Official hearing page

27 September 2023 – Anne Chambers

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(10.00 am)

Anne Chambers


Questioned by Mr Beer (continued)

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

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, I can.

Mr Beer: Apologies for the delay, we had a very thorough fire drill this morning.

Good morning, Mrs Chambers.

Anne Chambers: Good morning.

Mr Beer: Can we start, please, with the piece of homework that I think we set ourselves and, just to remind ourselves of some context, can we start, please, with LCAS0000224. This was the document we were looking at, if you remember?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: You told us this was an extract, I think, of some ARQ data?

Anne Chambers: It appeared to be, yes.

Mr Beer: You noted that the selection that had been made at the top under “Keys” required this to be in date and time – chronological order and the data wasn’t –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – and that it wasn’t a complete record, because there were lots of things that weren’t on it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: The first thing to say is that we’ve researched the document. The document was also provided to us by Fujitsu in printed copy and in Excel format and the Excel document is in exactly the same format as this. So if any manipulation – I think you used that word neutrally – had been done, it had been done before it left Fujitsu?

Anne Chambers: Can I just say, though, that we do have a document which has got all this data in.

Mr Beer: Yes, I am going to move to that in a moment.

Anne Chambers: Okay.

Mr Beer: It was just to clear up the point, in case anyone thought that, because this was produced with LCAS, a Lee Castleton number, putting two and two together with what you said about manipulation, anything had gone on there. We have exactly the same document, in printed and in Excel format, from Fujitsu?

Anne Chambers: That certainly was not my intention –

Mr Beer: I know but I need to clear these things up.

Can we look then, please, at LCAS0001322. If that can just be expanded so we can see the whole of the page, please. Thank you. That makes it not particularly legible but we can see what it is and, if we just go to the next page, please, we can see that that data, I think, ends on 8 January?

So if we go back to the first page, please, and expand, please, so we can see better. Thank you. Is this also ARQ data?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Does this appear to be a more complete record of ARQ data –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – and does this appear to be ordered in ascending date and time order?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Okay. Can we scroll down, please. Can you see an entry about 12 lines – I’m not sure we’re on the right page.

Anne Chambers: Is it a little further up?

Mr Beer: It’s the first page, please. We’re on the second page at the moment. So the first page, please. Thank you. Then scroll down, thank you, and scroll down some more, please.

Can you see an entry –

Anne Chambers: Yes, I can.

Mr Beer: “Declare stamp total 118,322”, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: That’s the same as on the extract, as I’m going to call it, that we looked at yesterday –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – but different from the figure in the cash account total?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: That seems to have been declared at 17.06.59; can you see that?

Anne Chambers: Yes, yes.

Mr Beer: Then is there anything else relevant on that page? I’m not sure that there is.

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: Then go over the page to the next page, please. Can you see about 12 lines in, “ONCH total, 43,013.92” –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – at 17.31.20?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: What does that mean?

Anne Chambers: That’s the Overnight Cash Holding Declaration, so they should, at that point, have counted what cash they’d got and declared it for the – as an ONCH declaration. That was something they had to do at the end of each day.

Mr Beer: Yes. Can you see about three lines in to the second piece of highlighting “Declare cash total £43,013.92”, so the same figure, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I can.

Mr Beer: It says, “Declaration complete”. What does that mean?

Anne Chambers: They’ve done a proper cash declaration at that point. That was something they only had to do once a week, as part of the balancing process but you’d expect it to be the same figure as the Overnight Cash Holding for that day.

Mr Beer: And it is?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: We then see “Report cash declared” at 17.38.43, “Report printed”. So is that them in the branch printing off a copy of the cash report?

Anne Chambers: That’s the printing off of a copy of the cash declaration report. So that will show what they’ve declared by denomination of cash because that’s how it was done.

Mr Beer: Then next entry “Declare cash total”, it’s gone up by about £300; can you see that?

Anne Chambers: I can see that.

Mr Beer: Then that is printed –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – a couple of seconds later?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Then “Declare stamp zero”?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I can see that.

Mr Beer: I couldn’t see, on here, a record of the stamps held in stock of the £5,500-odd?

Anne Chambers: No, and I can now explain why that was.

Mr Beer: Yes, please.

Anne Chambers: Okay. When the postmasters declared stamps, this was just the stamps that were 1p, 2p, that – stamps that have a specific denomination on them. So they would be presented with several screens and they go through and say how many of each denomination they’ve got, so that is their stamp declaration.

Other types of postage, including First and Second Class stamps and stamp books, and some other things, were not included in that declaration. They would be managed either by “declare stock” or by “adjust stock”, which is what Mr Castleton did. So this stamps – postage stamps total that we’ve got is only for a subset of the overall postage.

We can see that it’s not at all clear on the cash account. I think I say in my witness statement that the cash account was a horrible document to try to understand, partly for this reason, but if you look at the final balance report, which precedes the cash account and is using the same data that the cash account is built from, you can see on that final balance report the section for postage, which includes both the postage stamps as declared and all the other types of postage. And if you want to look at that, I can give you a reference.

Mr Beer: It’s okay, I’ve got that.

Anne Chambers: You’ve got that.

Mr Beer: So, in short, this more expanded set of data doesn’t tell you anything that we didn’t know last night?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: You’ve just remembered something?

Anne Chambers: Just by looking at that final balance report, it reminded me.

Mr Beer: Thank you. Yes, that can come down.

Can we turn up – I’m coming to the closing of the PEAK now. Can we have up, please, FUJ00146165. Thank you. This is the PEAK that we were looking at yesterday in relation to your investigation and can we turn to page 2, please, and look at the foot of the page. Can we look at your entry of 15.16.54. This is essentially your closing entry on the PEAK; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes, it is.

Mr Beer: I don’t think we’ve read this but we ought to read this because it forms the substance of the evidence that you give in your witness statement, both in the civil proceedings in 2006 and in your witness statement to this Inquiry. You say:

“Checks are ok. Cheques are being handled correctly (except for [the 10th] when the clerk forgot to cut off the report – but this didn’t cause a discrepancy). Cash declarations look ok, they usually use drawer ID 11. Occasionally they have a different drawer ID, this can lead to amounts apparently doubling on the cash flow report, and should be avoided.”

Can you explain what you meant by that, please?

Anne Chambers: If they declare the same cash with two different drawer IDs then when the Overnight Cash Holding figure is sent off to the central systems, that will add those amounts together. So if they’ve declared it with drawer ID 11 and 22, for example, and in both cases £10,000, then the total for the day will appear to be £20,000, and that’s what will be sent to the cash handling centre but those figures are not used in the balancing process.

Mr Beer: That’s why you said, “but again it will not cause a discrepancy”?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Why will it not cause a discrepancy?

Anne Chambers: Because these figures aren’t input to the balancing process.

Mr Beer: You continue:

“Checking the cash transactions on the system against the declarations shows they are not working particularly accurately …”

The “they” in that sentence, who is that?

Anne Chambers: The branch.

Mr Beer: “… (ie at the end of the day the cash they declare in the drawer is tens, hundreds or thousands of pounds astray from what has been recorded on the system).”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “It is possible” –

So how did you establish that?

Anne Chambers: I established that by pulling out all the cash transactions for a period – and I now cannot remember the precise length of that period – by taking the opening figure of cash, which you can cross-check on the balance reports, and so on, so you put that at the top of your column in an Excel spreadsheet and then you work out the running total by making all the cash adjustments from that base figure, so at any point you can see what cash the system thinks the branch should hold.

Then from the Overnight Cash Declarations and also the declarations made when they balanced, you can see what the branch is declaring that they hold and then it’s simple arithmetic to look for the difference between those figures.

Mr Beer: You say:

“It is possible that they are not accurately recording all transactions on the system. There is no evidence whatsoever of any system problem. I’ve mentioned this outlet to Julie Welsh (Customer Services) who will try to get [the Post Office] to follow it up, but in the meantime please tell the [postmaster] that we have investigated and that the discrepancies are caused by the difference between the transactions they have recorded on the system and the cash they have declared, and are not being caused by the software or hardware.”

Then just over the page, please:

“I have checked various things on the system. All the internal” –

I’m so sorry, I think that’s a repetition of a message, isn’t it?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I’m not sure why that’s there.

Mr Beer: That’s essentially the first sentence of your 15.16 entry repeated.

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: In any event, you then essentially close the call –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – and give it a category number, “Advice and guidance given”?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Is that advice and guidance given back to the HSH?

Anne Chambers: That was just the closure category that I chose to use.

Mr Beer: Yes, but what does it mean?

Anne Chambers: It just means that I felt, out of all the closure categories open to me, that was the best one that meant I had given advice, that I had written down, as in this case, some advice and guidance to be passed back to the postmaster.

Mr Beer: Through the HSH?

Anne Chambers: That would be the normal route but, although – I had said in my response, I was also passing it back to Post Office via Julie Welsh.

Mr Beer: Time – it says:

“Hours spent since call received: 0 hours.”

Why does it record that?

Anne Chambers: Because that wasn’t a field that we ever used.

Mr Beer: Okay, you didn’t record how long it took you to do things?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: Okay. Then the call was closed?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Can we turn up your witness statement, please, at WITN00170200, and look at page 14, please. Can we read together paragraphs 41 and 42 to start with. You say:

“I felt that the only way to progress the investigation was at the branch, to check they were following the correct business processes and correctly recording everything that was done. Fujitsu did not have staff who were allowed to go to branches to investigate business or financial problems; this was Post Office’s responsibility.

“At this point, having not found any evidence of a system error, the correct process was for me to close [that’s the PEAK we’ve just looked at] with my findings, and HSH would communicate them to the [subpostmaster]. However, given the number of calls that Mr Castleton had already raised, I felt this was not in his best interests, as the problem persisted, and so I contacted Julie Welsh in Customer Services, knowing that she had a route to the Post Office and hoping that this would help Mr Castleton to find the cause of the losses. Then I closed [the PEAK] ‘Advice and guidance given’, stating what I had found and that I had contacted Julie Welsh.”

Then if we turn to paragraph 51 of your witness statement on page 17, please – 51, thank you – you say:

“I did consider the issues that Mr Castleton was reporting to be unusual, and that he needed assistance to get to the bottom of it. I was not in a position to give or organise that assistance.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: The way that you set matters out in those three paragraphs, 41, 42 and 51, may suggest that you didn’t think that, because you couldn’t find a system error, Mr Castleton or his staff must have either taken the money or have been responsible for the missing money. There was a business or a process issue that still required to be investigated?

Anne Chambers: Yes. I mean, it wasn’t for me to decide what was wrong but, from what I could see, that – the way the figures were swinging around so much each day, that was really unusual, and so – and I could see from the calls that Mr Castleton was raising that he was desperate for somebody to help, and I wanted to try to, you know, progress it – I certainly didn’t just want to send the call back saying, “Oh, not us”. I wanted to see if we could get him some more help, maybe so that he could do – to help him sort of keep – try and keep a manual record or for somebody to monitor what was happening.

I didn’t know what the options were as I said, this – Fujitsu hadn’t – had no way of helping with anything like that at branches.

Mr Beer: So why did you think it wouldn’t be in Mr Castleton’s best interests just to close the call and let the Helpdesk report your findings back to him?

Anne Chambers: Because then it would just have gone back saying, “Not a system error, talk to NBSC”, and NBSC would have said, “Oh, well, we can’t find anything, talk to the Helpdesk”, and –

Mr Beer: It would have gone back into the big machine?

Anne Chambers: Yes, he had already obviously spent an awful lot of time on the phone trying to get somebody to take some notice.

Mr Beer: What did you expect Julie Welsh in Customer Services to do?

Anne Chambers: I knew that she had somebody in Post Office that she talked to about – well, I mean, it was part of her role, I think, to coordinate with Post Office, although I wasn’t entirely sure on what level. She was one of these helpful sort of people, so I asked her if she could pass the information on to Post Office.

Mr Beer: So she’s in Fujitsu’s Customer Services –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – but she had a line in to the Post Office –

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – almost outside of the Helpdesk and NBSC machine?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So you didn’t know exactly what she might do but, being a helpful person, you thought she might have some influence or connections?

Anne Chambers: I thought she would probably pass my findings on to somebody within Post Office who would then be able to take further action as they thought appropriate.

Mr Beer: You’d said in the entry on your PEAK – I’m not going to go back to it – but you passed it to her “to try to get POL to follow it up”. What could POL do to follow it up, in your mind?

Anne Chambers: Go to the branch and, as I said, maybe help him try and run a manual process alongside to record, so that you could, at the end of the day, look for any anomalies, you know, if there was something that they were doing wrong process-wise, to find that.

You know, at this stage, I sort of assumed that Post Office did have people who were – who would do that sort of role.

Mr Beer: Were you referring it to Julie Welsh in order that the next step could be an audit accompanied by an immediate suspension on the day?

Anne Chambers: That was certainly not in my mind, no.

Mr Beer: That can come down, thank you.

Can we move forwards, please, to you giving evidence and you being selected as a witness. Can we start, please, by looking at POL00090437, page 69, please. Thank you.

We can see that this is a letter from Rowe Cohen Solicitors, dated 25 July 2006 to the Post Office’s solicitors, Bond Pearce, about the case of Post Office v Mr Castleton.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: It’s a two-page letter, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: I think you were asked to review this; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I believe so.

Mr Beer: If we scroll through it and you just read it to yourself as we scroll through it, to refresh your memory. If you look, in particular, at the second, third, fourth and fifth paragraphs.

Anne Chambers: Yes, I certainly saw this at the time, whether I – and then we did some work as a result of this letter, which isn’t – yeah.

Mr Beer: Can you remember who asked you to look at it?

Anne Chambers: I think probably this came through Gareth Jenkins but it’s possible that Brian Pinder or somebody else would have showed it to me, but I really I can’t remember.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at – so, essentially, I’m going to summarise it. It was said by Mr Castleton’s solicitor that some analyses had been conducted of some weeks, week 42 in particular, and Mr Castleton believed there were some incomplete transactions and other discrepancies, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes, yes.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at FUJ00152295. Can we see, please the title at the top “Initial Comments on Marine Drive letter”, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: I think that’s a reference to the letter we’ve just looked at?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: We can see this is dated 17 August 2006?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Can you see that? Then if we go to the second page, please, and to the bottom, we can see that it’s your document?

Anne Chambers: Yes, that’s right.

Mr Beer: Yes?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, yeah.

Mr Beer: Then back to the first page, please. You go through parts of the letter, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I do, yes.

Mr Beer: If we look at the fourth paragraph on the page there, you say:

“Looking in the full message store at the first of these …”

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: What are you referring to there “the first of these”?

Anne Chambers: By “the full message store”, at this point I mean the archived messages – sorry, audited messages for Marine Drive over this period. So at the time, back in 2004, all messages produced at Marine Drive and everywhere else would have been sent off into the audit files, from which subsequently the ARQ data could be extracted. But it was also possible just to look at the full set of messages, rather than the specific messages in – that were – that formed the ARQ extracts.

Mr Beer: Thank you. You say:

“… I found the missing transaction was a stamp sale within a Smartpost session, and the Start information had not been included in the message.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Can you explain what you mean by that, please?

