Official hearing page

5 July 2023 – Anthony Marsh

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(10.15 am)

Mr Beer: Good morning, sir, can you see and hear us?

Sir Wyn Williams: I can, yes.

Mr Beer: Thank you, may I call Mr Marsh, please.

Sir Wyn Williams: Of course, yes.

Anthony Marsh


Questioned by Mr Beer

Mr Beer: Good morning, Mr Marsh. My name is Jason Beer, as you know, and I ask questions on behalf of the Inquiry. Can you give us your full name, please?

Anthony Marsh: Anthony Nicholas Stewart Marsh.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much for coming to the Inquiry today to assist us in our work, and also for providing a long and detailed witness statement to help the Inquiry in its investigation. You should have in front of you a hard copy of that witness statement. It’s in your name and dated 27 April 2023. If you turn to the last page of it, which is page 42, is that your signature?

Anthony Marsh: I’ve done that and it is my signature, yes.

Mr Beer: Are the contents of that witness statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Anthony Marsh: They are.

Mr Beer: For the transcript – it needn’t be displayed – the URN of that witness statement is WITN06900100.

I’m only going to ask you questions today about issues which arise in Phase 4 of the Inquiry, principally concerning policy, procedure, practice and doctrine of the Post Office in the investigation and prosecution of alleged offenders; do you understand?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: In terms of your background, you, I think, joined the Post Office in 1981; is that right?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: As a postman?

Anthony Marsh: Indeed.

Mr Beer: Was that effectively straight from school?

Anthony Marsh: More or less, yes.

Mr Beer: You became a counter clerk in 1983?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: You then joined the Post Office Investigation Department, POID, in 1985, is that right, September 1985?

Anthony Marsh: That’s right, yes.

Mr Beer: You joined, I think, as an investigation officer –

Anthony Marsh: I did, yes.

Mr Beer: – and performed thereafter a range of operational roles over the next 14 years, rising to the rank of Head of Revenue Protection in what was then called the Post Office Security and Investigation Service; is that right?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct, yes.

Mr Beer: In September 1999, you became Head of Security?

Anthony Marsh: I became Head of Security for what was at the time known as Post Office Network, yes.

Mr Beer: A position you remained in until December 2006?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: It’s that period of time, seven years or so, as Head of Security, that the Inquiry is principally interested in, and you’ll understand why. It’s because it spans the introduction of the Horizon System –

Anthony Marsh: Indeed.

Mr Beer: – 1999 to 2006, and it encompasses the period of time when the first prosecutions based on the Horizon System took place?

Anthony Marsh: As I understand it, yes.

Mr Beer: It’s a substantial period of time, as well, seven years of the 13 or so years in which subpostmasters were convicted of criminal offences based on data generated by Horizon. Before we get to that, can we just roll back. Your role as an investigation officer, from 1985 to 1999, working in the Post Office Investigations Department. What was your role?

Anthony Marsh: My role was to investigate a wide range of crimes against the Post Office committed by employees, by subpostmasters or their employees and, occasionally, by members of the public or customers.

Mr Beer: What was the proportion, in general terms, of staff, using that umbrella term, “suspected crime”, versus members of the public suspected crime?

Anthony Marsh: Oh, it was very much more about staff. In later years we perhaps focused more on revenue fraud but at the time when I joined, we were looking very much, and predominantly at postmen stealing from the post, less so counter clerks and, less so again, subpostmasters.

Mr Beer: Did you, in that period of time of 14 or so years, investigate cases of subpostmasters, counter clerks and other employees of Crown branches committing suspected criminal offences?

Anthony Marsh: I did yes.

Mr Beer: What was the nature of your role as an investigator? What did you do?

Anthony Marsh: Literally, I investigated – so from the point in time at which the suspicion was raised by either circumstance or by line management or possibly even by the receipt of information that a crime had been committed, that would be allocated to an appropriate investigator and, at the time, we were geographically based – so I worked in north London, for the majority of the time that I was an investigation officer – and I would undertake an investigation in much the same way as a police officer in the CID would.

I would follow leads, I would look at evidence, paper evidence in those days, usually. I would interview people, take statements, and the aim was to obtain all possible evidence, so that is to say evidence that supported an allegation that I was pursuing but, at the same time, evidence that might in some way undermine that allegation and all evidence that might mitigate the circumstances that I discovered.

Mr Beer: Were you part of a team?

Anthony Marsh: I was, yeah.

Mr Beer: How many were in the team, roughly?

Anthony Marsh: Well, overall in the POID at that time there were about 100 investigation officers. We were split into regions and I think, off the top of my head, that was nine regions. So there would be something of the order of 11 or 12 investigators – investigation officers with a senior investigation officer at the head.

Mr Beer: Was that the manager of the regional team, the –

Anthony Marsh: Yes, the regional manager, indeed, as that person was known, was known in those days as an SIO, Senior Investigation Officer.

Mr Beer: Did they have more senior investigatory responsibilities or was their job mainly as a manager of people?

Anthony Marsh: They did have more senior investigatory responsibilities. So in a very sensitive case or a case involving more senior personnel, you’d normally get a Senior Investigation Officer leading that. They were predominantly supervisory and, whilst they were leaders of the team, they were also the individuals who were expected to assure the quality of investigations that took place.

Mr Beer: How was quality assurance undertaken by the SIOs?

Anthony Marsh: Every region – the term we used was “mump”, and it’s a very old term that meant beggar, and the reason we used that term was because the individual doing that job, and it was a job that everybody did on rotation earned no travel or subsistence expenses. It’s just a word we use.

So they had a casework manager working for them. At regular intervals cases would need to be sent into the casework manager, so you would update on the progress of an Inquiry. You would update – you were required to update when you had interviewed a suspect and you were required to get that update in within two weeks, and we used to aim to do so within a matter of days. At that point, the quality of both investigation and interview would be assessed and usually, at that point, the case would then make its way for the first time to one of the Post Office’s lawyers in the Legal Services team who would assess progress to date, give advice on any further investigation that was required and, indeed, if the investigation had been adequate and successful, would give advice on possible prosecution.

Mr Beer: Who would decide whether an individual was or was not to be prosecuted?

Anthony Marsh: So at all times, at all stages in my career, in all of the roles that I did, it would be a member of the business line management for the offender, or the suspect, who would make that decision.

Mr Beer: So if we just break that down: for a subpostmaster, who would be that business manager?

Anthony Marsh: For a subpostmaster it would be a person – they’ve had a lot of names over the years, but the term that I best recollect myself is the Retail Network or Retail Line Manager, and that’s the first line manager for a cluster of post offices – at one time a cluster which would include both Crown and sub post offices. Later, I believe, Retail Network Managers managed either sub or Crown offices.

Mr Beer: So would that be somebody who the subpostmaster would be familiar with on a daily or maybe weekly basis as their line manager?

Anthony Marsh: It would normally be the subpostmaster’s primary point of contact with the business, primary human point of contact with the business, yes.

Mr Beer: At all times, they took the decision on prosecution?

Anthony Marsh: Sorry. At all times, they or somebody within their line – and by “within their line” I mean somebody more senior than them – would take that prosecution decision, yes. It wasn’t a decision taken by the investigator. It wasn’t a decision taken by anybody within the investigation team and it wasn’t a decision taken by the lawyer.

Mr Beer: You said that sometimes it might be more senior than that business manager. In what circumstances might a more senior person than the business manager end up taking the prosecutorial decision?

Anthony Marsh: I can remember circumstances where the first line manager felt uncomfortable making that decision. It wasn’t something that they’d signed up to do. And, indeed, you know, it was a very rare event. We didn’t prosecute a vast number of people in each year so many line managers would not, in a year – or indeed occasionally, you know, in their entire career – come across what was known, in those days, as an ID case. So some people didn’t feel comfortable taking that decision, and the natural process then was to encourage them to bump it up to their – to somebody more senior than them but somebody within their line.

Mr Beer: Why did they feel uncomfortable?

Anthony Marsh: I would be making assumptions now but, as I say, I think, from some of the feedback I’ve had, some people felt it was not a role that they had necessarily signed up to do and it has a very – obviously has a very significant impact, prosecution, on somebody who they may have known well and may have felt friendly towards, you know. By no means – indeed, very few of our offenders, employee offenders or agent offenders, were difficult or unpleasant people. Circumstances often conspired to put them in that decision but I could understand why it would be difficult for their line managers perhaps to think of them as a person who’s committed a crime.

Mr Beer: Did you manage anyone in this period when you were an investigator?

Anthony Marsh: Not in – well, initially I – I mean, each of the investigators had a team of local staff. So I did have local staff members who did the, if you will, the running for me, who went and, you know, got forms and found out information and found out when people were on duty, and things like that. So I did manage people at a lower level. Obviously, as my career progressed, I managed larger and larger teams of investigators.

Mr Beer: What were these people at a lower level called?

Anthony Marsh: They were called Officers in Confidence and it was a posting in a local office, which would go to a volunteer, perhaps somebody who was thinking about trying to join the Post Office Investigation Department, and it gave them a chance for a few years to work alongside investigators, understand what it was we did and there was a certain cachet for some people to doing that job.

Mr Beer: Why were they called Officers in Confidence?

Anthony Marsh: Because that was exactly what they did. They were officers in the local office. The role that they undertook was in confidence and so, confidentially, they would go out and find out information for us, get hold of – I’m thinking – I mean, more frequently this was obviously to do with postmen rather than counter clerks or subpostmasters, but they would get signing on sheets to demonstrate when people were on duty, a lot of other documentation, the kind of things that were the start point for most investigations.

Mr Beer: By 1998, you had been promoted to the position of Head of Revenue Protection?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: What was the job of revenue protection?

Anthony Marsh: Well, Revenue Protection was the team that looked outside Royal Mail – no, I think we were still called the Post Office at the time – looked outside the Post Office at customers, usually businesses, that were in one way or another defrauding Royal Mail.

Mr Beer: What did your job as Head of Revenue Protection involve?

Anthony Marsh: It involved leading a team of very experienced investigators who worked frequently with police forces around the country. We would – information came in to us from a variety of sources. We had a lot of Revenue Protection personnel on the ground. These were postmen with the particular role of weighing the mail as it came in, amongst other things, and, you know, if what they were seeing didn’t accord with the statements being made by business customers and with the payments being made by business customers, then many efforts would be made to rectify a situation before it was passed across to us.

But where there was evidence of attempts to hide activities that were benefiting the business and costing the Post Office money, or where it was suggested that some of our own staff might have been corrupted, and that did happen on occasion, then we would mount an investigation and the aim of the investigation would be to identify the offenders, both internal and external, and frequently to charge a conspiracy against the Post Office.

Mr Beer: Can I just ask you to slow down your delivery a little.

Anthony Marsh: Sorry, yes.

Mr Beer: There’s a shorthand writer who takes a note of what you say and it’s important that she is able to keep up.

Anthony Marsh: Certainly.

Mr Beer: At this stage, when you were head of Revenue Protection, did any of your responsibilities extend to the investigation of subpostmasters or counter clerks?

Anthony Marsh: No. It’s just possible that there might have been one or two investigations that involved mail being left at a sub post office but, in essence, no. This was a Royal Mail or a letters operations oriented role.

Mr Beer: From 1999 to 2006, you became Head of Security for the Post Office Network.

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: How many people did you manage in that function?

Anthony Marsh: From memory, I – when I took that team over, we had something of the order of 250 people at the outset.

Mr Beer: Were they still arranged by reference to the nine regions, nine or so regions, that you mentioned earlier?

Anthony Marsh: They were arranged by that time in three – you might call them super regions, I think. Three large regions that had been – the whole of the Post Office had been through a massive reorganisation process called Shaping for Competitive Success. This had created the business unit that I was initially appointed to, which was called Post Office Network, and alongside that another business unit called Network Banking and that was the business unit that owned all of the products that were sold in post offices, all the products barring stamps, which were still owned by the Letters side – it’s very complicated, I shall try to keep it simple.

Post Office Network was organised into three regions: East, West and North. When I went in, I appointed three people to be – sorry, they were called “territories” because I appointed three people to be Territorial Security Managers to these three territories. And at the time, I had been bequeathed, by the team that created Post Office Network, an operation which involved essentially everybody being expected to do everything. So although, within that team of 250 people, I had people who had primarily been investigators, people who had primarily been security managers, people who had primarily been technical security managers, they were all sort of lumped together and, if I can second-guess one of the next questions you’re going to ask, within about a year to 18 months, I restructured that team so that we had an investigation or criminal investigation team, an external crime team and a physical security team, and then some administrative functions around that.

Mr Beer: Thank you. If we can just turn to page 4 of your witness statement, please, which is WITN06900100. Thank you. Page 4 of the witness statement. It’ll come up on the screen for you.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: Look at the foot of paragraph 5. You’re being asked in paragraph 5 about Horizon and a meeting being held in October 1999.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: About halfway through, so about ten lines in, you say:

“… but in more general terms I believe that, as the initial iteration of Horizon was an automation of much of the accounting and balancing process for branch and sub post offices, the impact was expected to be a variation in where evidence on stock, cash and accounting reports for an office would come from, from hand-complete paper records to computer-stored data, which would be produced by the Horizon System …”

Then you say this:

“… although I did not know then nor did I ever learn exactly how evidence from Horizon was obtained.”

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: If we can just move forwards, please, to page 35 of your witness statement and look at paragraph 59. You say:

“I have been asked ‘For the period of time you held relevant roles, please explain the process for requesting Horizon data from Fujitsu and how that process changed over time’.”

You answer:

“I can say that at no point in my time at POL did I have any requirement to request Horizon data from Fujitsu, that I never requested data from Fujitsu and that I cannot explain anything about the process or how it may have changed over time.”

Presumably in the period between 1999 and 2006, when you were Head of Security, you were aware of the introduction of the Horizon System.

Anthony Marsh: Absolutely. All I’m trying to point out in those two paragraphs is that because I, by that stage, was responsible for a much wider range of accountabilities in Post Office Network/Post Office Limited, and because I had two – one after the other – very effective senior managers as heads of the investigation team, I never really needed to get hands-on in the investigation space. And one of the things I never had to do was, other than when – all managers in the Post Office would go and help out at Christmas. So for several years, I helped out for a week or two on the counter at Christmas. I have actually used the Horizon System as though I were a counter clerk and I know what it looks like, but I’ve never had to do anything investigative with the system.

Mr Beer: I’m not at the moment focusing on any investigation you yourself would have conducted because I suspect you conducted no investigations –

Anthony Marsh: Indeed.

Mr Beer: – when you were Head of Security for this seven-year period. My questions that follow were all focused on what, as Head of Security, you knew about obtaining of evidence by members of your team from Horizon in order to progress investigations and found prosecutions.

That can come down from the screen now. Would you agree that the use of the Horizon System was going to involve a very substantial change to the method of working for postmasters and counter clerks within branches.

Anthony Marsh: Right. As I understood it at that time, the initial iteration of Horizon was, as far as possible, a sort of cut and paste, almost, from the paper accounting process. So you’re absolutely right that, obviously, having a screen, a touchscreen, in front of you and a keyboard was very, very different to lots of bits of paper and a hand date stamp. But as I understand it, most of the processes – as I understand it, most of the processes initially were very similar. What people were being taught was essentially where to find things on the Horizon System.

Mr Beer: So do you agree or disagree with my suggestion that the introduction of Horizon was going to involve a substantial change to the method of working?

Anthony Marsh: Well, it unquestionably did, but I think what I’m trying to just emphasise, from my position of understanding, is I don’t think that the operational processors, the way in which cash was brought to account, the way in which stock was checked and things like that, I don’t think they changed significantly at the beginning, no.

Mr Beer: Would you agree with this then: that the introduction of Horizon was going to present a fundamental change for the Security Department as to the sources of evidence that it might obtain to investigate offenders suspected of fraud, theft or false accounting?

Anthony Marsh: Yes. From just getting hold of the paper balancing sheets prior to Horizon, I know that my investigators had to, in some manner, obtain the data and the printouts from Horizon relating to an office and its balancing, sort of its balancing processes.

Mr Beer: What preparation did the Security Department make under your leadership for the introduction of Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: As far as I recollect, there was training given to our investigators, both in how Horizon itself worked and also in the methods by which they would obtain data, and the particular data which they could obtain, and – I don’t know whether there was data they couldn’t obtain but, essentially, what data they could expect to be able to garner from the system.

Mr Beer: Who delivered that training?

Anthony Marsh: I believe that arrangements were made for – there was a training team, so there were a team of trainers within the Horizon Programme itself, who were training counter clerks and subpostmasters, and I believe that training was given to members of my team by members of that team.

Mr Beer: Those trainers, who were training subpostmasters and counter clerks, also trained members of your team, the 100 or so, in the data that they could obtain and the data they could not obtain; is that right?

Anthony Marsh: You are getting into a level of detail now where I’m going to have to make an assumption and say I believe so, yes, but I have no direct experience myself of that training.

Mr Beer: Was this not a big issue for the Security Department at the time, involving fundamental change, in which you would have involved yourself?

Anthony Marsh: It was something which I certainly made sure that my direct report, as head of investigations, Phil Gerrish – well, initially the territorial security managers, and then subsequently Phil Gerrish, as Head of Investigations, were comfortable that things were progressing in the right direction.

Mr Beer: What steps did you take to ensure that the process of obtaining data was reliable and sound?

Anthony Marsh: No specific steps. It was very much part of the programme and we did have people who were working alongside the programme at various points to make sure that the information – well, yes, to make sure the information that we required was available to us.

Mr Beer: How did that process go about, ie how did you establish what information you required?

Anthony Marsh: There were workshops that took place and members of the investigation team. And, indeed, prior to my arrival in 1999, various members of various security teams had been part of these workshops to make sure that the Horizon Programme and ICL Pathway, as it was known at the time, were aware of the requirements that we had from Horizon.

Mr Beer: But the position was that you, as Head of Security, didn’t know anything about the process yourself, what data was obtainable, from whom it was obtainable, what data was not obtainable, and why, and how any of those things changed over time?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct, yeah. I had a very wide range of responsibilities and that was one that seemed to me, at the time, to be going well and didn’t need my direct involvement.

Mr Beer: On what evidence did it seem to you to be going well, the obtaining of data from the Horizon System, to investigate and then prosecute subpostmasters?

Anthony Marsh: On the basis that I was not getting feedback that it was not going well.

Mr Beer: So silence?

Anthony Marsh: It wasn’t silence because I spoke with my security leaders and with, subsequently, my Head of Investigation regularly. So it wasn’t silence but it was confidence that they could get access to the data that they needed.

Mr Beer: Would you agree, looking back, that what should happen is that there should be a series of written protocols or policies that describe the full suite of data that the Horizon System produces, its retention periods, how it is to be obtained, where it is to be obtained from, who is the gatekeeper for the obtaining of it, whether a fee is to be payable to the company that runs the computer system for the obtaining of that data, whether permissions are needed, which forms are to be filled out, whether there’s a quality assurance process – those kind of things?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, and it’s my belief that those kind of things were in existence, yes.

Mr Beer: Amongst, I think, the 54 million documents that the Post Office has said that it has in its document universe, and I think amongst the 117,000 of them that it’s given to us, we haven’t got any of those things. Would that surprise you?

Anthony Marsh: Well, based on discussions that I’ve had with the Inquiry Team about documents that I knew to exist that have not been made available to the Inquiry, it doesn’t surprise me that you don’t have access to those documents, no. There was a process within all of the business units of the Post Office/Consignia/Royal Mail, to make sure that documents that people were relying on to do their jobs were up to date.

One of the side effects of that is that older documents will have been archived and it sounds to me, from what I’ve heard from the Inquiry, that many of the archived documents have not been – are not available or have not been made available yet.

Mr Beer: Just to be clear, when you say what you’ve heard from the Inquiry, you’ve been provided with a copy of the report of Duncan Atkinson KC, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, that’s right, yes. That’s in a slightly different context but it’s clear to me that a report that was written had to be written without access to the full suite of documents that I’m aware existed.

Mr Beer: We’re going to go on and discuss that later on today, policy documents that you say that did exist that addressed the issues that Mr Atkinson says are defects or failures in POL’s policies and processes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: Going back to the Horizon data, can we look, please, at paragraph 60 of your witness statement, which is on page 36. Paragraph 60, it’s the top paragraph. You say:

“I have been asked ‘What were ARQ logs and what did you understand their use to be? What other logs were you aware of and how did they differ?’”

You say:

“I can say that I have no idea of what ARQ logs are, nor am I aware of any other logs in respect of Horizon.”

We now know ARQ logs to have been, amongst the security and investigation teams, a well-known and understood source of information, including in relation to error control. How is it that in your role as Head of Security, you didn’t know about a key source or at least a potentially key source of evidence that could aid an investigation.

Anthony Marsh: Because I was not working at that level of detail. So I had presumed that that might well be what they were but I didn’t want to make that presumption in a statement which I have to say is true to the best of my knowledge. I have never worked with ARQ logs, as I say, I’ve never worked in any investigative context with Horizon and so I didn’t have any need to know exactly what documentation it was that my investigators relied upon.

Mr Beer: That can come down. Thank you. You’ve said that others amongst the 100 had the responsibility for attending training and workshops that mirrored the needs of the introduction of the Horizon System. Who were the, underneath you, most senior managers within the investigation division that attended such workshops, had such training and attended to the issues that I’ve mentioned?

Anthony Marsh: My first Head of Investigation was Phil, Philip Gerrish, he was followed by Tony Utting and they then had a number of team leaders below them, and I honestly wouldn’t wish to try to come up with all the names of the team leaders. But we had geographically-based teams with a team leader and then what you might call frontline investigators beneath them.

Mr Beer: Amongst those, the team leaders or those above them, Mr Gerrish and his successor, who had responsibility for engaging with those on the Horizon Programme and, potentially, Fujitsu over this fundamental change of a source of evidence for investigation that Horizon heralded?

Anthony Marsh: I couldn’t give you a name other than Phil Gerrish and then Tony Utting.

