Official hearing page

17 April 2024 – Jonathan Longman and Allan Leighton

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(10.00 am)

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

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

Mr Blake: Thank you very much. This morning we’re going to hear from Jon Longman. Mr Longman has been given permission to appear remotely today for medical reasons.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes.

Jonathan Longman


Questioned by Mr Blake

Mr Blake: Can you give your full name, please.

Jonathan Longman: Yes, it’s Jonathan Geoffrey(?) Longman.

Mr Blake: Thank you, Mr Longman, you should have in front of a witness statement dated 8 November 2023; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: I do, yes.

Mr Blake: That should have the Unique Reference Number WITN04670100. Could I ask you, please, to turn to the final substantive page, that’s page 47?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I have that.

Mr Blake: Can you confirm that is your signature?

Jonathan Longman: It is.

Mr Blake: Can you confirm that that statement is true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Jonathan Longman: It is. I –

Mr Blake: I believe there are couple of corrections you’d like to make?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, if I may.

Mr Blake: Absolutely.

Jonathan Longman: The first amendment I would like to make is regarding paragraphs 53 and 54.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Could I just ask for that to be brought up on the screen, WITN04670100. Thank you. Paragraph 54 was the first paragraph.

Jonathan Longman: 53 and 54.

Mr Blake: That’s page 24. If we could scroll slightly up. Thank you very much. What’s the amendment you’d like to make?

Jonathan Longman: Well, having reviewed the documents E37 and E38 in the additional documents bundle, I can see that there was a matter in which I acted as a Lead Investigator and the subpostmaster had attributed losses to issues with the Horizon system during the initial investigation stages. Until receiving the documents, I couldn’t recall that, but I’d just like to mention that it was Mrs O’Dell at Great Staughton Post Office.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much, at paragraph 54, you say, “As I’ve never experienced a situation where a [subpostmaster] attributed a shortfall to problems with the Horizon during the initial investigation stages”, and now you can see that you were at least involved in the case of Mrs O’Dell –

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: – who did?

Jonathan Longman: As Lead Investigator, yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. What are the other changes?

Jonathan Longman: They’re just dates corrections. In my statement, paragraphs 58 and 64 –

Mr Blake: So that’s page 27.

Jonathan Longman: – it’s the date I visited West Byfleet. It’s got it – you can see it’s 14 August 2008. It should be 14 January 2008.

Mr Blake: The further amendment?

Jonathan Longman: Paragraph 76, please.

Mr Blake: That’s page 39. I think if, we scroll down, is it paragraph 76, regarding instructions to Mr Jenkins?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, if you can scroll down to the date –

Mr Blake: It’s over the page, I think.

Jonathan Longman: – can you see after “The email chain at FUJ00153371” –

Mr Blake: Yes.

Jonathan Longman: – “seems to indicate this as it shows Warwick emailing Mr Jenkins on” – and that should be 7 October 2010.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much. Are those the only changes you’d like to make?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, that’s correct.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much, Mr Longman. That statement will now go into evidence and will be published on the Inquiry’s website.

I’d like to start today by asking you a little bit about your background. You worked for the Post Office for approximately 36 years; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That is right, yes.

Mr Blake: You started as a counter clerk in a Crown Office?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, correct.

Mr Blake: You moved then to a Head Office in Watford?

Jonathan Longman: That’s right.

Mr Blake: You joined the Security Team in 2000 as an Investigator?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: You worked as an Investigator until late 2012/early 2013; is that right?

Jonathan Longman: I think it was late 2011 or early 2012.

Mr Blake: Thank you.

Jonathan Longman: I can’t remember the exact date that I transferred to a different job.

Mr Blake: The job you transferred to was the Network Transformation team and you worked there until you left in 2016; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: Can you assist us with why you left the Post Office?

Jonathan Longman: Well, there was a number of reasons. The job that I was – well, the job as a Network Transformation Officer, they were looking for people to take redundancy or to leave, and just personal circumstances also prompted me to decide that was a time to leave, and yeah, they’re the reasons.

Mr Blake: Thank you. We have your statement on screen. Can we just look at a few paragraphs in your statement can we start on page 18, please. It’s paragraphs 38 to 39. I just want to clarify a few matters in your statement.

Am I right to say that it’s your evidence that you didn’t know what test was applied to those making prosecution and charging decisions? We see that at paragraph 38. I think it’s your evidence that you didn’t know what test was applied by those making those decisions?