Anne Chambers: Yes, because there were two sessions that didn’t net to zero in the ARQ data –

Mr Beer: You wanted to know why?

Anne Chambers: I wanted to know why, yes, and it turned out to be that there was a line, a transaction line in the full message store that had not been included in the ARQ extract.

Mr Beer: Is that a bug?

Anne Chambers: It was a bug in the ARQ – well, it was a bug whose only consequence was in the ARQ extract.

Mr Beer: You say:

“This was a not uncommon problem at the time.”

Anne Chambers: It was something that did show up in the reconciliation reports, which I hadn’t seen the January ones because they no longer existed when I’d looked originally. And I can’t quite remember but perhaps every few days you might have one or two entries in the reconciliation reports. This was for all 18,000 branches, so it wasn’t that it was happening every day for every branch, but it was a problem that we knew about and had been looked at, and the only problem was that these particular smart mails, Smartpost transactions were slightly malformed, in that the start date attribute was missing, which should have been they’re.

Now, that didn’t affect balancing in the least but, because the ARQ extract extracted on start date and it didn’t have a start date, it didn’t find these. But they were included in the branch balance.

Mr Beer: Which is what you say next:

“The transaction was included in all the accounts (otherwise there would have been a receipts and payments mismatch), and did not cause any discrepancy at the branch but has not been retrieved from the archive by the data retrieval, since that requires Start date to be present (see the query at the beginning of the transaction log spreadsheet).”

Then you say, “Possible further action”, if we just scroll down:

“(a) confirm second instance is the same (so far only have CAP42 complete messages).”

I don’t understand what that means. Can you explain please?

Anne Chambers: The whole message store extract, rather than just the ARQ data. At the point I wrote this, I’d only got the complete set for CAP42, for week 42.

Mr Beer: I see:

“retrieve the TPSC253 report for the days (Counter Exceptions), which should show the problem was noticed at the time. MSU and SSC no longer have this report but maybe we can get it back through the Audit team.”

Anne Chambers: Mm.

Mr Beer: Can you explain what you were suggesting there?

Anne Chambers: This was the reconciliation report I was talking about, that we only kept for a very short length of time. That’s suggesting that maybe it was a file that was audited that we could have retrieved. As I’ve said, SSC knew nothing, really, about audit and didn’t know which files were retained. I’m obviously wondering there if, actually, it’s something that they did have that I didn’t know about.

Mr Beer: Okay, and then (c):

“confirm in some way that no complete sessions are missing for the same reason.”


Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: So, to summarise, there was a small discrepancy caused by a missing Smartpost stamp sale, yes?

Anne Chambers: It’s not a discrepancy.

Mr Beer: Sorry –

Anne Chambers: A difference.

Mr Beer: – a difference, thank you, on the data. That wasn’t an uncommon problem at the time but there would be a daily report which would or should confirm whether or not that difference was picked up at the time –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – and that there might be a way formally to check whether any complete transactions were missing as a result of the known fault?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Okay. So they were your suggestions for further action or possible further action?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at WBON0000027. Thank you. Your document was turned into a report written by, I think, you and Mr Jenkins; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes, he took responsibility for it. Yes.

Mr Beer: But this is jointly authored; is that right?

Anne Chambers: He authored it but it is based on stuff that I’d investigated.

Mr Beer: Okay, and this is it, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: If we can read the first part of paragraph 1:

“As part of a prosecution associated with Marine Drive Post Office …”

Did you understand that Mr Castleton was being prosecuted?

Anne Chambers: Yes, at this point, because I’d already had to produce a witness statement.

Mr Beer: What would you understand by prosecuting?

Anne Chambers: That he was being taken to court, I suppose. Yes, my legal knowledge is not very good. Perhaps it’s the wrong word. I don’t know, I didn’t write – I have no idea if that’s right or not.

Mr Beer: In your mind, was there a distinction between a criminal court and a civil court?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, I think I knew there was a difference and I knew that he was not being charged with any criminal offence but Post Office were wanting to get the money that they believed was owed to them and that it was a civil matter.

Mr Beer: “… Anne Chambers and Gareth Jenkins have undertaken an analysis of all transactions that took place during Cash Account week 42 in that Office.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Those transactions are between dates and times set out, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “The purpose of this note is to outline what was done and also comment on the letter sent on from the Post Office solicitors where Mr Castleton is claiming to have shown that the Horizon figures are incorrect.”

Then scroll down to “Analysis undertaken”:

“The initial set of data obtained was the extract from the Transaction Log that was submitted to Post Office as supporting evidence (ARQ 421).”

What does the number refer to?

Anne Chambers: I think each ARQ request had a unique number.

Mr Beer: I see:

“Subsequently a complete extract of audit data for the period concerned was obtained. This included non-transactional data (including opening figures) and the electronic Cash Account information (which was subsequently submitted to Post Office Limited’s back end systems) and represents the same information as was printed on the paper cash account which Mr Castleton signed at the time to indicate that it was correct.

“The figures examined have been [completed] with both the electronic Cash Account information retrieved and also copies of the paper cash accounts for week 42 (and also weeks 41 and 43) … Specifically, the Carried Forward figures from Week 41 matches the Brought Forward figures in Week 42 and the Carried Forward figures from Week 42 matches the Brought Forward figures in Week 43.

“The initial check was that each Session’s data was completely recorded in the Transaction Log. This check identified a transaction missing from the ARQ 421 data for a value of 92p on 12 January.”

That’s referring to the issue you picked up in the paragraphs we have just looked at?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “This transaction did not include its Start Time (a known fault that occasionally happens) and so the ARQ extraction process ignored it. However it would not have been ignored by the accounting functions at the counter and a report would have been generated that night as part of the overnight checks.

“Unfortunately, this report is not audited and so is not available for examination. However, we do not believer that this report is material to the case.”

So the idea of doing the three checks that you mentioned seems to have been dropped, doesn’t it?

Anne Chambers: I don’t think so. I cannot remember but it could well be that, by the time that Gareth wrote this final version, he had checked with the audit team and they had said, “No, that file is not audited or available anywhere”, which is what – that’s what he’s saying there. I wouldn’t have – I don’t know.

The other checks –

Mr Beer: Just hold on. On what basis were you saying that – you are now saying that this report, which you’d previously wished to see, is not material to the case?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know quite why Gareth put that sentence in there.

Mr Beer: Did you see this report before it went out?

Anne Chambers: I probably did. I mean, it – I don’t think it would have shown any further light on the – any of the losses or anything because all the report would have shown was that a single transaction with a missing start date had been picked up on that day, and we already knew from the full set of data that, yes, there was a transaction with the missing start date on that day.

Mr Beer: You’d previously made three suggestions.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: It appears that two of them hadn’t been pursued.

Anne Chambers: I don’t think that’s – I mean, I don’t think there’s any – anything in there that suggests that the other two were not pursued.

Mr Beer: Why were you – why was it the case that they were – the results of those checks, if they had been conducted, are not reflected in this document?

Anne Chambers: Because – I think because we found nothing, so there was nothing to say. I obviously cannot now prove that I did those other things but, knowing how thoroughly I went into everything, I think it’s very likely that I – sorry, I now can only remember what one of the checks was but I was checking everything that occurred to me. If I’d checked but found nothing else of concern, then that might not have been recorded in this document.

Mr Beer: Thank you. That document can come down.

We’ve heard evidence from your then line manager Mik Peach that before you were asked or requested to provide evidence in the Lee Castleton case, another person at Fujitsu within the Security team, whose function or responsibility it was ordinarily to give evidence in a case such as Mr Castleton’s, had declined to give evidence at court.

Anne Chambers: I –

Mr Beer: I’m just summarising what Mr Peach has told the Chairman?

Anne Chambers: I had no knowledge of that.

Mr Beer: I was about to ask. Did you know that another person within the Security team had declined to give evidence –

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: – in Mr Castleton’s case –

Anne Chambers: (The witness shook her head)

Mr Beer: – and, therefore, you couldn’t help us as to who that person was or why they had declined to give evidence?

Anne Chambers: No, I couldn’t.

Mr Beer: Mr Peach told the Chairman that you were pressured to give evidence and to go to court, and that you were pressured to give evidence and go to court because the person from the Security team had refused to give evidence and to go to court. Were you pressured into giving evidence?

Anne Chambers: I’m not sure I was pressured; I was extremely surprised to find myself in a position where I had to, because it had never occurred to me or any of my colleagues that this might be part of our role supporting an IT system.

I just felt that it was all sort of handled rather strangely and that I was asked by this guy I didn’t know, who turned out to be – who was the Security Manager, if I’d be prepared to speak to a solicitor, and I – about this particular matter and I said, “Well, I suppose so”, and there was no mention at that point that, just by doing that, I would end up giving evidence in court and here today.

Mr Beer: Somebody from Security asking you whether you would mind speaking to a solicitor –

Anne Chambers: Mm.

Mr Beer: – and you saying, “Yes, I suppose so” –

Anne Chambers: Mm.

Mr Beer: – doesn’t sound like pressure?

Anne Chambers: It just seemed to be an odd situation because then my manager was very cross about it all and I didn’t know if it was me having said yes to that initial question, somehow had led to everything else that happened and, if I’d said no, would it have been different? I don’t think that is the case now but now I know a lot more about the background of it.

But, at the time, I just felt very uncomfortable about it and there seemed to be a lot of people not very happy with the situation and so, yes, it was just uncomfortable. I don’t think I was ever given the opportunity to say “No, I’m not prepared to do this”, and I don’t know what would have happened if I had turned around and said no. I’ve always, you know, attempted to do my job and to be helpful and to answer questions as necessary.

Mr Beer: Were you aware at the time that Mr Peach, your manager, had an argument about you having to give evidence, in a corridor with either Dave Baldwin, the Customer Services Director and Naomi Elliott, the Support Services Manager, or Brian Pinder from the Security team?

Anne Chambers: I wasn’t aware of it at the time but it doesn’t surprise me.

Mr Beer: Why doesn’t it surprise you?

Anne Chambers: Because Mik was very angry about one of his team being put in this position that he thought they should not have been put in.

Mr Beer: So the argument wasn’t reported back to you at the time?

Anne Chambers: I – not that I’m aware of, no. I know he was talking to his management about this.

Mr Beer: Mr Peach told us that, following the argument, he had a choice to select anyone from within the SSC to give evidence and that he chose you because you were the most experienced and technically best within the SSC in the relevant area of counter code that he – you had dealt with a call back on 26 February 2004 and he had confidence in your honesty and integrity. That makes it sound like he is picking you?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I wasn’t aware of that. I assumed it was me because I’d looked at the call in 2004.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at your witness statement, please, at page 18, and paragraph 56. If we scroll down, please – and a bit more, thank you.

If we just read these, from 56 to 59 to see the account that you give:

“I have not been involved in any other proceedings against subpostmasters involving the Horizon IT System before or since the Castleton case. Before 2006 I had never taken part in any legal proceedings of any kind. It had never been suggested to me or my SSC colleagues that we might be expected to become involved in such proceedings as a result of the work that we were doing.

“On a few occasions over the subsequent years Gareth Jenkins asked me to double check his figures or help him locate KELs or reports. I was aware he was giving evidence in various trials but I do not think I ever knew the details of those trials and the assistance I provided to him would have been limited. I have no specific recollection of any particular instances of this occurring.

“I am asked who asked me to provide a witness statement in the case against Mr Castleton. Sometime in 2006, a man I did not know came into our secure office area, introduced himself as the Post Office Account Security Manager, Brian Pinder, mentioned a call I had dealt with over two years earlier and asked if I would mind having a quick chat with a solicitor about it. No mention was made of a witness statement at that point nor, as I recall, of a court case.

“I informed my manager [Mr Peach] of this conversation. He was extremely unhappy that I had been approached directly and said that no member of SSC should be involved in litigation. He then talked to higher levels of management, but my name was now in the frame and I seemed to have no option but to talk to the solicitor which led to them requesting a witness statement and my subsequent appearance in court.”

You see that you got it another way round, namely Security, through Mr Pinder, approaching you, then you complaining to Mr Peach and then him raising it with higher levels of management, rather than management speaking with him and him choosing you.

Anne Chambers: That was my – how I thought it was, until I read or saw what Mik said in evidence to the Inquiry.

Mr Beer: Has your recollection altered at all in the light of what Mr Peach has said to the Inquiry?

Anne Chambers: No, I don’t think so, except possibly his reaction now is a little bit more understandable.

Mr Beer: Your recollection is they came direct to you, then you went to Mr Peach?

Anne Chambers: Yes, Brian Pinder most definitely came and talked to me and then I mentioned it. So whether – I’m assuming now that Mik knew that they were likely to want to talk to me but he was probably very cross then that they had actually come straight to me, rather than go through him.

Mr Beer: Can we just look at your afterthoughts document because this I think helps us a little bit on this issue. FUJ00152299.

We’re going to look at this in more detail a little later this morning but if we just turn to page 2 to start with, we can see that this is a document that you wrote on 29 January 2007.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So it was prepared much nearer to the events we’re considering?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: We’re going to look, as I say, in detail at this document a little later. But I just want you, if we go back to page 1, please, to look at what’s said in the first paragraph:

“In the summer of 2006 I was asked directly by the Security Manager …”

That’s Mr Pinder, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “… whether I would be prepared to speak to a solicitor about a call I had dealt with in February 2004. My initial response was that this was not the normal process, but he reassured me that it was more or less a formality so somewhat reluctantly I agreed.”

That is consistent with what you told us and you said in your witness statement that it was a direct approach to him –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – rather than through Mr Peach?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: You say that you said this was not the normal process. What was the normal process?

Anne Chambers: I’m not sure I knew precisely what the normal process was. I’m not sure if there had been any previous court cases. I think I was aware that some people within the Security team, perhaps in particular Penny Thomas, would occasionally have to go to court to give evidence.

Mr Beer: Just interrupting you there, if I may. Did they liaise with the SSC in preparation to give evidence to court?

Anne Chambers: I’ve got no specific memory of that happening. I don’t think I knew Penny very well at that stage and I don’t recall having actually worked with her on anything.

Mr Beer: What about Andrew Dunks, can you remember him performing the same function?

Anne Chambers: Yes, again, I mean, I knew who he was but I don’t think I’d had anything specifically to do with him. Possibly – and I can’t remember if this is before or after – he might have asked me about a particular PowerHelp call or something but I don’t think I’d done – I’m sure I had not done anything, except possibly answer a sort of very quick, simple question.

Mr Beer: Were you aware of any of those people, ie Mr Dunks or Penny Thomas or similar from the Security team, obtaining evidence or material from the SSC, as part of the process of preparing to go to court?

Anne Chambers: I don’t remember that happening. I think the Security team were very separate and they had access to the ARQ data and the – well, it was their job to extract the ARQ data and –

Mr Beer: Were they experts in its interpretation?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: Okay, that can come down, please. If we can go back to paragraph 61 of your witness statement, which is on page 19. Page 19, please.