Mr Beer: Can you remember the periods of time for which they held that role underneath yours?

Anthony Marsh: Well, Phil was appointed by me, initially to the Eastern – I think I said territorial, and actually it is Regional Security Manager role in 1999 and was always, as it were, my lead on investigations. And then somewhere between 2000 and 2001, when I restructured the team, he became the Head of Investigations or the National Crime and Investigations Manager, and I believe he left around about 2003 or 2004 to take up a role in Royal Mail Group Security as Director of Investigations, at which point Tony Utting was appointed. And Tony, up to that point, had been Phil Gerrish’s deputy.

Mr Beer: Were you aware of provisions within the contract between Post Office and Fujitsu that regulated the circumstances in which, and the nature and extent of which, data produced by the Horizon System had to be provided by Fujitsu to the Post Office?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, latterly, or at least I couldn’t say when I became aware but, at a certain point in time, I became aware that there was a cap on the amount of data in a year that my team could call for, and I recollect having a discussion with my then boss, the Operations Director, and just making it clear if – and the cap was not absolute. From that point beyond the cap, we would have to pay for any data that we required and just making it clear that, if we required data, we would have to find the money to pay for it because we could not operate effectively without access to that data.

Mr Beer: Is that the only provision of which you became aware in this seven-year period the cap issue and the money issue, rather than obligations in the contract placed on Fujitsu as to the nature of the data that it had to produce and its suitability for use in court?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I think that was always a principle, that the data that they produced had to be suitable for production in court. There’s no question about what that whatsoever.

Mr Beer: What developed policies existed to ensure that Fujitsu did produce data that was, using the neutral word that I picked, “suitable” for use in court?

Anthony Marsh: All of this was part of the programme management of ICL Pathway and then Fujitsu by the Horizon Programme within Post Office Limited.

Mr Beer: But you were the Head of Security at the very time that this was happening?

Anthony Marsh: Mm.

Mr Beer: Did you not have a key role to perform?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I’m not sure – I think the key roll that I would have had would have been – and I’m sure we’re going to come on to this – if I had had any concerns or suspicions that there was anything amiss with the evidence that was being produced, if I was getting feedback either from my own team or anywhere else within the business, that either there was an absence of information or that the information was in some way questionable, but that wasn’t the case.

Mr Beer: Doesn’t that put the issue entirely around the wrong way, Mr Marsh: that a fundamental change in the way subpostmasters conduct their business, and therefore the data that’s available to hold them to account, is going to occur? It’s a change in a generation, is how it was pitched.

Anthony Marsh: Okay, yeah.

Mr Beer: We know that occasionally we have to prosecute our subpostmasters and counter clerks. What data is available to allow us to investigate them, how will it be produced and does it withstand the rigours, the evidential scrutiny, that a criminal court, or indeed a civil court, may apply to it?

That requires you to get involved, not to sit back and wait for somebody to tell you that there’s a problem, doesn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: Well, not when the presumption – and let’s be clear. At the outset – because I think this changed in mid-2000, at the outset, ICL Pathway would have been required under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to produce a statement as to the proper functioning of the system, and I believe that such statements were produced and, indeed – and again, one of the questions I asked was whether case papers could be provided in some cases that had been raised with me, but I understand they’re not, they haven’t been made available to the Inquiry, so I can’t check this.

But I believe that similar statements were produced by ICL Pathway and Fujitsu employees, after the PACE requirements were rescinded, as to the proper operation of the system. So that was a source of assurance that the system was working well and that the information that was being provided by it was, as you said, suitable for a presentation in court.

Mr Beer: Can I understand the effect of what you’ve just said there, are you saying that because before the repeal of section 69 of PACE, Fujitsu employees signed a statement saying, as you put it, that the computer is functioning properly, and they continued to do so after the repeal of section 69 of PACE, that was your assurance?

Anthony Marsh: At no point in time was it raised with me, within my team or elsewhere, that there was an issue with the continuation of presentation of data from Horizon. Had there been, I would have taken suitable action.

Mr Beer: But wouldn’t you want, as an investigator, to find out what data does Horizon produce? Where is it stored? How are they signing these statements off saying that the system is working well and satisfactorily and that the data that is produced is reliable?

Anthony Marsh: Let me be clear, from a personal perspective, one of the parts of my job over the years that I have most enjoyed and gained most satisfaction from, was investigation. When I came into Post Office Network and then Post Office Limited, I had the responsibility for the safety and security – safety from crime and security – of 65,000 or 70,000 employees, the majority of them in frontline customer-facing or public-facing roles, the protection of phenomenal amounts of cash.

All I’m trying to say is I had a great deal – there was a lot going on in the security space that was not going well and that needed my attention and, as far as I was aware, the investigation team, the management and the investigation team, and the access that they had to data, was one of the things that was going relatively well. And so I – you know, I would have loved, I’m sure, to have spent more time from a purely personal interest perspective, looking at it but I had a lot of other things that I had to keep on top of.

Mr Beer: What was more important than the prosecution of subpostmasters?

Anthony Marsh: Nothing is more important than ensuring that, where a prosecution takes place, this is done fairly and objectively, and that it is not – well, that it is just that: fair and objective and just. So let me say absolutely, at this point, I have always believed that but, at the times that we’re talking about, I had nothing to make me think that these investigations were not taking place properly, suitably and fairly and justly.

Mr Beer: Did you have any training in the use and operation of Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: Not at the time, not in the early days, no. So when I said I worked on the counter as a senior manager helping out at Christmas, one of these sort of, you know, go back to the shop floor things, that was in the latter years. So that was sort of 2003, 2004 and later. In the early days, there wasn’t – you know, the vast majority of offices were still operating on paper balancing.

Obviously, the rollout of Horizon, I don’t know exactly how long that took but it certainly took several years and so, for the majority of time, the majority of – up to the completion of the rollout, the majority of offices were not yet Horizon offices.

Mr Beer: Are you saying for the majority of years between –

Anthony Marsh: Statistically that doesn’t work, does it? Between the point when Horizon started rolling out in, I think, 2000, and a point in time beyond that – I don’t know, the Inquiry might, I suspect it was around 2003 or 2004 – we went from a very small minority of offices having Horizon to ultimately all the offices having Horizon. But for quite a period of time, the majority of offices were not Horizon offices.

Mr Beer: Are you giving that as a reason why wasn’t necessary for you to have any training in the use and operation of Horizon, and find out anything about the data that it produced, and its suitability for use in criminal proceedings?

Anthony Marsh: No. Not – but not specifically. What I’m trying to indicate is it wasn’t a sort of Big Bang. It was something going on gradually in the background, overseen by a very large – I mean a lot of senior managers in Post Office Limited had a stake in Horizon working well, obviously, all of the Network team, all the Product team.

I had a similar stake in it and the individual running the programme was part of the Operations Directorate team that I was part of for several years. So the feedback that the Operations team got, from a gentleman called Dave Smith – not the Dave Smith who was the CEO but Dave “IT” Smith – it was always positive. Always gave us to understand that the rollout was going well and, certainly, at no point in the time that I was at Post Office Limited, did I hear any concerns about the quality of data within the system or the quality of data produced by the system. And that’s from within my own team or elsewhere within the business.

You know, there was a very positive feeling, if you will, that was promulgated throughout the business.

Mr Beer: Were you not made aware of acceptance issues, ie whether Horizon was performing as expected in accordance with the requirements of the contract during the development of Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t remember that, no.

Mr Beer: Were you not made aware of a series of significant acceptance issues during the rollout of Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: No.

Mr Beer: Were you not made aware that the rollout had to be paused because of such serious issues?

Anthony Marsh: Not specifically, no. No. I mean, these may well have been things that came up, but all I can say is, had anything been raised that would have caused me concerns about the quality of the evidence that we were obtaining and relying upon, I can absolutely state that I would have become involved and that I would have taken steps to ensure that there was no risk whatsoever of us providing evidence or providing data as evidence that did not meet proper standards of evidential admissibility.

Mr Beer: So what’s, in your assessment, looking back here, generally, gone wrong? We now know that under your watch, on your watch, a number of people were wrongfully convicted, many of whom were sent to prison, on the basis of data that either was or may have been unreliable, and the unreliability of which wasn’t disclosed to criminal courts. How has that come about?

Anthony Marsh: Could I ask one question first? Because again it’s a question I’ve asked and haven’t had an answer to, and it doesn’t change the nature of the issue but I don’t know how many of the prosecutions that have been properly quashed actually resulted from investigations in the time that I –

Mr Beer: It’s in double figures.

Anthony Marsh: Pardon?

Mr Beer: It’s in double figures.

Anthony Marsh: It’s only because I had not been able to get that information up to now.

Clearly, what went wrong was that, at some point in time, somewhere within ICL Pathway or Fujitsu or Post Office Limited, or more than one of those entities, people were aware that there was something amiss with the system and they did not make that fact known sufficiently widely that it became known to me or to any of the people in my team who were obtaining this data as evidence and submitting it to court.

I do not believe that anybody working within my team, in the period 1999 to 2006, knowingly submitted evidence that was unsustainable or questionable or, you know, where there was any suspicion that it was not accurate, knowingly, to court.

Mr Beer: Why do you make that confident assertion?

Anthony Marsh: Just because I –

Mr Beer: Because they were good people?

Anthony Marsh: They were good people.

Mr Beer: Is that what it amounts to?

Anthony Marsh: But more to the point, I think the approach that we had to everything was one of problem solution. So if this had come up at that stage, at any stage, but what I would consider to be an early stage, what we would have wanted to do is to get into the problem, understand it and see whether there was something we could do to remedy it, to remediate the situation.

Mr Beer: To whom did you report as Head of Security?

Anthony Marsh: So initially, when I joined Post Office Network I was reporting to Alan Barrie, who was the Operations Director. When Alan left, I reported – and the business was substantially – the shape of the business was substantially changed, I reported to David Miller who was the Chief Operating Officer.

After that, I reported – there was another restructure within Dave’s team and I reported to a gentleman called Byron Roberts. We had just taken over responsibility for cash handling from the Cash in Transit Network and Byron was the Managing Director of that, and that was the area where we felt security needed the most focus at that point. And then relatively briefly before I left, I reported to a chap called Ric Francis, who was, I believe, another Operations Director.

Mr Beer: So you reported always to a board director?

Anthony Marsh: So I reported always to – not a board, but to an Executive Team member, that’s right, yes.

Mr Beer: Did you attend board meetings?

Anthony Marsh: No. I – certainly not regularly – I believe that I had attended one or two board meetings. I had a very large programme called ISIS, Improving Security in Suboffices, which was spending around £30 million over a period of years and I had to account for that on an annual basis, but that, from memory, was probably the only time I went to the board.

Mr Beer: Does it follow that you never reported to the board in your seven years about the investigation of subpostmasters and counter clerks?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t recollect doing that. If you’re going to bring up a document that says I did, I won’t dispute it, but I don’t recollect going to the Board of Post Office Limited with that, obviously the operations team and, from time to time, the Executive Team.

I was – I and my team were responsible for another very significant change in the nature of post offices, sub and Crown, when we established a programme to take the screens out and to move the screenless working, and that was something which I had to pilot through with the Executive Team on a number of occasions. But I reported, I wrote an annual report, I believe, that used to give details of the level of prosecutions that had taken place, but I don’t believe that I ever needed to stand up and give any significant detail about that.

Mr Beer: Okay, can we turn to some of the detail now, then, please. Can we turn up page 2 of your witness statement, please, and it’s paragraph 3. It’s the bottom part of the page, please. Do you see at the bottom part of the page, on the right-hand side, it says, “I was responsible for the work of a team of”?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: You’re here speaking about your role as Head of Security and you say:

“I was responsible for the work of a team of Home Office recognised investigators and for ensuring their compliance with standards for operating that complied with relevant laws and regulations and with policies and standards set by the Post Office”, et cetera, et cetera.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: You say here that the members of your team were Home Office-recognised investigators. What did the Home Office recognise in the investigators?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I go back in saying this to a document that I had in my possession when I was the Group Security Director in Royal Mail, several years later, from the early 1980s, when the Home Office, in response to a question in Parliament, had answered that the Post Office Investigation Department, as it was, is a statutory non-police law enforcement agency, and, subsequent to that in a number of pieces of legislation, the Post Office was recognised as one of the agencies, for example, that had access to the Police National Computer or that certain powers accorded to it in terms of acquisition of data.

Mr Beer: Just stopping there. You said that the Post Office was a – the Post Office Investigation Division was a statutory non-police law enforcement agency.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Which statute established the Post Office Investigation Division as a statutory law enforcement –

Anthony Marsh: It’s a form of words that has always stuck in my mind, so I’m merely repeating to you a form of words that I know within the files of the Group Security Director, of whom I was one. There was a circular – sorry, there was a minute, a memo or a letter from the Home Office back in the early 1980s that said this. And it certainly isn’t the case any longer and, gradually, over the years that I was Group Security Director, as Royal Mail moved towards and then was privatised, a lot of these powers and authorities that we had were removed.

But at that point in time, when I was in Post Office Limited, as far as we were aware, the Home Office recognised our investigators. And, for example, there was –

Mr Beer: Hold on. What do you mean, they “recognised” them?

Anthony Marsh: I was just going to say, one of the ways in which they recognised it was that there was a Home Office circular in custody suites which advised custody officers that Post Office investigators had right of access to custody suites in the circumstances where a person that they were investigating had been arrested.

Mr Beer: Okay, so you could get into custody suites. Anything else?

Anthony Marsh: No – it’s a term that for me stemmed – and we had used many times – that stemmed from this notification from the Home Office in the early 1980s.

Mr Beer: But you’ve included it because it makes you sound professional, doesn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: I’ve included it because it was the way in which we viewed ourselves.

Mr Beer: As professional?

Anthony Marsh: I believe we were professional, yes.

Mr Beer: What does it actually mean? What does “Home Office-recognised investigators” actually mean?

Anthony Marsh: I suppose it really means anything at all because anybody can bring a private prosecution, and that was what the Post Office did. It brought private prosecutions. But, as I say, because we had, amongst other things, two-way access to the Police National Computer, so we input data to the Police National Computer and we were allowed to gather data from the Police National Computer, because as the Interception of Communications Act and other Acts were brought in – and, sorry, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – we were allowed to acquire certain communications data.

Because we were controlled, we were essentially required to apply the principles of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act when conducting surveillance, so we accepted all of the requirements, the onerous requirements, if you will, of being professional investigators, we viewed ourselves in those terms.

Mr Beer: But we shouldn’t read from this that the Home Office set a syllabus that was followed by examination, that was followed by a certificate, that there was a process of renewal or refresher recognition, that there were different levels of recognition, anything like that?

Anthony Marsh: No, and I wasn’t trying to suggest that, no.

Mr Beer: Can we turn, please, to LCAS0000124. You’ll see this is a document entitled, “A brief History of Investigations, Prosecutions and Security in Royal Mail”.

Anthony Marsh: Indeed.

Mr Beer: I think you co-authored this?

Anthony Marsh: I did. I pulled this together from data from – or information from within Royal Mail, the Post Office, and also with considerable assistance from a gentleman called Alan Baxter, who had been a senior officer in POID and was researching the history of investigations, prosecutions and security in Royal Mail after he retired. And this was produced, actually, as a second document in answer to a Freedom of Information Act Request, which asked just that question. I had produced an earlier document in which Alan Baxter, who had read it on a website, had said there were some inaccuracies and he had assisted me by giving me the information to produce this.

Mr Beer: When was it produced?

Anthony Marsh: During the – if you go to the bottom there is a copyright certificate and I think that probably gives the date but it was during the time that I was the Group Security Director, so at some point between 2008 and 2017.

Mr Beer: Yeah, the copyright notice doesn’t contain a date.

Anthony Marsh: Sorry. Well, in that case, it would be midway, I would have thought, between 2008 and 2017.

Mr Beer: Can we turn to page 5, please, and look at the second paragraph, the one beginning “In 1908”. You say:

“In 1908 the unit once again changed the name to the Investigation Branch, usually shortened to The IB. In 1934 the General Post Office underwent a radical reorganisation and in 1935 the Investigation Branch became one of the administrative departments of the new Headquarters structure of the GPO. In 1967 the Investigation Branch became known as the Investigation Division and shortly after this, as the Post Office Investigation Department or POID.”

Then you say this:

“POID’s staff of civilian detectives were deployed with the approval of Parliament, the Home Office and the Courts.”

What Parliamentary approval was there of the deployment of civilian detectives?

Anthony Marsh: Well, as I say, the Home Office document that I mentioned to you earlier, came about because somebody, a member of the Government, had answered a question in the early 1980s, which was written into Hansard, that essentially described the Post Office Investigation Department or Division, as a statutory non-police law enforcement agency.

So in that sense, we were known to Parliament and we were certainly known to the Home Office and, obviously, because we prosecuted regularly and it was Post Office and Royal Mail lawyers who prosecuted, we were known to the courts.

Mr Beer: You say that staff of civilian detectives are deployed with the approval of the courts. Which court gave approval?

Anthony Marsh: I’m sorry, all I can say is that when I stood up as an investigation officer and gave evidence to the court, that evidence was accepted and the same thing applied year on year over the time that I was responsible for investigation teams. So I’m not quite sure how a court would give formal approval, other than in accepting the investigator as a person qualified to give evidence, as we did, in support of our prosecutions.

Mr Beer: Can we go to page 8 of your witness statement, please. Paragraph 13. You say in paragraph 13:

“I have been asked ‘Please explain why Royal Mail Group Limited (before the separation of the Post Office) and later POL (after the separation) had a practice of bringing private prosecutions against its agents/staff where they were suspected of financial crime, rather than referring matters to the police [and the] CPS.’”

Then you’re referred, for your assistance to that document. If we scroll down the page, please, about six lines from the bottom, you say:

“In essence the answer is that since the mid-17th century, the General Post Office and all of its successors had resourced and managed the investigation and prosecution of offences and offenders against its businesses and people. The knowledge and expertise within the investigation teams was valued by the Post Office and Royal Mail businesses and there was a belief that the existence of the investigation function had a strong deterrent effect, reducing the likelihood of the commission of crime by both employees and agents and by outside offenders.”

So, in answer to the question “Why did Post Office act as a private investigator and prosecutor rather than referring cases to the police and the CPS”, you give three answers: first, history –

Anthony Marsh: Indeed.

Mr Beer: – it had always been done that way; secondly, the knowledge and expertise which you say the investigations teams had was valued by the Post Office and RMG; and, third, that there was a belief that having this internal investigative and prosecutorial capacity had a deterrent effect on staff, ie it actually reduced the likelihood of them committing crime?

Anthony Marsh: Absolutely. Yes.

Mr Beer: I want to explore that third one. Was it right that concern about staff, fraud and theft, was a heightened one and ran deeply within the senior management team and down from 1999 onwards?

Anthony Marsh: No. I would not say it was heightened. I mean, one of the phrases with which I prefaced then, and even since retirement, anything I ever said about the job I did, and particularly the investigative and prosecutorial side of it was that the vast, vast majority of our staff – and that’s, you know, employees, subpostmasters, agents, postmen, counter clerk, were honest, absolutely magnificent people. And, to be honest, even where we found there was dishonesty, again, in the vast majority of cases, there was usually significant mitigation that, you know, helped us to understand why this took place.

So no, I don’t think there was any – there certainly wasn’t an increased concern. You know, we always wanted there to be as little crime and fraud within all of the business units of the Post Office and Royal Mail as possible. Many of the crimes that we investigated impacted directly on customers and there were ways in which some of the crimes committed by counter clerks and subpostmasters would have impacted upon individual customers and, obviously, the loss of funds through fraud – and at all times, Post Office Limited funds were public funds – was to be avoided, you know, however possible.

And I know there’s a lot of debate, potentially, about whether prosecution is an effective deterrent, and I’m not entirely convinced myself, but it was a process that we – you know, that I had inherited and it was something that I was inducted into when I joined the Investigation Department, POID, and a process that we all felt certainly contributed to the overall security of the Post Office and its assets and customer assets over the years.

Sorry, that’s rather wordy but that’s to try to get that sort of the logic there behind it across to you.

Mr Beer: That document can come down. Thank you. Did you know that during the procurement and development of the Horizon IT System, it was made clear by the Post Office that one of the key objectives was the reduction of fraud, theft and false accounting by its staff?

Anthony Marsh: I suspect that I knew that. Obviously, the procurement of the system took place long before I moved into Post Office Limited. I mean, I can remember having that discussion with people and pointing out that something that automated processes that, you know, essentially automated much the same processes that were being used on paper wasn’t likely to make any significant changes to the level of – to the fundamental level of criminality. It might, if it gave us access to more data, more information, it might have improved the speed with which investigators could respond. And I think, you know, obviously, when I also became responsible for the audit team, it may have given access to more information for the auditors.

Mr Beer: Did you ever believe that, in order to ensure the deterrent value of which you spoke in your witness statement, the security team had to act and had to be seen to be acting in a certain way in its dealings with subpostmasters, namely by acting firmly, harshly and uncompromisingly in its dealings with them?

Anthony Marsh: No. In fact, I would say literally the opposite of that. I always found and I always taught – I wasn’t a trainer but I always told people that the way you deal with anybody, whatever their situation, whatever they are suspected of – if we’re talking about suspects – is fairly and justly and certainly not firmly or robustly.

I don’t think that ever helped anybody. And it’s not a behaviour type that I would have wished to hear about or tolerated.

Mr Beer: Did you ever hear amongst the subpostmaster community a view expressed that the Security Team enjoyed the reputation of being harsh and uncompromising.

Anthony Marsh: I used to meet regularly with the National Federation of SubPostmasters, and particularly with Colin Baker and John Peberdy, both of whom I think have been your witnesses, and this was a view that Colin Baker and John Peberdy would regularly express to me and I would regularly challenge it and we would regularly discuss and I was absolutely clear that, if they ever came to me with the a specific case where someone could demonstrate that something untoward had happened, perhaps outside of the interview or something like that, that I would take action against it. That information was never brought to me.