Jonathan Longman: Well, just the general comments that there must be sufficient evidence and I think I’ve put in my statement a bit further down that it should be in the public interest. They were the only two things that I –

Mr Blake: So you had a vague idea that they considered two things but you didn’t know precisely what test they –

Jonathan Longman: Whether they were correct or not. No, I’m not saying it from a position of authority. But, yeah, sufficient evidence and in the public interest were two things that come to mind.

Mr Blake: Could we scroll down, please, to the bottom of page 26. That’s the bottom of paragraph 56. We see there the very final paragraph, it’s also your evidence that you weren’t aware of any specific rules governing independent expert advice and you can’t recall if you were given advice or assisted in that regard; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That is correct, yes.

Mr Blake: Moving to page 37, please, paragraph 71. We’ll look at this in more detail in due course but, if we scroll down to the bottom of that page, in the middle of that paragraph it says that you would like to point out to the Inquiry you didn’t realise at the time – this is in relation to Seema Misra’s case – that you had the title of Disclosure Officer; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That is correct. I dealt with the disclosure but I didn’t know I had that official title of Disclosure Officer.

Mr Blake: Could we move on to page 40, please, paragraph 77, halfway through paragraph 77 on page 40. You say there that you are unaware of what the difference would be between an expert or a lay witness; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: At the time, yes. I seem to – as the Inquiry’s been running, I think I’m picking up some indication of what an expert witness is now.

Mr Blake: Finally, if we move on to page 46, please, paragraph 97, the penultimate paragraph of your witness statement. You say at paragraph 97 that, at the time, you didn’t believe that you considered a challenge to the Horizon system in one case to be relevant to other cases; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct, yes.

Mr Blake: That affects things like cross-disclosure between cases; do you understand that?

Jonathan Longman: Um …

Mr Blake: We’ll come on to look at specifics in due course but, at the time, you didn’t think that a challenge to the Horizon system in one case was relevant to another case?

Jonathan Longman: If a bug had been discovered, then, obviously, it could be relevant, thinking of the West Byfleet case, a bug at another office had been identified but it was an isolated bug and didn’t have any bearing on the West Byfleet case.

Mr Blake: So you say here that you didn’t believe that you considered a challenge to the Horizon system in one case to be relevant to another case. So are you saying there that, irrespective of a number of challenges to Horizon, you didn’t consider that they would be relevant to a case that you were conducting –

Jonathan Longman: No, I –

Mr Blake: – subject to that one clarification that you just made?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, not unless a bug had been found. So, if it was just a challenge but it hadn’t been a – a bug hadn’t been discovered, then I wouldn’t have thought it was relevant to another case.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at page 42 of your statement, paragraph 86. You say there:

“I have reviewed the judgment of the Court of Appeal in [Hamilton & Others]. Upon reflection on this case, I do not think that I would have done anything differently.”

Do you think that you have properly reflected on your actions in respect of the cases that we’re going to be looking at?

Jonathan Longman: When I say I don’t think I would have done anything differently, I was talking about the initial investigation, the offender report and – well, up to the offender report and the charging. When it got to court, obviously, there are things that I wish had been done differently.

Mr Blake: Do you think that you would have familiarised yourself a little bit better with relevant tests, relevant responsibilities that you had at the time?

Jonathan Longman: Well, this is referring to the West Byfleet case, isn’t it, this –

Mr Blake: I think this is a general statement that you don’t think you would have had done anything differently. Are you saying that’s –

Jonathan Longman: Well –

Mr Blake: – simply in relation to Ms Misra’s case?

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, well, with reflection, then, yes, more ARQ would have been obtained, forwarded to Fujitsu. So yes, things would have been done differently.

Mr Blake: Do you think you would have thought a little harder about how much disclosure you give to defendants, for example?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes. I mean, again, I thought the disclosure I had given in the Misra case was correct at the time, but if there are – if there was a review of that case and I was told I hadn’t done this or I hadn’t done that then, obviously, I would try and correct that in – going forward.

Mr Blake: But, I mean, you’ve read the case of Hamilton, you’ve read the Court of Appeal’s judgment and, upon reflection, you didn’t think you would that have done anything differently. What do you mean by that?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I would have done – I think I would have been more forceful in making sure that the disclosure requests were all actioned, if I had that authority. And obviously, yeah, there was a lot of – there was disclosure requests that didn’t get actioned, for one reason or another, when they should have been actioned.