At the foot of the page, paragraph 61, you say:

“I think there was an initial meeting with a solicitor, presumably Stephen Dilley, in a Fujitsu office in Bracknell. Mik Peach’s manager, Naomi Elliott, was present at that meeting or a subsequent one. It was explained to me, I think in the initial meeting, that I would be a Witness of Fact not an Expert Witness, and the purpose of my witness statement was to document my investigation of 26 February 2004.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: You recall that you were told in the first meeting that you would be a Witness of Fact – capital W, capital F – not an Expert Witness – capital E, capital W. Did you then have an understanding of the distinction?

Anne Chambers: Not clearly. I’ve got very little memory of this meeting but I know – I’d heard the phrase “Expert Witness” before but I don’t think I’d ever heard the phrase “Witness of Fact” but it was explained to me that, you know, I wasn’t going there to talk about the whole system. It was just to say about my investigation and what I had found.

Mr Beer: Who gave you this explanation?

Anne Chambers: I can’t remember.

Mr Beer: Was it –

Anne Chambers: Most likely, I think the solicitor but I suppose it could have been Brian Pinder or somebody, but it seems more likely that it was Stephen Dilley.

Mr Beer: By this time, had you had any training or guidance from Fujitsu or, indeed, the Post Office on the differences between those two broad species of witness?

Anne Chambers: No training or guidance. Just this sort of basic statement that I was just talking about what I had done and not about the overall system.

Mr Beer: Had you received any training or guidance from Fujitsu or, indeed, the Post Office on the responsibilities involved in giving evidence as a Witness of Fact or as an Expert Witness?

Anne Chambers: I don’t recall anybody spelling out any specific responsibilities.

Mr Beer: Now, subsequently, we know that you carried out investigations and gave some evidence about matters beyond the strict confines of what you had done on 26 February 2004?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I did.

Mr Beer: You had analysed with Mr Jenkins the contents of the solicitor’s letter and provided a response to it?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think at the time I saw that as being a sort of separate exercise, not connected really with the witness statement that I was making.

Mr Beer: But you got more dragged into things, other than the strict confines of the facts of what had happened on 26 February?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I mean, partly through my own choice because I wanted to be absolutely sure as I could be that I hadn’t missed anything at all back in that original February. As we discussed yesterday, I hadn’t possibly gone back as far as I could have done in January. So, in the run-up to the trial or so – and so on, I spent a great deal of time rechecking the archived audited message store data to see if I could find any reason for the losses that I might have missed originally.

Mr Beer: You, in the witness statement and then in court, gave a view on that; you gave your assessment?

Anne Chambers: I’m not sure that my witness statement said anything about any subsequent checks that I had made and I’m not sure that that actually got picked up on in court either.

Mr Beer: Had anyone told you about the need – if you are conducting investigations, where you may end up giving a view or an assessment – of the need to make a record, contemporaneous record of what it is you’re doing –

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: – and to retain the product of your investigations –

Anne Chambers: No, nobody ever said anything like that?

Mr Beer: – your working notes or the data that you’d captured?

Anne Chambers: No. I mean, for the – looking at the CAP42 cash account, I know we do have that data because we have it here now – and, obviously, I kept that and then passed it on to Gareth so he could check, and so on. But all the other checks I made, you know, I would have had a lot of various spreadsheets, and so on, at the time but nobody said I needed to retain them or say that I’d got them.

Mr Beer: You say, subsequently, that you were put in an invidious position when you revealed in court that you had used the Tivoli event log in the course of your investigations and that hadn’t been disclosed?

Anne Chambers: That I’d used them in the 2006 investigations, yes. Yes.

Mr Beer: You regarded yourself as – we’re going to look at it in the afterthoughts document in a moment – being in a difficult spot because you were talking about something and there had been no disclosure of the underlying material?

Anne Chambers: Yes. I mean, yes, we might want to talk about this some more but, yes, I felt very awkward about that.

Mr Beer: Was there a discussion at the time about the awkwardness that you felt about being on the stand in the High Court, speaking about events in respect of which there had been no disclosure?

Anne Chambers: I’m – discussion with whom?

Mr Beer: The solicitor, Mr Dilley?

Anne Chambers: I – I’m not sure that it was discussed. Oh, I know Stephen Dilley did subsequently send me an email, which I then passed on to various other people in Fujitsu, pointing out the disclosure rules, and so on. But I personally had no responsibility for disclosures, and so on, and hadn’t – you know, didn’t know what had been disclosed or what should be.

These particular event logs, we’d only found that they did still exist about a couple of weeks before the trial started, when – following up a different query that somebody had made regarding Marine Drive, and it was just because one of my colleagues in SSC went looking to see what else – whether these files were archived, and discovered that, yes, they were.

It wasn’t part of the formal audit process; it was just a file archive. But yes, they existed and so, when I found that I was talking about them because of a misunderstanding –

Mr Beer: Between you and Mr Morgan?

Anne Chambers: – between me and Mr Morgan and I was asked if they existed, of course I said “Yes, they do”.

Mr Beer: And that caused a kerfuffle?

Anne Chambers: It felt like a little bit of a kerfuffle because I think everybody was ready to wind everything up and go away for Christmas –

Mr Beer: And you had to come back in January?

Anne Chambers: – they had to come back again.

Mr Beer: Is this a fair summary: although you spent time in 2006 looking at a wider range of data than you had looked at in 2004, you didn’t keep a disclosable record of what you did in 2006, what record you used, what you were looking for and what the product of it was –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – is that fair?

Anne Chambers: I didn’t keep that at the time, no.

Mr Beer: So Mr Castleton and his legal team, if he had one, had no way of reviewing what you had done, replicating it and finding out for themselves whether there were mistakes in your approach or your methodology?

Anne Chambers: No, although I was looking really to see if I could find something that would help him, rather than the opposite.

Mr Beer: Yes, I completely understand that.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: But, in the event, the material to show your workings out was not available?

Anne Chambers: That was not available, no.

Mr Beer: Similarly, when in court you spoke about the Callendar Square bug –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – the relevant underlying documents, for example the KELs, hadn’t been provided. It was just your evidence about what had happened with the Callendar Square bug and your view that it hadn’t afflicted Marine Drive that the court had to go on?

Anne Chambers: Yes. I had been told quite early on in the process that KELs was something that were not disclosed.

Mr Beer: Why were KELs not disclosed –

Anne Chambers: I don’t know.

Mr Beer: – and who told you this?

Anne Chambers: I can’t remember if it was my manager or somebody on the Security team but I was told explicitly to talk about PowerHelp calls, rather than PEAKs and not – and that KELs weren’t disclosed nor PEAKs.

Mr Beer: Was that because they revealed known errors, from their title?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know why. I was just told that was how it was.

Mr Beer: You said one of your managers; does that mean Mr Parker or Mr Peach?

Anne Chambers: At that point, it would have been – if it was my manager, it would have been Mik Peach or, potentially, Naomi Elliott.

Mr Beer: Ie the manager of the manager?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, or potentially Brian Pinder or potentially Stephen Dilley but – no, I don’t think that was Stephen Dilley, I think it was somebody on the Fujitsu side.

Mr Beer: So Known Error Logs just weren’t disclosed and that was the way it was?

Anne Chambers: That is what I was told and, although I thought it seemed strange, I didn’t know it was wrong.

Mr Beer: Why did you think it was strange?

Anne Chambers: Because I would have thought – you know, in my layman’s terms, I thought you had to disclose everything. But I was not a legal expert and I had no idea, you know, whether – as I said, whether this was right or wrong and it was not – you know, not my responsibility.

Mr Beer: This was in the context of a case where a man was saying, “I think there are things wrong with the system, I, Mr Castleton”, and these known error logs revealed problems with the system, whether they were attributable to his branch or not. That was in the context you were thinking, presumably?

Anne Chambers: Um, no, it was just sort of a general – no, “There is this information, do we not have to share it with them?”

Mr Beer: You said that you were told to refer instead to the PowerHelp records?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: The PowerHelp records are not a replica of the Known Error Logs, are they?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: There’s no equivalence between them?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: In particular, the Known Error Log might reveal for how long a problem was known by Fujitsu and the promptitude of steps taken to resolved it?

Anne Chambers: Yes, you couldn’t necessarily work out the timescale from the KEL, for various reasons, but it would give you more of a clue as to what was happening and certainly when it started.

Mr Beer: You’d be more likely to be able to work out when the problem first emerged?

Anne Chambers: It would probably give you more of a clue, yes.

Mr Beer: There is more discussion in a KEL, is this right, more inward facing discussion by Fujitsu as to whether the error is acknowledged, than in a PowerHelp call, which is more about a customer complaining?

Anne Chambers: Yes. I think when there were errors we acknowledged them, certainly on PEAKs, but PowerHelp calls, it just depends who dealt with them and who decided to put information on them.

Mr Beer: It could be very variable the information that went onto a PowerHelp –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – but certainly the customer complaint, the branch saying, “I’ve got a problem”?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, yeah.

Mr Beer: But it was hit and miss whether the investigation and the acknowledgement of a problem got onto a PowerHelp call?

Anne Chambers: To some extent. I mean, I think these calls that you have been looking at are the ones where that was most likely to happen. I would say the vast majority of PowerHelp calls, which were much more fixed issues than – yeah, they were pretty good. But yeah, these areas where the responsibility between NBSC and –

I think – yes, if there was a known problem identified by PowerHelp, then, certainly if it had been to – had come to PEAK, you would have had the PEAK response on there too. If it had just been handled by the Helpdesk, then they might not have spelt it out so much, if it was a system error.

Mr Beer: So you ended up giving evidence about the Callendar Square bug –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – without the two KELs having been disclosed that revealed that there had been an appreciable delay in addressing the Callendar Square bug?

Anne Chambers: Yes, those KELs weren’t disclosed.

Mr Beer: Looking back, do you feel that the initial brief that you were going to give evidence, factual evidence, about your limited Helpdesk investigation conducted within a five-hour period on 26 February 2004 was honoured?

Anne Chambers: No. Partly because Mr Castleton asked me much – a much wider range of questions than I was expecting but it seemed only right to try to answer the questions that were put to me. But at times I realised I sounded a little unsure because it wasn’t things that I had been expecting to be asked about.

Mr Beer: Thank you.

Sir, that’s an appropriate moment for the morning break, if it’s convenient to you.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, certainly. So what time shall we resume?

Mr Beer: 11.30, please.

Sir Wyn Williams: Fine.

Mr Beer: Thank you.

(11.15 am)

(A short break)


Mr Beer: Good morning, sir. Can you see and hear me?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, I can, yes.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much.

Mrs Chambers, can we see what you say in your witness statement about a couple of issues that concern the topic we’re presently on and, therefore, if we can look at page 23 of your witness statement. At the foot of the page, paragraph 74, you say:

“On 17th August 2006 I wrote to Gareth in the following terms:

“I’ve spent some time recalculating the CAP42 cash account for Marine Drive and addressing the points in the letter from the solicitor. I hope it makes enough sense to provide you with a starting point not quite at the very beginning. Subsequent cash accounts, if needed, should be much easier now I have the mapping is set up and some idea of what numbers need to go where.”

Then scrolling down:

“I’m now going to look at the loss made in week 42 and demonstrate that it was due to the difference between system holdings and declared holdings.

“If this isn’t at all what you wanted, please let me know – I don’t really know what I’m doing!

“This hasn’t had my full attention, lots of people are on leave and Martin landed me with a tricky POLFS/FP issue. Also, yesterday I got my witness statement which is (as I expect you found) full of things I didn’t say or do, including all those PowerHelp calls.”

Picking up on a couple of things that you said there, you say that you are looking to demonstrate that the loss was due to the difference between system holdings and declared holdings.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Would that exercise tell us if the holdings recorded by the system were inaccurate by reason of a bug, error or defect in Horizon?

Anne Chambers: Sorry, I need to think about that a little bit.


Anne Chambers: The system holdings, you calculate – well, you can see the opening figures at the start of a period and then by looking at all the transaction data that has affected the different products, and so on, you can check whether the – what the system holding should be at the end of the next period, for example. And, obviously, if that calculation shows a mismatch between, you know, what you calculated it should be and what the system has calculated it should be, then that would be a system problem.

But if they are the same, then, you know, it’s a matter of arithmetic, not opinion, and if the system holding has been calculated correctly and it’s not the same as the declared holdings, then, yes, you have a loss or a gain, which would appear not to be the fault of the system.

Mr Beer: You were adding up what you could see in the two records, rather than undertaking any probing investigation into whether there may be a problem with the recording of the transactions on Horizon?

Anne Chambers: I was adding up the transaction data that had been recorded, which was all I had to go on. I mean, there were, obviously – I’d checked for things like everything netting to zero, which had been okay, apart from the two things that had been – the one line identified.

I knew from the ARQ extract that part of that checking made sure that the set of messages – there were no gaps in the messages received from the branch. So everything that had been written to the message store on the counters appeared to have been included in the data that I was now doing this comparison with.

Mr Beer: This was essentially an accountancy exercise?

Anne Chambers: It was essentially an accountancy exercise, yes.

Mr Beer: Adding up totals –

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – in different sets of data with the assistance, presumably, of some Excel?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: You say, if we scroll down, please, at paragraph 76:

“I thought at the time, and still think, that this was a job for an accountant.”


Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: It didn’t involve any computer expertise –

Anne Chambers: Not really, no. No. Obviously not –

Mr Beer: – or expertise in computers?

Anne Chambers: Yes, that’s true.

Mr Beer: So your investigation didn’t extend to whether there was a problem with the recording of the transactions beyond the extent that you’ve said?

Anne Chambers: There was no indication of any problem with the recording of the transactions that was visible to me, either when I looked in 2004, when obviously there was, you know, more files and things to look at and, okay, it was only for a shorter period, and I couldn’t see anything wrong with the recording of the transactions subsequently.

It would only be by checking somehow, checking against what the branch had actually intended to record that you could see if there was anything wrong in what had been recorded. There were no gaps in the sequence but whether – certainly, it wasn’t that individual transactions had been dropped, if that had happened, then you would have receipts and payments mismatches. We didn’t have those.

Whether entire sessions had not been recorded, that I could not see. And whether some of the sessions that had been recorded were not as intended at the branch, I also could not see that, without some way of knowing actually what had happened at the branch.

Mr Beer: One way of doing that would be to send somebody in on balancing day, for example –

Anne Chambers: Yes, or just during normal processes.

Mr Beer: – and just watch the subpostmaster or their clerk do it?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, and try to keep a record that you could check against at the end of the day. I mean, the postmaster had a lot of reports that had to be printed out at the end of the day, with totals on for pensions and various other things, and I believe that – but this is getting into business stuff, which wasn’t – I had less familiarity with, but they were meant to add up the dockets or counterfoils, or whatever they’d got, for various things and compare them against the totals on the reports, to make sure that what was on the system was consistent with the business that they had done.

But that was something that I had no way of cross checking.

Mr Beer: Those are two things that could be done to seek to discover whether there was an underlying problem and, if so, what it was?

Anne Chambers: Absolutely, and it is possible that if those sort of checks had been done, it might have highlighted some sort of system problem. At the time, my view was that seemed very unlikely, but – or, you know, completely unlikely, completely impossible, but, in the light of where we are now, who knows.