So it was a regular thing. And, I have to say, from my own experience as an investigator, it can never be pleasant to be a person suspected of a crime, whether you’ve committed that crime or not and no matter how kindly the investigator treats you, it’s still a very, very distressing experience. That goes without saying. I think after the event, some people perhaps, you know, carried a slightly different perspective to what actually happened.

Sorry, I could go on, but yeah.

Mr Beer: When you were Head of Security, did you consciously understand – and by that I mean positively and deliberately recognise – that the Post Office was unusual, in that it was the alleged victim of crimes that it was investigating, it investigated such suspected crimes itself and then it decided whether to prosecute such suspected crimes itself?

Anthony Marsh: I very much did. I understood that and always, personally and with those working for me, tried to make it clear that, you know, that we must not take on a mantle of judge, jury and executioner. We had a single role and that was to gather all the available evidence, positive – or in support of the suspicions that we held, against those suspicions and, as I said before, in mitigation, and it was our job then to pass those on to a function which I always felt kept itself properly independent of the investigation function, the criminal law team in the Legal Services Department, to advise, and then, throughout my career, decisions on prosecutions, in any of the teams for which I was responsible, were made by the line management of the people suspected –

Mr Beer: They are also Post Office people, aren’t they?

Anthony Marsh: They are also Post Office people. That is true. I mean, you couldn’t go – you know, with the structure that we had and the approach that we had, everybody was within the Post Office. That is true.

Mr Beer: So you’ve used the idiom “judge, jury and executioner”?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: You presumably understood at the time that our legal system is designed, certainly the criminal justice part of it, is designed to distribute power among a wide range of authorities, and it is unusual to have a single judge, jury and executioner?

Anthony Marsh: It is unusual to have a single organisation which investigates and prosecutes, that’s true. Yes, I mean, the CPS was set up to take that closeness away from the police and, subsequently, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs also letters their authority to prosecute, you know, and there are some very small organisations which still do it, like the RSPCA.

Mr Beer: Was that widely recognised, the unusual nature of being victim, investigator and prosecutor, within the security team?

Anthony Marsh: I hope it was.

Mr Beer: No, was it?

Anthony Marsh: It was by me and that was a position I promulgated so I wanted everybody to understand that it was an unusual situation and, for that reason and because of the potential for scrutiny – I never envisaged something like this, but because of the potential of scrutiny, by, for example, the Court of Appeal, it was very important that we make every effort to ensure that we were, and could demonstrate visibly that we were, as independent – that the separate elements of the investigation and prosecution process were as independent from each other as they reasonably could be.

Mr Beer: Was it, to your knowledge, ie this unusual status of victim, investigator and prosecutor, recognised amongst senior executives within the Post Office?

Anthony Marsh: Well, if I spoke to people about us, it was a fact I made known to them, so it would very much depend, I suppose, on whether they would have cause to have their ear bent by me at any point in time.

Mr Beer: What about at board level, can you remember any discussions at board level about POL, the Post Office, holding this unusual status?

Anthony Marsh: Well, as I said, I never presented to the Board of Post Office Limited and it was only after my time at Post Office Limited that I became the Group Security Director and presented to the board. But it was certainly a matter that I went through, on the first occasion in 2008, probably 2009, that I presented my first group board report, that I ran through this sort of unique structure that we had, because there were some new non-exec directors who it was felt would benefit from that. But I’m talking about the Royal Mail Group and almost, by that time, separate from the Post Office.

Mr Beer: I’m going to ask you, in general terms to start with, in a series of questions, what, if anything, was done by the Post Office in recognition of the risks that may arise on account of it being simultaneously victim, investigator and prosecutor.

Firstly, to your knowledge, was that ever recognised, acknowledged, in any written policy document of Post Office Limited?

Anthony Marsh: Of Post Office? I don’t know. I honestly couldn’t say.

Mr Beer: Ie in a policy? We’ve looked at all of them –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – I can’t see it.

Anthony Marsh: No, I –

Mr Beer: “Front and centre, we are a victim, we are an investigator, we are a prosecutor. This creates risks. These are the risks that we need to be aware of and, therefore, these are the steps that we are taking to guard against them or to mitigate them.”

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Was that ever done?

Anthony Marsh: As I say, I could always have articulated that fact. I don’t recollect it being in a policy document that I generated, no.

Mr Beer: Why not?

Anthony Marsh: I think, as I say, because I could – well, let me also make a point here that, during the time that I was the Head of Security for Post Office Limited, I didn’t actually generate the policies by which Post Office Limited lived. We were a business unit within Consignia and then Royal Mail, and I deferred to my predecessor as Group Security Director, Andrew Wilson, on all matters of policy and to the policy team on matters of process and procedure. So, at the time, between 1999 and 2006, that I was the Head of Security, all policy, process and procedure would come from the Royal Mail Group Security Team with considerable input from my team. So it wasn’t being done to us, it was being done with us, but all of these documents were generated centrally.

As far as possible, we lived by the policies that applied to all investigators across the whole of the group and, where there were specifics, then usually, within a policy document, it would make reference to specific circumstances they’d obtained for Post Office Limited.

Mr Beer: Are you saying by that answer it’s somebody else’s fault?

Anthony Marsh: No, I’m not saying it’s somebody else’s fault. All I’m saying is that – you asked me whether a policy was produced within Post Office Limited. I’m just trying to explain. I didn’t generate policies within Post Office Limited myself. But I and my team certainly contributed to policies that were generated by the group and, therefore, I am, you know, partly responsible for the absence of that statement within a policy produced for the whole group.

Mr Beer: Was this unusual position of victim, investigator and prosecutor ever brought into account in the formulation of the content of the Post Office’s written policies between 1999 and 2006, to your knowledge?

Anthony Marsh: It was certainly in the mind of those who drafted those policies. It may not have been specifically referenced.

Mr Beer: Thank you, sir. That would be an appropriate moment, if it’s convenient to you, to take a break for 15 minutes until just after – in fact, until 11.50, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Well, it is convenient but there’s something that’s been playing in my mind that I think I’d like to articulate now, in case I forget to do it later on this morning or this afternoon. Mr Marsh, Mr Beer asked you about 30 minutes ago some questions about what turned out to be wrongful convictions in the period leading up to about 2006. He said – and you gave the answers, and I don’t want to pursue that with you. It’s kind of a corollary of that. The Inquiry is aware that in that same period, say 2000 at the earliest, 2006 at the latest, there were a small number of cases where people were acquitted. All right?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: What I wondered was, what steps or processes were there in place to judge why that had happened? Because, from your point of view, and I don’t mean your personal point of view, I mean the Post Office point of view, that was a case that had gone wrong, so to speak, where you might have wanted to learn lessons from it and it also related to this new computer system. So can you tell me whether there was any process in place to investigate cases where people were actually acquitted?

When I say investigated, to look at the reasons they had been acquitted, so far as you could tell from the trial process.

Anthony Marsh: Well, whenever there was an acquittal in a case that we felt was properly brought, then the solicitor in Legal Services with the barrister who had taken – who had actually led the case for us in court – would produce a report that would come back to the Head of Investigations, and I don’t recollect personally needing to go through any of these reports, and I would have done so if there were significant criticism of the approach that Post Office Limited had taken or of officers, of their behaviour, of the way in which they comported themselves or the way in which evidence had been gathered or presented.

I don’t recollect that, sir. But we would learn, as a point of principle, any acquittal, the report on that acquittal would go to the Head of Investigations and, if there were learning – if there were matters from which we should learn, then I believe we would learn from those.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right. So really, there are two possibilities that I need to think about. One is: do those reports still exist? Well, it’s a long time ago, we might find it difficult to find them, we’ll have to see. But, secondly, you – can I be clear that you are clear that, at least at the time, documents should have existed which would have looked into the reasons for someone being acquitted?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, sir. Certainly, I believe that in the case – in every case of an acquittal, there would be a more detailed report provided by counsel, who was leading for us, and possibly added to by the Legal Services solicitor, and that would be made known to the investigator and to the Head of Investigation and particularly to the Head of Investigation if there were any criticism of the Post Office or of any witness for the Post Office.

Sir Wyn Williams: So would I be right in thinking that it must follow from that that, if in those early days, the defendant in the particular case had raised as his or her defence, “I didn’t do anything wrong, it must have been the computer”, that would have been reported to the Post Office and they would have known that that was the basis of the defence?

Anthony Marsh: I am sure that would have been the case, sir, yes.

Sir Wyn Williams: When I say “reported to Post Office”, I don’t just mean that the individual people involved in the case would know of it, it would have or should have gone up the chain.

Anthony Marsh: Absolutely, sir. As I said earlier in my evidence, in the event that we had been made aware of any sustainable suspicions about the quality of the evidence coming out to the system, I would have – I’ve no doubt that the first thing that we would have done would have been to go back to the programme team, and to ICL Pathway or Fujitsu, to understand exactly I what was going wrong and, as far as I am aware, that was not the case between 2000 and 2006, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right, thank you very much. Sorry to prolong the session.

Do we need a further five minutes, Mr Beer?

Mr Beer: Yes, please, maybe 11.55, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Okay, fine.

Mr Beer: Thank you.

(11.37 am)

(A short break)

(11.56 am)

Mr Beer: Sir, good morning still, just. Can you see and hear us?

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

Mr Beer: Thank you very much.

Mr Marsh, can we look, please, at POL00030659. This is a document entitled “Post Office Internal Prosecution Policy (Dishonesty)”. If we go to the last page of it, which is page 4, and scroll down, please, we can see that it is written by or signed off by Andrew Wilson, who you mentioned earlier.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: It’s dated December 1997, so I think at this time you would have been working in or heading the Revenue Protection team?

Anthony Marsh: That’s right and working directly to Andrew Wilson, yes.

Mr Beer: So is this a policy of which you would have been familiar at the time?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: If we go back to page 1, please. It says:

“This paper proposes a rationale for a Post Office prosecution policy as it applies to its own employees and agents. It’s been endorsed by the Group Security Committee which includes security representatives from all businesses and the Legal Services Department.”

Can you help us, what was the Group Security Committee?

Anthony Marsh: It was the committee of all of the Heads of Security for the various businesses. So I wasn’t on that committee at that time. But it would have had the Head of Security for Royal Mail, Head of Security for Post Office Counters POCL Limited, head of Security for Parcelforce and one or two others on it.

Mr Beer: Was Revenue Protection represented on it separately?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t recollect being on it. Sorry, when I said I worked directly to Andrew, I didn’t. I worked, actually, directly to the Operations, Head of Operations in the Group Security team so I was one below that committee at that time.

Mr Beer: “Within Royal Mail [it continues], Directors Personnel Network has also endorsed it and it is now submitted to become Post Office policy.”

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: What does that mean “Directors Personnel Network”?

Anthony Marsh: Well, there were Directors of Personnel for various parts of Royal Mail, for territories, which is what Royal Mail had, for regions and – which is what Post Office Counters Limited had, for Parcelforce, and they had a network where they all met.

Mr Beer: Moving to paragraph 2, “Current Policy”:

“There is no single statement of current policy …”

Just stopping there, does that accord with your recollection that this would have been the first time that a Post Office prosecution policy for its own staff had been reduced to writing?

Anthony Marsh: Reduced to a single set of pages, as it were, yes. I imagine so.

Mr Beer: It continues:

“… but it can be summed up as normally to prosecute all breaches of the criminal law by employees which affect the Post Office and which involve dishonesty.”

The way that’s written involves a presumption, doesn’t it, that a criminal offence actually has been committed and has been committed by the employee concerned? It doesn’t speak in terms of an alleged offender or a suspect or?

Anthony Marsh: No, it doesn’t, you’re right.

Mr Beer: Is it right that, at that time, end of 1997 – I’ll ask it in a different way. What was the stimulus for a policy, given that the Post Office had been prosecuting for hundreds of years?

Anthony Marsh: Essentially, I think we were trying to become more structured and organised in everything that we did. So across the whole of what was then the Post Office, we were trying to understand what happened, why things happened, whether they should continue to happen and what the policy should be. I’ve mentioned in one of my notes, feeding back to the Inquiry, that within the Post Office/Royal Mail/Consignia, et cetera, we were developing a structure of documents, a hierarchy of documents that ran policy, process, procedure, where policy was a relatively short document that would articulate an overarching aim or objective, the process was essentially on a business-wide basis how things would happen, and the procedure were the sorts of things that would happen, you know, on the frontline, so how postmen would work, so counter clerks would work and, indeed, how investigators would work.

And this is a part of that massive shift within the business to become more businesslike, less like a government department and more like a business, and understanding all the things we did and, in so doing, probably ask the question: should we do so? So I think the Security – Group Security Committee would have asked is this the right thing to do and should we continue to do so? And, undoubtedly, more – well, with more remove and objectivity, the Directors Personnel Network would have asked the same question.

Mr Beer: It continues that there are exceptions to this presumption of prosecution for:

“i. Minor instances of wilful delay, ie a small number of items for less than 24 hours.

“ii. Relatively minor, out of character actions by long serving police of good reputation committed during periods of intense personal stress.

“iii. Relatively minor cases which would expose the Post Office to embarrassing public criticism.

“iv. Cases where Legal Services Department advise that the prosecution is unlikely to succeed.”

Did that reflect, to your mind, the prosecution policy that existed in 1997?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I mean it did but, obviously, the – I’m not sure if the Code for Crown Prosecutors – yes, the Code for Crown Prosecutors was in place then.

Mr Beer: Very much so.

Anthony Marsh: Yes, exactly. So I mean point (iv) really could have been worded much more simply to say that the Legal Services Department, as public prosecutors, have a responsibility to apply the code and the full test, and that will help to decide whether a prosecution should proceed or not. So, but, yes, I mean, essentially that’s the policy as I would understand it at the time.

Mr Beer: Then it continues:

“Legal Services Department provide advice in each case as to whether or not a prosecution is merited, taking account of the factors set out above.”

Does that reflect the fact that, to your knowledge, it was the function of the Legal Services Department to advise on what might be described as public interest factors because that’s what from (i), (ii) and (iii) are –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – in very broad terms, as well as providing advice on evidential prospects of success?

Anthony Marsh: I think, yeah, but, to be absolutely clear, it was absolutely the duty of Legal Services to provide advice on the appropriateness – well, of the likelihood of the prosecution succeeding, and to give their advice on public interest, and if their advice is that it would not be in the public interest, I would have been extremely surprised if anybody would have attempted to continue and to proceed to prosecution.

But the line manager who made the ultimate decision was a second back stop, if you will, on the public interest and business interest issue. So, you know, it wasn’t – it was Legal Services with another person, who was as remote from and objective as it is possible to be, within a single organisation to make that decision.

Mr Beer: Continuing to paragraph 3, scrolling down. “The Case for Prosecution”, and this, so we know what it is, appears to be a discussion as to the reasons why the Post Office should retain its prosecutorial function.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: “The Post Office’s prosecution policy appears to have evolved over a considerable period of time with little formal evaluation or review. Given there is no formal rationale, the principles underlying prosecution have been identified as follows:

“To act as a deterrent.

“To serve the public interest.

“Neither of these can be accurately evaluated, although they cannot be disregard in a review of this nature. There can be no doubt that prosecution can be a deterrent, but only if potential offenders believe that they will be caught. Equally, in some instances, loss of a job might be seen as a greater deterrent than prosecution, particularly if prosecution is not thought likely to lead to particularly serious consequences (eg bound over or community service). Ultimately, individual mindsets and circumstances are the key to prosecution having a deterrent effect. In the area of prosecutions, serving the public interest is an even more nebulous notion, although not one which can be disregard. It is still the case that courts take certain crimes by Post Office employees particularly seriously (eg theft of mail) and judges and magistrates frequently comment on the responsibility that our employees bear and the breach of trust that is created by theft. Although there is no formal definition of ‘the public interest’, it seems reasonable to assume that it requires the prosecution of dishonest individuals of a criminal disposition.”

The author then continues to discuss the case against prosecution:

“The case against prosecution is easier to quantify than the case for, although this does not necessarily make it more valid. The negative side of prosecution can be summarised as follows:


“Adverse publicity.

“Adverse IR …”

Does that mean “industrial relations”?

Anthony Marsh: It does.

Mr Beer: “… consequences.

“Costs are incurred through the need to gather evidence to the standard required for criminal prosecution, which is far higher than that required to achieve dismissal, the need to retain or hire lawyers to effect prosecutions and the need for investigators to attend court to give evidence.

“In general terms, the publicity around crime in the Post Office, even if the report concerns the successful apprehension of the offenders, represents adverse publicity. While it might be argued that it is better to be seen to be doing something about internal crime, the evidence indicates that most customers do not perceive it as an issue until it is reported.

“The adverse effect on [industrial relations] is caused by what is frequently perceived as an over vigorous reaction to issues such as wilful delay. Although rarely a flashpoint in itself, it contributes to a background feeling of resentment.”

You will see this discussion of the case for and against prosecution doesn’t contain any recognition of the fact that risks arise by reason of an organisation being victim, investigator and prosecutor – judge, jury and executioner – does it?

Anthony Marsh: It doesn’t, no.

Mr Beer: You said earlier that you thought that was widely recognised. Why wouldn’t it be recognised in a document like this, the very purpose of which is to discuss the case for and against prosecution?

Anthony Marsh: I honestly couldn’t say why it didn’t go into that document. I didn’t write it. My thoughts may have contributed at some point in time. I knew Andrew well. But I don’t know why that specifically wouldn’t have come up and, perhaps, it was not considered as widely as an issue in 1997 as perhaps we would have done later and we clearly are doing now.

Mr Beer: Plainly, now we are –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: – because we know what went wrong.

Anthony Marsh: For obvious reasons, yes.

Mr Beer: I’m just trying to test what you said earlier, that it was widely recognised that there were risks in being victim, investigator, prosecutor, and that steps were made to address them, to mitigate them, to eliminate them?

Anthony Marsh: I mean, all I can say is it was for me – I understood, you know, why the structural changes that came about with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the establishment of the Crown Prosecution Service, why they happened. People told me the stories of, you know, of the partiality of police prosecutors, and the reason why they’d been separated. So I personally was aware of that and it was something that I would discuss with people from time to time. But why it didn’t appear in this document, I honestly can’t say.

Mr Beer: Foot of the page, please. Paragraph 5. “Proposed Rationale for Prosecution”:

“Work which has already been carried out into the profiling of internal offenders within Royal Mail enables a rationale for prosecution to be constructed which can inform policy development. In broad terms, offenders can be placed into one of three categories as follows:




Then the policy goes on to try to explain that categorisation.

What was the work that had been carried out into the profiling of offenders?

Anthony Marsh: I know that two people from the Investigation Department went and did masters in areas of criminal – areas of research into criminality at about this time and I think one of them did do some work on offender profiling, the sort of thing that told us there was a risk between nought and six months and that another strange spike arose around about the five-year mark, in terms of employment. That was one thing that I remember came out of it.

I’m not sure quite how detailed any other – quite what other details came out of that work but, as I say, that, as I recollect it, is something that took place. Two people were sponsored to do masters, one of whom I think looked at offender profiling.

Mr Beer: At the foot of this page, the policy states:

“From the above, it is possible to formulate a prosecution policy as follows.

“The Post Office’s policy is normally to prosecute those of its employees or agents who commit acts of dishonesty against the Post Office for the purpose of illegally acquiring Post Office property or assets, or the property or assets of Post Office customers and clients while in Post Office custody, where this is deemed to serve the public interest. Other wrongdoings will normally be dealt with via the discipline code.”

Again, the way that’s written is it presumes that the person is guilty, doesn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think it does. Could we scroll up to the beginning of that again?

Mr Beer: Yes, we can look at both pages at the same time, I think.

Anthony Marsh: Right.

Mr Beer: “The Post Office’s policy is normally to prosecute those of its employees … who commit acts of dishonesty.”

It presumes it’s already established, doesn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: I think the point about prosecution is that we are – I mean, we would – the person writing this document, and I would certainly know, that we are alleging that a person has committed a dishonest act and we are taking that person before a court, a Magistrates’ or a Crown Court, who will ultimately decide that for us. So it honestly does not – if the wording is clumsy, then the wording is clumsy. I do not believe that that gives any suggestion, certainly I don’t think it would have been in Andrew Wilson’s mind and it wouldn’t be in my mind, that people are guilty before the court has found them guilty.

Mr Beer: That’s what I’m exploring.

Anthony Marsh: I know you are and that’s what I think I can – if I can therefore make this absolutely clear, that was never a position that I held or adopted. We investigated. The evidence may well have appeared to us to be overwhelming and the lawyer in Legal Services who advised may well have said that there is a very strong possibility of conviction. All of these things would go to make us feel that the person is quite likely to have committed the acts, you know, with which we’re charging them.

But that’s not our job. It is the job of the court to decide, or for the person to say to the court that they admit that they’re guilty and, until that’s happened, a person is a suspect and not guilty, not a criminal. I hope that helps.

That is and always has been my own position and it is and always has been the position that I would expect people working for me to adopt.

Mr Beer: I’m exploring whether that’s reflected in any single document –

Anthony Marsh: I appreciate that, yes.

Mr Beer: – or whether, alternatively, the documents display a different mindset, namely a presumption of guilt.

Anthony Marsh: Okay.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at paragraph 6 on the fourth page. Thank you. “The Prosecution Process:

“In order to streamline the process and to facilitate a consistent approach, it is recommended that a single point within the Personnel Department of each Business Unit should make decisions on prosecutions, following advice from the Legal Services Department as to the likelihood of success and the potential for embarrassment to be caused to the Post Office.”

This policy suggests that there was to be a single decision-maker within each personnel department of a business unit, not essentially the line manager –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – of the individual concerned. Was that carried into practice?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, to be fair, when I was talking to you about line manager, I’m probably talking more about the time when I was an investigator myself and my own direct experiences and, thinking about it, there probably – increasingly, there was a single point of contact within a personnel department for a business unit that would make decisions.