Mr Blake: We’ve spoken about the difference between an expert witness and a lay witness, for example. Do you think you would have brushed up a little more on the difference between the two?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, once it was brought to my attention, if I was aware that I’d done – that we hadn’t treated a witness as an expert witness and only as a lay witness, then, yes, that would have been a learning – I’d have learnt from that and made sure that, you know, the next case where we needed an expert witness it was done in the correct manner.

Mr Blake: So that sentence there in your witness statement, do you still stand by that sentence or do you think we can scrub that one out?

Jonathan Longman: Well, no, I think I would have done – the initial investigation was done properly but the – after it went to trial, there was things that I would have done differently, yes.

Mr Blake: I’m going to move on to the training that you were provided with. The statement can come down, please. You say –

Sir Wyn Williams: Mr Blake, I’m sorry to be pedantic but I’m not entirely certain, so let me ask the direct question: is your paragraph 86 that we’ve just been looking at, Mr Longman, confined to your view of the Seema Misra case or is it a general statement about your general approach to all the cases you were involved in?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I think that was reflecting on the Seema Misra case.

Sir Wyn Williams: I mean, I know it’s under the heading “Seema Misra”, so to speak. Well, what confused me anyway, paragraph 86 is introduced with the words “I have reviewed the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Hamilton & Others”, all right? Now, do you mean by that the whole of the judgment or just that part which relates to Seema Misra?

Jonathan Longman: I’d say it’s just the part that relates to Seema Misra.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right.

Mr Blake: Moving on to the topic of training, you say at paragraph 41 to 42 of your statement, that you undertook a five-week training course. Are you able to assist us, was that training while you were working or was that separate to your work and just focusing five days a week on training?

Jonathan Longman: That was a course that all new Investigators were sent on. It was a residential course, at Milton Keynes, I think it was and, having applied for the role, I spent some time in an office before the course became available and then I was sent on this residential course, along with other Investigators.

Mr Blake: Do you recall if it was residential for five weeks or was there a period of learning prior to the residential part of the course?

Jonathan Longman: Oh, prior to going on the course, I was in an Investigation Department and I was given a lot of work manuals, different modules to just read, work through, just continually go through, which covered different areas of investigations and the law, while I was waiting for the course to become available.

Mr Blake: Was there any focus during that training on the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: You worked for 12 or 13 years in the Security Team. Were there any refresher courses provided to you during that period?

Jonathan Longman: I think there were half-day courses here or a day course there but I can’t be more specific. I can remember going to one of the counter training schools for, I think, half a day but I can’t remember any other training.

Mr Blake: So in the 12/13-year period, there was some training here and there but nothing so significant that you can recall it?

Jonathan Longman: No, not like – no, not a significant period of training, no.

Mr Blake: Was part of your training about the role of a Disclosure Officer and what that might involve?

Jonathan Longman: Well, again, I’m sure it was covered at the – on the residential course. As to how much detail it went into, I can’t recall.

Mr Blake: Paragraph 71 of your statement – and this is in relation to the Misra case, you say:

“I wouldn’t have had any involvement in providing disclosure to the defence team.”

Were you aware at that time that the Disclosure Officer had a separate and distinct role to the Investigating Officer?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: Were you aware that it was part of the Disclosure Officer’s duty to disclose material to an accused?

Jonathan Longman: Yes. What I mean in that statement is that I would complete the disclosure schedules and would send them to our Legal Services Team, who would then send them on to the defence solicitor if requested. What I mean by that, I wouldn’t send stuff directly to the defence. It would go through –

Mr Blake: We’ll come to disclosure in due course but were you involved in the decision-making process in terms of disclosure or did you see your job principally as completing that schedule?

Jonathan Longman: Completing that schedule, listing everything that was unused or if there was any sensitive –

Mr Blake: Thank you. I’m going to move on to the topic of bugs, errors of defects in the Horizon system. I’m going to focus particularly on the Seema Misra case. Can we start by looking at FUJ00152897, please. We’re going to start on 28 January 2010. If we scroll over the page, please, we have an email from you to Penny Thomas. Do you remember Penny Thomas?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, she was a contact. She was the sort of like doorway into Fujitsu. She would deal with any requests and she also provided ARQ data.