Mr Beer: Because there’s some system faults that are not visible to you, sitting in an office in Bracknell?

Anne Chambers: No, not for that reason. It would be a fault that we still haven’t discovered.

Mr Beer: I see. An unknown system fault –

Anne Chambers: An unknown, unknown –

Mr Beer: – that doesn’t obviously leave a trace?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, that doesn’t leave any trace and that nobody notices happening at the time, except somehow you have a loss at the end of the week.

Mr Beer: The two things that we’ve just discussed as next steps, are those the kind of things that you imagined the Post Office might do?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I hoped that Post Office had staff who were very familiar both with the business processes and had a good working knowledge of the Horizon System as well.

Mr Beer: The passage of – if we just scroll up, please, to the middle of page 24, please, where you say:

“If this isn’t at all what you wanted, please let me know – I don’t really know what I’m doing!”

What did you mean by “I don’t really know what I’m doing!”?

Anne Chambers: This was the first time I’d tried to calculate a cash account by hand. We’ve seen from looking at them they’re fairly horrible, pages and pages of stuff, and I was much more familiar at looking at the trial balance and final balance reports, which lay out the accounts, to my mind, in a much more intuitive way. And then the same data got reanalysed using different mappings, that’s saying which lines go on different cash account, to produce this document, that then, I believe, had to be signed off and went to Post Office.

And I was much less familiar with how the cash account processing actually allocated things to particular lines.

So I was really having to work that out from scratch, and I – although I was – thought I was probably on the right lines, Gareth was much more of an expert in this area, so I really didn’t want him just taking what I’d done without checking it pretty thoroughly.

Mr Beer: Thank you. Can we move ahead, please, to POL00069622. You attended a conference on 11 September 2006, a conference meaning a meeting with lawyers and witnesses –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – and this is an attendance note in respect of it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Mr Dilley records:

“Had a conference with Counsel, Richard Morgan and Tom Beezer, Partner Bond Pearce at Counsel’s Chambers in London.”

Do you remember going up to London to counsel’s chambers.

Anne Chambers: I remember going up to London to counsel’s chambers, yes.

Mr Beer: We can see the purpose of the conference is recorded to meet four of the key witnesses to go over their draft statements with them.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: The conference note records them one by one, starting with Cath Oglesby, yes?

Anne Chambers: I don’t believe we were all together at the same point. I think we were there separately.

Mr Beer: If we scroll forwards, please, to page 4 at the bottom, and scroll down, please. We see at the foot of this page the record concerns you:

“Meeting with Anne Chambers.

“We went through Anne’s Witness Statement. She said she had personally got a new set of referrals for six years.”

What does that mean? I don’t really understand it.

Anne Chambers: I have no idea.

Mr Beer: Then this:

“Three to four years subpostmasters had been complaining that there is a problem or have complained if there is a problem. Sometimes there is a major [blank] for example, all the cash and stock appears to have vanished out of the office. But these sort of errors are singular and not continual.”

Would it be right that at this time, so autumn 2006, subpostmasters have been complaining for three or four years that there were problems with the Horizon System?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think that was probably true. I wouldn’t say that there were large numbers of these sort of complaints but certainly there were some concerns, I think.

Mr Beer: So remembering as best you can, you would have said, because it would have been accurate, that for three or four years subpostmasters had been complaining about Horizon, rather than three or four postmasters had reported complaints?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think that does mean that, over the – yes, three or four years, rather than three or four postmasters.

Mr Beer: It would have been wrong to say that only three or four postmasters had made complaints about Horizon?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think so. You know, it wasn’t – certainly wasn’t up in the hundreds but it was probably more than three or four.

Mr Beer: You say or it is recorded that you said:

“Sometimes there is a major [then the word is missing] for example …”

Can you help us as to what that might be, looking at the context, the missing passage?

Anne Chambers: A major problem, I don’t know. I think one of the documents I saw very recently appears to be another bug, error or defect that I had totally forgotten about. When – and it was probably starting up – started happening around about the time that I was having this meeting, which was probably why it was in my mind, where – I can’t remember the details but, yes, they rolled over and lost their stock.

But that was – it was so obvious that something had gone horribly wrong, if you like, that I believe that got picked up on and investigated. It wasn’t something that was affecting many branches and I think it was those that were doing “declare stock”, which was not what Mr Castleton did anyway.

Mr Beer: Was this pursued with you in any way, what you said here, that for three to four years subpostmasters had been complaining about Horizon and that sometimes there are major problems, namely cash and stock appears to have vanished out of the office?

Questions about what are the problems, how many of them are there? How many subpostmasters have been affected? How are they recorded in the SSC? Can we get access to documents? Those kind of questions.

Anne Chambers: I don’t recall any of those kind of questions. I think I was just being asked, generally, “Are there problems with Horizon?”

Mr Beer: And you said yes?

Anne Chambers: And I gave a general answer and then I gave a specific example of something that was happening recently and also pointed out that, you know, these weren’t things that were affecting large numbers of branches, to my knowledge.

Mr Beer: So would it be fair to say that, in this conference, the nature and extent of the Horizon problems was not explored in any detail?

Anne Chambers: I think that’s true. I mean, to my view, at the time, we were talking about Marine Drive, which I was very confident had not had any of these particular problems.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at your reflections document. That can come down and instead look at FUJ00152299.

We looked at this earlier, do you remember, 29 January 2007?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: There are four headings.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “Approach to SSC staff”, “Review of technical evidence”, “Disclosure of evidence” and then, over the page, “Helpdesk calls”.

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Did that reflect four issues that you had identified as part of this entire process of being asked to give witness evidence and then give evidence in court?

Anne Chambers: Yes. These were issues that I obviously felt concerned enough about to feel that, you know, having come to the end of this process, I thought, that I ought to – I was expecting there to be some sort of investigation – some sort of wrap-up, and I felt it was important to get these things down. I had completely forgotten, until this was disclosed to me again, that I had written this document. But yes, I obviously – very obviously did and I am quite glad I did.

Mr Beer: Yes. If we go back to the first page, please, the four topics, did they reflect quite significant concerns that you had, having come to the end of the process?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: We’ve already looked at the first paragraph, “Approach to SSC staff”. Can we look at the second and third paragraphs under that – no, sorry, the second and third paragraphs under topic 1. Thank you. You say:

“Subsequently, before the meeting with the solicitor, he asked me what my availability was in the autumn for the court case. This was the first time there was any mention of the possibility of having to go to court. Repeated assurances that this would all be settled before getting to court proved to be unfounded.

“I appreciate there may be circumstances where witnesses are summoned and have no option but to comply, but I was not at all happy about how this was handled.”

On that issue, were you expecting something to be done as a result of your raising this issue to regulate the circumstances in which SSC staff were approached to provide evidence for use in court proceedings?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think I felt that if this was part of SSC members’ role, then that should be made very clear to anybody wanting to join SSC.

Mr Beer: Anything beyond that, rather than just telling people “By the way, when you join – when you’re one of the 25 or 30 of us, you might end up in court giving evidence”. Did you have anything further in mind about regulating how people were approached, in what circumstances they were approached and bringing some formality to bear?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think all of that and possibly rather more training and guidance than I felt I had.

Mr Beer: So that was your hope?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Can we look at your second concern, “Review of technical evidence”. You say:

“When I took the initial call in February 2004, I only spent a few hours on it before deciding that could not see any sign of a system problem. I only looked at a couple of week’s information.”

That probably helps us with some of the answers you were giving yesterday.

Anne Chambers: It does, yes.

Mr Beer: So a few hours would have been within that five-hour window and to you only looked at a couple, presumably meaning one or two?

Anne Chambers: Yes, again, I’m writing this two and a half years later, so my memory of exactly what I had done was no better than it was in my witness statement.

Mr Beer: You say:

“While in this case I am now sure that I did not miss anything, and my initial analysis was correct, I am concerned that there was no technical review of the Horizon evidence between the original call and the case going to court. It is probable that any system problem affecting the accounts would have to be shown up to Post Office staff who did check the figures very carefully, but since the postmaster was blaming the system for the losses I think it would have been sensible to have double checked this with Fujitsu before it got as far as court. I was certainly concerned, in the early stages, that there might be something I had missed.”

Just stopping there. Were you essentially suggesting by that that, before court proceedings are launched, the Post Office should come back to Fujitsu for a check of some kind on the data?

Anne Chambers: It would seem very sensible, if you want to get to the bottom of somebody’s problems, if the consequence of those problems means that they may be sent to prison.

Mr Beer: So your hope was that something would be done as a result of you raising this suggestion?

Anne Chambers: I felt it really needed to be said.

Mr Beer: You knew:

“Once in court, I found myself being treated as an expert witness and answering a wide variety of questions about the system, although nominally I was a witness of fact and my witness statement just covered the investigation done in 2004. Fortunately I do have extensive knowledge of the system and was able to fulfil the wider role – but what would have happen if the initial call had been handled by a less experienced SSC person?

“If there is a similar case in future, where the system is being blamed, would it not be sensible to have a technical review of all of the evidence, at the first indication that a case may be going to court? Someone involved in that review would then be well placed to give evidence in court.”

Again, is that the same point but put in a different way?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think it probably is and I would say that that, I think, is the role that Gareth Jenkins then picked up.

Mr Beer: You refer there to a technical review of all of the evidence. What did you have in mind?

Anne Chambers: Anything you could lay your hands on that might be relevant. That was how SSC investigated. But it’s – I mean, specifically, it would – the starting point would always be the message store for the time, and anything else.

Mr Beer: On the point that you found yourself being treated as an expert witness, we’re of course now aware that other Fujitsu employees attended court and gave evidence against subpostmasters. Were you aware of that at the time of writing this memo?

Anne Chambers: At the time of writing this, I think I was only aware that people in the Security team had appeared in court and I’m not sure, I think Gareth had perhaps expected to appear as a witness before this point but, in fact, hadn’t done so, but he probably produced witness statements. But I wasn’t aware of anybody else in Fujitsu –

Mr Beer: After this time, did you come to know that Mr Jenkins was giving evidence in various trials around the country?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Did you discuss with him this issue that you raise here, namely whether you were being treated as an expert witness or a witness of fact and whether that was a problem or a concern for him?

Anne Chambers: I don’t remember discussing it explicitly with him.

Mr Beer: Do you know if this document was sent to him?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know.

Mr Beer: Did you send it to him?

Anne Chambers: As I’ve said, I’ve got no recollection of – I had forgotten that I produced this document. If he wasn’t on the distribution list of the email, then, no, I don’t think I would have sent it to him. I think I felt it was something – well, I think I sent it initially to my manager, really, to send on to the Security team, and my manager’s management.

Mr Beer: So in the years that followed, you didn’t discuss with Mr Jenkins the status of the evidence that he was going to give or had given or his understanding of his status?

Anne Chambers: No, I don’t think I ever discussed his specific status. I think perhaps I assumed, because he knew so much about everything, he was an expert witness. But that’s – in the legal sense, I wouldn’t have known precisely what was meant by that.

Mr Beer: Can we look at section 3, please, “Disclosure of evidence”. You say:

“Fujitsu made a major legal blunder by not disclosing all the relevant evidence that was in existence. I found myself in the invidious position of being aware that some information (Tivoli event logs) existed, but not sure whether they had been disclosed or not, since I had not been party to any of the requests for disclosure. It became evident in court they had not been disclosed.

“Quoting from an email received from [the Post Office’s] solicitor after my revelation …”

This was the email you referred to earlier this morning?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: This from Mr Dilley, we needn’t track the email down because you’ve cut and pasted it accurately into this document:

“‘In any litigation, the parties involved have a continuing obligation pursuant to the Court rules to disclose all documents that may help or hinder their case or the other side’s case. In this context a ‘document’ means anything in which information of any description is recorded, so it includes, just for example, a computer database. Previously, I had asked Fujitsu to let me have all the info it had and had been helpfully given HSH call logs, transaction logs and events logs. I was recently told that there was a message store which had everything else on it and we invited Mr Castleton to look at this, but he didn’t take up the opportunity.’

“This suggests that disclosure of the message store itself was an afterthought, though it is fundamental to the system. I know that for fraud cases the ‘transaction log’ and ‘event log’ are extracted from the full message store and submitted, but surely the full message store has to be disclosed in all cases?”

Just stopping there, you say, “I know that for fraud cases …” That tends to suggest that you did know that there were another species of case being conducted at this time?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I suppose so. I’m – yes, I’m not sure quite why I made that distinction, really, but I knew that the ARQ data, which is what we’re talking about there, could be obtained and I suppose I had assumed that was for – specifically for fraud cases, but …

Mr Beer: You say that transaction log and event logs are exacted and submitted in fraud cases. Who did that?

Anne Chambers: That’s the ARQ extract that was done by the Security team.

Mr Beer: When you say “and submitted”, do you mean and submitted to the court?

Anne Chambers: To Post Office, is probably what I meant.

Mr Beer: You say:

“… but surely the full message store has to be disclosed …”

Is that because, as you’ve earlier said, it’s fundamental to the system?

Anne Chambers: Yes, and I think until I’d seen that email from Stephen Dilley, I think perhaps I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t disclosed initially. As I said, I didn’t know what had been disclosed and what hadn’t. But I was very surprised to find that that seemed to be something he’d only heard about recently.

Mr Beer: So would you agree that the full message store from the branch had to be disclosed in all cases on which reliance on Horizon data was made by the Post Office and merely disclosing standard filtered ARQ data didn’t meet the disclosure requirement that had been described to you in this email?

Anne Chambers: It certainly didn’t seem to meet the disclosure requirement that was in this email. I’d only had that email well into the, you know – this was Christmas 2006. You know, I was surprised.

Mr Beer: Were the Security department, to your knowledge, aware of all of the files archived to audit servers that held relevant material?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I didn’t know what they were aware of, I thought – yes, I think that paragraph there sort of sums up my knowledge.

Mr Beer: That’s the next paragraph?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “Many other files are also archived to the audit servers as a matter of course and could hold relevant information, although the Security team are not necessarily aware of their existence or potential relevance. I’d like to suggest that a list of these files is compiled so that similar mistakes are not made in future.”

Starting with “Many other files are also archived to audit servers”, what other files are you speaking of?

Anne Chambers: All sorts of things. You know, it’s an enormous computer system, so a lot of back-end files, if you like, were continually being generated. Some of them would – were transient, others were backed up in one way or another. Some of them were possibly written to the audit servers, although SSC wouldn’t have seen those because we didn’t have access to the audit servers. So I didn’t know what might be there but I had a feeling there might be a lot of stuff.

This wouldn’t be specifically counter files because some of the diagnostic files that were written that only existed on counters, they wouldn’t have been maintained in this way, but there could have been files containing transactions for a branch, as well as for lots of other branches, that were still in existence.

I didn’t – it was really a bit of an unknown and I thought, well, perhaps somebody ought to try to make sure they know it in case this is relevant in future.

Mr Beer: But a known unknown?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: You suggested a list of files being compiled because the Security team might not be aware of the existence of such files and therefore their relevance?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: To your knowledge, was that done?