Mr Beer: What does “business unit” refer to?

Anthony Marsh: Well, at the time when Andrew wrote this, there would be about more than 20 of them. We’d gone through a restructuring and we were – there were a great many business areas, but –

Mr Beer: What about a subpostmaster in a village in East Anglia? What’s their business unit?

Anthony Marsh: A subpostmaster in a village in East Anglia, by the time I was Head of Security in Post Office Limited, would have been part of the Eastern Region, and therefore within the Eastern Region there might either have been – there might well have been one point – I honestly couldn’t say. There might well have been one point of contact, there might have been more than one point of contact because it was a very large area, or it might well have been that, in that area – in Post Office Limited in those areas, it might well have still been the HORN, the Head of Retail Network, the person above the Retail Network Manager, making the decisions. But there would have been one personnel unit ultimately for this region, which was one-third of the country.

Mr Beer: So by this time, it was the policy that a human resources and HR professional within a personnel department would take the prosecutorial function?

Anthony Marsh: Honestly, without access to documents from that time –

Mr Beer: We’re looking at the document.

Anthony Marsh: Well, this is a policy document put together by the Group Security Director for Royal Mail or for Post Office Group, I think it was at the time, the group within the Post Office at the time. Whether that came – it says it is recommended. Now, what I’m saying to you is I do recollect that that became an approach that was proposed and, you know, and welcomed certainly by some of the retail line managers who found it onerous to make those decisions. But I wouldn’t say for sure whether that applied across the whole of the Post Office Limited or indeed the whole of the Royal Mail Group.

Mr Beer: Whoever the person was, did they receive any training, to your knowledge, on how to take prosecutorial decisions?

Anthony Marsh: Right. Given that I don’t know who the person was and whether they actually existed, I don’t know. But what I do know is that Legal Services did use to run training sessions for personnel managers so that they could understand the ambit of the decision that they were making or that perhaps others within their business unit were making and could, you know, assist people in understanding exactly what the requirements were.

That said, within each advice, it was made clear exactly what decision was required.

Mr Beer: It may have made clear what decision was required. I’m asking about whether training was given to the person who was to make the decision?

Anthony Marsh: As I say, I, from memory, Legal Services certainly did provide training to personnel units. So, probably, as we went forward in time, this process became more clearly defined and more consistent.

Mr Beer: Can we turn to POL00030578. Thank you. If we see the title of this document is “SO2”, what does that refer to?

If you can’t remember –

Anthony Marsh: I’m just thinking. I think it’s probably “Security Operations 2” or something like that. Or it’s “S02”, Security zero two policy. I don’t know for sure, though. As I said to you, all of these policy documents were held within a variety of different databases over the years and they would have had serial numbers.

Mr Beer: “… Royal Mail Group Limited Criminal Investigation and Prosecution Policy.”

If we look at the foot of the page, please, a bit further down, on this page and every page, it’s dated 1 December 2007.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: This is at a time when you’d ceased to be Head of Security?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct. I would at this time have been the General Manager Security for Royal Mail Letters Operations.

Mr Beer: But if we look, please, at page 5 of the document and look at box 9, under “Assurance Details”, your name, along with some others with whom we’re familiar or are going to become familiar, such as Mr Wilson and Mr Scott –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – appear. You’ll see it then says, “Business Unit, Royal Mail Group”, and “Assurance Date, October 2005”. What does “Assurance Date” and assurance date of October 2005 mean?

Anthony Marsh: I’m guessing, not unlike a document that you looked at with Mr Ferlinc yesterday, that what it means is that somebody failed to update a document. So I think, if this says “Review” – if this last updated December 2007 – I mean, unless the only thing that has happened here is that exactly the same wording has been put into a different format, which is possible, in which case it wouldn’t have needed to come back to us, if there’s been any change in wording then that would be an oversight and it would have come back round to us.

Mr Beer: Do I take from that answer that this document is a 2005 document, it’s –

Anthony Marsh: Well, no, this document is clearly a 2007 document. Clearly, there was a document in existence with broadly the same details in it, in 2005, a date when we definitely assured it.

Mr Beer: What does “assurance” mean, why are you listed as an assuree or an assurer?

Anthony Marsh: It means at a point when the document was in draft it would have been sent to me, I would have read it and, quite possibly, shared it with senior members of my team who might be impacted, got any feedback from them, send it back, and then a final version would have been produced that would either have had my feedback in it or I would have been told why my feedback was not going to go into it.

Mr Beer: To what extent did such assurance include assessing whether the policy was in accordance with applicable investigation and prosecution standards of the day?

Anthony Marsh: To be honest, I think we can be absolutely confident about that because Ray Pratt, the author, who I don’t, to be honest – it said Head of Criminal Investigation, to be honest, Ray Pratt was Head of Policy in Criminal Investigations. If Ray Pratt had written it, then we could be absolutely confident that it was coherent with all the other documents because it was – one of the things he did and did extremely well, was to ensure the coherency of our full policy set across this area.

Mr Beer: I wasn’t asking about coherence with other documents; I was asking about whether assurance was in accordance with the applicable investigation and prosecution standards of the day, ie the law of England and Wales?

Anthony Marsh: Well, we would have formed part of that assurance but to be fair, Rob G Wilson, as you’re aware, was the head of Legal Services at that time. So that would have been a specific area that he would have input on that the policy was or was not in keeping – in accordance with relevant statutes and regulations on prosecution.

Mr Beer: When a policy like this was written, was it ever the practice of the Post Office to procure external legal advice?

Anthony Marsh: If that were the case, that would have happened via Rob Wilson, yeah.

Mr Beer: Would it be reflected in the document?

Anthony Marsh: I wouldn’t have thought it would be reflected in the document. I would have thought if you’d been able to ask Ray Pratt around about that time, he would have had all of the feedback that he’d had, and it would probably have been reflected in that feedback.

Mr Beer: Can we just hold that policy in mind for a moment and look at paragraph 20 of your witness statement, which is on page 13, at the foot of the page, and you say:

“I have been asked what legislation, policies, guidance and/or principles governed the conduct of investigations by the Security team during the period I worked within it and how this changed over the period I held relevant roles within it?”

You say:

“I can say that the primary legislation that governed POL and indeed all of [Royal Mail Group’s] approach to investigations was the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, together with its various Codes of Practice. In addition surveillance and associated acquisition of data, which took place far less frequently in POL than in other parts of Royal Mail, was governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000, and aspects of the prosecutions brought by Post Office Limited and Royal Mail were subject to the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act 1996. Following the development of the Financial Investigation Unit the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 governed parts of the investigation of specific cases in which recovery of proceeds of crime were sought.”

Stopping there, if we can go back to the policy, please, at POL00030578. Were the kinds of legislative and code-based instruments that you have mentioned in your paragraph 20 intended to be carried into effect through a policy such as this?

Anthony Marsh: Through the processes and procedures that sat below a policy such as this. I think I explained to you, the point about the policy was to articulate at a very high level the aims and objectives of the organisation in a given area, and that’s what this policy document seeks to do. Below this document, and sort of more accessible to investigators and others, would be the processes and then the procedures and, as I said in, I think, part of my feedback, the codes of practice for PACE – for the Police and Criminal Evidence Act – were essentially part of our procedures. Not all of them, but those parts that were relevant to the way in which we investigated and the way in which we interviewed, were the procedures that people had to follow because they were the law of the land and, you know, we could not override them. They would override anything else that we may wish to say or do.

Mr Beer: Let’s just look at the policy, then. If we scroll down to the bottom half of the page under “Conduct of Investigations”, if you scroll down a bit more. Thank you. 3.1.4, “Conduct of investigations”:

“The conduct, course and progress of an investigation will be a matter for the investigators as long as it is within the law, rules and priorities of the business. Investigators will ultimately report to the Director of Security with regard to the conduct of criminal investigations.”

This doesn’t give any assistance at all to investigators, does it?

Anthony Marsh: It’s not designed to, literally not designed to. This document is a policy document aimed at the higher echelons of the Post Office/Royal Mail. So below this, as I’ve said to you, at that time, 2007, there would probably have been a Lotus Notes database on which there would have been a very significant number of process and procedural documents covering every aspect of investigations, and those would link to the training that people would have when they came in as investigators. So – and, you know –

Mr Beer: All this says is that the conduct of investigators is a matter for the investigators.

Anthony Marsh: The conduct, course and progress of investigation was just that, a matter for the investigator, provided it’s within the law the rules and the priorities, and the law as we understand it, is PACE, CPIA and other laws. The rules were very much about the way in which people were treated and the rights of access to information, things like that, all of which would have been laid out as policy – as process and procedure, and the current processes and procedure would have been trained to new entrants and would have been promulgated to serving investigators via a variety of different systems.

But, as I said to you, the circular process, the sending of circulars, initially physically and, by this time by email, meant that people were – had a duty to bring themselves up to date with any changes in the law or in process or procedure. But each individual investigation was different and you couldn’t specify how an investigation should be conducted.

Mr Beer: Can we go over the page, please, to 3.1.6. “Prosecuting Criminals”:

“This policy supports the Code of Business Standards in normally prosecuting those who commit theft or fraud and where appropriate offences under the Postal Services Act 2000 Sections 83 and 84.

“Criminal investigations will be conducted in accordance with the procedures and to the standards required by legislation, case law and the courts.”

Again, looking at this paragraph, “Prosecuting Criminals”, the heading and text underneath it rather assumes it has already been established that the person suspected of committing a crime is guilty of it, doesn’t it? They are a criminal?

Anthony Marsh: I absolutely agree with you that it is prosecuting suspects and the policy supports the code of business standards in normally prosecuting those who are suspected of committing theft or fraud. It is clumsy language. I genuinely do not believe that the language is indicative of a mindset.

Mr Beer: Can we look at paragraph 3 of your witness statement, please, which is on page 2. You say:

“As an Investigation Officer in POID I was responsible for undertaking investigations into a range of theft and fraud crimes committed against the Post Office by staff members …”

You do the same thing there, don’t you?

Anthony Marsh: I do. But I think what I would say is I am writing that statement at many years removed and beyond that point in time. So, in essence, I know that the people who were prosecuted and convicted, you know, were adjudged by the court to have committed those offences. But you’re right, I could have phrased that slightly differently and said that I was responsible for undertaking investigations into a range of thefts and fraud acts and into those suspected of committing them.

Mr Beer: It wasn’t your job at all to investigate crimes that had already been established to have been committed. Your job was to investigate suspected offences to work out whether an offence had even been committed?

Anthony Marsh: No, to be fair in the majority – leaving aside – I suppose in many ways, yes, specifically those cases that are relevant to this Inquiry, that is right, because, ultimately, it’s been adjudged that the offences haven’t been committed or the evidence is unsafe to support the convictions that took place. In a great many cases that I was talking about in the statement, it was perfectly clear that an offence had been committed, that mail had been stolen, you know, often stolen, torn apart, discarded. You know, we had the evidence that indicated that a crime had been committed. We were looking for the person who had committed it but there was no doubt that a crime had been committed.

Mr Beer: Is what we’ve seen in these policy documents and your witness statement here really revelation of an attitude of mind held by you and others in the security team: if there’s a loss shown on the system, the postmaster must be guilty of theft, fraud or false accounting?

Anthony Marsh: Well, no, can I be absolutely clear, that is not the case at all. At no point in time would I ever have said that. Subpostmasters lost money all the time and, you know, in the vast majority of cases, certainly, they were not guilty themselves. So money could go missing – you heard Martin Ferlinc yesterday describe some of the sub post offices that, as an investigator, I would have gone into years before that his auditors went into. Some were absolute examples of good practice. Others were the opposite and, you know – and in those cases, often losses would occur because people weren’t applying the processes properly, possibly they’d been taken advantage of by members of their staff, possibly they’d been taken advantage of by members of the public if hatches had been left up or money had been placed somehow where it could be taken without anyone being aware of it.

So we were well aware that a loss frequently was not a criminal act on the part of the subpostmaster or anybody at the Post Office and often was not a criminal act at all. It was an act of – you know, it was something that occurred as a result of perhaps poor application of procedures. Clearly, at the time, we were not aware that there was any possibility that the system might also be causing losses but we didn’t approach losses on the basis that a crime had already been committed. That was something that we needed to establish.

Mr Beer: Can we turn to paragraph 24 of your witness statement, please, which is on page 16. You say, paragraph 24:

“I have been asked how RMG/Post Office policy and practice regarding investigation and prosecution of Crown Office employees differed from the policy and practice regarding investigation and prosecution of [subpostmasters], if at all, and whether this changed over the period of time that I held relevant roles?”

You say:

“I would say that there was no significant difference in policy or practice, in the investigation or prosecution of suspects during the time that I was Head of Security at POL. The investigative processes differed slightly in every case, whether employee or agent, but the ultimate aim was always to fully and fairly investigate a suspected or alleged crime. The principal objective would be to gather all available evidence, whether in support of the allegation, counter to it or in mitigation. This would be key to enabling the relevant line manager to make appropriate decisions on discipline or contractual status”, et cetera.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: That’s something that you said earlier in your evidence today: that the job of an investigator was to secure and then to analyse evidence, whether it pointed towards, in support of the allegation, was contrary to the allegation or might be a mitigation of the allegation, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: Are you aware of any policy documents where that fair and balanced approach was written into guidance to investigators?

Anthony Marsh: Well, as I said, policy documents, documents with the title “Policy” would not have had that level of detail. I firmly believe that there were process and procedure documents that have not been made available to the Inquiry and, therefore, haven’t been made available to me that will make that point clear and I’m certainly confident that the training that was given to people upon their sort of initial joining of the security team would have made that point absolutely clear.

Mr Beer: You know that by this time, ie 1999 to 2006, the code issued pursuant to the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996, the CPIA code –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: – was in force provided, amongst other things, that in conducting an investigation, an investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, absolutely.

Mr Beer: – and that obligation was written into the code from its very first iteration. It remained there throughout the period that we’re looking at, do you agree?

Anthony Marsh: I do but, as I say, this is a position that I personally held and promulgated to my team members from much earlier than that. So, you know, it’s a point of view that I have always held.

Mr Beer: I’m asking, are you aware of any policy or procedure documents in which that was reflected?

Anthony Marsh: I am saying to you I firmly believe that there were such documents at a lower level within the Royal Mail Group security compendium of processes and procedures and, if we could see those, we would be able to see that written in there and, certainly, that it formed part of the training that was given to new recruits, however they came in to the teams.

Between ‘99 and 2006, if they were joining my Post Office Limited team, they would have been trained by the Royal Mail Group Security – Group Security Training wing and, obviously, that training wing then worked for me after I left and became the Group Security Director. But, you know, that would have formed part of the training given, and certainly part of training notes, and I firmly believe it would have formed part of the process and procedure documents that they would also have been expected to comply with.

Mr Beer: Can we look at a document with which we have recently been provided by the Post Office. POL00038452. Thank you. You’ll see this is entitled “Post Office Limited Security Operations Team Compliance”, it’s got the Post Office emblem on the top-left side and the document is a “Guide to the Preparation and Layout of Investigation Red Label Case Files, Offender Reports and Discipline Reports”. I think you mentioned offender reports earlier; is that right?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, yeah.

Mr Beer: This document is undated and there’s presently work under way to establish whether this document or the limits of the period in which this document and the suite of documents of which it formed a part was in operation?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I can tell you with confidence that it post-dates my time at Post Office Limited because Security Operations team wasn’t a term that I used. And, in fact, we didn’t generate our own documents that we badged Post Office Limited because, as I said, we were part of the Royal Mail Group security community so the documents on which we depended, in the main, were Royal Mail Group documents, so this is after 19 – after 2006.

Mr Beer: We’ve been told so far by the Post Office that it was in circulation from at least 2008, and emails suggest that it was in circulation at least up until 2016.

Anthony Marsh: Mm-hm.

Mr Beer: I just want to see whether any to the contents of it reflect practice earlier on or whether things have changed, as the Post Office evolved. Do you recognise the phrase “Red Label Case Files”?

Anthony Marsh: Absolutely, yeah, it’s a very simple point. Any – and you may well wish to take issue with the term “offender”, “report and offender file” but those were the terms we used “suspect offender report” and “suspect offender file” might be a better term but any file –

Mr Beer: You’ve anticipated where I’m going. It’s another bit of language, isn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: It is another bit of language but the red label was literally that. It said “urgent today” and it meant whenever it landed on your desk you dealt with a red label case before anything else, other than other red label cases.

Mr Beer: Can you describe what an offender report and a discipline report were, in general terms, please?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah. An offender report was a full report detailed everything that the investigator had established surrounding the alleged offences, and about the suspect offender, and within it, it would make comments about security weaknesses, security procedural failings, other procedural failings, and it would make detailed – well, it would make a detailed statement about the attitude of the suspect when they were interviewed, about any likely mitigation, and so on.

It was a full report, it was designed to go through the casework management team but straight to Legal Services, and Legal Services having taken – and it was directed to them and, therefore, it was viewed as then having privilege, having legal privilege, being a report between the investigator and the lawyer. The discipline report was a subset of that information, and it wouldn’t have things in it, such as security weaknesses, and so on.

And the discipline report was used at – and was used in the discipline case with the suspect, particularly if the suspect was going to be dismissed or if their contract for services, as a subpostmaster had, was going to be terminated and the report, the discipline report, would often be given to them. But it would be lacking certain information that was directed to the lawyer, who was advising on the potential prosecution.

Mr Beer: That’s what I want to ask you about in a moment. Just to get the distinction clear, offender report was confidential, was not going to get disclosed to the suspect?

Anthony Marsh: No.

Mr Beer: It was badged up as enjoying legal professional privilege because it was being written to a lawyer for advice?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: Suspect – sorry, discipline report disclosed to the suspect?

Anthony Marsh: The discipline report would come out of the – of one of the appendices of the case file, these are like literally the physical stuff – would come out of one of the appendices of the case file and would be sent to the relevant line manager and this was not to do with making a decision on prosecution; this was to do with making a decision on continued employment or continued contract for services.

Mr Beer: If we go to page 3, please, we should probably go to the foot of page 2 first, just last line on the foot of page 2. Keep going down a little bit please. Thank you:

“The aim of this document is to give guidance to Security Operations Managers and Team Leaders on the current compliance standards for the preparation of red label case offender reports and discipline reports.”

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: Does that reflect the fact that there were compliance checks made by team leaders and managers?

Anthony Marsh: It reflects what I now understand was taking place in Post Office Limited after 1 or 2 January 2007. I mean, let’s be clear, there were – essentially, the casework management team were a compliance or an assurance team. I used to think of them as assurance rather than compliance. Their aim was supportive and was to make sure that people understood what they should be doing and to make sure they were doing it to the best of their ability and, if they weren’t, to support, counsel and mentor. Compliance I think, which is something which I have obviously been involved in a lot in Royal Mail over the years, is something a little bit harder edged, and that wasn’t an approach within the team when I was there.

Mr Beer: Can we look at the rest of this page, then. The contents of the offender report are set out under a series of subheadings. Under the subheading of preamble, it must have a header and footer. The preamble should be in accordance with the policy template. The correct heading must be included and then the offender report should have an investigation background.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Then it should have details of the interview and then what happened post-interview; do you see that?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: If we scroll down to the bottom of the page, the contents list required, amongst other things, paragraph 1.24:

“Details of failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity.”

Just hold that thought for the moment. We’ll come back to it. If we go over the page to page 4, we then see what the discipline report should include, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: At 2.14, just like we saw at 1.24, it says:

“Details of failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity.”

That’s contrary to what you said –

Anthony Marsh: That’s contrary to what I said, yes. I’m sorry I thought that was something –

Mr Beer: No, I think you’ll be proved to be right when we look at the substance of the document.

Anthony Marsh: Right.

Mr Beer: But, in any event, at least the template here, the outline, suggests that details of failures in, amongst other things, product integrity should be included in the discipline report.

If we go over the page to page 5, please. This appears, would you agree, to be a template for –

Anthony Marsh: It’s not dissimilar to the one that I was given in 1985 when I joined the POID. The format didn’t change a great deal over the many years. I mean, it had been developed over many years and it was a good way of getting all the information necessary for everybody to make their decisions in a structure that everybody would recognise.

Mr Beer: It is essentially like a file front sheet?

Anthony Marsh: It’s just that, yeah, or a report front sheet.

Mr Beer: Yes, report front sheet. If we look at what should be included, name, rank, office, age, service, et cetera, and then, on the right-hand side “Identification Code: (Numbers 1 to 7 only)”. Again, if we just remember that for a little later on, please.

If we scroll through the document, please. We’ll see the other information that should be included and then carry on scrolling, please. Then it ends and we then get some guidance under “Investigation Background”, which was, if you remember, one of the subheadings –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: – for the offender report. If we carry on scrolling, we see guidance about each of the subheadings –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – that should be included. Carry on scrolling, and keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and scroll right up until we get to paragraph 1.24, which is at the top of page 10.

I just want to spend a little time on this before lunch because this is, I think, new for the Inquiry and may be significant:

“Details of failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity.”

If we just read it together to start with:

“This must be a comprehensive list of all identified failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity it must be highlighted [in] bold in the report. Where the security manager concludes that there are no failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity a statement to this effect should be made and highlighted in bold.

“The ‘Procedural Failings’ form … should also be completed within 48 hours and circulated to relevant Stakeholders. One of the Stakeholders is Crime Risk, who are responsible for capturing emerging crime tends and/or prevalent failings that contribute to fraud within the business.”

So this is saying, in the legally privileged document, details of, amongst other things, failures in product integrity, should be included?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Can we go forwards, please, to paragraph 2.15 on the foot of page 12. This is under the heading earlier on, the “Discipline Report” we’re now dealing with?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: “Details of failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity.

“This must be a comprehensive list of all failures in security, supervision, procedures and product integrity it must be highlighted [in] bold in the report. Where the Security Manager concludes that there are no failures a statement to this effect should be made and highlighted in bold.”