Mr Blake: Did you see her role as administrative or more substantial than that?

Jonathan Longman: Administrative.

Mr Blake: Thank you. You say there:


“My barrister telephoned me yesterday evening and requested that I found out any information that Fujitsu may hold in relation to an office called Callendar Square in Falkirk. Apparently, Anne Chambers, a Systems Specialist employed by Fujitsu was cross-examined and it is said that she had full knowledge of an error in the Horizon system at this Post Office.”

The subject there is “West Byfleet”, so this seems to be an email in the context of Ms Misra’s case; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That is correct, yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Were you aware that the Callendar Square bug was a bug that could cause discrepancies in Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: I became aware of it as the case progressed. I think it was responded to in a statement from Mr Jenkins but I had no knowledge about Callendar Square until it was mentioned in this particular case of West Byfleet.

Mr Blake: Were you aware, for example, that it dated back to the year 2000?

Jonathan Longman: I thought it was around 2005/2006, Callendar Square. So no, I didn’t know it related back to 2000.

Mr Blake: Who did you discuss Callendar Square with?

Jonathan Longman: Well, moving on with the case, I think Gareth Jenkins dealt with it in a statement but my conversations were with Penny, Penny Thomas, and it was responded to about this bug by a statement from Gareth Jenkins.

Mr Blake: We see there a reference to Anne Chambers. Anne Chambers gave evidence in the Lee Castleton case in 2006. Had you heard of the Lee Castleton case by January 2010?

Jonathan Longman: I don’t know. I don’t think so but I don’t know, is my answer, I’m afraid.

Mr Blake: Were you aware of any cases challenging the integrity of the Horizon system by January 2010?

Jonathan Longman: My colleague – from the additional documentation, my colleague who I worked with had a case that was going on by the name of Hosi – I think it’s Hosi – and that was potentially a challenge to the Horizon system. I think there were – there was rumours about other cases where there may be challenges to the Horizon but, no, as far as I was aware, no bugs had been identified. I think this Callendar Square, Falkirk was the first one that I was actually informed that there was bug.

Mr Blake: If we please go to page 1 of this document we can see there a reference to the Hosi case. It’s an email from Penny Thomas to her colleagues, including Gareth Jenkins, and it says:


“We have 2 cases running at the moment where expert witness input is required – that’s Gareth.”

Then she refers at the bottom to Porters Avenue and that’s the Jerry Hosi case that you were just talking about.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: Did you have involvement in that particular case?

Jonathan Longman: Again, from the additional documents, yes, I was assisting, I think, at the first interview, back in – I forget, 2006, I think, around that time. So I sat in on an interview to assist the Lead Investigator.

Mr Blake: And that Lead Investigator was Lisa Allen?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: Yes. Did you speak to Lisa Allen around this time about similar issues in your two cases, allegations about the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: Well, obviously, Lisa Allen knew that I had the West Byfleet case and we would have just dealt with our own cases, really. I don’t think there’d have been much cross talk about where you were with your case, so to speak. But, yeah, from this email you can see that expert witness was probably going to be needed for Porters Avenue, but you tended just to focus on your own case and you wouldn’t really have time or get into too much detail with discussing other cases with other Investigators.

Mr Blake: Can we look at POL00167138, please. Around a similar time, a few days later, if we could scroll down to the bottom, please. We see there 1 February, and that is an email that’s sent to yourself, I think, from Dave Posnett the Fraud Risk Manager. Was he your manager or –

Jonathan Longman: He was my line manager at some stage before moving on to – he had other roles within the Investigation Department.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down here we can see that at this time, 1 February 2010, he was something called the Fraud Risk Manager.

Jonathan Longman: Right.

Mr Blake: Would that have been your line manager?

Jonathan Longman: No, no. He’d have been – he would have been Security Team Leader, if he was my manager. That’s the title they had when –

Mr Blake: If we could scroll up slightly, we can see the title of the email is “Another article from The Grocer re Horizon”, I believe The Grocer is a magazine, a trade journal. It says:

“This ties in with previous correspondence I’ve submitted – in that Defence teams can and do challenge Horizon in prosecution cases.

“Jon Longman is the Investigation Manager in this case.”

Do you remember that article in The Grocer?

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t.