Anne Chambers: I never had any follow-up on any of the things in this document.

Mr Beer: You continue:

“And what about calls on PEAK, which may have evidence attached? And any evidence which might have been kept within SSC? I was not asked whether I had anything that might have been relevant (as it happens, in this case I did not).”

Is that because you hadn’t attached anything to the PEAK?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I didn’t attach anything to the PEAK and anything that I did have in file store in 2004, I would have kept it for a year, year and a half but then I’d have had a tidy-up and got rid of it.

Mr Beer: But your point was there needs to be a more systematic approach to this –

Anne Chambers: Yes –

Mr Beer: – namely people being asked to give evidence –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – should be asked to turn over relevant material?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I felt that that probably – going on what Stephen Dilley was saying should have been disclosed, then surely that would have included those sort of things.

Mr Beer: You continue:

“Of course there may be subtleties to this that I am unaware of, whereby data may exist but there is no obligation to disclose it. If this is the case, could any future witnesses be briefed appropriately? The response ‘no one has ever asked for that before’ does not seem to be a good reason for non-disclosure.”

Who had given the response “No one has ever asked for that before”?

Anne Chambers: I cannot now remember but, since I put it there, it suggests that somebody may have said it.

Mr Beer: Within Fujitsu?

Anne Chambers: Yes, this was all aimed within Fujitsu.

Mr Beer: Helpdesk calls the last section, section 4:

“This case highlighted a common problem, both in 2004 and now. The postmaster raised many calls about his continuing losses, both with Horizon and with the NBSC. These kept being bounced and it took weeks before a call was passed to SSC.”

You’re essentially there referring to the evidence I took you through yesterday morning.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “Strictly speaking, problems with discrepancies do need to be investigated by NBSC in the first instance, but where there are continuing unresolved problems it should be possible to get the issue investigated properly, and one of the Helpdesks should be prepared to take responsibility for the incident. Personally I think the fact that the Horizon helpdesk is penalised for passing ‘Advice and Guidance’ type calls on to third line leads to too many calls being closed without proper investigation or resolution. This is very frustrating for postmasters, though possibly not an issue of concern to [the Post Office].”

So, first of all, you say you think the fact that the Horizon Helpdesk is penalised from passing “Advice and Guidance” type calls to the SSC?

Anne Chambers: Yes, there was some –

Mr Beer: What was the penalty?

Anne Chambers: I cannot now remember whether it was just a black mark or a financial thing. I’ve no idea that –

Mr Beer: What are you getting at here? What’s the underlying problem here?

Anne Chambers: They were reluctant sometimes to pass calls to SSC if they thought they were just going to be told off for having passed over a call that they shouldn’t have done.

Mr Beer: So, what, they bounced it back to the NBSC?

Anne Chambers: I think that did happen in some cases. It may –

Mr Beer: So what we saw in the many documents I took you through yesterday morning was something that wasn’t isolated to this case; it was a recurring problem?

Anne Chambers: Yes, it was.

Mr Beer: What we’ve seen is emblematic of a wider problem?

Anne Chambers: I think so, yes. Certainly, the calls we looked at yesterday, I feel that there was – there were – there was at least one where I wished they had passed it on to SSC, possibly two, and it would have avoided some of the toing and froing. I don’t believe it would have made any difference to the outcome but –

Mr Beer: You say it leads to too many calls being closed without proper investigation or resolution. Why did it lead to calls being closed without proper investigation?

Anne Chambers: Because the Helpdesk were just bouncing them back, without it coming to SSC, and there probably were cases where, you know, there was a system error that did need to be picked up on. And, obviously, in that case, the sooner it came to SSC, the better.

Mr Beer: So that would just be bounced back and, if the postmaster wasn’t persistent –

Anne Chambers: That did happen, yes.

Mr Beer: – it would just we closed off?

Anne Chambers: Yes. That could – that did happen.

Mr Beer: What would happen if there was a loss? They would just have to pay up?

Anne Chambers: If they couldn’t find the reason for the loss as a business issue, as I say, discrepancies were most likely not to be system problems but they could be and, certainly we’ll see when we go through the rest of the bugs, errors and defects, that there were cases where it should have been reported to SSC years before it actually was.

And there was this, you know – we got calls through to SSC that probably shouldn’t have been passed through to us but there were also others that should have come to us that didn’t reach us.

Mr Beer: So all the while the system error was continuing?

Anne Chambers: The one I’m thinking about yes, although –

Mr Beer: Which one are you thinking about in particular?

Anne Chambers: The one that gave 14 branches a loss every February.

Mr Beer: That went on for a number of years?

Anne Chambers: Two years.

Mr Beer: Yes.

Anne Chambers: Same branches.

Mr Beer: You say:

“This is very frustrating for postmasters …”

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think Mr Castleton would probably agree with that.

Mr Beer: You’re not basing that opinion just on Mr Castleton’s case?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: That’s, at the time of writing, your six or seven years’ accumulated experiences; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, yeah.

Mr Beer: You say it’s possibly not an issue of concern to the Post Office. Why did you think the Post Office was possibly not really concerned about this?

Anne Chambers: I think, by this point, I had realised that the outcome for the postmasters was not Post Office’s primary consideration.

Mr Beer: What was the Post Office’s primary consideration?

Anne Chambers: I think, by this point, it was fairly clear that they were keen on defending the integrity of their system rather than trying to get to the bottom of issues, whether system problems or business problems, affecting individual branches.

Mr Beer: So it was more important, in your accumulated experience, to the Post Office to defend the integrity of Horizon, rather than conduct a proper investigation to determine whether the system is causing discrepancies?

Anne Chambers: Whether the system or business practices at the Post Office are causing the discrepancies.

Mr Beer: Can you help us: that overarching view that you’ve just expressed, on what information or evidence was it based?

Anne Chambers: I think, partly in the case of Mr Castleton, that they hadn’t – they didn’t appear to have made any attempt to help him get to the bottom of the problems that he was having and that it was just seen that “Oh, well, you know, he’s signed these things off, therefore that’s his responsibility”.

When I started working on Horizon, I didn’t appreciate the fact that the subpostmasters really didn’t work for Post Office but they were a third party in all this. Any other systems I’d ever worked on, if there was a problem and I said, “Well, I can’t see anything wrong on the system side”, then the customer, if they continued to have problems, would push back quite strongly and say, “But look, this isn’t right, we need to sort it”, and then we would work together to sort it out.

But with the case of Post Office – and it took me quite a long time to realise how it worked – the postmasters had – they didn’t have the power to do the pushing back and our client, Post Office, who would have had that power, did not seem interested in doing that.

Mr Beer: How was that manifested itself, outside of Mr Castleton’s case?

Anne Chambers: I just think in other cases where I had looked, where there were discrepancies or problems, and I was not able to find any system problem and was pretty sure there was not a system problem, but I could – you know, they were having losses or whatever, and I would say “Well, you know, perhaps your manager can help you resolve this”, and the postmaster’s view on that bit of advice was not usually indicative that they thought that that would be successful.

Mr Beer: This is you expressing that contemporaneously, back in 2007, rather than now –

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – through the sentence “possibly not an issue of concern to the Post Office”?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: In that sentence?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Standing back, do you agree that you were, in this afterthoughts document, raising a series of fundamental and important issues about the process of giving evidence in court, in proceedings which concerned data produced by the Horizon System?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I mean, I was doing it really from my personal point of view, having been through this process. I just felt it needed to be fed back as things that concerned me.

Mr Beer: You raised an issue about the need for a proper technical review of a wide range of data before proceedings were even launched, yes?

Anne Chambers: That was a suggestion.

Mr Beer: You raised an issue over confusion as to whether a witness was giving evidence of fact or opinion evidence?

Anne Chambers: Yes. Yes, I don’t think anybody had ever mentioned opinion evidence as an option.

Mr Beer: You raised an issue about witnesses being asked to speak about the reliability of Horizon more generally, rather than about the narrow work that they had actually done?

Anne Chambers: I don’t think that was particularly a concern. It was just being – it was just sort of being asked not necessarily about the reliability but about anything that was outside what I thought I was meant to be talking about.

Mr Beer: These are all issues you now know, I think, which have come to afflict the presentation of the Post Office’s cases against subpostmasters in criminal proceedings?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: You were then, back in 2007, describing issues that may have afflicted past and then current criminal prosecutions, albeit you had no knowledge of those?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Would you agree that you were raising a series of red flags?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I’m not sure I thought about that at the time – thought about it like that at the time. I just thought there were lessons to be learnt.

Mr Beer: Would you agree that it was important for both Fujitsu and the Post Office to address these issues and to address them properly and promptly?

Anne Chambers: I was pretty clear on my point of view and, yes, I hoped it might have some impact for the future.

Mr Beer: You weren’t raising them to be ignored –

Anne Chambers: No, no.

Mr Beer: – nor as an insurance policy against what you had done?

Anne Chambers: No, not at all.

Mr Beer: You weren’t going to give evidence again, to the best of your knowledge –

Anne Chambers: That’s true, yes.

Mr Beer: – and this was to help others, presumably –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – whether those others be subpostmasters or your colleagues?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: Can we see what was done with your report please, and look at FUJ00152300. Can we see, at the foot of the page, please, an email of 29 January 2007 – that’s the date of your report, remember, 29 January 2007 –

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – from Mik Peach to Brian Pinder, Security Manager; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Naomi Elliott, that is Mr Peach’s manager; is that right?

Anne Chambers: That’s Mr Peach’s manager, yes.

Mr Beer: And copied to you?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “‘Mop up’ on the Castleton case”, subject:


“I understand from Anne that you do not intend to have an internal review on the Castleton case.”

Stopping there, had you asked Mr Pinder whether there was going to be an internal review?

Anne Chambers: I have no memory of that but I assume I had done.

Mr Beer: That tends to suggest you had –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – and he’d said no?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, I assume so.

Mr Beer: “Nevertheless, we are concerned that POA …”

That means Post Office Account?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Does that mean Fujitsu?

Anne Chambers: Yes, Fujitsu.

Mr Beer: So the Fujitsu Post Office Account:

“… made some errors during the course of this case which could prove critical in any future litigation.

“To this end, Anne has written up her thoughts and comments (attached), and I would welcome your comments.”

Your document is an attachment.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: If we scroll up and see what the reply was, please. 5 February, so about a week later –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – an email addressed to you and Mr Peach, copied to Naomi Elliott. Then in the title addressed to you, “Mik, Anne”:

“Thanks Mik, there was no intention to have a wash up on this particular case as such but I must stress that from the outset this was ‘new ground’ and a particularly unusual case (1st of its kind in 10 years) for all concerned. It involved many different variables which, at any point in time could have culminated in a totally different outcome.

“This enquiry took well over a year to conclude and routine procedures which have served us well for 10 years were suddenly being stretched to new limits, but it does highlight how (POA) can be called to account and I totally agree we must learn from this.

“Anne (many thanks for your comments) you have highlighted some interesting areas of procedure which we need to recognise, and I will custody these with Naomi and keep you both informed.”

Did you ever hear anything again?

Anne Chambers: Not that I recall but, since I’d forgotten this, who knows.

Mr Beer: We haven’t got a record of anything else happening –

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: – as a result of this?

Anne Chambers: No.

Mr Beer: Would it be unfair to describe this as a pat on the head?

Anne Chambers: Yes. No, sorry, not unfair. It would be fair.

Mr Beer: It’s fair. “Well done, Anne, thanks”?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “We’re just filing this”?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Is that how you read it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Overall, your view was that something was going wrong at Marine Drive, you couldn’t see what the problem was and the only way to progress matters was at the branch?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: That needed Post Office to take some action, didn’t it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So far as you were aware, that wasn’t done?

Anne Chambers: That didn’t appear to be done.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much. Those are the only questions I’m going to ask on the Castleton case. Thank you.

Anne Chambers: Okay.

Mr Beer: Sir, we’re going to move now to look at some of the bugs, errors and defects held over from last time. I wonder whether I could impertinently ask for a lunch break now, because it’s a useful stopping off point, and break until 1.30?

Sir Wyn Williams: Of course, Mr Beer. So we’ll resume at 1.30.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much, sir.

(12.25 pm)

(The Short Adjournment)


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

Sir Wyn Williams: I can, thank you.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much.

Good afternoon, Mrs Chambers. Before we turn to look at, in fact, just one of the bugs, may we just return to a question I asked you before lunch. Do you remember your afterthoughts document?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: I asked you whether you had shared that with Mr Jenkins?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: You said, unless the email trail showed that you had, you couldn’t recall having done so; I think that’s a summary of your evidence. We looked at the email distribution in the email I showed you right before lunch.

Never mind showing him the document or sending him the document, do you recall, after writing it, discussing any of the four issues with him?

Anne Chambers: I certainly don’t remember any formal discussion. Whether we had an informal chat, I have no recollection of that. I can’t say “yes” or “no” on that.

Mr Beer: Just breaking it down, a conversation or conversations with him about the need to conduct a fundamental review of data before a legal case was commenced?

Anne Chambers: So we may – I mean, I think he might have been of the same view of that anyway, whether we actually had a discussion along those lines as to how necessary it was, I can’t be certain. I do know that subsequently when he was preparing for other court cases, he did do – he appeared to be doing a fairly thorough examination because occasionally he’d ask me to double check some of the things he was looking at as well, but I’m not sure – I don’t think this was ever formally documented anywhere.

Mr Beer: Was that – when he was doing what appeared to be a thorough examination – at the stage at which he was preparing to be a witness giving evidence or was it the issue that you were concerned with, which is conducting a fundamental review of data before proceedings are even commenced?

Anne Chambers: I don’t think he would have been involved until proceedings were commenced.

Mr Beer: What about the other issue that you raised in the paper concerning giving evidence of fact or opinion evidence as a witness?

Anne Chambers: I don’t think I ever discussed that with him.

Mr Beer: Did you ever discuss with him the question of creating a list of available data for provision to the Security team, so they would know what was there in order that disclosure obligations might be complied with?

Anne Chambers: I’ve no recollection of discussing that with him and I don’t think he’d have been in a position to have made that list anyway.

Mr Beer: Who was responsible for taking forward the four issues that you had raised in your paper?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know. I was concerned that nobody seemed to be doing any sort of a follow-up so I sent it to my manager. So, at that level, I was really passing it on to him and, as we’d seen, he then passed it up to both his manager and the Security team manager.

Mr Beer: Thank you.

Can we turn to bugs, errors or defects. In the light of the approach that the Inquiry, the Chairman, is taking to Mr Justice Fraser’s judgments and the significant quantity of material that we’ve now got in relation to bugs, errors and defects and the helpful explanations you’ve given in your first witness statement in relation to some of them, I’m just going to concentrate, if I may, on the suspense account bug.

Anne Chambers: Right, which number is –

Mr Beer: It’s 3, bug 3.

Anne Chambers: Oh, okay. Yeah.

