XXX. Then to transfer the stock from XXX to DD and then roll over office. Pm ok to do this.”

At the bottom it has “Repeat Call”, and it says:

“Caller has rung back in again. She’s rolled over SU XXX over with all the stock missing from the clerk’s SU. This is the incorrect [it seems as though that may be ‘This is incorrect’]. Caller should never have been advised to do this. If my update had been read and when she rang in before it would have been clear that the caller rolled over DD SU with no stock in it. Everything was zero and then she started serving in [cash accounting period 06] with no stock [maybe ‘thus’] creating the minus figures. By creating a correctional SU in [cash accounting period 05] and putting the figures in showing it as a minus from [cash accounting period 06] it will now roll with CAP06 figures. If anything, they should never have added stock from this CAP, they should have added stock from the last CAP. This faulty advice has caused even more trouble and the pm has not rolled XXX over.”

Is this kind of discussion from within the Helpdesk itself something that would crop up, that you recall?

Barbara Longley: That’s – that sounds rather unusual because someone’s criticising somebody for not doing something correctly, the way I just read it. I’m not sure who actually did that, whether it was the Helpdesk or a technician. It doesn’t have a technician’s name against it, so I presume that somebody is telling the Helpdesk that they gave the wrong advice but I can’t see from the call who that was.

Mr Blake: Is that something you would come across, do you recall?

Barbara Longley: No, that sounds rather usual, that anyone would do the wrong thing.

Mr Blake: Did you find the Helpdesk advice in general to be helpful, unhelpful, something else?

Barbara Longley: I don’t know. I wouldn’t know because it would be technical. It would be someone like the technician would know.

Mr Blake: Is this history that’s been entered here, is that something that you would read through before assigning to a technician, for example?

Barbara Longley: Usually. Is my name on this one?

Mr Blake: Yes. If we could turn to page 5 and we’ll look at your first involvement.

Barbara Longley: No, I just wondered in case it was one of the times I wasn’t there, perhaps, you know. Somebody else was pre-scanning.

Mr Blake: So you have your name, 3 May 2000, about halfway down this page – thank you – and you assign it to John Simpkins.

Barbara Longley: Mm.

Mr Blake: Perhaps if we could use this as an example. Are you able, in relation to this specific case or just in general terms, to tell us how it is that you would assign something like this to John Simpkins?

For example, how would you know that it was John Simpkins who should deal with this kind of a call?

It may assist us to look at the log below where he then assigns it to EPOSS Development.

Sir, we may have lost Ms Longley. At the moment we’re only seeing the document on screen.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right.

Can you hear me, Ms Longley? It doesn’t sound like it, does it? It doesn’t sound like you have her.

Mr Blake: Perhaps we could take a five-minute break.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, by all means.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much.

(10.46 am)

(A short break)

(10.52 am)

Mr Blake: Sir, we appear to be having a little bit of difficulty with the witness’s Internet connection. Could I suggest that we take our 15-minute break now. We will – I only have a maximum of one hour of further questions and we will be certainly finished before lunchtime.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, certainly by all means. So what is the time now?

Mr Blake: It is now 10.50.

Sir Wyn Williams: So 11.05.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much.

(10.50 am)

(A short break)

(11.10 am)

Mr Blake: Sir, we’re still having some difficulty with the Internet connection. Could we take 15 more minutes? As I say, the witness will not be very much longer once she has been reconnected.

Sir Wyn Williams: Well, if you think that’s fruitful, yes. But I am getting a bit sort of uneasy about everything being in a state of not knowing what’s going to happen, if you see what I mean.

Mr Blake: Yes.

Sir Wyn Williams: I mean, take 15 minutes now but, otherwise, I suggest that you and the Core Participants take stock about how crucial oral evidence is in this case, given that her manager is giving evidence shortly. But, in any event, if it is important, whether it’s just better to adjourn until 2.00 so everybody knows where they are, sort of thing.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Let me know in 15 minutes what you think, yes?

Mr Blake: Yes. Thank you.

(11.12 am)

(A short break)

(11.29 am)

Mr Blake: Thank you, sir. We can see you and we can now see Ms Longley, as well.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes.

Mr Blake: Can you both see and hear me?

Sir Wyn Williams: I can hear you loud and clear.

Mr Blake: Ms Longley, can you hear and see me?