Mr Blake: Were you aware at this stage that defence teams can and do challenge Horizon in prosecution cases, other than the case that you were, at that time, involved in?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I think, when Mrs Misra’s defence team came to court on the first occasion, they brought an article, I think it was Computer Weekly, and that sort of alerted me that there was more challenges to Horizon. I don’t remember The Grocer article but I think there was a Computer Weekly article that was –

Mr Blake: That was 2009, the Computer Weekly article.

Jonathan Longman: Right.

Mr Blake: It says there:

“I’ve been assured previously (Dave Smith) …”

It seems as though that’s who we know as Dave X Smith, the IT Director:

“… that our Criminal Law Team are being kept updated regarding questions surrounding Horizon integrity.”

Were you aware from conversations with Dave Smith or from conversations with somebody else that there were a growing number of cases by this stage?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I knew there was – I knew there was – seemed to be more challenges to Horizon but I can’t, I don’t think I spoke to Dave Smith regarding this. As I say, the article in Computer Weekly had come out, I think, the year before and, later, when I helped the Civil Litigation lawyers, I was – I started putting a schedule together, and that’s when I became aware that, you know, other investigators also had potential challenges to Horizon being mentioned at interview.

Mr Blake: I mean, we’ll look at that in due course but I think that’s much later on, that’s at least 2011 at the earliest. As at early 2010, it seems to be brought to your attention here that there are, it seems, a growing number of cases challenging Horizon. What did you do with this information?

Jonathan Longman: I can’t recall.

Mr Blake: I mean, if we scroll up, please, we can see you sent it to counsel in the Seema Misra case, prosecution counsel and also Jarnail Singh. You say, “FYI”. What was your understanding of the purpose of that email below?

Jonathan Longman: Well, if I received the – if I did receive the article, which I did, then I thought that the barrister and solicitor should be just made aware of it to see whether there should be – whether it should be disclosed or what advice, you know, should be fed back to me regarding it.

Mr Blake: At this stage, did you have any concerns about the growing number of cases challenging Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: No, I – we were always told Horizon was robust and fit for purpose. So, no, I didn’t.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00054430. Moving to 11 March 2010, can we look at page 3, please. At the bottom of page 3 we have an email from you to a number of people. You say there:

“Dear All

“Following a lengthy hearing yesterday where the defence are claiming abuse of process (because they say not all disclosure has been provided to them) the judge has ruled that the trial will not go ahead next week. He is going to review the arguments made by the defence and will make a ruling on Friday afternoon as to whether you new trial date will be set.”

If you scroll up, there’s an email from you to Mandy Talbot saying:

“Carole Cross has asked me to keep you informed in this case.”

Are you able to assist us with who Carole Cross was?

Jonathan Longman: No, I’m sorry, I can’t recall who she was.

Mr Blake: And Mandy Talbot?

Jonathan Longman: I can’t remember. I thought she was something to do with Legal.

Mr Blake: Yes, if we scroll up, we can see her sign-off. She’s been a witness in this Inquiry. If we scroll up, we can see there a member of the Dispute Resolution Team. I’m going to read the email that she sends to you in response. Can we please just scroll up slightly, she says:


“Thank you for the update. I presume that Rob G Wilson and Jarnail Singh have also been notified. Do you or they have an opinion on the inference which will be drawn if the charge of theft is in effect is withdrawn because of the alleged failure in disclosure?”

Just pausing there, what do you understand or what did you understand that to mean? Was there a concern that dropping theft might look bad?

Jonathan Longman: Well, in this case, initially, it was going to be false accounting were going to be the charges, and then theft was added to the charge. I was content to go just with false accounting in this particular case. I thought it’s what the evidence suggested and I think the defendant was going to plead to false accounting. But I don’t really know what to say in – I don’t think I had an opinion.

Mr Blake: It continues:

“The only information which the prosecution barrister showed me was a copy of a magazine page which named a number of the usual suspects in terms of postmasters with a grievance.”

Did you understand that sentence?

Jonathan Longman: I can’t remember The Grocer magazine article in detail, but –

Mr Blake: As you say, that may be the Computer Weekly article, it may be The Grocer article, but “the number of usual suspects with a grievance”, were you aware who they were?

Jonathan Longman: No, I wasn’t.

Mr Blake: Were you aware of a belief within the business that there were a number of usual suspects with a grievance?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: “I contacted the Chairman’s Office, the business and Iron Mountain to retrieve everything we had on these cases. As such I cannot understand how a claim of failure to disclose can be sustained.”