Mr Beer: Would you agree with the following summary of the suspense account bug: firstly, it’s a Horizon Online bug?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Secondly, it involved branches that deleted a stock unit at the end of 2010 with a transaction in local suspense. They were affected as a result of that change?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Thirdly, in essence, the transaction that was in the local suspense of the deleted stock unit was left in the database used to construct branch trading statements in the same trading period in the following years?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Fourthly, this would cause a false discrepancy. It caused discrepancies in 2012 but they weren’t identified as a bug at that stage?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: The bug was only discovered, lastly, in February 2013?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Okay. Can we look, then, and pick the story up with one of the initiating PEAKs of February 2013, FUJ00081875. Can you see this is a PEAK numbered PC0223870?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: The summary is:

“Branch [and then a FAD code is given] has an unexplained discrepancy”?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: If we just scroll down, please. We can see that it’s opened on 25 February 2013?

Anne Chambers: Yes, sorry, yeah.

Mr Beer: Yes? Earlier on, you referred to a bug that it had been slow to recognise that had affected 14 branches?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Is this the bug you are referring to?

Anne Chambers: This is the bug that I was referring to, yes.

Mr Beer: I think you said at the time that that was in part because of a failure at the NBSC and Helpdesk area to escalate to the SSC earlier?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I can’t remember now whether this – I don’t think this actually got as far as the Horizon Helpdesk. I’m sorry, I can’t remember now. I think there were calls at NBSC, it was discovered subsequently, when checks were made, and I can’t remember if none of them were passed on to the Horizon Helpdesk or just one but nothing got as far as SSC until 2013.

Mr Beer: So, essentially, there’s a bug in the system causing discrepancies –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: – that has been reported by a postmaster but has not been escalated to the SSC?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Therefore, the bug continues to work the discrepancies.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So the summary of the call, the branch has I think that is, an unexplained discrepancy, yes? If we then scroll down, please, further notes:

“The Branch has an unexplained discrepancy. They balanced and rolled trading period on 6 February, they have one stock unit, AA, and this was balanced with a loss of £39.57, which was transferred to local suspense however the figure that was cleared out from local suspense was much higher £9,839.45.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “I have carried out transaction logs for all transactions from date range 31 January to 6 February. Branch has submitted copies of the final balance reports from [Trading Period] 10BP4 …”

What does that mean?

Anne Chambers: Yes, by this time instead of having weekly cash account periods we had four-week trading periods and they could be split into weekly balance periods if postmasters wanted to balance things weekly.

Mr Beer: So this is balancing period 4 of the trading period 10 –

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – and balance period 5 of trading period 10; yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “The balance report for TP10 BP5 shows discrepancy transferred of £39.57 and then discrepancy resolved of £9,839.45. The transaction log completed for all transactions does not show any other figures being entered into or removed from the housekeeping/local suspense account.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So this text here, is this taken from the NBSC? Is this an NBSC person writing it?

Anne Chambers: Yes, it appears so. The contact was Ibrahim at NBSC, and he had probably sent this to HSH, whatever they were called then, quite possibly as an email or something.

Mr Beer: So it’s been cut into the PEAK?

Anne Chambers: It’s been put into a new PowerHelp call, or whatever calls were called at that point, which has then be routed to PEAK and has created a PEAK in the process.

Mr Beer: Got it. Then if we scroll down, please. There is some process chat, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: You changed the summary –

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: – from “Branch has an unexplained discrepancy” for putting the branch code having an unexplained discrepancy?

Anne Chambers: That was standard practice. We always tried to put the branch code in the heading of the call.

Mr Beer: Is that for subsequent searching purposes?

Anne Chambers: It would have been picked up for searching wherever it was but just so – it just made it clearer and then, if you were looking at the stack, you might possibly see if you’ve got several –

Mr Beer: So then the call having been assigned to you at 5.02, 45 minutes later you make the change and then, the following day, you make your first substantive entry; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: If we scroll down so we can read the whole of that:

“When they completed the balance on the 6 February and cleared the loss from local suspense, the amount cleared was £9,000-odd, instead of the loss they put into local suspense which was £39-odd. This appears to be a consequence of something that happened during the previous trading period rollover on 2 January: a ‘gain to local suspense’ of £9,000-odd was included in the DEF opening figures.”

What are the “DEF opening figures”?

Anne Chambers: “DEF” was a default stock unit, I can’t now fully remember its purpose but every branch, by this point, had one of those.

Mr Beer: “I don’t think any of the local suspense products should ever appear in the opening figures.”

Can you explain what you mean there, please?

Anne Chambers: Because when you rolled over into a new trading period, before you did that, you had to clear local suspense, ie make good any loss or gain that had been made during that period or clear it in some other way, and so local suspense should always be zero at the point that you roll over, so there should never be any value for it in the opening figures for the next period.

Mr Beer: You continue:

“However I found 14 such lines, all product 6295 gain to LS.”

What does that mean.

Anne Chambers: Gain to local suspense.

Mr Beer: What does “product 6295” mean?

Anne Chambers: Every product had a number as well as a name and the number for gain to local suspense was 6295.

Mr Beer: “Unfortunately all created November to December last year so there is almost no remaining counter evidence.”

What did you mean by that?

Anne Chambers: Because these records had been created some three months – two/three months previously, looking at log files on the counter, and so on, was unlikely to help.

Mr Beer: How did you find the 14 other examples –

Anne Chambers: Um –

Mr Beer: – or instances?

Anne Chambers: By this point, we’re not dealing with Riposte and message stores, and so on.

Mr Beer: No.

Anne Chambers: We’re dealing with an Oracle database system that was all held centrally, something called the Branch Database. It should really have been the Branches’ Database because it contained – there were a lot of different tables containing data for all the branches, obviously each record said which branch it referred to, and so on.

So once I’d found the table of interest, I could just do a query on that table to find all records for that product in that table, regardless of branch.

Mr Beer: You’re continuing to investigate the cause and implications?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Mr McEwan changes the call priority?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Is that increasing its priority?

Anne Chambers: That’s increasing the priority. He was – the team leaders within SSC took it in turns to be sort of duty manager for a day or a week or something. He must have been the duty manager on this occasion and I probably discussed it with him and said, “This looks serious”.

Mr Beer: You then include – I think that’s essentially a hyperlink, I would call it, to BRSS Extracts. What are BRSS Extracts?

Anne Chambers: The BRSS was a copy of the branch database, which in fact was what we ran our support jobs on, so we weren’t impacting the live database.

Mr Beer: You were doing that presumably so you’ve got a document to work from easily obtainable, the reason –

Anne Chambers: So this –

Mr Beer: – you created the hyperlink?

Anne Chambers: Yes, this was evidence that I’d added. It was probably an Excel spreadsheet.

Mr Beer: You say:

“We only keep opening figures for three old trading periods so can’t be sure when the problem started.”

Does that mean that the opening figures for three four-week periods were that which was retained.

Anne Chambers: Yes, I believe so because old data was continually having to be deleted out of the tables.

Mr Beer: Continuing later that day, if we scroll down, please, you ask Ibrahim at the NBSC if the suspense report from 2 January is available. He’ll obtain it and email it to HSD, IMD – is that the Incident Management Team.

Anne Chambers: Yes, I believe so.

Mr Beer: What did you want that for?

Anne Chambers: I thought it would be interesting to see what entries were on the suspense report. This was a report that would have been produced at the branch on 2 January.

Mr Beer: You got that by 4.51. You looked at it and it didn’t show an anomaly; is that right?

Anne Chambers: I couldn’t see anything on it, yeah.

Mr Beer: Scroll down, please. You say you have asked, top of the page “what the branch did about the problem last year”. Who were you asking there?

Anne Chambers: I can’t remember whether I asked Ibrahim or whether, by this time, I was talking direct to the branch. I think it’s more likely I asked Ibrahim.

Mr Beer: By 4.20, you say you found the cause of the problem.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “… some data from autumn 2010 has been retained in [a table] for 14 separate branches. These branches will all have been affected by this problem late 2011 and late 2012, though in some cases the amounts involved are small.”

Do you then set out the 14 affected branches?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I do.

Mr Beer: You wanted, however, to see what needed still to be ascertained and you, I think, then set out a series of questions and answers to yourself?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I mean, any investigation you’ve got various things that then need to be done and this was trying to record what needed to be done.

Mr Beer: Do we see those at the foot of the page and continuing?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So under “Still to be investigated”?

Anne Chambers: Yes, as far as I can see.

Mr Beer: Thank you:

“Exactly how did these records cause the observed effect?

“Why were these records not removed by the normal archiving process?

“What impact has the problem that on the branch accounts?

“What impact has the problem had on POLSAP?

“How do we remove the records to prevent future problems?

“Were there any affect branches which have since closed?

“There are 19 other branches which have had old data in the affected table, but not relating to Local Suspense. Could this cause any problem with the branch accounts?”

What did you mean by that last entry, please?

Anne Chambers: When I looked in the table that I had identified, that had these 14 local suspense lines in, I found that there was other old data. I, presumably at this point, just looked for any records older than a number of months because they should have been removed by the archiving process. I found that there was some other data in there but, as I say, not relating to local suspense, so I was – obviously that was something else that needed to be followed up.

Mr Beer: The next day, I think you repeat your questions and then give some of the answers to them; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So we’re now on the 28th:

“Exactly how did these records cause the observed effect?”

Then you describe essentially the problem that I outlined at the beginning, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “How to identify the problem from branch reports?

“Branch trading statement: the sum of two Discrepancy Transferred lines does not match the total of the two Discrepancy Resolved lines.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Can you explain how that identifies the problem from branch reports?

Anne Chambers: Well, the branch trading statements, which – it was the cash account replacement, that would show the discrepancies being put into local suspense from all the different stock units and then, before they could roll over into the next trading period, the final – when they rolled over the final stock unit, then they had to clear that amount that was in local suspense.

This particular problem that – the whole problem was because they were having to clear more than they had put into local suspense, so those numbers would not match up on the branch trading statement.

Mr Beer: Thank you. Then if we scroll down, please, to 16.05.10, on 6 March. Thank you. You record that:

“There was a conference call with [the Post Office] (Laura Darby, Mark Wardle and others) on 28 February about this call, and the spreadsheet showing the impact of the problem on the 14 branches were sent to them by Steve Bansal. We are waiting to hear from Mark whether this is sufficient information for them to resolve the consequences on the branches and POLSAP.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: What were the consequences on the branches?

Anne Chambers: They had had to clear a loss or a gain, which had been – was not the amount that they should have had to clear.

Mr Beer: You say:

“We will then need to get the old data causing the problem removed from the database …”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: “… and consider whether extra checks should be put in place to trap similar anomalies in the future.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Were extra checks put in place to trap similar anomalies in the future?

Anne Chambers: Yes, they were, eventually.

Mr Beer: When were they put in place?

Anne Chambers: I think it may be at the bottom of – it’s at the bottom of one of the PEAKs. It wasn’t for several months, I think.

Mr Beer: What was the check put in place?

Anne Chambers: I believe there were two checks. One was as I’ve already outlined and then there was a second one, which I can’t remember without – I’m sure I’ve written it down somewhere or it’s in the – it’s certainly in one of the PEAKs. But this was – you know, we knew we had followed up these specific ones but it was just in case such a thing – situation should ever occur in future.

There was no reason to think it would but, if it did, then people would be alerted to it rather than the postmaster having to raise a call.

Mr Beer: Can we look, please, at POL00028744. Thank you. This is, I think, a linked PEAK.

Anne Chambers: Yes, it’s a clone of the one that we were looking at previously.

Mr Beer: If we go forwards, I think, to 13 March, please – if we keep scrolling, please – you make an entry on this copy of the cloned PEAK:

“We need to make sure a copy of the records being removed is kept somewhere in case there are questions to be answered about any of the affected branches’ accounts.”


Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Firstly, the records being removed. What records were being removed?

Anne Chambers: These were the records in this table, BRDB_RX_BTS_DATA that had been created in 2010/2011 –

Mr Beer: 2010.

Anne Chambers: – which should have been removed by the automatic archiving process but had not been removed.

Mr Beer: You wanted a copy of that which was removed retained?

Anne Chambers: It seemed like a good idea.

Mr Beer: You say “in case there are questions to be answered about any of the affected branches’ accounts”, was that in recognition that changes to data that were being made like this might lead to disputes between the Post Office and subpostmasters, if there wasn’t a clear and defensible audit trail?

Anne Chambers: I don’t think it was specifically that, it was just obviously that there had been an error caused at these branches and it just seemed like – we weren’t deleting transaction data here, this – yes, they are financial records but they shouldn’t have been there but I just felt we shouldn’t just get rid of them without making a note.

Mr Beer: You say “in case there are questions to be answered”; questions to be asked by who?

Anne Chambers: Anybody.

Mr Beer: Including subpostmasters?

Anne Chambers: Yes, potentially, yes.

Mr Beer: So there did need to be a clear and defensible audit trail of what had been removed in case a subpostmaster asked about it?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think so.

Mr Beer: Were subpostmasters told about the changes to the data made by Fujitsu?

Anne Chambers: I can’t remember now. I think Post Office dealt with talking to the affected branches. As I say, this was not changing transaction data.

Mr Beer: It was changing data that had financial consequences for the subpostmasters?

Anne Chambers: In that it was data that shouldn’t have been there and so we were removing it.

Mr Beer: It was causing them to show a discrepancy that was false?

Anne Chambers: Yes. Because these records, which should have been removed, were still there. So we needed a copy, so we could say, look – if necessary we could say “Yes, it was this record for your branch and it caused a false discrepancy of this amount”. And we’d already got that information into spreadsheets, and so on. I just felt it was something that should be done.

Mr Beer: Do you recall whether the Post Office briefed subpostmasters on the issue that had afflicted their data, the steps taken to make corrections and identifying what had occurred, so that any further problems might be more easily spotted by them when the known issue was impacting them?

Anne Chambers: I can’t remember the details. I know we had a couple of conference calls with Post Office and I know Gareth wrote a note to attempt to describe the problem, and there were discussions between Gareth and Post Office as to what should be done but, at this precise moment, I know we’ve got documents about this, but I can’t remember the details.

Mr Beer: I’ll try and help you. If we can look, please, at POL00098189. If we start at page 4, please. We can see from the foot of the page, this is an email signed off by you.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Then if we just go up to the bottom of page 3, we can see it’s an email sent by you to Andrew Winn, Helen Love and the duty manager?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Who was Andrew Winn?

Anne Chambers: A Post Office person.

Mr Beer: Was it usual for you to communicate directly to the Post Office in this way?

Anne Chambers: Not unless there’d been some previous conference call or request. I wasn’t sending – as it says, “as requested”, and I believe this was following one of the conference calls where I had tried to explain this incredibly complicated set of events which had led to this problem, and I think everybody felt it would be clearer if I tried to write it down.

Mr Beer: Thank you. If we scroll up, please. We can see Mr Winn’s reply.

“Hi Anne,

“Thanks for this. I’ve taken a deep breath and tried to confirm the actual impact on branches and prepare our communications to them. Can you have a look at my first draft to see if I have simplified and condensed what happened without losing meaning or any key detail? Appreciate you will not be comment on what the branch or the FSC has subsequently done.”

Some stuff about the Crown branches and then an individual branch:

“Any thoughts?