Barbara Longley: It’s a bit faint. I think somebody is trying to sort it out for me.

Mr Blake: We can see somebody in the corner of your screen.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Perhaps if I start with a question, and we’ll see if it’s loud enough for you.

Barbara Longley: Okay, that’s better now.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Excellent. We were on document FUJ00086585 and we were on page 5 of that document. The question was: you there have allocated this matter to John Simpkins. Are you able to tell us, using this as an example, how it might be that something was allocated to John Simpkins? As in, who would that decision have come from and what was the process by which Mr Simpkins would have been selected to deal with that particular issue?

Barbara Longley: I can’t see any clues at the moment.

Mr Blake: If we go down and I’ll take you through a few more entries – and don’t worry if you’re not able to assist us with that question – but if we go down we then have John Simpkins transferring it to “EPOSS-Dev”. I think that’s EPOSS Development. Is that a team that you recall?

Barbara Longley: Vaguely, yes. That would be counter issues, EPOSS, wouldn’t it?

Mr Blake: Thank you. Then if we have a look further down, we have your name again:

“New evidence added – Complete message store by John Simpkins in EDSC …”

Then we have “Customer Call”, and it says:

“Carl Motion chasing this call for an update …”

Do you remember somebody called Carl Motion at all?

Barbara Longley: Not at all, no. Maybe he was on the – maybe he was on the Horizon Helpdesk.

Mr Blake: How about Paul Steed?

Barbara Longley: He’s a technician – he was a technician.

Mr Blake: So:

“… tried Paul Steed but unavailable …”

Then it says there:

“… voiced Barbara Longley for update on this call …”

Can you assist us, we’ve seen this on a few occasions, “voiced Barbara Longley”, what does that mean?

Barbara Longley: Yes, that would be the Horizon Helpdesk giving me a phone call asking me if there were any updates and I’d look, and if there were, I would cut and paste them back into the call or chase up, possibly.

Mr Blake: We have again “voiced through Barbara Longley as [postmaster or mistress] needs to know what is happening”?

Barbara Longley: Yes, that would definitely be Stevenage Helpdesk because they’re the only ones who can speak to the PM. The PM would phone them up, if you look at the call, it’s sort of clear that the postmaster obviously phoned into the helpdesk and then they chased me up to see if I’d got any developments on it.

Mr Blake: Thank you. If we go over the page there’s another entry relating to the Helpdesk phoning. At the top there, it says:

“HSH rang to say that NBSC are chasing for an update on this call. Have informed them that call currently with EPOSS Development team.”

Was part of your role as a liaison between the technicians and the Helpdesk?

Barbara Longley: Yes, I was sort of approached for any information on any of the calls because, as I say, not everybody could see every part of the call and every update. So they would either phone up and ask me if I knew, and I’d look at the call, and then, if there was an update, I would cut and paste it into the call. If not, I’d probably go round to the technician’s desk and ask him and then they’d probably put an update on and then I’d cut and paste that into it.

Mr Blake: Did you form a view at any point as to the abilities of the Helpdesk, their competence, their abilities to assist?

Barbara Longley: No, they always seemed very helpful to me. They were sort of very nice to people. I actually went over there to Stevenage once and they seemed quite efficient. As for the technical information they were giving out and things like that, I wouldn’t know. But I don’t think there were any complaints about them.

Mr Blake: Would they indicate to you, on a personal level, the effect that certain issues were having on subpostmasters?

Barbara Longley: No, no. I don’t think so.

Mr Blake: If we look down about halfway down the page, 16 May at 4.11 pm.

Barbara Longley: Right.

Mr Blake: It says there:

“RNM has reported a problem whereby the transactions carried out on the counter are being lost from SU TT. Stock was balanced on Tuesday and it was noticed that there was a £6,343 surplus discrepancy. The counter daily and weekly reports were showing zero. The RNM put the [6,000 figure] into the suspense account. The discrepancy has now doubled and is showing a [£12,000] surplus.”

Scrolling down to the entry from Steve Warwick, about halfway down, he says there:

“The call needs to be looked at in detail by the EPOSS team in order to establish why the system appears to have failed to locate any transactions for this stock unit in [cash accounting period 5].”

Do you recall any particular issues relating to the EPOSS system and EPOSS team?

Barbara Longley: Nothing in particular, no.