Then over the page, please, top of the next page:

“Significant failures that may affect the successful likelihood of any criminal action and/or cause significant damage to the business must be confined, solely, to the confidential offender report. Care must be exercised when including failures within the Discipline Report as obviously this is disclosed to the suspect offender and may have ramifications on both the criminal elements of the enquiry, as well as being potentially damaging to the reputation or security of the business. If you are in any doubt as to the appropriateness of inclusion or exclusion you must discuss with your Team Leader.”

Reading those paragraphs together, 1.24 and now 2.15, do you see any particular problem with them?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I certainly do when it says, “Significant failures that may affect the successful likelihood of any criminal action”. I mean that is – clearly, in the suspect offender report which goes to the Legal Services, all of this information must be disclosed. And although this is a document which post-dates me and relates to Post Office Limited, there was a similar set of circumstances in Royal Mail Group where there was caution – they wanted caution to be taken about just how much detail was shared in the discipline report that went directly to the offender about security weaknesses, product weaknesses that might be exploited much more widely by people in the community, particularly those which we might not immediately be able to rectify.

So that’s the logic there. I can see the problem and, certainly, I don’t think even in this report there was an objective to prevent these issues being taken into account when considering whether to prosecute or not, but it was – there was a degree of caution taken about how much detail was provided about security or product weaknesses in a report that was going to go straight to the suspect as part of their discipline procedure.

Mr Beer: Mr Marsh, it’s saying, “If there are facts and matters which undermine the prospects of success, they must be confined solely to the confidential offender report”, doesn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: It does, and I feel uncomfortable about that wording but, certainly –

Mr Beer: So facts which support a suspect’s defence or which undermine the allegation against him must be kept confidential, is what this document is saying, isn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: No, sir. What it’s saying is that they must go to the lawyer, upon whom there is a duty of disclosure so there is no question whatsoever that that information will not find its way, having been considered by the lawyer, through to the suspect’s legal team, if a decision is made to prosecute. Similarly, it would be a matter entirely for the manager taking disciplinary action to decide to what extent this information was released to the – still use the term “suspect” but the person whom, you know, over which the discipline was being taken but –

Mr Beer: It doesn’t say that at all, does it? It doesn’t say, “And then there must be consideration given to releasing to the suspect any facts and matters which undermine the case against them”?

Anthony Marsh: No, I’m sorry. I’m probably going way outside my remit. I’m trying to interpret something which is not my document, isn’t a document that I had any involvement in the preparation or assurance of and don’t necessarily feel comfortable with. But I’m trying to help the Inquiry to understand exactly what the document was attempting to achieve and I think I should leave it there.

Mr Beer: This is writing into a policy as bold as brass, in black and white “Don’t tell a suspect anything about the case against them that might undermine it”, isn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: Can I just clarify, for my own sort of knowledge here, this second part that we’re looking at relates to the discipline report?

Mr Beer: Yes.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah. So, as I say, there had long been a principle of not disclosing too much detail about weaknesses for fear that those weaknesses would be exploited much more widely. That is in discipline terms and not in any sense in terms of the criminal or the prosecution action that might be taken.

Mr Beer: Would you understand –

Anthony Marsh: I’m not defending it – sorry, I’m not defending it; I’m trying to help you to understand it. That’s all.

Mr Beer: Would you, in helping us to understand it, understand the instruction not to reveal failures in product integrity to extend to any failures in the product which was Horizon’s integrity?

Anthony Marsh: No. That’s – I would not take – I would not consider that to be an appropriate position for anybody to adopt, either in my team, you know, in the time when I was there, or after that. That is clearly a matter of such absolute significance that not only should it have been known by the investigation team and made known to the lawyers in any prosecutions but it should also have been made known – we’re talking about subpostmasters, so it’s not discipline but it’s the contract, the Retail Network Manager who considered their contract, it should have been known to that person, if it was known to the investigator, and if it was known within Royal Mail – sorry, within Post Office Limited.

Mr Beer: Thank you. Sir, it’s just 1.00. Unless you had any questions of Mr Marsh arising so far, could I ask that we break until 2.00?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, of course. We will break until 2.00.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much.

Sir Wyn Williams: Mr Marsh, I think you know that you shouldn’t discuss your evidence but I’d just better remind you. All right?

The Witness: Thank you, sir.

(1.01 pm)

(The Short Adjournment)

(2.00 pm)

Mr Beer: Good afternoon, sir, can you see and hear us?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, thank you very much.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much.

Mr Marsh, if we can continue, please. Was it your understanding that, in the course of an investigation, Post Office investigators may have occasion to involve the police service?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, that’s –

Mr Beer: In what circumstances?

Anthony Marsh: In the circumstances where it was felt that a search would be required and that the suspect may not be willing to allow that search. In the circumstances where – and this is involving the police in advance – where it was believed that the suspect may not be willing to attend voluntarily for an interview or something like that, and also in circumstances where, for one reason or another, it’s necessary for them to effect a citizen’s arrest on a suspect, again usually because they couldn’t undertake a search or something like that, at which point they would then do so but, of course, not being police officers, we couldn’t then move or remove a suspect so we would have to wait for police officers to attend.

Mr Beer: Did Post Office investigators rely on the police service in order to get access to the Police National Computer in order to either read information on it, or to enter data into it, or could they do that themselves?

Anthony Marsh: No – well, they couldn’t do it themselves but essentially Royal Mail Group or its predecessor organisations had right of access to the PNC for a variety of purposes and, although we lost a number of those rights with privatisation, the fundamental right to access the PNC, to put suspect or offender details onto it and to get details of people who were already on there remained. Certainly up to the point when I left in 2017.

Mr Beer: So it wasn’t read-only access; they could make entries centrally to the PNC or amend entries?

Anthony Marsh: Centrally, about half a dozen people at most were trained and vetted to do so, that’s right.

Mr Beer: In order for them to do that, did they have to be passed information by an investigator –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: – in order to enter the data up?

Anthony Marsh: That’s right, yeah.

Mr Beer: What information would an investigator pass to the – I’m going to call them the Post Office PNC people, in the course of an investigation and at what stages?

Anthony Marsh: Well, it wouldn’t be in the course of an investigation. Although the necessary information to put a person onto the PNC as an offender would be gathered by the investigator and would be present in the preamble to the report we looked at, it’s my belief that, actually, we didn’t make an entry to the PNC until a person had been convicted, and only after conviction would we make that entry, using the offender report – well, using the information drawn from the offender report.

Mr Beer: So unlike the police service, when somebody was circulated as wanted, as outstanding on a warrant for arrest, charged, all pre-conviction stages where entries may be made on to the PNC, that didn’t occur. It was only post-conviction?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, I – that’s my belief. Again, it’s one of the many jobs within my team that I didn’t do myself but, from memory, that’s my belief, yes, that we wouldn’t make that entry. When you talk about circulated, I mean, obviously, one goes to court to get a warrant in the event of non-appearance. In those circumstances, I think it’s actually the court or the police officer attached to the court that makes that entry.

If we wanted somebody circulated then somebody, an investigator, would have gone into a police station by arrangement, would have reported the crime we were investigating and would therefore have arranged for that person to be circulated as wanted. So there were things that we could do but not through our own terminals.

Mr Beer: Going back to the provision of information to the police service by the Post Office centrally post-conviction, that information you said was drawn from the offender report, a template for the first page of which we saw before lunch?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: In order to provide the police service with information to be entered onto the PNC or to enter information onto the PNC, one must conform to the standards set by the PNC, presumably?

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: Was there any policy or practice within the Post Office or the Royal Mail Group that you’re aware of that required investigators to record the racial or ethnic origin of those whom they investigated?

Anthony Marsh: There was a requirement to do so using the term “identity code” because it was not possible to put a person onto the Police National Computer without either giving one of six numerical codes that, in a very crude way, defined the person’s identity code and it was a term – well, these codes were previously known as “ethnic groups” and they were definitely neither ethnic nor groups of people but the term “identity code” was used 1 to 6, and then the seventh code number, which oddly enough was 9, where it was “Not known” or “Other”.

And yeah, as I say, you couldn’t put a person on to the PNC without either giving them a code 1 to 6, or without giving them a code 9.

Mr Beer: Presumably the Post Office would therefore wish to know from the police what those codes were, and how any further guidance on who fell within which group was to be applied?

Anthony Marsh: Yes. So the Post Office – this is the early – the Post Office/Consignia/Royal Mail, through the Home Office, had always had details in extremely neutral terms of what the description of those code numbers was, and those appeared on the form that the PNC inputters used and were available to investigators for information so that they knew what IC number to accord to a suspect.

Mr Beer: Because you’d need to know what the IC codes were and how they were understood by the operators of the Police National Computer before you could, in the Post Office, provide them with the data?

Anthony Marsh: There’s got to be a consistency otherwise the –

Mr Beer: The whole system is useless?

Anthony Marsh: Exactly, yes.

Mr Beer: You remember that, as part of the file front sheet document I showed you earlier – I’m not going to bring it back up now, I asked us all to remember it – it said, “ID code” or “identification code”?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: It said 1 to 7 in brackets afterwards. Was that the space on the front page of the file, the offender report, that the identity code of the suspect was written?

Anthony Marsh: That was, yeah. That’s correct.

Mr Beer: Is it from there that the Post Office centrally would provide – or would take information in order to provide to the PNC in the event of a conviction?

Anthony Marsh: I believe so, yes.

Mr Beer: As part of the same suite of documents, as the guide to the preparation and layout of investigation red label case files that I showed you before lunch, was a document – which I would ask to be shown, which is POL00115674.

Thank you.

Have you seen this document before?

Anthony Marsh: Only yesterday, when I observed Mr Ferlinc giving evidence. I’d read press reports about it being presented through a FOIR earlier.

Mr Beer: Did you see it during the course of your career within the Post Office?

Anthony Marsh: I certainly did not, no.

Mr Beer: Are you aware of a document similar to it circulating within the Security Team, either of the Post Office or Royal Mail Group, giving guidance to investigators on how to fill out the bit of the file template which requires them to state the identity code of a suspect?

Anthony Marsh: Over the years there have probably been a number of documents drawing directly on the Home Office terminology to identify the code numbers, which, as I said are 1 to 6 and then 9, and they certainly didn’t use – they didn’t give the sort of “ie”, which I presume actually should be “eg”, underneath the different descriptions. They certainly didn’t give a description such as the one at number 3.

There is a standard set of terminology used by the Home Office, by police services, by anybody in this line of work and, as I say, it’s a very crude and, I think, outdated system, but it’s required for the PNC, and I have no idea why somebody would feel it necessary to interpret the neutral terms in this way.

Mr Beer: Putting aside the racist and offensive language within the document for one moment, it makes no sense, does it, because you’re contributing information to the Police National Computer for use of Law Enforcement UK Plc in the future, and it’s got to be consistent with how everyone else understands the identity codes?

Anthony Marsh: No, it makes no sense whatsoever. The terms, as the Home Office used them, had no need of interpretation and, as I say, certainly not the word that’s used at number 3.

Mr Beer: Although the Post Office is currently investigating the origins and the period over which this document was within circulation within the security team, information provided to date suggests that it was circulating within the security team between 2008 and 2016. Do you know who would draw up a document like this?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t. I mean, you know, I would have to assume that a document like this would receive some sort of assurance at some senior level in the team, whether it was drawn up by somebody senior within the team – I’ve no idea. As I say, I’ve no idea why anybody would feel the need to do this, other than for racist purposes, and I cannot imagine how it got through any sort of reasonable assurance process.

Mr Beer: So it’s got seven ID codes on it, each of which is said to relate to a type of person. You’ll see that, for example, “White skinned European types” at number 1 is defined, in fact, by a series of countries –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – or nationalities. So white people are presumed to be British?

Anthony Marsh: Which is nonsense. British people can be from any ethnic grouping just as, you know, French, German, Swedes might be. As I say, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever from any sort of operational perspective and it is deeply offensive. I can’t imagine why anybody would do this, other than some sort of dog whistle racism.

Mr Beer: That category 1 wouldn’t accommodate somebody like me, would it? I’m British.

Anthony Marsh: Like I say –

Mr Beer: I’ve got brown skin.

Anthony Marsh: It’s an extremely crude system. There is a better system in place employed by the Met Police, a 16-point self-description, so a suspect is asked to self-describe themselves. But you’re right, this system here, if somebody had to make a judgement, yeah, you wouldn’t be accommodated in category 1.

Mr Beer: Yet I’d like to be defined as British. I’ve got a passport and there are other things that I could point to to demonstrate my Britishness but I wouldn’t fall within category 1, would I –

Anthony Marsh: No, no.

Mr Beer: – because of my skin colour?

Anthony Marsh: You know, this stems, if you take it back to the days when it was called an ethnic group, it stemmed from the need over the police radio to give a number. I don’t quite know whether they need to give number, but anyway, to give a number for somebody in pursuit of someone, gave them an opportunity to narrow down the look of the person they were following.

It was crude then, it’s crude now. I am very much surprised that the PNC – well, certainly by the time I left they were still using these codes. I was surprised in 2017 that they hadn’t got round to putting something much better in place, other than the fact that all the previous records would bear the old data. But yeah, no, it’s –

Mr Beer: So ID code 2, just to deal with this shortly then, mixes up skin colour with nationality –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – as well, doesn’t it? In relation to category 3, “Negroid types”, is that language which was within use in the Post Office and Royal Mail when you worked within it, within them?

Anthony Marsh: No. Put it this way, never within my hearing. I probably had a bit of a reputation for being extremely sensitive about these sorts of things. And, frankly, I wouldn’t have tolerated it. And something like this would have required someone to go and get very severely re-educated and probably I would have considered that a person who could produce a document like this and put it forward could not work within the security team, because we were a team that were particularly sensitive to allegations of bias, partiality and racism, and we couldn’t have somebody who could consider this to be acceptable.

So I wouldn’t say for a minute that we didn’t have, within the team, one or two racists but – you know, because that’s an inevitability, but I can’t think of anybody who would have dared to produce something like this working for me.

Mr Beer: Did you work with or did he work for you, Dave Posnett?

Anthony Marsh: I believe he did. I couldn’t honestly say knew him well but I recognise the name. Yes.

Mr Beer: What was your opinion of him as an investigator?

Anthony Marsh: Well, as I say, I honestly – I think he was well thought of as an investigator but I didn’t know the individual particularly well myself.

Mr Beer: ID code 5 refers to:

“Chinese/Japanese Types

“ie, Malaya, Japanese, Philippino [sic], Burmese, Siamese, Mongolia, et cetera.”

This is referring to people who are Siamese. I think you’ll probably remember –

Anthony Marsh: I might just about remember Siam but I think –

Mr Beer: 1939, it was.

Anthony Marsh: That’s right. Well, in fact, I wouldn’t remember it personally but I remember the term being used, yes.

Mr Beer: It became Thailand.

Anthony Marsh: Thailand, yes.

Mr Beer: ID code 6, “Arabian/Egyptian Types”, are referred to in contrast to “Negroid Types”. You’ll see “Negroid Types” includes African amongst its subcategory or its definition. That’s in contrast to North Africans within Arabian types.

So you never saw this document and you’re expressing amazement to the Inquiry that it was ever written and never challenged, so far as we can tell at the moment?

Anthony Marsh: Mm.

Mr Beer: I think you’ve told us that it doesn’t make sense why it would be used –

Anthony Marsh: No, I mean –

Mr Beer: – because the subcategories aren’t in line with what the police service were using?

Anthony Marsh: Well, exactly. They don’t really. I mean, the language is abhorrent but the detail is misleading. So I think it would be very unhelpful indeed if something like that were being provided to individuals – well, of any sort but I mean individuals who hadn’t seen the proper definitions as produced by the Home Office.

Mr Beer: Okay, that can come down. Thank you. Can we turn, please, to POL00088867. You’ll see that this is the front sheet – we’ll come on to the actual document itself – to a document, the title of which is “Liability for Losses Policy (for agency branches)”; can you see that?

Anthony Marsh: I can see that, yes.

Mr Beer: The version control suggests that it’s version 1.7 of –

Anthony Marsh: I think we know from looking further down that it’s version 2 and that, again, looks to me like a piece of – you know, something that should have been updated and wasn’t.

Mr Beer: Yes, I mean, you’re referring, if we go over the page, please, to the last box –

Anthony Marsh: The fact that as part of the progress we’ve actually got a 2.0 suggests to me that this is version 2.

Mr Beer: Then if we go back, please, putting that sloppy drafting to one side, we can see that Mr Ferlinc wrote it and you are the owner of it.

Anthony Marsh: That’s correct.

Mr Beer: What does being the owner of a policy entail?

Anthony Marsh: I suppose ultimately accountability for the policy. Essentially, it means it’s a policy which emanates from a team that I was in charge of, although I know – I don’t want to sort of second-guess your next questions but I know we’re going to come on to the issue of the contractual liability for losses, and that itself stems from the subpostmaster’s contract.

So in a way, this is an interpretation of the liability that is clearly sort of laid out in the contract that subpostmasters signed with Post Office Limited.

Mr Beer: So the short answer is, as owner of the policy, you are responsible and accountable for its terms?

Anthony Marsh: That’s right, yeah.

Mr Beer: We see under “Approval” that business input, there’s a series of names, and then under “Assurance” you’re listed by your name and your title.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: Then under “Authorisation” you’re listed by title.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: So what does, as well as being the owner of a policy, it denote that you gave assurance for or to the policy?

Anthony Marsh: Well, it meant that I went through the policy after all of the input, all the business input had gone in from all of these people, Martin would have collated all of this together and undoubtedly shown me a draft – well, I’m not convinced that there was a significant change in this document from previous documents. Within the bundle, there is a document that goes back to 1998, which is broadly similar but there were some minor wording changes and I will have gone through the document and satisfied myself that I was happy for that document to be published in my name.

Mr Beer: Just for the transcript and for the future – there is no need to show it now – the document from November 1998 that I think you’re referring to is POL00088094.

Anthony Marsh: Yes, and my point is that some critical pieces of wording in this document actually sort of exist in that document that pre-dated my joining Post Office Limited.

Mr Beer: Why are you mentioning that?

Anthony Marsh: I just think it’s worth noting.

Mr Beer: Yes, but why?

Anthony Marsh: Because I know that you’re going to go on about – go on to question me about the element about liability.

Mr Beer: So you are sort of getting in first and saying, “I inherited a policy”?

Anthony Marsh: I’m sorry, I shouldn’t do that, right.

Mr Beer: I just want to know. Is that what was about to come, “I inherited a policy”?

Anthony Marsh: I’m not saying I didn’t own that policy, I just wanted to demonstrate the fact that, you know, the policy – the principles within this policy are, you know, long-term. They have been the principles within Post Office Limited, POCL, Post Office Counters Limited, the predecessor, for many years.

Mr Beer: Thank you. Can we look at page 8, please, and under section 6 “Horizon Issues”. I think you will be familiar with this because you were watching all of Mr Ferlinc’s evidence yesterday. Section 6, Horizon Issues, I’ll read it out first:

“If an agent feels that an error has occurred via the Horizon system, it is essential that this be reported to the Horizon System Helpdesk. The [Horizon System Helpdesk] will only consider the incident for further investigation if the branch has evidence of a system fault. If no evidence is available, the case will not be investigated, and the agent will be held responsible for making good the loss.

“System faults are very rare and are normally identified after a full investigation has been undertaken. All known system errors are managed through Network Support Problem Management. Access to Problem Management is via the [Network Banking Support Centre]. If the agent feels that the issue is not being resolved they should flag the issue up with [Network Banking Support Centre]. If a known system error has caused a shortage, the agent should be given authority to hold the loss in suspense until the system error has been reconciled and an error notice issued.”

Do you know why this section was separated out and Horizon got its own section?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t know. So I would be making an assumption here, but my assumption would be, because Horizon was a relatively new issue for – relatively – you know, a relatively recent change in process and procedure within Post Office Limited, it was something that needed referring to separately.

Mr Beer: It wasn’t that there were known issues with Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: I was not aware of any known issues with Horizon.

Mr Beer: Yes, you tell us in your witness statement that, throughout the entirety of your time, right until you left Royal Mail Group, I think, you weren’t aware of any issues with the Horizon System?

Anthony Marsh: No, absolutely.

Mr Beer: It was all working perfectly?

Anthony Marsh: Well, no, I’m not saying it was working perfectly. All I’m saying is –

Mr Beer: Your understanding was?

Anthony Marsh: My understanding was, yes.

Mr Beer: So you think Horizon Issues got its own section because Horizon was new?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think Horizon Issues got its own section – yes, I think so. I don’t believe there was anything underhand or untoward about that section being placed in this policy document at this time.

Mr Beer: The second sentence of the first paragraph:

“The [Horizon System Helpdesk] will only consider the incident for further investigation if the branch has evidence of a system fault. If no evidence is available, the case will not be investigated and the agent will be held responsible for making good the loss.”

Would you agree that the effect of this Post Office policy is that it is saying that it will only investigate, if there is a Horizon System fault, if there is already evidence of a Horizon System fault?

Anthony Marsh: Mm. I would agree that that’s the way it sounds, and I – yeah.

Mr Beer: That’s problematic, isn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: It’s problematic, yeah.

Mr Beer: Why is it problematic?

Anthony Marsh: Well, it’s problematic – I mean, it’s problematic because it confers upon the subpostmaster – or whoever, but the – sorry, the subpostmaster in this case – a duty, if you will, or, you know, a responsibility to know about, to be able to articulate, what a Horizon system fault might be. I’m trying to avoid getting into the areas of supposition here. I presume that the thinking at the time was that a system fault would be – would manifest on a widespread basis. I think our experiences, as people within Royal Mail, of very large systems – and we had several very large systems within Royal Mail – was, when there was a system fault, generally speaking it was quite visible and, usually, you know, it impacted quite widely and the technicians would know about it and would be getting on with dealing with it.