Then scroll up, please. Keep going so we can see all of your email. You deal with the spreadsheet for Willen, which I think is one of the Crown branches, and Lower Regent Street.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Then you say:

“I’ve made a few possible changes to both letters which hopefully make the cause and scope of the problem clearer.

“I tried to phone you, because Gareth Jenkins mentioned that this problem is still being discussed at a high level as part of the ongoing investigations/checks into Horizon, and I would hate anything I have put here to compromise that – I don’t see why it should but just wanted to flag it. I assume anything going out to the branches will be reviewed in the light of that.”

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So, essentially, he, Mr Winn, was asking you to check his communication out to branches, his draft communication out to branches for accuracy; is that right?

Anne Chambers: For technical accuracy, yes.

Mr Beer: Yes, and was that usual practice for the Post Office, to ask Fujitsu for advice on how it should communicate with subpostmasters about a problem arising in Horizon and impacting on their Post Office business?

Anne Chambers: I don’t recall it ever happening any other time and I wouldn’t say they’re asking me how to communicate. It was just trying to make sure that any technical information in those letters was as accurate as possible because, obviously, you know, they’d be trying to make it clear to the postmasters.

Mr Beer: In your first witness statement, you’d said that, generally, when Fujitsu identified a problem and communicated it to the Post Office, it was for the Post Office to determine if, how and when the problem should be communicated to subpostmasters; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: So is this something of an exception, ie you involving – or you being involved?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think Post Office had made the decision as to what they wanted to do and were then looking to work out how to explain it clearly to the postmasters, and it was just the technical description of the problem as it appeared to the postmasters. They presumably just wanted to try to make sure that was accurate. But I am not sure I should have been doing that and I was obviously a little concerned that I was doing it, but I was trying to be helpful.

Mr Beer: In the paragraph beginning “Tried to phone you”, you refer to the problem being discussed at a high level.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Mr Beer: Can you recall what the high level discussion was about?

Anne Chambers: Presumably that there was a bug in Horizon.

Mr Beer: Yes, but why might a discussion at a high level be compromised by what you had written or approved to be written?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know, but I think I was aware that I’m not always very sort of politically sensitive, and I was not wanting to get it wrong.

Mr Beer: So you didn’t want to tread on toes; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Mr Beer: So did you think you might be compromising the position of Fujitsu in some way?

Anne Chambers: No, I don’t think so. I just wanted to caveat the fact that I was doing things and I didn’t want it just going out because I and Andy Winn had said so.

Mr Beer: If we scroll up, please, to see Mr Winn’s reply. The first three paragraphs don’t really matter to us but then he says to you:

“I intend this to go through our solicitors before it gets sent out.

“Have a good weekend.”

So, presumably, at this stage, the issue was being treated with sufficient seriousness by the Post Office, that its communications out to its subpostmasters were being vetted or approved or at least looked at by their solicitors.

Anne Chambers: That’s what that says.

Mr Beer: Yes. Was that usual?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know. As I said, I was – I don’t recall ever having been involved at this particular level before.

Mr Beer: So this, from your perspective, is a bit of an outlier, this type of thing that you were now engaged in –

Anne Chambers: Oh, yes. Yeah.

Mr Beer: – ie communications between you and Mr Winn at a working level, those higher up the chain discussing at a management level perhaps responsibility for the bug, and solicitors checking communications to subpostmasters?

Anne Chambers: Yes, this was very unusual and my input was really because it was such a complicated problem to explain that, you know, people were still coming back to me to try to, you know, understand exactly which combination of rather a lot of different things had caused these branches to be impacted.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much. They’re the only questions that I ask you about this bug and they’re the end of my questions. Thank you very much, Mrs Chambers.

Sir, I think there are questions from one Core Participant, the Hodge Jones & Allen team.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes.

Mr Beer: Thank you.

Questioned by Ms Page

Ms Page: Thank you, sir.

Mrs Chambers, as you know I think, I appear for number of subpostmasters including Mr Castleton, who sits to my right.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: Earlier on in your evidence, you were looking at the ARQ data for week 41, which shows a zero stamp declaration –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: – and you explained that the stamp declaration was one part of what went into the total stamps carried forward into week 42 –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: – and, in effect, it was the stamps bearing denominations which come in large books, those sort of stamps that say 1 penny –

Anne Chambers: (The witness nodded)

Ms Page: – or they might say 10 pence, or whatever?

Anne Chambers: Yes, yes.

Ms Page: Obviously that’s the staple of any Post Office, selling that sort of stamp?

Anne Chambers: Yeah.

Ms Page: So we can probably agree that a subpostmaster wouldn’t accurately declare that to be zero. You’d never get to the end of your stamps, would you?

Anne Chambers: No, no.

Ms Page: We can go to it, if you like, but you may be able to take it from me that, in week 41, the final balance, which has the breakdown of the two parts, shows a figure for both parts?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: So there isn’t a zero.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: There’s stamps and there’s the stock stamps, if you like –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: – the other stamps. That zero declaration that we see before the cash account was finalised, that appears to be an anomaly; is that fair?

Anne Chambers: It appears to be an anomaly, yes. But I do have a probable explanation for it but not one that I can prove.

Ms Page: Well, I suspect that we probably don’t need probable explanations, if there’s one that you can prove then we could hear it, but –

Anne Chambers: I don’t have – I mean, I do not now have any evidence that I’ve seen that means that I can prove it, but if I could explain what the probable one is? Because we know that the earlier declaration for £1,183 was included in the accounts, so that zero declaration appears to have had no effect because you would have expected that to have wiped out that other amount.

But when you made a stamp declaration or a cash declaration, you could give a specific drawer ID. I think we’ve seen that somewhere. So, normally, Mr Castleton used drawer 11. Now it is conceivable, but this is what I can’t prove, that this zero declaration had a different drawer ID, which is why it didn’t overwrite the earlier one. But that, to me, seems likely, because, otherwise, if it had been the same drawer ID, it would have overwritten the earlier one.

If I’d got the full message store that was audited then that’s something I could have checked and I may well have checked it back in 2006 but I can’t check it now, I’m afraid.

Ms Page: No. All right. Well, we might come back to the full extract from the message store in a little while. On 2 February 2004, the second terminal in Marine Drive, node 2, was the one that failed, yes –

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: – and that was at around 14.20 – sorry, it came back into action around 14.20 on 2 February, having failed, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: If we could look at your witness statement, please. If you need the reference it’s WITN00170200. If we go, please, to page 5, and we go down to paragraph 17, please.

You deal with this issue of node 2 failing and, in paragraph 17, having sort of dealt with it and, if we go over the page, at the end of the paragraph – I’m so sorry, it’s actually at the end of paragraph 18, having dealt with it, you say:

“In my view it is extremely unlikely (bordering [on] impossible) that any transactions were lost as a result of the counter replacement.”

Then you give your explanation of that:

“There is no indication of any problem with the physical connection. Even if there were, they could only impact CAP45 and not cause losses in consequent periods.”

So you’ve asked and answered your own question: could the loss of node 2 or the failure of node 2 have lost transactions? You asked that question and then you answer it in the negative, yes?

Anne Chambers: Err, yes –

Ms Page: Or at least bordering on the impossible, you say, extremely unlikely?

Anne Chambers: Yes, and then I carry on discussing it in paragraph 19 as well.

Ms Page: You do indeed. If we go down to paragraph 21, you make a general observation:

“… counter replacement, though it could potentially result in transactions being lost if the broken counter had been operational but disconnected prior to replacement, would not be a cause of losses occurring two or three weeks later.”

So you do acknowledge there that the possibility of losing transactions is present when there’s a failure of a hard disk or a node.

Anne Chambers: There’s a possibility, yes.

Ms Page: That’s something that you knew was not just a possibility but sometimes happened it; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes, it did happen but – yes, it did happen but only if you had other problems, comms problems, as well as the counter replacement.

Ms Page: Well, there’s one example, isn’t there, in – I can take you to the document to help us deal with this. It’s POL00000994. This appears to have been a reasonably significant loss of data. We can see there at the top “Recovery of overwritten transactions”, and we get the code for the branch where this happened.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: If we go down a little bit and we look under “Extra detail”, we can see a bit of an explanation of what happened.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: “Due to problems with the gateway, which has been replaced twice, and communications …”

So that confirms what you were saying: that it’s often when there’s a communications issue as well, yes?

Anne Chambers: And, in this case, it was communications both between the gateway and the data centre and between the gateway and the other counters, so it was two different sets of communications.

Ms Page: But what we do see though is that approximately 900 transactions – this is the second paragraph – done on the gateway between 1300 on the 9th and 11.46 on the 12th were effectively no longer present; is that fair?

Anne Chambers: Yes, they were no longer in the branch message store.

Ms Page: Right, and:

“To get the messages back, we will [need to] delete the counter message stores and let the version from the correspondence server replicate down.”


Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: Then it goes on to say at the end:

“We will reinsert the transactions which were completed in that time, and reset the stock unit …”


Anne Chambers: We reinserted the messages written on 7 and 8 September, yes.

Ms Page: So this is an example of messages being lost following hardware failure?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: All right, well, we can take that down.

Is it because of that sort of issue that you thought to yourself, when making your statement, “Well, I see that there was a hardware replacement at Marine Drive, I’d better sort of cover that off, if you like?”

Anne Chambers: It was knowing that Mr Castleton had asked questions in this area in court in 2006, which I felt I perhaps hadn’t answered as clearly as I should have done at the time, partly because I wasn’t expecting to be asked about it. So I felt it was worth trying to spell out in my statement here my view of the situation, based on what I could remember from them and also examining bits of evidence that have been made available to me in the run-up to the – this appearance.

Ms Page: Am I right in saying there was an overnight process checking across the whole Post Office estate for hardware failures, “bad blocks”, as I think it was termed?

Anne Chambers: I think there was something like that. I can’t remember details.

Ms Page: Do you know when that was introduced or why?

Anne Chambers: No, I don’t know. That wasn’t something that SSC were responsible for.

Ms Page: No, all right. There was a sort of an issue, if you like, around recovery after hardware failures, and the need to make sure that any transactions that had been affected by hardware failures needed to be checked over, if you like, and made sure that they were present?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I mean, recovery in the counter sense is – would really just be any transactions that were on the stack at the point of failure that didn’t get settled/written to message store.

Ms Page: If we look at how that’s handled in the Horizon user guide, we can see that in POL00071234. Page 29 is where a longish section begins, headed “Equipment failure checklist (dealing with equipment failure)”, and then we see at the top of the page it says, “System failure”. That section 12 is reasonably substantial. Do you recognise this?

Anne Chambers: I had that – I had access to the Horizon System User Guide. I cannot remember whether I ever read this particular section.

Ms Page: If we go down to page 40, “Identifying lost transactions following a system failure”, this is the section, still, as you see, headed “System failure”, so we’re still dealing with system failure as the overarching subject, and identifying lost transactions.

Then if we scroll down, we can see that a very substantial flowchart is presented, “Recovery procedures after system failure”. We can see this flowchart. If we keep scrolling down, it does rather go on and on. If we just carry on, you’ll see what I mean. You see how a subpostmaster was supposed to go about dealing with matters of recovery after a hardware failure.

We can effect take that down, I don’t propose to take you to the detail, but let’s suppose that, for whatever reason, a subpostmaster was not able to work through that flowchart perfectly, presumably that may result in lost or missing transactions?

Anne Chambers: Without spending a lot of time going through that flowchart, which I’m sorry but I haven’t ever examined in any detail, I don’t think I’m going to be able to answer that. Basically, if there was a set of transactions on the stack and the counter fails at that point, without settling them, then they will be thrown away but there are certain extra things that needed to be done, particularly for if it – there were any bill payments in that set of transactions.

Ms Page: Which might pick it up in reconciliation; is that right?

Anne Chambers: That might be picked up in reconciliation. Without seeing a particular example, it’s hard to know. Banking transactions would have been sort of picked up if necessary through reconciliation and there was something at the end there about if what was on the stack was a rem in or rem out, that might have an effect. But I have to say I don’t see the relevance of that to the failure overnight on a Saturday night at Marine Drive.

Ms Page: Well, that was directing subpostmasters to a process that they were supposed to complete if there’d been a system failure – I mean, a hardware failure. So, presumably, that was what any subpostmaster presented with a hardware failure was supposed to go through?

Anne Chambers: But wasn’t the first question, “Were you serving at the time”?

Ms Page: What relevance would that have?

Anne Chambers: Because if you weren’t using the counter at the point that it failed, then you – if you’d logged out successfully and the counter was not in use, then there aren’t going to be any transactions on the stack that haven’t been settled, because you can’t log out without settling the stack first.

Ms Page: Right. So it would only be affected, would it, if there were settlements currently going on?

Anne Chambers: Yes, if a postmaster was serving, middle of the day, power cut, everything dies, in that case – or for some reason the screen freezes, you can’t get any further – that situation, where you were serving, then you would need to consider whether recovery is going to be necessary when you’re able to log back on, either to that same counter or to a replacement one. But if it fails in the middle of the night, after you’ve finished your trading, you’re not using it, there can’t be any incomplete transactions, recovery is not an issue.

Ms Page: Can I just ask a question of Mr Castleton?

Anne Chambers: Yes, certainly. (Pause)

Ms Page: Where there’s a screen freeze or a failure mid-transaction, then that’s something that the subpostmaster would need to go through, yes? If that didn’t work – and this is not necessarily talking about the overnight failure that we were talking about before – but if that didn’t work, there’s the potential for the subpostmaster to fail to be able to get back their incomplete transactions, yes?

Anne Chambers: Yes, if you’ve got a screen freeze in the middle of the day while you’re serving then, yes, anything that was on the stack but not settled, which should just be transactions for a single customer, then they will not exist.

Ms Page: So if they had failed to get through that rather lengthy flowchart and not been able to successfully bring the transactions back through doing that, would that be deemed user error?

Anne Chambers: I’m not sure if anybody would ever seriously have used that flowchart. What would happen when somebody tried to log back – when somebody was able to log back on to the counter again, if there were bill payments, if there had been a bill payment, which had been made but not settled, then the postmaster would actually have been prompted to say whether it’s – the bill had been paid or not, and that would have taken – that should have sorted that out. Possibly banking transactions as well but I can’t properly remember.

If there were other things on the stack, for example a pension – I mean, the postmasters I think were expected to know that – but they might not have done – that if it failed before settlement, they shouldn’t have paid out the pension money, or whatever. But even if they didn’t know that, if they had paid out the money but it hadn’t settled, then, at the end of the day when they checked all their counterfoils against the report – the totals on the report, that should have been apparent as a difference, and they could then have put it through at a later stage.

Ms Page: But can I just understand this: if, for whatever reason, the postmaster was struggling with this and there remained a problem, would that be ascribed as “user error”?

Anne Chambers: I’m not sure who would be doing that ascribing.

Ms Page: All right. Well, let’s look at the instance of Mr Booth, who was the second temporary subpostmaster at Marine Drive, who came in after Mr Castleton was suspended. He got in touch with the Post Office’s lawyers to let them know he’d experienced lost transactions when working in the branch, as a result of a screen freeze. Ultimately, it was presented in the case of POL v Castleton as the system had worked as it should and that any problem with disappearing transactions was, in effect, a failure by Mr Booth?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I don’t think it should have been categorised in that way.