Mr Blake: If we scroll over to the next page and about halfway down the next page, your name appears again, and I think you assign it to John Simpkins.

Barbara Longley: I think on that previous thing, there had been issues occasionally where a fault doubled up. When something was done it duplicated it, so it was twice the amount, I think.

Mr Blake: Yes.

Barbara Longley: Is that – does that make sense?

Mr Blake: It does. Do you recall that happening sometimes, often?

Barbara Longley: Just sometimes. I saw it more than once, I think. I do sort of vaguely remember that problem, that sometimes someone would do something. Instead of curing it, it would make it double the fault.

Mr Blake: Can we look over to the final page, page 8, and there’s a note there from Mr Simpkins. We’re now in July, so this log starts in April.

Barbara Longley: Right.

Mr Blake: He says:

“This is another instance of [and it gives the reference number] where Dataserver trees have failed to build. This has now been fixed in CI4 …”

That’s, we know, a release.

Barbara Longley: Mm-hm.

Mr Blake: “… and in conjunction [and there’s a reference there] (where the data tree rebuild is minimised to 2 attempts instead of 4), should return an abort right back up to the user to retry the balancing process”, et cetera.

“Instances where this potentially can occur is for example where the Riposte service has stopped/failed/unable to complete an IO request issued etc.”

Are you able to assist us, in terms of length of time – we’re now in July, the issue started in April – was it common, to your recollection, that some issues can take months to resolve?

Barbara Longley: I don’t know about months but not everything was done sort of immediately. Some things are obviously more difficult to fathom out than others and to cure. So I don’t know, I can’t tell. I’ve got no sort of information. I can’t think of any information in the reports or anything that would probably have shown you that there were long times for curing something.

Mr Blake: I’m going to move on to another one, it’s the summer of 2001. Can we look at POL00028743, please. Thank you. This another PEAK and the summary there is “Master Call for Phantom [Transactions]”.

Can you assist us at all as to something how something becomes a “master call” or what that term meant?

Barbara Longley: I can only guess, I don’t recall, but I would imagine that it was one call that was referred back to – this is me guessing – one call referred back to for a certain problem, a master call. I may be wrong but that’s what I’m thinking it probably could be.

Mr Blake: “Phantom transactions” is that something you recall at all?

Barbara Longley: Yes, I think that was quite a common one.

Mr Blake: You referred earlier in your evidence to using certain key terms and assigning to certain individuals.

Barbara Longley: Mm.

Mr Blake: Was “phantom transactions” one of those key terms?

Barbara Longley: I don’t know whether that might have been one that was pretty general and lots of people could have dealt with.

Mr Blake: Is it something that you recall being spoken about a lot?

Barbara Longley: It was one I remember because it was a funny name, you know, “phantom transactions”. It just stuck in my mind, that one.

Mr Blake: I’m going to take you through –

Barbara Longley: Yes, I’m looking at it.

Mr Blake: – this log. We have there the customer call. So we’ve established that these are likely to have come from the Helpdesk, and it says there:

“New complaint call as previous … closed WITHOUT permission from the [postmaster].

“Information: [postmaster] wishing to complaint [it says, must be ‘complain’] about ongoing system problems …”

It gives a reference and it says:

“[The postmaster] was under impression (correctly) that it could only be closed with his permission. It would appear Ki Barnes …”

Is that a name you recall at all?

Barbara Longley: No.

Mr Blake: “… gave authorisation to close that call. [Postmaster] VERY unhappy about this.”

If we scroll down to “Information”:

“PM extremely unhappy about the problems with his counters. He says he has had to pay out over £1,500 in losses that are due to these problems. He’s informed POCL they can suspend him because he is refusing to make good any further losses.

“PM wants a face to face meeting with someone in authority from Pathway/POCL to discuss the issues. PM feels very strongly about this and says he is willing to take POCL to a tribunal/court because of the stress he has suffered because of the problems.”

Now, we discussed earlier that you were the Helpdesk’s point of contact within the SSC. You liaised with the Helpdesk. Did they, in any way, give you an insight into the strength of feelings amongst postmasters experiencing these kinds of issues?

Barbara Longley: No, that one, I don’t even recall anything like that. That, at the moment, seems like the first time I’ve actually seen that. I don’t recall that at all.