And I suspect that in this case, our expectation would be that, whether or not somebody was able to report evidence of a system fault upfront, as it were, if there were a system fault, it would become evident quite quickly and we would be able to capture any early victims of faults within – you know, within the rectification of that fault. I know that’s –

Mr Beer: It doesn’t even say that, does it?

Anthony Marsh: No, it doesn’t. I’m trying to, you know –

Mr Beer: It doesn’t say “If a subpostmaster says that an error has occurred because of the Horizon System, we will check to see whether there are any known system faults. We will look at the other branches. We will see whether it’s manifested itself”. Instead it points the finger back at him or her, doesn’t it, and say, “It’s only if they, the branch, has evidence of the fault, will it be investigated”. So “Only if there is evidence of a fault, will we investigate if there is evidence of a fault”.

Anthony Marsh: Mm.

Mr Beer: It’s just nonsense on stilts, isn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: I wouldn’t go that far but I would say it certainly is not a particularly balanced way to approach the possibility of system faults within the Horizon System.

Mr Beer: The agent doesn’t have right of access to the message store, do they?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t know what the message store is but I mean the agent has very limited rights beyond those of a person running a branch, that’s right.

Mr Beer: The agent doesn’t have access to Horizon log files, do they? The agent can’t pull up the ARQ data, can they?

Anthony Marsh: (The witness nodded)

Mr Beer: How are they going to come up with evidence of a system fault?

Anthony Marsh: No, I accept that. I don’t see how they can. I can see how, if a system fault takes place and it affects branches more widely then it’s feasible that they would understand that they were part of a network of people affected by a certain system fault but, as the first person to report one, it’s difficult to imagine how they could do that.

Mr Beer: If we go back, please, to page 4, and look halfway down. The section starting:

“From a purely contractual perspective, the agent is responsible for all losses caused through his own negligence, carelessness or error. He is also responsible for losses caused by the actions of any assistants, managers or relief personnel employed by him.”

Then this:

“This policy, consistent with the contractual relationships between Post Office Limited and its agents, is designed to clarify circumstances where mitigation may be appropriate and to provide a clear framework to handle individual cases.”

Is what that’s saying, that where we later write in the policy that the Helpdesk will only consider an incident for investigation if the branch has evidence, pre-existing evidence, of a system fault, that that’s consistent with the contractual provisions which say an agent is responsible for all losses, unless caused by their own negligence, carelessness or error? It’s drawing a link between them, isn’t it, where it says “this policy, consistent with contractual relationships between Post Office and agents”.

Anthony Marsh: Well, I think that paragraph is accurate. I think where the policy document falls down is that it’s a sort of circular argument about the Horizon System, which is that for you to report a system fault, you’ve got to know there’s a system fault. But if we don’t know there’s a system fault, you can’t report the system fault. That, I think, is where that – the section we’ve been looking at before definitely falls down.

Mr Beer: Is what we see written – if we go back please to page 8 and the first paragraph under section 6, is what we see written there another way, a different way, of expressing a statement that “Horizon is robust, Horizon is infallible. Unless you can show, unless you have evidence that there is a system fault, there is no system fault”?

Anthony Marsh: I think that is a fair assessment, yes. As I have said earlier and as you heard Martin Ferlinc say yesterday, we – it was a strongly held belief and position within Post Office Limited that Horizon was a robust system working well. There was certainly no information shared, you know, either widely, narrowly, if you will, with those who might need to know it, like myself and Martin or indeed, you know, a matter of gossip or anything like that, about there being problems with the Horizon System.

Had anything like that come up, either officially or merely, as I say, as gossip, it’s something I would have looked into. But there was probably a degree of groupthink of accepting the position that was advanced, which was that Horizon was robust and operating well. As I said, I’m sort of – my own position on this, had you asked me before all of this came out is, I would have an expectation that a large system like that would either function well or not function.

Mr Beer: The second paragraph here:

“System faults are very rare and are normally identified after a full investigation has been undertaken.”

Where did the information come from that system faults were very rare?

Anthony Marsh: No one ever suggested to me that there were system faults so, as I said, I didn’t write this but I assured it so I certainly, having read it, I would have been comfortable with the content of this policy but I didn’t write it and I suspect, as Mr Ferlinc said yesterday, it was something that was vouchsafed to him probably from within the Horizon Programme itself. I don’t think we would have written this off our own bat. I think we would have taken input and I imagine one of the business inputs names would have been somebody from the Horizon Programme, although I couldn’t tell you from those names which one.

Mr Beer: Sir, there is a document issue that I need to attend and to I wonder whether we might take a short break now. Thank you very much now. I can see you can’t unmute but message received. Thank you.

Can we say maybe 15 minutes. Thank you.

(2.34 pm)

(A short break)

(2.51 pm)

Mr Beer: Good afternoon, can you see and hear me?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, I can.

Ms Page: Thank you very much, sir, we were looking Mr Marsh at POL00088867.

Thank you. Can we go to page 8 of the document, please, the second paragraph which I was asking you questions about:

“System faults are very rare and are normally identified after a full investigation has been undertaken.”

The Inquiry has heard from a range of subpostmasters, a large range of subpostmasters, and indeed their families, that the attitude of investigators to them was that if they raised the suggestion that the fault with the finances or the discrepancy in the accounts was a fault with the Horizon System, rather than them stealing the money, the response was “That is not something we have heard before. You’re the only person who has said that”.

Would that reflect what is written up here, namely that system faults are very rare?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think that this document would be a document from which the investigators were taking a lead but I think it would accord with the general belief in the business that the Horizon System was robust. I mean, I’d like to think that, if an investigator heard the same story about the same type of loss more than once, they would have the common sense to raise it but I suspect that they, like myself, had absorbed a very strong belief from the business that the Horizon System was robust.

Ms Page: You absorbing a strong belief from the business about the robustness of Horizon, you now know, I think, and it’s been found by the High Court, and this Inquiry is to adopt the findings –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Ms Page: – that the Horizon System was, both in its original form, Legacy and Horizon Online, afflicted by a series of bugs, errors and defects which either had the potential to cause or did cause shortfalls in the postmasters’ accounts?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, I accept that.

Ms Page: What was the system for ensuring that you and your investigators knew about that at the time?

Anthony Marsh: I cannot say because it didn’t happen. But I presume that if there were any weakness in the system that was identified and admitted, then my investigators, who regularly were in contact with ICL Pathway and Fujitsu, and other team members who were actually in contact with the Horizon programme, would have been made aware of it.

Ms Page: Was there any formalised process in place that, for the purposes of country-wide investigations, retained database or a spreadsheet or even a running log for the purposes of investigations of bugs, errors and defects that cause or may cause discrepancies?

Anthony Marsh: Well, there wasn’t because there hadn’t been a report made, as far as I’m aware. Again, let me say, as far as I’m aware there wasn’t because, as far as I’m aware, there hadn’t been such reports made and accepted and validated within Post Office Limited and I recognise that is clearly a failing of the circumstances in Post Office Limited at the time, that everybody had a groupthink that the Horizon System was robust. And, certainly, I think, had any information come to us about a first bug in the system, then we would have developed a process to ensure that we captured details of any further bugs.

But, to the best of my knowledge, nothing happened to trigger any suspicions that there might be problems with the Horizon System.

Ms Page: This document, in its first paragraph here, says:

“The HSH will only consider the incident for further investigation if the branch has evidence of a system fault.”

Who was the Horizon System Helpdesk run by?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t know. I suspect that was either Fujitsu or it was a specialist tier at the NBSC, the Network Business Support Centre. I couldn’t say which one.

Ms Page: Was there a system in place for recording issues raised and complaints made about the integrity of the Horizon System for the purposes of disclosure in criminal proceedings?

Anthony Marsh: No, there wasn’t such a system. There was, to answer part of that question – well, the Network Business Support Centre had a very effective system for capturing details of any issues that were raised with them, not just Horizon, any issues at all that were raised with them, which is how they tended to get on top of problems with products and things like that fairly quickly, because they would pick up the fact that there were two, three, four, half a dozen reports made.

So I would have thought, within the Network Business Support Centre, if these sorts of issues were being raised, they should have been captured within their system. But I didn’t – you know, I had nothing to do with running the Network Business Support Centre, I just happened to know from having discussed that with the people that did.

Ms Page: What about putting in place a system in advance, “We’re running an incredibly complicated computer system here, everyone in IT that you speak to says that it will have bugs, errors and defects in it, which will have the potential to” –

Anthony Marsh: No, I’m sorry. No, everyone I speak to –

Ms Page: Says it will be perfect all the time?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I don’t think they would necessarily have said that but they certainly weren’t advancing the viewpoint that there would be all sorts of bugs, errors and issues.

Ms Page: You see, Mr Marsh, we’ve had a succession of people come in and out of this Inquiry room to say exactly that, “Don’t worry about the bugs, errors and defects, they’re present in every IT system”.

Anthony Marsh: Right.

Ms Page: “Everyone knows that”, they’ve told us, “and therefore the bugs, errors and defects that you’re seeing, nothing to worry about”. Was there not, at a design level, right at the beginning, thought given to “We’re introducing a big system here, it’s very complicated, it runs billions of transactions, it’s foreseeable that there will be faults with it, we need to record those because they might have a modest impact on our investigations. There might be an occasion, just once in the next decade, when it’s the computer’s fault and not the individual’s”?

Anthony Marsh: Well, that – I hate to use the term “in hindsight” but in hindsight you’re right. What I would say is had anybody given us that initial trigger to tell us that there was a first bug with the system which affected an office which caused a loss that we might have investigated, we might be investigating or have investigated, we would undoubtedly have put such a system in place. So I know that that’s a little bit retrospective but we would have done that, had we had any indication that there was such a problem. To the best of my knowledge, we never had that indication, so it is an admission that we didn’t have, essentially, an empty database waiting to capture details of any bugs or system issues, but I would have expected Post Office Limited to have acted in a way different to the way we now know it did act and to have been open about problems so we could have responded to them, rather than to hide them. And Fujitsu, you know, both the relevant parts of both businesses.

Ms Page: Who do you understand to have been doing the hiding?

Anthony Marsh: Well, I only understand from the reports that I’ve read that it’s certainly Fujitsu and I wonder whether, within Post Office Limited, there may have been people who were also aware. But I don’t know, I – you know, as I say, I knew nothing about this when I was at Post Office Limited and I have no recollection of the issues being raised when I continued to work in Royal Mail Group.

Ms Page: Have you spoken to any of your friends and colleagues from the time, ie between 1999 and 2007 to say, “Hey, look, what went wrong here? I feel a modicum of responsibility that many people have been wrongly convicted, I feel a modicum of responsibility that some people went to prison. I want to find out what went wrong. Do you know what went wrong?”

Anthony Marsh: Do you mean have I asked them?

Ms Page: Yes, have you asked them?

Anthony Marsh: I have spoken – I don’t speak to a great many of my former colleagues in Post Office Limited. That was a lot further back in my career than the last 10 years at Royal Mail Group but I have spoken to people. I haven’t come across anybody who I knew, or who worked for me at that time, who has any knowledge whatsoever, who says that they had any knowledge of the issues. So the only answer to the question “What went wrong” that we have at the moment is what we pick up from the reports from the Inquiry, and those around the Inquiry, in the press and other media.

You know, I haven’t come across – I haven’t searched for it because I was pretty sure I was going to be called as a witness but haven’t come across anybody in the course of socialising who has said “Oh, I know what went wrong” or “I knew about that”.

Ms Page: Can we look, please, at FUJ00126036. Can we look, please, at the bottom of the second page, please.

Mr Beer: I’ll say that out loud so that other people and the Chairman can hear. The wifi has dropped out of the building, or at least the room that we’re in. The transcriber is continuing to make a continuous record of the proceedings and, therefore, that will be available at the end of the day. There’s just no live time transcription. Subject to anything you would say, sir, I propose to continue.

Sir Wyn Williams: We always do continue in these circumstances, don’t we?

Mr Beer: Yes, thank you.

Looking at the bottom of the second page, you’ll see this is an email from, I think, Clive Read to Ruth Holleran, to you and copied to Sue Harding; can you see that? Can you help us with who Clive Read was and what his position was at about this time, January 2004?

Anthony Marsh: I can’t. I think it was to do with the Horizon project or to do with a programme around the Horizon project. I honestly don’t know. I’m only taking that in context from the email that I’ve seen.

Mr Beer: Okay, if we just go to the second of the chain, page 4. We can see his signature block, he was the Chief Systems Architect within POL.

Anthony Marsh: So he was front and centre for all major information systems projects.

Mr Beer: One of the things he’s dealing with is the IMPACT Programme, which you will recall and which you’ve spoken about in your witness statement.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: He says, if we go to the top of page 3, please:

“As you know we are currently in the middle of requirements workshops on the final phase of the IMPACT Programme. Although we have a scheduled Stakeholder meeting early in February, given tight timescales there are some emerging concerns which I think I need to flag up.”

Then he sets out suspense account threshold and if we go to 2, his second heading, “Suspense Account Authorisation:

“The current assumed position is that subject to the threshold above, the requirement to seek telephone authorisation for posting variances to Suspense would cease, on the understanding that improved timeliness and visibility of office liabilities (next day, single view of office cash and liability) would provide sufficient control (given that currently there is a two-week lag between suspense postings and visibility of these centrally).

“The Operations and Security view was that removal of this control would declare ‘open season’ on the use of Suspense postings, leading to loss of financial control, spiralling non-conformity, etc.”

Then if we can look at your reply, please. If we scroll down please. Thank you. Second paragraph, you say:

“Clive …

“On the suspense account issue, I’m afraid I share the same belief as mine as other Ops reps, if there is no independent control and authorisation process for the use of suspense accounts then postings will rapidly increase to unacceptable levels. Irrespective of our aspirations for a simplified process to support commercially minded agents I believe that many of those from a more historic mindset will exploit the facility, creating a large parcel of manual work for someone, NBSC or Retail Line, to do to agree terms to reduce each individual posting.”

Then reading on, you say:

“Given the overall project should simplify reconciliation and settlement significantly and should therefore mean that errors will be identified more rapidly and will be even more clearly the fault and responsibility of the agent, is there any reason to have a suspense facility at all? This might mean that in extreme cases the agent would need to contact the retail line or NBSC and negotiate a ‘loan’ (at some level of interest?) to cover very high values of loss but in most cases the agent should be sufficiently capitalised to cover ordinary variations, particularly the opportunity were offered to make good losses via credit card, thereby enabling them to tap into up to 56 days of interest free credit (a facility favoured by the NFSP despite my early misgivings).”

So you, I think from this, were in favour of removal of the suspense account facility?

Anthony Marsh: No. Just to be clear, I wasn’t in favour of removal of the suspense account. But what made me very concerned was the retention of a suspense account without any controls around it. So the suspense account – and I had to remind myself of this as I was producing my statement – the point about the suspense account was if you balance your sub post office and find there’s a £1,000 shortage and you’ve gone through absolutely everything in the office, so it’s not an error that you’ve made in the office – and this I both pre- and post-Horizon – you, at that point in time, you were not allowed to balance the office until you’d made contact with the NBSC, you’d recorded this loss with them, and they gave you authority to put the loss – to record the loss on your balance sheet, or I presume they gave you some sort of code or something for Horizon, I don’t know about that.

My concern was the proposal was that, effectively, they get a button, this – I think was “Settled Centrally” button, which would enable them to take a loss of any size and put it into a central account. They balanced that night, which was a good thing, obviously, but there was no process in place.

The idea of “settle centrally” meant “I put this £1,000 into a central account and probably I put a £1,000 cheque into the till that day”. But we knew that a lot of subpostmasters were not sufficiently capitalised to do that and it was going to cause a problem and the point is, as things stood pre-this email – or at least sort of before the changes that they wanted to make – there was a control mechanism, the NBSC had to take a view and have a discussion with the subpostmaster about how they would handle the loss.

So I wasn’t in favour of removal of the suspense account but what I really wasn’t in favour of was this halfway house of a suspense account with no controls around it.

Mr Beer: Who were you referring to, what did you mean by “those of a more historic mindset will exploit the facility”?

Anthony Marsh: Obviously, a lot of the subpostmasters that we had – well, I’d taken on the audit team, we’d taken on the audit team, I’d taken on the losses policy and had to learn a lot about subpostmasters, which I already knew, but in a way, learn about the behaviour of subpostmasters that was definitely non-criminal, that involved losses. And, obviously, for one reason or another, quite a lot of subpostmasters suffered losses on their balancing night, and frequently, these were losses that would come back. They had accidentally handed a cheque back when they were taxing something a vehicle, and perhaps taxing a large number of HGVs, which could run to tens of thousands of pounds. These sorts of things happened all the time and, if they were able to say, “I know there this loss is” to the NBSC, then they could record it.

There were some subpostmasters whose attention to detail was not sufficient and who ran up quite a lot of losses, large or small, and tended to find ways to get them put into the suspense account and then leave them there. And, you know, and need to be chased to get them cleared and that was an onerous job for the Retail Line. And all I was suggesting was that some people, without the control of having to explain to the NBSC how the loss had occurred, would be more likely to make use of that facility and therefore cause work, more work for somebody.

Mr Beer: Why would the overall project result in errors that would be even more clearly the fault of the agent?

Anthony Marsh: I – I mean, that’s not good wording on my part, clearly. I think the point, essentially, was I was still buying the line that we would have fewer errors – well, I mean, essentially, Post Office Limited didn’t make a great many errors itself that impacted upon subpostmasters, in what you might call the manual environment.

There were challenges to remittances from time to time so, if we remitted £10,000 to an office and they said they’d received £5,000, that would be a matter for debate and negotiation, except for the fact that around about the same time, we’d automated the cash centres, so we actually knew exactly what we had sent out, there was a video record of it, so we were sort of engineering errors out of our own supply chain and, therefore, my belief at the time was that hopefully the number of errors would go down, but the responsibility for those errors should not be Post Office Limited’s. We should be running a very tight ship and, therefore, if errors occurred, they’re more likely to be somehow in the domain of the subpostmaster.

Mr Beer: Therefore, the subpostmaster should take out a loan on the credit card to pay for it?

Anthony Marsh: No, what I’m saying there is there was a real problem with subpostmasters that had been building up for many years. If you went back 20 years before this, it was a very remunerative job, you know, business, owning a subpostmaster and, over the years, as things like pensions had gone into bank accounts and the DWP had stopped paying unemployment benefit through Post Offices and giro cheques weren’t paid through post offices, the remuneration to subpostmasters had gone down and down and down and I was very sympathetic to them about this and they had gone – it had gone from being a business where they could absorb losses if they happened, because their income from the business was very, very significant, to a business where they were basically running sub post offices, in many cases, as a means of attracting customers into their other private business. And their margins were much narrower.

So I think we had had a number of discussions about, you know, the people who owned the subpostmasters’ contract did not want to change the contract and the liability within the contract. So a method had to be found to enable the agents to manage any losses that were their liability, without it impacting too seriously or too immediately upon them and their business. So the possibility of, in inverted commas, a loan (at some level of interest), was one possibility and, as I say, I wasn’t particularly comfortable about what the NFSP had suggested about allowing the use of credit cards, because, you know, I’d seen in other areas, ways in which people had got themselves into trouble with credit cards. But it was a means by which subpostmasters could possibly have dealt with their losses.

Mr Beer: Last topic please. Can we have on the screen HOCO0000001, please. Thank you. I’m going to ask you a series of questions now about the repeal of Section 69 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This is a letter written in 1995, July 1995, from the Post Office to the Law Commission. What function were you performing in at this time, July ‘95?

Anthony Marsh: I was probably the regional manager for South East Region in the Post Office Security Investigation Service, I think, at that time.

Mr Beer: I think you would have been aware of the fact, then, that Section 69 of PACE covered or governed the admissibility of computer evidence in court proceedings –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – and that such evidence was only admissible in criminal proceedings if it could be shown that there were no reasonable grounds for believing that the evidence was inaccurate because of improper use of the computer –

Anthony Marsh: Indeed.

Mr Beer: – and, at all material times, the computer was working properly or, if not, that any aspect of the computer that was not working properly did not affect the production of the evidence. I’ve summarised it.

If we can scroll down, please. We see that the letter is written by the Post Office’s Head of Criminal Law division and, in their third paragraph, they say:

“In practice, the operation of Section 69 of the 1984 Act is somewhat onerous from a prosecution viewpoint. I consider that computer evidence is, in principle, no different from any other sort of evidence and it should, in general terms, be admissible so that any argument in Court would relate to its weight rather than its admissibility. I therefore consider that there should be a presumption that the machine is in working order, etc, and that if the Defence wish to argue otherwise, then clearly, they should be able to do so. At present, I therefore consider the evidential requirements to be far too strict and can hamper prosecutions.”

Did you have any involvement, whether as part of a review, a survey and obtaining of opinions, amongst investigators, that led to this view being expressed?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think I did, no. No.

Mr Beer: Is it a view that you would have agreed with as an investigator?

Anthony Marsh: I think, generally – I think certainly at the time – because the big problem as an investigator that we always had with Section 69 was finding somebody who knew enough about a computer to be able to give that statement.

Mr Beer: What trouble did you have in finding such a person?

Anthony Marsh: It was – I can remember, with the Department of Employment, producing a document, producing a schedule for us and, you know, when quite properly, probably I think the same lawyer, asked for a Section 69 statement, spending a very long time chasing them to find a person who felt that they were technically competent to give that statement. So –

Mr Beer: So when Horizon was introduced in 1999 and you were Head of Security, presumably you turned your mind to how on Earth are we going to find a person that can give us a Section 69 certificate –

Anthony Marsh: I think that was –

Mr Beer: – or statement –

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, I mean, I do think that was one of the things that had already been addressed by one of the people in my team who’d been involved in discussions with Fujitsu.

Mr Beer: Who was that?

Anthony Marsh: Who was the person?

Mr Beer: Yes.

Anthony Marsh: I think Tony Utting had been involved in that.

Mr Beer: What had been the product of his involvement in that issue –

Anthony Marsh: Well, I think we had at least one person who was listed as a competent authority to give such a statement, both, you know, when Section 69 was in place, and if we required a statement in future, post-Section 69, regarding the good operating of the – the good operation of the Horizon System.