Ms Page: Well, can we just look at a sort of a snippet from a document, which is POL00081826_022. If we go to page 7, please. When the lawyers were dealing with this and they were back and forth with Fujitsu, specifically Brian Pinder, this message at the top here – so we can scroll up just to sort of contextualise it – on 2 November, this is an email from Mr Pinder to Mr Dilley, with various others, the legal team, in effect, copied in, and it says:


“[I’m guessing] You might wish to note that …”

Then it appears that he’s quoting from something:

“Should the system be restarted (for any reason – including following a ‘freeze’), there will be evidence of this in the Audit trail (which we have in fact been examining in this case). Normally the only system restarts are as part of the overnight ‘ClearDesk’ function that occurs between 03.30 and 04.00 each day. Any other restarts can be considered unusual and could be searched for.”

So if we just pick that apart, I suggest – and you can correct me if I’m wrong – that the overnight ClearDesk function is what we spoke about earlier, that there was an estate-wide check for any problems with disks.

Anne Chambers: No, that’s not what ClearDesk was.

Ms Page: No?

Anne Chambers: The Riposte service on every counter closed down and restarted at some point between 3.30 and 4.00.

Ms Page: Okay, so that was everywhere, was it?

Anne Chambers: That was all counters, yes.

Ms Page: All right. But, apart from that, which happened every single night everywhere, any other restarts can be considered unusual and could be searched for?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: It appears from the section in bold that that was being undertaken. Do you see what I mean?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I see what you mean. I’m just looking at dates. Yes, I have no recollection of specifically looking for those things but, in – so it could have happened, it may have happened. I just can’t remember.

Ms Page: So you just don’t know if that was you that was trying to carry out that check for unusual restarts?

Anne Chambers: Yeah, I don’t remember, I could have done it. You wouldn’t see it so easily in the ARQ data, but you would see it in the full message extract.

Ms Page: Given what you said to Mr Beer earlier about working documents, and so forth, there’s now no way, really, of knowing if there were any unusual reboots, is there?

Anne Chambers: The only other way you could do – and I did try looking a little bit the other day – would be to see if you’ve got log-ons with no matching log-offs happening. That would be an indication that the counter was restarted but that’s the only thing you could check for in what we have left to us now.

Ms Page: We do know that that applied in the case of the overnight problem in early February, don’t we?

Anne Chambers: No, that was a different case where there was no log-off when there was a log-on of the same user on a different counter. That was a different thing. That wasn’t a failure to log off.

Right. In that case, I could – the log-off was done successfully the night before the counter failed and then, when we were looking at transactions on 2 February, we could see that Mr Castleton logged on and was using – serving on counter 1, and then the same user logged on to counter 2, without logging off counter 1 but, in that case, it doesn’t appear that counter 1 became unusable, at that point. He just chose to move from one system to the other.

Ms Page: Well, just standing back and taking the view overall, if we may. Whatever examination there was for unusual restarts in Marine Drive we now don’t really have any conclusive evidence of it; is that right?

Anne Chambers: There’s – I haven’t been able to find any evidence that it was happening but it is a possibility that there were some and no, we don’t have anything that would be conclusive.

Ms Page: All right. What that could have shown is whether there were problems with screen freezes and, therefore, potentially missing data following screen freezes or it would have been easier to find the possibility, if you’d found unusual restarts; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes. But, as I said, it wouldn’t necessarily cause missing data, but it might –

Ms Page: But it might do.

Anne Chambers: Potentially, there might have been sessions that didn’t settle but that wouldn’t necessarily cause discrepancies.

Ms Page: No, but it might do?

Anne Chambers: Unlikely to but, yeah, it would depend on the individual circumstances.

Ms Page: All right. Going to the questions that you were asked by Mr Castleton in the trial in 2006, we can have a look at those at LCAS0001300. If we go to page 271 and down to the bottom of that page. If we just scroll down, the questions had already started but the bit that I was going to focus on is this:

“Question: But it does not show the reconnection before disconnection again, does it?

“Answer: Whether it was because the engineer was briefly plugging things in and then unplugging them again –”

If we scroll down a little:

“Question: It does actually occur in other areas.

“Answer: – I really cannot explain that, not from this information. If I looked at it in conjunction with other things –”

That’s you then being a little taken by surprise, is it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: So you’re effectively saying there “I’m not sure, the engineer may have been doing X, Y and Z but I can’t be sure, based on what I’ve got in front of me”?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: There is a little similarity here with some of the other evidence you’ve given, even just the evidence you’ve given just now, which is to say, “I can’t be sure, based on all the material that I have in front of me now. There is potentially other material”, but also you tend to offer an explanation, such as the explanation about the engineer unplugging things or the explanations that you’ve offered today about the transactions being ones which might have been picked up in reconciliations and so forth.

Your explanations or your hypotheses that you put forward tend to explain it in terms of supporting the system, in terms of making sure that whatever problems there may have been, there probably weren’t, because of X, Y and Z; do you agree?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think that’s a fair comment, but it’s based around 20 years, well, 15 years’ knowledge of how the system worked and a general feeling. But, yes, I like to explain things and, you know, in the past, I would have been able to then back that up by looking at stuff that would support it and, yes, I cannot do that any more because we haven’t got the evidence.

Ms Page: All right. Well, the fact is, when branches had hardware failure, which lost data, people in SSC could insert it, couldn’t they?

Anne Chambers: As a last resort, yes. That would be done in order for the branch to balance correctly, including transactions which they had carried out but had failed to get to the places where they should have been.

Ms Page: The claim, as you put in your witness statement – and we don’t necessarily need to go there – is that, when that happened, the SSC were intending to put the branch accounts into the – or rather intending to put the system into the state it would have been in in the first place, if it hadn’t had the failure.

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: What if the system problem was imperfectly understood or imperfectly corrected? Sometimes, the subpostmaster had no idea what was going on, did they?

Anne Chambers: I can certainly think of one occasion when that is true, yes.

Ms Page: So –

Anne Chambers: But it – yeah.

Ms Page: – in the circumstances where – and, let’s face it, people in SSC are human beings and they don’t necessarily get it right – in the circumstances where someone in SSC has got it wrong and the SPM, the subpostmaster, has no idea of what has been happening, there would be no way of identifying where the problems began or ended, would there?

Anne Chambers: Do you mean no way of the postmaster identifying that or for anybody else identifying that?

Ms Page: Well, certainly for the subpostmaster and I think you would have to agree with that; is that right?

Anne Chambers: I think I would agree with that, yes.

Ms Page: The only way anybody would be able to get to the bottom of it at the other end is if they had the raw data and if the person in SSC had left the right sort of notes behind for people to know what they’d done; is that right?

Anne Chambers: Yes, I think that’s right. I would say that these changes were extremely unusual. It was certainly not something that was being done with any regularity at all but probably a few times a year, over all 18,000 branches, it was necessary to do – it was felt necessary to do some sort of correction.

Ms Page: Is it because of the rarity of it that you do not, effectively, countenance the possibility that the pension transactions that you were looking at with Mr Beer were inserted by SSC in an attempt to rectify data that may have been lost?

Anne Chambers: I totally discount that explanation because you can see that they took place on counter 1, you can see the session ID number. You can see that Mr Castleton, or whoever was using LCA001, was serving on counter 1. He did a whole set of pension transactions in one session, possibly catching up for things that had been paid out manually during the morning because they’d been reduced to working on a single counter.

That session was then suspended, node 2 came back up Mr Castleton logged on to node 2, which transferred these – this suspended session across from counter 1 and then you can see that that session was eventually unsuspended and was settled on counter 2. And that is quite clear from the transaction numbers and the session numbers, and anybody inserting those afterwards would not have been able to use those numbers because they were – the sequence numbers were being used by the person on the counter, logged in on the counter at that time.

Ms Page: All right. Disclosure. One short topic before I have a final topic after that.

So on disclosure – this won’t take long – was the extract from the message store that you produced to do your report on week 42, was that the full message store for the Marine Drive branch?

Anne Chambers: It was the full set of messages in that particular week.

Ms Page: Oh, just for that week, all right.

Anne Chambers: It was just for that week was –

Ms Page: So it wasn’t for the whole period; it was just week 42?

Anne Chambers: That was what I looked at when producing the week 42 cash account or when attempting to. But, subsequently, I am just about certain that we did have all the messages for January and February, which I did then look through. But I have not got any –

Ms Page: Any proof of that?

Anne Chambers: I haven’t seen anything to prove that.

Ms Page: No.

Anne Chambers: But I know I spent a lot of time sitting there and looking at the data over that whole period.

Ms Page: The extract that we know did happen, because otherwise you couldn’t have written that report, the week 42 extract, just thinking about the disclosure explanation that you had from Mr Dilley at the end of the case that you quoted in your afterthoughts, really that should have been disclosed, shouldn’t it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: Was that ever passed to Mr Dilley with the report; do you know?

Anne Chambers: I don’t know because I was not responsible for disclosure. There was something in that comment that I quoted from Mr Dilley saying that he had had sight of the message store and I can’t remember if it’s in there or another document from Mr Dilley saying that he’d offered Mr Castleton sight of the message store but –

Ms Page: Yes, certainly he’d offered him sight of the message store.

Anne Chambers: Yes, but because it was so big and difficult – and I don’t know if that was just week 42 or if that was for the entire period.

Ms Page: But you can’t be sure whether you gave the extract of week 42 to Mr Dilley, you just don’t know?

Anne Chambers: Me, personally, no, I didn’t.

Ms Page: No. You didn’t –

Anne Chambers: No.

Ms Page: – I see.

Sir Wyn Williams: Can I ask you, were you ever asked a direct question by Mr Dilley, or anybody I imagine, but let’s say by anyone: during the course of your investigations, Mrs Chambers, have you created any documents which you consider might be relevant to the issues we are considering in this trial?

Anne Chambers: I don’t recall anybody ever asking me that question, no.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right. Thank you.

Ms Page: Then just your explanation about KELs and being told not to mention KELs and, indeed, to positively refer to other documents, rather than KELs. Again, that’s something which, looking back, it would have met that disclosure obligation that Mr Dilley set out for you and you set out in your afterthoughts, wouldn’t it?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: All right. Now, why did accept that you shouldn’t refer to KELs?

Anne Chambers: I assumed that – that’s what they said and so that’s what I did. Perhaps I should have questioned it but I was in a very unfamiliar situation for me, and –

Ms Page: Why didn’t you mention it in your afterthoughts document? Because, at that stage, obviously, you had been told by Mr Dilley what you’d been told about your disclosure obligations and, as we’ve just agreed, KELs would have been disclosable under that test. So why not mention the problem with you being told that you shouldn’t refer to KELs in your afterthoughts?

Anne Chambers: I thought I did. Did I mention PEAKs in there?

Ms Page: You certainly talked about including things like the event logs on the back of PEAKs and making sure that people had PEAKs, but not KELs.

Anne Chambers: Yes, that was an oversight on my part when I wrote the afterthoughts document, then. I mean, I perhaps thought that PEAKs, you know – it wasn’t just the KELs that weren’t being disclosed; it was PEAKs, which I think, to me, I thought was important as well but, yes, maybe KELs equally so, but I didn’t include it in that document, but for no reason.

Ms Page: Did it not strike you even then as perhaps slightly suspicious that nobody wanted you to mention known error logs with that title being what it was?

Anne Chambers: I don’t think I thought of it as suspicious. I thought it seemed strange but, as I said, I was in a very unfamiliar situation.

Ms Page: All right. Well, finally, a few questions on what I think will be just a short final topic. Did you believe that Horizon was fundamentally robust in 2004 –

Anne Chambers: Fundamentally, yes.

Ms Page: – and still in 2006?

Anne Chambers: Yes.

Ms Page: Confirmation bias happens when we filter all the evidence we receive to only take account of those parts which support what we already believe to be true. Are you familiar with that concept?

Anne Chambers: I’m familiar with the concept, yes.

Ms Page: When you gave evidence in 2006, do you think you were affected by confirmation bias, your belief in the fundamental robustness of Horizon?

Anne Chambers: No, because I knew I had looked in great deal at the available evidence, and I was looking for any sign of a system problem and the numbers added up. It wasn’t that the discrepancies were being calculated wrongly.

Ms Page: But you believed the system to be fundamentally robust, didn’t you?

Anne Chambers: No, not necessarily. No, I mean, if there had been any sign that the numbers were not adding up, then I would have been onto it and I would have said so. But the discrepancies were calculated correctly, based on the transactions that had been recorded. There were no obviously incorrect transactions in what I could see of the system.

All I could conclude was that what was on the system was not an accurate reflection of what had taken place at the branch and there was nothing that indicated that the system had malfunctioned in any way that would give rise to transactions either not being on the system or being there but there incorrectly. But, fundamentally, that – finally, that could only be ascertained by comparing what was on the system with what had actually taken place at the branch and once the day/the week has passed, that becomes almost impossible to verify.

Ms Page: Are you still, at some level, trying to cover off or explain away those anomalies or issues which we can see?

Anne Chambers: No, where there have been anomalies, for example the missing 92p in the ARQ data, I’ve found that, I’ve investigated it, I’ve checked what the consequences of that are and I have reported it. Whether that report didn’t get through to Mr Castleton and his team, I don’t know, because I was not reporting direct to him, but I had no intention of covering that up.

Ms Page: Do you now believe that the case against Mr Castleton resulted in a miscarriage of justice?

Anne Chambers: I think Mr Castleton should have been given much more help in trying to work out why the money in his branch did not match what was on the system, and I wish, really wish, I could find a problem. I’ve still been looking to see if there’s just anything that looks as if it could be something wrong with the system that might have caused it but I found nothing in 2004.

And, okay, you can say I didn’t look hard enough then. I did what I – I didn’t know that this would still be being talked about.

Ms Page: No.

Anne Chambers: I did a reasonable job in 2004, which I then gave evidence on. I rechecked, looking for errors, not looking for explanations of why there weren’t errors, in 2006. I continued to wonder if there was something I had missed. If it was, what could it be? I’ve never found any error in Horizon – Legacy Horizon that could have caused Mr Castleton’s losses and, so, yes –

Ms Page: You now, do you, say that if there was an error in Horizon, it’s one that you simply didn’t find?

Anne Chambers: It’s one that had – that left no evidence and that nobody has ever found, if there was such an error, if there could even be such an error.

Ms Page: Thank you. Those are my questions.

Sir Wyn Williams: Thank you, Ms Page.

Is that it, Mr Beer?

Mr Beer: Yes, it is, sir, unless you have any questions?

Sir Wyn Williams: No, thank you.

It’s obvious that you have provided two very detailed witness statements, Mrs Chambers, and you’ve given evidence before me over very many hours. For all those things, I thank you very much.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much, sir. We reconvene at 10.00 tomorrow morning.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes.

Mr Beer: Thank you.

(2.56 pm)

(The hearing adjourned until 10.00 am the following day)