Mr Blake: If we scrolled down on this page, it says:

“Information: please contact PM to discuss issues.”

Then it says:

“This call is only to be closed with the expression permission of Julian Hall.”

Is Julian Hall somebody you recall at all?

Barbara Longley: No, no, I’ve not heard that name.

Mr Blake: Then it says:

“The system seems to lose transactions and the PM is concerned that for every transaction that error he notices there is the probability that there are ones he misses, leading to discrepancies. The PM is at present finding the whole scenario very stressful and is suffering sleepless nights due to these problems. In the light of what has gone on the PM is prepared to break his contractual obligations with POCL and refuse to pay any more discrepancies and will take legal action if required.”

Again, the strength of feeling that is set out here, looking back to your years at the SSC, is that the kind of thing that you recall at all being raised with you by the helpdesk?

Barbara Longley: No, I don’t recall that at all. I mean, I’m sure that I would have taken note of that. Where was my name on this one?

Mr Blake: I’ll take you to it shortly.

Barbara Longley: Okay. I’m jumping the gun.

Mr Blake: If we stay with this page, I’ll just highlight a few more passages from this call.

Barbara Longley: Okay.

Mr Blake: It says, “Contacted: I have left a message on Ki Barnes’ voicemail as the PM is now complaining about her. I was speaking to her about the last complaint call and we both feel that this PM is complaining unjustly. She has been in contact with him, and I feel he is complaining because the feedback has been advising it is user error, whereas the PM thinks it is software.”

Do you recall any disputes between, say, the Helpdesk and postmasters as to whether something was user error or is software related?

Barbara Longley: No, no. Either I have forgotten or I never sort of saw it. It doesn’t ring any bells with me at all. It’s as if I’ve read this for the first time.

Mr Blake: The final passage that I’ll read on this page, it says:

“Contacted: As I was on the phone to the PM, he advised that three First Class stamps that were on the screen just ‘dropped off’. PM had 3 First Class stamps, and other stamps for 30p. When the other stamps 30p went on, the First Class stamps disappeared”, et cetera.

Over the page, please. There’s another customer call entry at the bottom of the page, 18 April. It says:

“PM rang to say that he has had the keyboard and screen replaced today …

“The system is still playing up in that the screen is hanging in the middle of transactions – PM did transaction … but left office for 1 hour – when he came back the monitor had 141 First Class stamps on screen totalling £38.07 – PM reports that the F1 key does not appear to be faulty …”

If we go over to that at page, let’s just look at that second entry. It says:

“Information: I have been advised that the problem may be due to an environmental issue & may be investigated as such …”

So we’ve gone now at the beginning, we had it being attributed to user error, the PM being told that it’s user error and him thinking it was software. We then have these transactions that have appeared on screen and he’s been advised that it may be due to environmental issues.

If we scroll down just to show these are customers calls, your name has not yet appeared. If we keep on scrolling down to page 4, thank you. There is an entry there that says – it’s near the bottom of this page, it says:

“PM would like to add to the current complaint that transactions are currently appearing and disappearing on screen and also that the PM’s counter [pointer] has not been working either.”

If we scroll down, it says about halfway down:

“Information: PM feels that the system is unreliable. PM cannot trust this system.”

Just pausing there, is that a complaint that you recall receiving from postmasters, or recall reading in the customer call log about complaints that the system is unreliable?

Barbara Longley: I’ve not seen that on a call, no. I don’t remember seeing anything like that on a call.

Mr Blake: Then:

“Information: PM wishes to speak to someone face to face and is fed up with things being passed back and forth to and from different departments and nothing ever appearing from this.

“PM is willing to travel if he has to in order to speak to someone face to face.”

Over the page. Could we go about three-quarters of the way down. We have reference to a “Romec engineer”. So – thank you, yes:

“PM said when a Romec engineer was on site yesterday to replace the cable connecting the two counters, he found that the cable that has always been there was faulty and that comms were sometimes unavailable between the two counters. Engineer replaced the faulty cable with another one from a different system.”

Then at the bottom, it has a section beginning with the word “Information”. It says:

“Ki Barnes has called in. I am unsure as to what to do with this call now. Romec have been to site and state that they have actually seen the phantom transactions, so it is not just the PM’s word now. They have fitted suppressors to the kit but the PM is still having problems. As yet there has been no re-occurrence to the phantom transactions but there still may be problems. Contacted Pat Carroll for guidance. He advised to pass call over.”