Mr Beer: Did you know who that person was?

Anthony Marsh: Not at the time. I mean, I think I could tell you now that it –

Mr Beer: Who is the person you understand it to be?

Anthony Marsh: I understand it to be Gareth, is it, Jenkins?

Mr Beer: There is a person called Gareth Jenkins, yes?

Anthony Marsh: I think that’s the person but, I have to say, I’ve sort of picked that up so it might be a false memory, as it were, that I’ve picked up from going through the documents that I’ve needed to go through for my statement.

Mr Beer: I just want to press you on that a little, then. When you took over in 1999, you are saying that Mr Utting had gone through a process of establishing how –

Anthony Marsh: Let me step back, sorry. A person within the team, so I would rather not say it was Mr Utting because I don’t know for sure. But within the team, that aspect of things was already in hand and I believe that we had a touch point, contact point, within Horizon. And I think, again, it would be wrong for me to firmly say that I thought it was the individual, Gareth Jenkins, that I named. So all I can say to you at this point in time is that it had been dealt with in the team, it was something which was not problematic, but I –

Mr Beer: What was your understanding of how it had been dealt with in the team?

Anthony Marsh: Well, that we had made clear what the requirements of Section 69 were to, as they were at the time, ICL Pathway, and that ICL Pathway had made clear that they had a person who were able to provide that statement.

Mr Beer: What involvement did you have in this? Did you see any material –

Anthony Marsh: No.

Mr Beer: – that established that the Post Office had made clear to ICL Pathway what the requirements of Section 69 were and had been in turn told by ICL Pathway how those requirements were going to be satisfied?

Anthony Marsh: No. I don’t remember seeing any such documentation and, again, I’m going to say that I would only expect to see documents like that in a situation where there was a problem, not in a situation where everything appeared to be going forward as it should do.

Mr Beer: So you would agree with the general view expressed in the second part of this letter that the evidential requirements of Section 69 were too strict and could make it difficult to prosecute?

Anthony Marsh: Look, I think I would definitely – I mean, this is again the benefit of hindsight. I think I would definitely agree with the second part of that statement. That it certainly was, from an operational perspective, hard work sometimes getting a person to come up with – or finding the right person to provide that evidence. Whether I would say now – I don’t think I would say now that they were too strict. I think it was probably a good discipline.

I think even at the time I probably thought it was quite a good discipline. It was just different because, you know, there were so many amateur, if I can use that term, amateur experts, if you will, in IT generally, even in quite large businesses. It was the person who had a Sinclair ZX80 at home, who became the first person to look after the first computer and seemed to kind of morph into the person in charge of IT. And when you tried to kind of get a proper statement, a Section 69 statement from that person, they were unable to effectively describe why they should be the person giving it. So it was problematic.

Mr Beer: Section 69 of PACE was repealed on 14 April 2000 –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Beer: – by the enactment of the Section 60 of the Youth and Criminal Justice Act 1999 and the effect of that appeal was that the common law presumption became applicable, namely a presumption that the computer producing the relevant evidential record was working properly at the material time. The effect of this was to shift the burden, such that an evidential record was automatically admissible unless evidence that was admissible could be produced to the contrary.

Was the effect of all that, the repeal of Section 69, to enable the Post Office more easily to prosecute subpostmasters?

Anthony Marsh: No, I don’t think it was to make it – to enable the Post Office more easily to prosecute subpostmasters because, as I say in this case, I firmly believe that we would have been given the necessary Section 69 statement if we asked for it. And we would ask for it in the belief that, if it were given, with the certificate at the top of the statement, from the person saying that if they said in it anything which they knew to be false or did not believe to be true, they could be prosecuted, that that would be a sufficient preventative to them saying anything to us that they knew to be false or didn’t believe to be true.

So I don’t think it particularly helped us. I think that when the Head of Criminal Law Division sent that view in to the Law Commission, I don’t think that he was at variance with any of the other prosecuting authorities in the country, really. And it may have made life simpler in some other areas of Royal Mail, perhaps. But it didn’t actually, materially alter our ability to use evidence from Horizon.

Mr Beer: Mr Marsh, thank you very much. Those are the only questions that I ask.

I think there are some questions from the Hodge Jones & Allen team and some questions from Howe+Co team. So I think Hodge Jones & Allen first, please.

So if you just wait there, there will be some more questions.

Questioned by Ms Page

Ms Page: Mr Marsh, I act for number of the subpostmasters and the first thing I would like to do is ask if we could have document WITN05970148. This document, when it comes up, is an agenda for, as we can see, the Horizon management of security in the live environment. As far as I know, we don’t have minutes for this meeting, so we only have this rather skeletal description of it but, as we can see, you’re invited to it and we can also see that a number of other people are invited to it which you may be able to help us with: Len Clay?

Anthony Marsh: Worked for me, was a technical physical security expert.

Ms Page: Derek Pratt?

Anthony Marsh: Almost certainly the person I ought to have named rather than Tony Utting, I suspect, when I talked about the person who had involvement with Horizon.

Ms Page: When you say had involvement with Horizon –

Anthony Marsh: Well, sorry, we’ll see when we look at this. I haven’t seen this before – well, I haven’t seen it since 1999 but Derek Pratt worked for me and was the leader of my admin team but was himself an experienced investigator.

Ms Page: When you referred to Horizon issues, were you talking about exactly what you’ve just been talking about with Mr Beer?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, I mean, again, I couldn’t say for sure. Let’s see what it says in this note here but it may well be it was Derek Pratt rather than Tony Utting or may well be a third person.

Ms Page: Then we’ve got David McLaughlin. Do you remember that name?

Anthony Marsh: David I knew, and David worked for me many years later. I’m not quite sure what he was doing then, but yes.

Ms Page: Then Dave Hulbert is a name we’ve heard in connection with quite a lot of IT sort of issues. Business Service Management: can you tell us what you think he was doing at that time?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah, I’m guessing – I might be mixing him up with somebody else. I thought he was something to do with the NBSC, to be honest, but Business Service Management, I think, probably may well have sat within the NBSC and it was just about making sure that everything was in place necessary to keep post offices running.

Ms Page: Right. Well, John Meagher and Jeremy Folkes, we can see, are both people who were in Horizon product assurance.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Ms Page: Indeed, we’ve heard from Jeremy Folkes that he was involved in trying to ensure that Horizon data would meet POL’s prosecution requirements?

Anthony Marsh: Oh, right, good.

Ms Page: Yes.

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Ms Page: If we go down, we can just see in very broad terms, I think, what the meeting was about. It says understanding “Work areas”:

“Security Incident Management (including liaison with/escalation from Pathway).

“Security Compliance (eg physical security, cryptographic security etc).

“Ongoing risk assessment …

“Liaison with other [Post Office] security interests and other authorities (eg threat assessments …)

“Security viewpoint for Change Management.

“Staff Vetting (for ICL Pathway).

“Fraud Investigations interface.

“Security ‘point of contact’ for Pathway.”

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Ms Page: So it seems to be covering quite a range of Horizon Issues and, in particular, fraud investigations interface suggests, does it not, some discussion around the getting hold of –

Anthony Marsh: It certainly suggests the sort of discussion that Mr Beer and I were just talking about, in terms of who made contact with Horizon to get, amongst other things, a Section 69 statement, yes.

Ms Page: So maybe a Section 69 statement but also the kind of material that would underpin the Section 69 statement?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Ms Page: In other words, the very evidence that you were going to rely on for Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Ms Page: So it looks as if here at least, you were indeed involved in those discussions. It’s somewhat in contrast, would you not say, with what you told us earlier with not really understanding anything about the ARQ process or what that was about.

Anthony Marsh: I’m going to just say, if you just roll up the document for a moment, you’ll see that this document refers to a meeting less than a month after I arrived at Post Office Limited, and, you know, I was going to about half a dozen meetings a day about things all – about a lot of things that I was trying to get a grip on. This was only one of them.

At this time I don’t think that Horizon had started to roll out other than on a test basis. You know, I am sure I was there and I’m sure, while I was in that meeting, I paid attention and I’m sure that I delegated both to Len Clay and Derek Pratt as appropriate, and to other people from outside. I don’t remember anything about it and I don’t remember terms that were used then.

And certainly Horizon, because it wasn’t an immediate issue at that time, was something that I made sure that other people were properly dealing with because this is – it sounds like an excuse – when I came into Post Office Limited as the new Head of Security, the previous Head of Security had gone sick about three months earlier, nothing whatsoever had happen during that three-month period, I literally walked into a room full of filing cabinets, no form of handover at all, and I was working very hard to pick up on what was going on, on a much wider basis than Horizon.

So I really apologise for not being able to give you the level of detail you might wish, but I wasn’t sort of hiding anything when I said I – none of these things meant anything to me. Horizon was one of those things that I delegated to others to deal with because I had, at that time, more urgent issues coming up.

Ms Page: Is it a case of distancing yourself from something which has become a burning platform?

Anthony Marsh: Seriously, it’s not. I mean, I said to many people on the Inquiry over the last few months, if there’s anything I can do to help, I want to do it. I mean, this is a dreadful situation. It’s a dreadful situation. I feel that it is a dreadful situation to have been involved in, even unknowingly, so if I could help you, I would help you. But I – it’s not as though I could even make – you know, you’ve heard me say I’ll try to make some assumptions or suppositions to Mr Beer to help fill in the gaps. I can’t with this.

It was at a point in my joining Post Office Limited or Post Office Network when I just had a vast amount of other things going on and I’m not trying to distance myself from it.

Ms Page: Thank you. That document can come down.

Have you listened to the Human Impact evidence on the way people were treated by your investigators?

Anthony Marsh: I have listened to some of it, not all of it, yes.

Ms Page: Well, I’m going to go through one account with you because it dates from 2001 so it was an investigation that happened on your watch. If we could have INQ00001035, please.

Anthony Marsh: I probably have read this one, this is –

Ms Page: Tracy Felstead’s?

Anthony Marsh: That’s right, yes.

Ms Page: If we go to page 4, then when we get to page 4 if we scroll down to page 14 on the internal numbering, thank you. I’ll just read from line 22, and this is about the interview that she had:

“What did they ask you and what did you say?”

This I the question being put to Tracy Felstead:

“They asked me where the gone had gone, what I’d done with the money. Never at any stage was it, ‘What do you think has happened, was there any reason for this to happen?’ It was very much that I was being asked constantly what have I done with the money, “Where has the money gone?” I was being accused from day dot.

“Question: What did you say?

“Answer: There wasn’t much I could say, apart from I don’t know where the money’s gone, I don’t have the money. How do you explain something if you don’t understand it yourself?

“Question: Did something else then happen involving the Post Office a little while after the interview with the two Post Office employees?

“Answer: Yes. So then I was put on leave. I was asked to leave the Post Office. I was suspended while there was further investigation, I was told, taking place. And then it was a few weeks after at – it was – I can’t even remember the time, really early in the morning. I was staying at my mother-in-law’s and the door – I wasn’t actually there but I had a call. I’d gone out early that day with some friends and the Post Office investigators were at my mother-in-law’s door with two police officers to take me to the local police station to interview me.

“Question: Which was Peckham, I think, wasn’t it?

“Answer: Yes, Peckham police station, yes.

“Question: Were you taken to Peckham police station?

“Answer: I wasn’t there at the time, but I gladly went to Peckham police station of my own accord and, at this stage, I then asked for legal representation because, obviously going to a police station is – you know, I thought ‘This is serious now’.

“Question: It had escalated?

“Answer: It had, yes – very quickly.

“Question: Can you remember – were you interviewed at the police station?

“Answer: I was.

“Question: I don’t think you were arrested, were you?

“Answer: No, I weren’t, no.

“Question: You were interviewed under caution voluntarily?

“Answer: Yes, I was interviewed. The police had nothing to do with this. I was interviewed by the same two investigating officers from the Post Office.

“Question: By the same two you, mean the ones from a few weeks before?

“Answer: The ones from the previous interview, yes.

“Question: What was the interview like?

“Answer: It was horrendous. The only way I can explain it is that I felt bullied. There was no – I was a young girl. I was in a police station. I couldn’t justify where this money had gone because I didn’t know where the money had gone. I couldn’t explain anything and I was just constantly being asked, ‘Did you pay for your family to go on holiday? What did you spend the money on?’ And it just kept going on and then, in the end, my solicitor said, ‘Just say “no comment”’ because they’re not asking questions, they’re just interrogating me.

“Question: When the Court of Appeal came to look at the matter all those years later in April 2021 in its judgment, the Court of Appeal records that your record of interview says that you were asked questions including ‘Can you demonstrate how you did not steal the money?’

“Answer: Yes.

“Question: Do you remember those kinds of questions?

“Answer: Yes.

“Question: You were asked whether you could satisfy the officers that you didn’t have responsibility for the £11,000 that was said to be missing?

“Answer: Yes.

“Question: So you were being asked to prove how you had not committed a crime?

“Answer: Yes.”

What do you make of that?

Anthony Marsh: It sounds like a very difficult and unpleasant experience for a person who at the time was a very young individual, and this is one of those cases where I did ask if any of the case papers were available so I could – I thought it might come up and I wanted to look at it to see if I could understand the context.

I mean, I can understand a certain context here because, from the way it’s articulated, it sounds as though a stock that this lady had been working from had been put away, recording a certain amount of money in it, and when the officer in charge took that stock out for somebody else to use, which the person may not have expected to happen, there was less money than was recorded there. The amount of money was necessary to make it balance.

This was an offence that happens from time to time and it’s an example of one of the few offences where we don’t tend to have – well, not so much corroboration – we don’t tend to have a series of events. We just have the one event. Well –

Ms Page: Well, I can help you with that. This offence arose from Horizon losses which had developed between December 2000 through to February 2001.

Anthony Marsh: I’m sorry, let me change my language there. What the investigators thought they were dealing with at that time looked like an offence that we have dealt with in the past before Horizon existed, where a person had taken money out of a til, put it away in the safe expecting a week or two later when they came back from holiday that they would be the person to take that till out and being caught out by it being used by somebody else.

I think, from the way that reads, they did not behave as I would have wished them to behave because they were dealing with a very difficult interview where, essentially, there was one single event and they would basically say to a person “There is no other explanation that we can come up” –

Ms Page: Well, there wasn’t one single event. That’s my point. These were Horizon losses which developed over a number of months?

Anthony Marsh: That’s not how I read it. How I read it was that the fundamental issue is that a till was put away, recording, for example, £30,000 in it, and when it was taken out, not by the lady who put it away, it only had –

Ms Page: That’s simply not what happened. That’s not this case.

Anthony Marsh: Sorry, I must have misread these – whatever happened – listen, whatever happened, that does not sound like –

Sir Wyn Williams: Hang on, excuse me both of you. I don’t think we can, in effect, delve into the particular factual circumstances which happened so long ago. The plain fact is that the Court of Appeal quashed this conviction because it was a Horizon case, Mr Marsh, all right?

Anthony Marsh: I absolutely agree, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: So I just don’t think it will help me for you to try and explain why the investigators may that have adopted the line they did. The complaint is simply that they did adopt that line.

Anthony Marsh: And other than try to provide context, sir, all I can say is I accept that, and they should not that have done, and I apologise.

Sir Wyn Williams: Right, fine.

Ms Page: Do you accept responsibility for the fact that your investigators were so unprepared for Horizon and that they were, frankly, bullying and expecting somebody to disprove that they’d committed a crime?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think I can accept responsibility for the fact that we did not know about the problems with Horizon. I will accept responsibility for the fact that I clearly had investigators working for me who did not behave with the sort of – or did not treat the suspect with the respect and care that she deserved. So I accept that people working for me behaved inappropriately with the suspect.

I don’t honestly think we – we knew nothing about Horizon, so I cannot – you know, we were dealing with a case which I believe the investigators thought they understood but they went about investigating it in a way that was inappropriate.

Ms Page: Thank you. That document can come down.

In your annual reports on the numbers of prosecutions, did you break down prosecutions so you’d be able to see how many prosecutions were of subpostmasters?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Ms Page: Did that number go up or down over the years you were in charge?

Anthony Marsh: It certainly – it went up over the year, the years when I was in charge, compared to the few years prior to that, because there had been three years prior to my taking over, when POID, my old central team, had stopped investigating, we had – we were not investigating, we’d handed some investigators over to Post Office Counters limited and, within Post Office Counters Limited, there had been a degree of laxity and one of the ways in which that demonstrated itself was people just not getting on investigating cases.

So the numbers that were investigated and prosecuted after I arrived, the higher numbers, has more to do with the lower numbers before I was there. And you will see – and I’m not sure I necessarily trust the numbers that have come out. I think there has been a lot of data lost over the years but there appears to be a dip shortly before 1999 when we took over – you know, I think, again, an improvement in the efficiency of the investigation team, from around about 2001, after we changed the structure again, and made it a national team of investigators.

And I recognise that my national team of investigators were working without all the information they needed to do their job properly but they were doing their jobs properly and professionally as they understood them at that time and that, I think, would be why the numbers may have increased.

Ms Page: Did they increase between 2000 and the later years, as more post offices became Horizon post offices?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think so. I mean, I haven’t got the data in front of me at the moment. Do you think so?

Ms Page: Because, as a sort of a curious person, you might wonder, mightn’t you, whether an increase in investigations and prosecutions during that time was a consequence of Horizon?

Anthony Marsh: I mean, I genuinely think – but the data that the Inquiry were able to share with me, which was very partial, it doesn’t support this position but I actually think we reached a sort of a level in 1999, 2000, 2001, and that was based on the number of investigators I had. From that point onwards, I was subject, as everybody else in Post Office Limited was, to regular headcount reductions, 10 per cent here, 20 per cent there. We had fewer and fewer investigators. The evidential requirements to take cases to court always increased, they never decreased. So the time it took an investigator to put a case together, you know, it was longer.

So I think, actually, if we had all of the numbers we would see the numbers of prosecutions overall dropped off.

Mr Beer: Sir, can I intervene –

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes.

Mr Beer: – can you see and hear me – on two bases?

Firstly, Mr Whittam, on behalf of Fujitsu, asked a series of Rule 10 questions, questions pursuant to Rule 10, having produced some Freedom of Information Act replies that the Post Office had given over the years. There were five of them and a transcript of evidence or submissions of Mr Altman Queen’s Counsel in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, also giving some information as to numbers of prosecutions.

That data appeared in conflict internally, ie no safe conclusions to us appeared capable of being drawn on those Freedom of Information Act replies, in part because of acknowledgements within some but not other of the replies, that the data particularly pre-1999 was incomplete and unreliable, and as to variants between whether the number of investigations brought was the relevant figure, and the number of convictions obtained was the relevant figure.

Additionally, the Inquiry had previously written to the Post Office asking for compendious data on this issue, and we’re presently waiting in an evidential form, namely via a witness, some evidence on this very issue, because we thought it was unsafe to proceed on the basis of data that appeared to be inaccurate or incomplete.

The second reason for intervening is that this wasn’t one of the HJA questions for which permission was sought, less still granted, so I think it’s probably best, for both of those reasons, that this comes to an end now.

Ms Page: Thank you, Mr Beer.

I’ll move on then. The last question is this: you say that the aim of your investigations was for all cases to be fully and fairly investigated and to gather all evidence whether in support of the allegation against it or in mitigation. That’s something that Mr Beer has already taken you to in your statement.

Anthony Marsh: Absolutely.

Ms Page: And what we do know from the pattern of prosecutions over the years, including the years that you were in charge but also subsequently, is that investigators in your department would gather the evidence which supported the allegation from Horizon, the ARQ data, but they would not gather any evidence which might show that Horizon was not robust, such as evidence of flaws or defects, even if that was explicitly raised, as it was in many cases.

So in many cases, it seems that your investigators abjectly failed in their aim that you stated for them; would you accept that?

Anthony Marsh: I have no evidence before me about the – about investigators failing to take account of information on bugs or system errors. If that is the case, there could be no doubt that they did not fully and fairly investigate the allegations that they were looking at.

So all I’m saying is, I haven’t seen anything within any of the documents that I’ve been shown, and I have no personal experience of, you know – I have not been told that before now. If it is the case then they did not too their jobs properly. That is true.

Ms Page: Thank you. Those are my questions.

Sir Wyn Williams: Thank you, Ms Page. Is it Mr Stein or Mr Jacobs?

Mr Stein: Mr Stein, sir.

Questioned by Mr Stein

Mr Stein: Mr Marsh, I represent a large number of postmasters and mistresses and I’m instructed by a firm called Howe+Co. I’m going to take you back to a document that you’ve looked at. It has a reference POL00088867. Page 1 of that document, please. Now, you looked at this document with Mr Beer and, if we just centre ourselves on it. We’ve got the date about the fourth line down, which is September 2003, and it says there, “Replaces all previous versions”; do you see that, Mr Marsh?

Anthony Marsh: I can.

Mr Stein: Okay. We know the author of this, who gave evidence yesterday, and we know the owner is yourself. If we just scroll down a little bit further we see then the “Audience”, and I want to go through – I’m sorry, my fault. Under “Audience” back up the page, very grateful.

So next to “Audience”, we’ve got:

“Retail Line, Agents, NBSC, Transaction Processing, Finance, Security Personnel.”

Just help us a little bit further in relation to this document. Who is the Retail Line?

Anthony Marsh: The Retail Line are the management of all Post Office branches, I guess at every level right up to the Director of Network, Network Director.

Mr Stein: Right, okay. So it goes to all branch managers?

Anthony Marsh: I don’t necessarily know whether the document will have been – no, no, no, not branch manager, sorry. The next level up. So the managers of the managers of branches and the Retail Network Manager, who would be the contact point for subpostmasters. But I wouldn’t say it necessarily goes to all of them. When we say “audience” what we mean, essentially, it’s being written with the expectation that they may read it or need to read it.

Mr Stein: So it goes to them?

Anthony Marsh: Well, it could go to them, yeah.