Your response is above that. It’s you responding to Mandy Talbot. You say as follows:

“Jarnail Singh was present at the hearing so he will no doubt inform Rob of events.

“In relation to the disclosure issue, the defence are suggesting that we have not reacted quickly enough to providing them Fujitsu transaction log data and that it was not until February 2010 that an expert from Fujitsu agreed to talk to the defence expert.”

We’ll be looking at that in a bit more detail shortly:

“One of the sticking points in all of this was that the defence indicated they needed 5 years of transaction log data, but this would cost the Post Office over £15,000. We asked them to be more precise with what transactions specifically they were looking for on Horizon and to consider a small period of, say, a couple of months. Communications from this point on seems to have been misinterpreted by both sides.”

Just stopping there, do you recall cost being an issue with regards to disclosure?

Jonathan Longman: On the transaction log data, I think it was actually three years the defence requested and it was rejected, and then I fed it back to Legal – to the solicitor dealing with this case and I think he spoke to the barrister about trying to get a smaller period of transaction log data. The data was refused because it would take up a lot of our ARQ requests. We only had so many we could have per month or over the course of the year and, I think, if we needed additional ones then there would be a cost, so …

Mr Blake: You then go on to say:

“As for the inference that may be drawn if a theft charge is ‘stayed’ I would suggest that you speak directly with Jarnail for his opinion. However, I am sure that the defence solicitor will obviously notify the various publications of this and it may well encourage further challenges as to the integrity of Horizon, something that my colleagues and I are experiencing in a number of other cases.”

So it is clear from that stage that you were aware that Horizon was being challenged in a number of cases?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I think there were challenges but I can’t recall how many challenges, when I sent this email, that I was aware of.

Mr Blake: Why was there a concern that more challenges would be encouraged if a theft charge was stayed?

Jonathan Longman: Sorry, could you repeat that question, sorry?

Mr Blake: You seem in your response to have been concerned about encouraging further challenges. Why is it that dropping a theft charge or staying a theft charge would encourage further challenges and why would you be concerned about that?

Jonathan Longman: I don’t know if that is actually my comment or whether I’ve got it from somewhere else –

Mr Blake: It this is your name at the bottom –

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I know that, but –

Mr Blake: Were you concerned about further challenges to the integrity of Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I suppose the answer is yes. If – really, I think what I’m saying is that it needed to go up to the solicitor for his opinion.

Mr Blake: You didn’t hold back on providing your own opinion, though, did you?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I have said that – I just can’t remember, writing that paragraph, what my thinking was when I wrote that. Yeah, I’m sorry, I can’t really answer that.

Mr Blake: Just to recap as to where we are by March, by spring 2010, we’ve seen that you knew about an issue at Callendar Square branch.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: You knew about an article in at least The Grocer and probably Computer Weekly, as well?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, that’s correct.

Mr Blake: You knew that Dave Smith and the Criminal Law Team’s were aware of questions being raised surrounding Horizon integrity –

Jonathan Longman: Mm-hm.

Mr Blake: – and you and your colleagues seemed to be experiencing challenges to the integrity of Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, that’s right.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00105147, please. This is not long after, it’s 14 June 2010 and you’re dealing with another case, this is the case of Mrs O’Dell and that’s the case you mentioned I your clarification earlier this morning.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at the bottom of page 2. We can see there at the bottom she says that your report says:

“Throughout the interview, Mrs O’Dell blamed Horizon for the losses and refused to make good the audit shortage.”

If we turn to page 5, the bottom of page 5, please, you say:

“In my view there is not sufficient evidence to prove that Mrs O’Dell, her son Daniel, or her husband have stolen any monies from the Post Office. However, there are admissions from Mrs O’Dell that she has been failing to make losses good in the Post Office since the end of May 2009 and has inflated the Monthly Branch Trading Accounts to show a balance. Mrs O’Dell was unable to offer an explanation that made any sense as to why multiple cash declarations were made in December 2009. Mrs O’Dell is adamant that the losses are as a result of discrepancies on Horizon but could not suggest exactly what type of transactions have caused the errors. Mrs O’Dell has contacted the Post Office helpline on a number of occasions and informed them of the accumulating losses and that she is inflating the cash on hand to cover the losses. Mrs O’Dell said that she was very disappointed by the lack of assistance she received. Two weeks before the audit was carried out, Mrs O’Dell had written to her Contracts Manager, Sue Muddeman and further expressed her concerns over the balancing within the Post Office. The fact that she raised her difficulties with the Post Office Helpline will in my view provide strong mitigation on her behalf and may lead to some damning questions as to why an audit of the post office was deferred for 5 months after she first raised concerns in early August 2009.”