Barbara Longley: So somebody obviously phoned Pat and Pat said pass the call over. Pat was one of the technicians, Pat Carroll.

Mr Blake: That’s pass it over to the SSC, is it?

Barbara Longley: Yes, that’s what I get – what is happening, yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Because if we scroll over to the next page, this is where your name appears for the first time, we have the customer call on the third box that says:

“PM contacting with further problems to add to call.

“Clerk was having problems selling a BT Cellnet … card.

“Every time it was pressed on the screen, a £10 Orange card appeared.

“PM has since had to recalibrate the screen, and it is now working, but feels this is part of the ongoing problem.”

Then we have your entry there or certainly your name being entered there. Can you assist us, then, how that would have reached you?

Barbara Longley: Oh, right, so it came back to Pat. I’m trying to work this one out.

Mr Blake: I can ask in this way: we’ve seen something being attributed to user error. We’ve then seen reference to possible environmental issue. We’ve read about a faulty cable. We’ve read about value tomorrow transactions being seen by the cable engineer.

Barbara Longley: And there’s still a problem.

Mr Blake: Still a problem and we’ve also seen the subpostmaster feeling that they’ve been passed back and forward.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: In those kinds of circumstances, how would you know which engineer or which technician to allocate this kind of a case to?

Barbara Longley: Do you mean in the first instance or from this point in the call?

Mr Blake: Either.

Barbara Longley: I would think that probably it would have been one of the counter technicians. It sounds like a counter problem to start with and then it’s sort of gone on to various different things, sort of like cables and things, aren’t they hardware?

Mr Blake: Yes.

Barbara Longley: Or comms, maybe. Now, it’s gone back to sort of counter stuff, again, going wrong. So I’d probably give it to somebody who deals with counters. It looks like it’s been given to Pat, who’s then closed it.

Mr Blake: Can you assist us, who was Patrick Carroll?

Barbara Longley: He was a technician. I can’t remember what he specialised in now. I think he was pretty general purpose. He knew a lot about everything, I think. I can’t tell you what his specialist subject was but I think he was expert at quite a lot of things.

Mr Blake: Would you have selected him because you knew him as a generalist because you knew that he had particular knowledge or was it just –

Barbara Longley: I – sorry.

Mr Blake: – a person that was available.

Barbara Longley: I don’t know. If I could go back in time and know what he actually did, I might have been – giving it him deliberately or I might have been giving it to him because he dealt with it before. As you can see, his name is on it from dealing with it before.

Mr Blake: Can we go to page 8, now, and the bottom of page 8. Thank you. If we could scroll to the very bottom entry. It says “Becky from” – so this has your name, and it says:

“Becky from Manchester says PM has phoned in as he has more ghost transactions the same as before.”

Do you recall who “Becky from Manchester” was or who they might be?

Barbara Longley: I’m not sure whether – I think someone was vaguely telling me, whether it was when I was discussing with my solicitors or something months ago. I didn’t realise, or I’d forgotten that those people up in Manchester, there was some of the sort of office up in Manchester and Becky was obviously there and I still can’t remember what they did in Manchester but, obviously, Becky worked there and it looks, I think, if this is the right call, that she was passing messages down to me. I was copying and pasting her information into the calls and then going – pasting what our technicians were saying back to her, as a sort of go between –

Mr Blake: So would this likely be a note of a conversation you personally had?

Barbara Longley: – Becky from Manchester was.

Mr Blake: Did you ever have conversations with, say, the NBSC at the Post Office’s own support centre?

Barbara Longley: No. No. I’ve not heard of that. No, I didn’t – I only spoke to people within the Fujitsu side of things. I never spoke to the PMs or anybody outside.

Mr Blake: So it’s likely that Becky from Manchester is somebody from Fujitsu?

Barbara Longley: I would have thought so. I would have thought she was on – not on the Post Office side, that she was on our side of things.

Mr Blake: It says there that the OTI is down, she’ll email the transaction details.

Barbara Longley: Yes, OTI, that’s a system, isn’t it?

Mr Blake: Can we turn over the page to page 9 and look at the second entry there. It says:

“Mr Hall called with the information that a Child Benefit [transaction] of 3 dockets … has also got [a certain reference] attached to it”, et cetera.