Mr Stein: What’s the point of having this document if it doesn’t go to the people you’ve just mentioned, which are the branch – the SPM line managers?

Anthony Marsh: By this time, documents like this tended to be held centrally on the intranet and they were there for people to consult, so I’m really only sort of raising the point that rather than go to, people went to it.

Mr Stein: All right. Well, thank you for, I think, defending the line managers. The agents. Who is next? Who are the agents?

Anthony Marsh: Well, it’s hard to say really. I wonder if that should read “Retail Line [comma]” – well, it does read “Retail Line [comma] Agents”, but I wonder, essentially, if what it means is the Retail Line for agents because I’m sure that we would not have specifically shared this document – there was no mechanism to share this document with agents, ie – agents are subpostmasters.

So agents are a subpostmaster of an individual sub office or the nominee subpostmaster of a large number of officers, they’re all referred – they were all referred to as agents at the time. But my suspicion there is that should perhaps have been “[hyphen] agents” or “[colon] agents”, or something like that. Because we wouldn’t have been sharing this document with agents and there wouldn’t have been a mechanism for them to access it.

Mr Stein: Why not share this with subpostmasters? What’s the problem in this –

Anthony Marsh: I don’t think there would be a problem with it, I just don’t think that there was a mechanism for it to happen.

Mr Stein: What you’ve just said, you don’t think you would have shared it, so what’s the problem in sharing this?

Anthony Marsh: I’m not saying there was a problem. I’m merely saying, rather like saying the audience could go to it, rather than it going to them, I don’t think agents would have had the mechanism to go to it because it would have been held on an intranet within the Post Office IT system, which the agents themselves didn’t have access to.

Mr Stein: To let’s try it again. It’s your evidence, Mr Marsh. You’re the one saying you don’t think this would have gone?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Stein: What’s the problem? Why shouldn’t a subpostmaster have an interest in reading this particular document?

Anthony Marsh: Just to be absolutely clear, I am not saying they shouldn’t, I am trying to explain that I don’t think they would have because I cannot picture, at that time, that there would be a mechanism to do so. So I’m not saying we would have prevented them from having access, just that I don’t want you to think that every agent in the country would automatically have received a copy of this as soon as it was assured.

Mr Stein: You don’t think, as an example, that a subpostmaster should be told very directly, by essentially its boss, the subpostmaster’s boss, that they’re going to be held liable for all losses, whether it’s a system fault or not? You don’t think they should just be told that?

Anthony Marsh: Whether I think that or now, I’m trying to explain to you what I think happened at the time and I don’t think they would have had this policy document shared directly with them.

Mr Stein: At the time, let’s just unpack that. At the time, which is 2003, what would have been the problem in just telling subpostmasters the exact contents of this document?

Anthony Marsh: None whatsoever.

Mr Stein: Right. There was no provision though, as you are making very clear, for them to be given a copy of this document –

Anthony Marsh: The provision could well have been via the “Retail Line [hyphen or colon] Agents”. But I’m not able to tell you whether or not that happened.

Mr Stein: Right. NBSC. You know what that means, don’t you?

Anthony Marsh: The Network Business Support Centre.

Mr Stein: Right. Now, Network Business Support Centre, that’s the internal Post Office support centre including a helpline; is that right?

Anthony Marsh: That’s the two-tier helpline at Dearne House near Doncaster, yes.

Mr Stein: Right, okay, you were answering questions from Mr Beer earlier about the different types of Helpdesk and you appeared to be uncertain. So you’re aware of the Helpdesk that is operated by the Post Office, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: You’re also aware of a Helpdesk system that’s operated by Fujitsu; is that correct or not?

Anthony Marsh: Are we talking about the Horizon System Helpdesk?

Mr Stein: Yes.

Anthony Marsh: What I said, and I’m in the same position now as I was then, is I don’t know whether the HSH was operated by Fujitsu or by Post Office Limited.

Mr Stein: How long were you in post?

Anthony Marsh: I was in post for six and a quarter years.

Mr Stein: At no time did it cross your mind to figure out the answer to that question: who on earth is operating this helpline?

Anthony Marsh: I wasn’t responsible for the helpline and, again, it was one of those things I had not heard at the time – and, indeed, I don’t know whether it is the case that there was anything problematic with the helpline but it was way outside of my area of responsibility.

Mr Stein: Okay. Transaction Processing.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: Who is that?

Anthony Marsh: It is a team of people in Chesterfield who literally do what it says. So from 19 – or from prior to 1999, what they were doing was a very manual job where they were literally taking bits of paper and collating them and making sure that the right clients were settled suitably, and that was something which gradually migrated into the automated environment.

Mr Stein: I think we can imagine what finance means, that’s, essentially, the money team; is that right?

Anthony Marsh: That’s the money team, yes.

Mr Stein: Okay. Security personnel?

Anthony Marsh: Would be people working for me and their access to this would have been via our own intranet site and they would have been made aware, I imagine, at the point when this was assured that there had been an update to this policy.

Mr Stein: Help us understand a bit more. Your team, you embody that as the Head of Security?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: That covers investigations; is that correct?

Anthony Marsh: At this point in time, I think this is probably actually the version 2 in January 2004. At this point in time, that would have included – so that would have been the investigation team, the external crime team, the physical security team, who were the technical experts, the audit team under Martin Ferlinc, and then an admin team – oh, sorry, and a commercial security team, as well.

Mr Stein: Right so this document is going out, either physically or on intranet, to all parts of the managerial system managing the subpostmaster system, it’s going to the internal operated helpline from the Post Office and it’s going to all of the security, in other words investigation staff, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Well, they are – I think they’re recognised as the audience. Then again it’s not going to. It is available to and on the –

Mr Stein: Assuming their doing their job, it is going to them and they are reading it?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: Right, okay. We know that this is drafted by the Martin Ferlinc, National Audit and Inspections Manager. So it’s got his group, if you like, involved as well?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Stein: Right okay. So that’s quite wide coverage of this particular policy going out at that time. And around this time, were you aware of the IMPACT Programme that was being put together by Ms Harding?

Anthony Marsh: I am now aware and I probably was at the time, and if you’d asked me this before the Inquiry contacted me, I wouldn’t have been able to recall that but, yes, I’m aware now, I’ve seen documents.

Mr Stein: Because it is around this time that she starts the programme of putting together what becomes the IMPACT policy, which is then implemented about 2005/2006?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Stein: Okay. Now, can we go to page 8, please, of this document. Right.

Section 6, Horizon losses. Now, you’ve gone through this with Mr Beer, I don’t intend to repeat that. You can see the second paragraph that:

“System faults are very rare [it says here] and are normally identified after full investigation has been undertaken.”

Now, the second paragraph goes on, the last couple of sentences:

“If the agent feels that the issue is not being resolved, they should flag the issue up with the NBSC.”

Now, that’s the help Post Office helpline; does that sound right?

Anthony Marsh: Sorry, yes, I’m just finding that in the paragraph. Yes, absolutely, yes.

Mr Stein: Okay, and it goes on to say:

“If a known system error has caused a shortage, the agent should be given authority to hold the loss in suspense until the system error has been reconciled and an error notice issued.”

So if we put these two together, these two paragraphs, it says this: if an agent feels that an error has occurred via the Horizon System, it is essential that this be reported to the Horizon Helpdesk, the HSH.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: We both agree, do we, that the HSH was operated by somebody?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, two groups of people, one of whom –

Mr Stein: Exactly, there’s the Post Office and then Fujitsu.

Anthony Marsh: That’s right.

Mr Stein: So it’s likely to be one of those two, isn’t it?

Anthony Marsh: One or other.

Mr Stein: If we almost use a process of elimination, here it then says, in the second paragraph, a reference to the NBSC, there are two groups of people, help people, that an individual SPM can report to –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: – if they feel there’s a system error, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: So do we understand that this tells us that agents may have system errors?

Anthony Marsh: I think we were aware of the fact that there could be system errors and that there needed to be a process, and this is a not very good process, for reasons that we’ve already explored with Mr Beer, it’s a circular process that doesn’t seem to help subpostmasters in the way that it should have done.

Mr Stein: Right. There’s emphasis, isn’t there, on the knowledge that there is the possibility of an error because of the last sentence:

“If a known system error has caused a shortage, the agent should be given authority to hold the loss in suspense until the system error has been reconciled and an error notice issued.”


Anthony Marsh: Absolutely, yes.

Mr Stein: So that tells us two things: first of all, that there’s acknowledgement there that system errors can cause shortages, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: Yes. Secondly, that there needs to be a system, therefore, for where system errors cause a shortage and that is put the shortage in suspense?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: So it tells us those two things. Right.

Now, a number of answers to Mr Beer were along the lines of, if you were aware of a first bug in the system, then you’d have caused all sorts of things to take place: you’d have made sure there was an understanding what was happening, checks maybe weekly, monthly, as to what’s going on in the system.

Now, this document in 2003 is talking about known possible errors in the system, Mr Marsh.

Anthony Marsh: It’s talking about the possibility of them. I mean, in a way, it is actually noting, as I sort of – as I said to Mr Beer – or the thing I said to Mr Beer wasn’t in place, which is a process, you know, for us to note system bugs. I mean, it’s not a good process but it’s a process. Essentially, there are two routes by which a subpostmaster should have been able to report system bugs which would have informed the security team, amongst many others, and that’s either the Horizon System Helpdesk or the NBSC and, as I have learnt, and obviously the Inquiry learnt and the Appeal Court learnt sometime ago, these processes did not work.

And so the belief that I held, in all good faith, that nothing had been reported during the time period that I was Head of Security, about bugs and system errors – well, I’m not saying that anything necessarily had been reported but it sounds as though we’d made it quite difficult to report, and it only took the HSH and the NBSC to not take note or possibly – and I’m only – well – and, you know, to not take note of that for these – for this information not to find its way through.

Mr Stein: You were interested in fairly investigating and prosecuting –

Anthony Marsh: I was very interested in fairly investigating and prosecuting and, if the issue had been raised with me, you know, I would have insisted that it were investigated, irrespective of the impact retrospectively on however many investigations had taken place, because, had we known about this at an early stage, yes, we might have had to make an admission to the court about a number of investigations leading to prosecutions that had taken place, using evidence that was not now considered to be safe, but I would like to think – I’d like to think that, had this information come forward, we would have been able to – or Fujitsu would have been able to do something to render that information once again acceptable as evidence.

So I think, you know, not only – the worst of this is a great many people have suffered injury, trauma and distress. But it’s all for such a stupid reason because, had this come out as soon as somebody somewhere knew about it, we were problem solvers, we would have got on and solved the problem. So, in hiding it, they did absolutely no – they did damage to a lot of people and no favours to anybody.

Mr Stein: Right. Let’s go back to where we started. You say you were interested in the fair investigation and fair prosecution of subpostmasters.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: Yes. That’s a yes, putting everything else aside.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: Okay. Now, in terms of that investigation you are – you were Head of Security, you were in control, generally, of investigations?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: Yes, okay. You’re prepared to take, if you like – you know, you’re the boss, in relation to this aspect of things.

Anthony Marsh: Absolutely yes.

Mr Stein: You’re prepared to take the rap, yes? All right. Let’s find out a bit more from you about what you didn’t do. Help us understand this a little bit more. In terms of those fair investigations, you’re aware of this odd body called the HSH but you’re not entirely certain where it exists, whether that’s Fujitsu or POL. Do you not think it would have been sensible to perhaps work that one out: is this a Fujitsu system or is this a POL system?

Do you not think, in terms of your fair investigations, just getting the answer to that simple question, Mr Marsh, might have been helpful?

Anthony Marsh: No, at my level, I don’t think that adds any value at all, unless I believed that at some point lower down, at my Head of Investigations level or below that, there was something amiss. So if I felt there was something amiss, then I would have been, as the saying goes, all over it. But I didn’t think there was something amiss. My understanding was that things were going well. It was not an area in which I needed to have that level of detailed knowledge. Because I would never have been in direct contact with the HSH.

Mr Stein: You never bothered to even try and make contact, Mr Marsh. You never got any of your investigators to make contact with the HSH. You weren’t even sure –

Anthony Marsh: Stop. No, you cannot assume –

Mr Stein: Sorry. Mr Marsh, both of us in error there. My fault.

Did you ever, via an investigator, try and find out what on earth is going on with the HSH?

Anthony Marsh: I did not. But that does not mean that my investigators were not at various levels in contact with ICL Pathway and Fujitsu and with the Horizon Programme, and satisfying themselves, as they went through investigations and at a policy level, that things were going as they should be and that there were no issues that we needed to investigate.

Mr Stein: Have you found a policy that says to agents or the security department, “Let’s make sure we know what’s going on with HSH”?

Anthony Marsh: No.

Mr Stein: No. Now, Mr Marsh you’ve said repeatedly that you were essentially waiting for somebody to knock on your door to tell you there was a problem. This document says there’s a problem?

Anthony Marsh: No, it doesn’t. No. Let’s be quite clear about that. This document does not say that there’s a problem. This document outlines what – the steps that would need to be taken, if the suggestion was that there were a problem. But it does not say – this document was not drafted on the basis that there was a problem because had that, been the basis on which it were drafted, Mr Ferlinc and I would have dealt with it.

Mr Stein: Investigations are meant to be investigations into the question of whether somebody has committed an offence, yes?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Stein: And investigations – are you aware they are meant to be investigations that point in the direction of any evidence that someone has committed an offence or whether they haven’t? In other words –

Anthony Marsh: I’ve repeatedly, you know, and pre-emptively made that point, that I am well aware of that and that was the basis on which I wanted to see my investigators operate.

Mr Stein: Then how was it embodied within the investigation system that there was a check on complaints, difficulties, problems with the Horizon System going to the Helpdesk? How was that done. If you’re saying, essentially, there was no policies –

Anthony Marsh: No, again, you see, I’m not saying there’s no policy. What I’ve said is I would expect there to have been processes that would have ensured that we knew about this but the documentation that I have been given access to, 20 or so years after I was last at Post Office Limited, as Mr Beer has said, is partial.

So I’m – I have said on a number of occasions that there are areas in which I think there were very much were policy documents. Now, I’m not saying that there was necessarily a policy document, but I will say I firmly believe that there would have been a process of some sort that would have ensured that the minute anything became known via the HSH, whoever controlled it, or via the NBSC, that materially impacted upon evidence that we were getting from Horizon, we would have been made – that would have been made known to us.

But I cannot present you with a document because I am seven years retired from Royal Mail and what is it, 13 years gone – no more than that, sorry – 16 years gone from Post Office Limited. I have no access to – you know, if I were appearing in front of you as a Post Office Limited manager, I would have expected a team to be running around for weeks beforehand gathering together all of the materials so I could answer these sorts of questions, if indeed that material still exists. But a lot of it did, and it’s unfortunately not available now.

And I do apologise for – well, I apologise for the fact that I can’t be more absolute in my statements but, no, I am confident that there would have been a process to ensure, if anything were known about the Horizon System, it would have come to us, along with a great many other departments in POL, immediately.

Mr Stein: Tell us what you did wrong, Mr Marsh.

Anthony Marsh: Tell me what exactly it is you’re –

Mr Stein: You know what’s happened here. People have been prosecuted that shouldn’t have been prosecuted. That was under your watch, under your period of time. What did you do wrong? What’s your failings?

Anthony Marsh: Clearly I did not ask the right questions of the right people but, I mean, I have no recollection of asking. I don’t think I ever said to anybody “Listen, there must be some system failings because there’s no such thing as a system that doesn’t have failings”. So I certainly think that I am guilty of essentially absorbing the groupthink within Post Office Limited, that this was a good, solid and robust system, and that, you know, there was nothing wrong with it at the times that we spoke about it, and that we had processes that would ensure that we would be made aware. So naivety, if you will.

But certainly nothing with any form of intent. I did not know about the problems with the Horizon System and, had I known about them and had I known about them as early as it might have been possible to know about them, I’d like to think that a lot of the distress and trauma caused to people might not have happened or would not have happened.

Sir Wyn Williams: Is that it, Mr Stein?

Mr Stein: Yes, sir.

Mr Beer: Sir, in fact, there is one question from Mr Moloney, which will be a very short one.

Sir Wyn Williams: Are you saying that Mr Beer?

Ms Scott: No, he has said that to me.

Questioned by Mr Moloney

Mr Moloney: I don’t lie, sir!

Mr Marsh, I just want to understand the relationship between you and Mr Scott, who is going to give evidence later. Do you understand?

Anthony Marsh: Yeah.

Mr Moloney: Okay, because you moved to be the Group Security Director for Royal Mail Group from 2008.

Anthony Marsh: Let’s take it back and I’ll give you the details. So I moved on 2 January 2007 to become the General Manager Security for Royal Mail Letters. Nothing to do with Post Office Limited whatsoever, and then, yes, in 2008 I became the Group Security Director. In –

Mr Moloney: You’re going to get me into trouble for taking too long if you continue talking, Mr Marsh.

Anthony Marsh: I’ll do this quickly. I apologise, sir. Right, Mr Scott –

Mr Moloney: No, let me ask you the questions first. I’ll ask you about Mr Scott in a second but just let me ask you about one document which is POL00030786, and that’s POL00030786, page 1 of that, and this is an owner for you – if you would, if you could just scroll down slightly. This is the policy on crime and investigation and you’re the owner of this –

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Moloney: – created in September 2008, and still the owner in 2011?

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Moloney: Yes. Okay. Could we go to page 4 of this document which outlines your role as Group Security Director under this policy. It’s at paragraph 5. So if we could just scroll down on this page, and we see all of your responsibilities under 5.2:

“The Group Security Director has a responsibility to …”

Then it goes on 5.2.1:

“Ensure that appropriate structures are in place to enable the prompt and thorough investigation of any allegation of criminal offences committed by employees, agents or members of the public.

“Establish an effective crime response plan, commensurate with the level of crime risk identified as facing Royal Mail Group at a given point.”

Then under 5.2.3, the various appropriate mechanisms that you’re required to establish:

“Report levels of crime risk.

“… significant incidents to the Board …

“… remedial actions to prevent or deter further crime.

“Engage with the Corporate Risk Management Committee, Audit & Risk Committee and the Mail Integrity Group on matters of Crime Risk and Mails Integrity.”

Those were your responsibilities as Group Security Director from 2008 when the policy was created and still here in 2011.

Anthony Marsh: Yes.

Mr Moloney: Yes. Now, if I can ask you, did you have any management or oversight role in relation to John Scott at POL during those times?

Anthony Marsh: No, I didn’t, no.

Mr Moloney: Right. Was there any relationship between you in practice during those times?

Anthony Marsh: It wasn’t a good relationship. Shortly after I had left POL, Ric Francis, who was – had been my boss very briefly and was then John Scott’s boss when John was appointed as my successor as Head of Security, essentially said to me that POL was, even at that point in time, was preparing itself for – I don’t know whether he said separation or a greater independence, but some sort of, you know, parting of the ways from Royal Mail and POL, and that he would like to see John Scott left to his own devices to get on and run the department, run the team as he wished to. And, from that point on, I adopted an approach which essentially ensured that all of the resources that Post Office Limited could need were available from Royal Mail Group. We made very few requests from POL and those requests that we did make were rarely answered effectively.

It wasn’t, as I say, a great working relationship and I regretted that. And quite a number of people in POL, when we had vacancies on the Royal Mail side, sought to leave POL and come across to Royal Mail, as investigators or security managers.

Mr Moloney: So far as these responsibilities were concerned, you didn’t feel that, so far as your point in the group, that that necessarily meant you had any responsibility for what went on within POL?

Anthony Marsh: I had discussed the situation with a person that I work for and, you know, we concluded that it would be difficult. So I don’t dispute exactly what that says there, that the Group Security Director has responsibilities. And, certainly, 2008/2009, I did try to assist John Scott to make sure he had always necessary resource and all the advice needed. He didn’t really welcome advice from me.

By the time we got to 2011 and when this document is dated, we were all – I mean, the two businesses were working very much towards separation, so there was a piece of work going on to ensure that any documentation that we had or had generated within Group Security that POL might need was available for them to take away and rebadge as they wished to. But I’m afraid that’s about as far as it went and, of course, what I knew was how heavily the team in POL had been reduced in headcount, much as my own team in Group Security was. So on both sides of the fence, we were losing staff every few months, you know, to another review and a headcount reduction. It did make life very difficult.

Mr Moloney: Would it be fair to say, then – and this is my last question, would it be fair to say then that there were stresses within security during that time?

Anthony Marsh: Yes, I mean there were tensions between Post Office Limited Security and Royal Mail Group Security, but there were stresses on both sides of that divide, if you will, because all of us were continuing to try to do as much as we used to do, and this isn’t just investigation, this is a huge amount of physical security, process security, protection of individuals, and so on, with less and less resource. So it, you know, it was difficult.

Mr Moloney: Did you feel you were under-resourced in security?

Anthony Marsh: I did feel that and I made that point clear very many times, yes. So, you know, that will be on record in a number of places, I’m sure.

Mr Moloney: So far as Mr Scott is concerned, I can’t ask you to speak for Mr Scott, but did you get the impression that Mr Scott felt he was under-resourced in security?

Anthony Marsh: I never had that level of discussion with him after we parted ways but, if you asked me, I would have said that of the level he got down to was definitely less resource than reasonably was required to do the jobs that I thought were probably still necessary in Post Office Limited.

Mr Moloney: Thank you very much, Mr Marsh.

Thank you very much, sir, for allowing me to ask those questions.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right. So I take it, Mr Beer, that’s the end of the questioning of Mr Marsh?

Mr Beer: Yes, it is, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Thank you, Mr Marsh, for your detailed witness statement and for spending a good deal of time today answering very many questions. I’m grateful to you.

The Witness: Thank you, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: 10.00 tomorrow morning?

Mr Beer: Yes, that’s right, with Mr Jenkins.

Sir Wyn Williams: Right, all right then.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much, sir.

(4.18 pm)

(The hearing adjourned until 10.00 am the following day)