Barbara Longley: (Unclear).

Mr Blake: That says, “Thanks Becky”. So is that Mr Hall contacting again Becky in Manchester?

Barbara Longley: Yes. So I presume Mr Hall is obviously the postmaster and he’s been in touch with Becky. I’m not quite sure why or what department they are up there. They must be another Helpdesk or something. I can’t enlighten you on that, sorry.

Mr Blake: If we look at the entry two below, it says:

“PM called stating that the system is being monitored and at the moment has stopped monitoring, was advised to call and let us know, voiced Barbara Longley and advised to update call.”

So who would that have been voicing that information to you?

Barbara Longley: It doesn’t say, does it? I would have thought Becky again. She seems to be the one doing all the updates at the moment on this call.

Mr Blake: Thank you. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page, we have an entry from Patrick Carroll there which says:

“Phantom [transactions] have not been proven in circumstances which preclude user error. In all cases where these have occurred, a user error relate cause can be attribute to the phenomenon.”

If we go over the page:

“I am therefore closing this call as no fault in product.”

There we have it marked “No fault in product”. So that’s:

“Responded to call type L as Category 62 – No fault in product.”

Is this something you’re able to assist us with at all? Patrick Carroll has put on the log, after that long history that we have been going through, that the phantom transactions haven’t been proven in circumstances which preclude user error and, in such a case, no fault in product has been attributed to it. Do you recall being instructed or told to use that code in any particular circumstances?

Barbara Longley: Only if a technician told me to. I’m just wondering about the time of that, because Pat closed that, didn’t he? He actually closed that one and then the next one’s 9.51. I wonder if he did that as a pre-scanner before I got into work. What was the time on the –

Mr Blake: If we go back to the page before at the bottom, thank you, 9.48.

Barbara Longley: Ah, I probably would have been in work then if I was in that day, yes. It’s okay, I wondered if he did out of hours. Obviously, he closed it himself and didn’t come back to me. He didn’t use me as an interface on that occasion; he just closed it himself, which he was okay to do.

Mr Blake: The instruction to attribute no fault in product, was that something that you were ever told to do, asked to do, told about?

Barbara Longley: I think on some occasions, if there was a fault that was coming in, maybe on a particular day, that was more than one or two, I might have been told when that one comes in, “Can you just close it as ‘no fault in product’?” But this one is a long – elongated call, with a lot to it, so I wouldn’t have been told that. That was one in several that could be just done automatically. That would have been Pat deciding that it was no fault in product and closing it himself.

Mr Blake: Before you closed something as no fault in product, would you be told the circumstances, would you be told what led to there being no fault in the product?

Barbara Longley: Usually, it would be an update from the technician, which I would cut and paste with the closure “no fault in product” included in it, and close it as that. That would be the norm and, obviously, there’s – not everything is the norm. Like this one Pat’s just closed and it’s a very long going call that’s been ongoing for a very long time.

Mr Blake: That’s exactly what I was going to ask, actually.

Barbara Longley: It says 200 hours, doesn’t it? I’ve not noticed that. This is 200 hours.

Mr Blake: Are you able to assist us whether that’s likely to be the total time investigating from the beginning, first call to the last, or whether that was something else?

Barbara Longley: I would imagine that figure is automatically generated. I don’t think anybody sits and adds them up. So I’m not sure. It could be – I would have thought from the start of the call to the end. Something in the system must be generating that figure.

Mr Blake: Thank you. I’m going to look at our final log, and that’s FUJ00086578. This is a similar period. We have a summary there “Continual phantom transactions”. We have the first call, 24 July 2001:

“PM reports that he has been having phantom transactions continually for months and the problem is still persisting.”

Now, if it was known in the SSC at this time that there were problems with phantom transactions, who would draw the links between the different calls? Let’s say Patrick Carroll, we know, was working on that other issue that we’ve just seen. If this came to you, was there a particular log that would identify particular individuals as dealing with transactions or was it just relying on your memory?

Barbara Longley: It would be partly my memory. Someone might come round who’s been dealing with it before and say, “I’ll take that one”.

It’s possible that I knew at the time who was dealing with phantom transactions but if it – I can’t recall now.

Mr Blake: But if we think – I mean the chair will, in due course, be thinking about recommendations. In terms of running the SSC, would you have expected to see some sort of record that assigned particular issues to particular people, or would you have expected there to have been some sort of guidance provided to you to tell you who –

Barbara Longley: Ah, there was not particularly for me, but there was the book of KELs – of the KELs.

Mr Blake: Yes.

Barbara Longley: Now, that was problems and they were given a number. If they were going to be problems that cropped up again, probably – this is only my understanding of it. They were given a number and rather than somebody start from scratch trying to solve a problem, they could go to this KEL and look it up and maybe the solution was there, or they’d know where to start looking on the problem. Does that make sense?

Mr Blake: Yes, but before you personally assigned a problem to a person, would you check the Known Error Log?

Barbara Longley: No, that wasn’t for me. It wasn’t for me. I don’t think I’d know how to actually do a search to look for a particular problem. It wasn’t for my benefit. I’d have to rely on either knowing or being told who was dealing with it, and it could possibly be that it was a fault that many people in the team could sort out.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down on this page, there’s an entry from yourself where you’ve changed the call summary from “PM reports that he has been having phantom [transactions]” to “Continual phantom transactions”.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Would somebody have asked you to have changed the call summary? Is that something you would have done yourself?

Barbara Longley: If the call had come in with it just saying “transac” and stopping there, I would have probably changed it to something more sensible like that. It doesn’t take technical knowledge to do that. So …

Mr Blake: If we go over the page, we have an entry from Patrick Carroll on 5 September 2001:

“Following a significant amount of monitoring we have been unable to definitively link any equipment/environmental issues to any particular event. There have been incidents which showed a possible correlation between the system activity and phantom [transactions], these pointed to a touchscreen problem and as a result of the screen was replaced with a Resistive model. As this produced no measurable improvement it has been assumed that the problems were user related.”

Again, this one has been marked as “No fault in product”, and this is a similar time period to the log that I took you to just before.

Barbara Longley: Yes.

Mr Blake: Again, “no fault in product”, attributing an issue such as phantom transactions to being user related. Does this jog any memories for you as to this being the way that these kinds of issues were resolved? Does it assist in any way?

Barbara Longley: It looks like he’s checked the environmental issues, which were on the other call. So that check has been done and proved okay. The rest of it must have been whatever Pat phoned out when he was investigating it. So I can’t really say.

Mr Blake: I mean, you gave evidence earlier about potentially being asked on occasion to mark similar issues as “no fault in product”.

Barbara Longley: Mm. But, obviously, you wouldn’t get that call come in and then immediately close it. It would have to be investigated. It was – the ones that I would close was where there was something that had happened and it was a known sort of problem that could be fixed really, really quickly or had been fixed already, and I’d be told, just – “if that one comes in again, just close it as ‘no fault in product’”, but, on the whole, it was – the technicians would investigate every call first.

Mr Blake: When you would be told to mark something as “no fault in product”, was there a particular level of engineer that was required to authorise that, or could that have been any of the engineers?

Barbara Longley: It could be any of the technicians or the manager, anybody except me, that was investigating the calls, could do that, the person who’d been dealing with it, usually.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much, Ms Longley. I don’t have any further questions. Is there anything that you would like to say to the Chair or anything that you feel is of assistance to the Inquiry?

Barbara Longley: Sorry, I missed that. We cut out for a few seconds.

Mr Blake: Before we’re cut off for the second time, is there anything that you’d like to say or raise that you feel is of relevance to the Inquiry that I haven’t addressed?

Barbara Longley: I don’t think so. I mean, I can’t remember everything that happened because it was so long ago, between sort of 17 and 20-something-odd years ago. So I just tried my best to answer the bits and pieces of the calls that do ring a bell with me.

Mr Blake: Thank you.

Sir, do you have any questions?

Sir Wyn Williams: No, thank you very much.

Are there any questions from Core Participants?

Mr Blake: No.

The Witness: No.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right, well, thank you very much, Ms Longley, for giving evidence to the Inquiry and trying your best to remember what occurred. Thank you.

The Witness: Thank you. Bye.

Sir Wyn Williams: So we’ll adjourn until tomorrow morning, yes, Mr Blake?

Mr Blake: Yes, thank you.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right then. 10.00 tomorrow morning.

( 12.08 pm)

(The hearing adjourned until 10.00 am the following day)