Then you say:

“If charges of false accounting are to be considered then section 1 of the Fraud Act would seem most appropriate.”

That’s 14 June 2010. Can you assist us, you say that it would provide strong mitigation; I mean, it may also provide a defence, mightn’t it?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct, yes.

Mr Blake: It’s right to say in your analysis here you couldn’t show that money had actually been stolen from the Post Office, could you?

Jonathan Longman: No, no, and she hadn’t been provided with transaction log data either which she had requested, and –

Mr Blake: She had been reporting, it’s clear, to the helpline problems with the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: That’s right.

Mr Blake: I mean, a question that, in fact, former Lord Justice Hooper raised in his evidence last week was why would somebody tell the victim of a crime, so the Post Office in this case, that they were committing criminality and knowing that they would ultimately be liable for that money? Was that a consideration that went through your head at all?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, it was. I seem to recall that this was a case where I asked “Why is it being sent over to the Investigation Department” because 95 per cent of the investigation had already been carried out by the Retail Line. So the Retail Line – most of this information in my report I already knew before I went to interview Mrs O’Dell and, yeah, I don’t think this should have ever been an investigation case. It’s a one – because I agree with you, if you’re ringing up the helpline as she was, and saying that “I’m incurring losses”, and all the helpline, I think, was saying was “Well, you’ve just got to make it good”, and she was said, “I wasn’t going to make it good because I haven’t taken the money”, you know, there wasn’t much assistance there.

But yes, it was the one case that was allocated to me where I think I did speak to a manager or someone and say why has this been passed over to us? I can’t be 100 per cent sure but I did have reservations with this case.

Mr Blake: That’s because there’s a real possibility in this case that it might have been a fault with Horizon that was causing the losses?

Jonathan Longman: Well, it wasn’t tested. Transaction log data had been refused on cost grounds but, looking back on it, yeah, this was a case that should have gone up to – or should have gone through a process of seeing if there was a fault. Most probably, it should have gone up to Fujitsu for review because I think I’ve said in my statement that I would consider that Fujitsu would be the ones to be able to identify a problem or a fault more than an Investigator.

Mr Blake: You were still at the investigation stage, though. I mean, it would have been possible to have carried out more of an investigation at this stage. The suggestion here in this paragraph that we’ve just been looking at is that it’s going to be a difficult case because she’s has evidence of reporting problems with Horizon. Do you think – is that fair summary of that paragraph?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I do. As I say, I was never comfortable with this case.

Mr Blake: Is it because there is a possibility that this may have been because of a problem with Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: Well, we’ll never know because it was never tested but the reason that she, Mrs O’Dell, raised it with the Helpdesk on many occasions and told them what she was doing would, obviously, create problems, I think, going forward.

Mr Blake: Would it create problems because it is suggestive of a problem with the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: Yes – well, as I say, it should have been. This, to me, is a clear case where there’s nothing else going on. It’s – you know, with some of the other cases, some subpostmasters have said, “I’ve had losses”, but they’ve also, other things have been going on as well. This one is just out and out – it’s the system. So yeah, it should have been investigated and it would have – yeah, there’s – it should have been either proven one way or another whether there were faults or bugs with the Horizon system at this office.

Mr Blake: I’ll ask that question once more about what this is suggestive of. Does it suggest to you that it may have been a problem with Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, sorry, yes.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00143570, please. This is the same case, 6 July 2010. This is a memo from Jarnail Singh, copied to you, and he says:

“Having read the papers and also having spoken to [you], the evidence gives rise to an offence of fraud/false accounting.

“Briefly”, and then he summarises the issues.

He then says:

“It is well documented that Mrs O’Dell had contacted the Helpline on a number of occasions informing them of the losses and also that she had been inflating the cash-on-hand figure to cover those losses. The defendant had been notifying the helpline of her concerns since August 2009, five months before she was audited in December 2009. I understand that two weeks before the audit she had written to her Contracts Manager … highlighting her concerns.

“The circumstances of the facts will cause difficulties in proving this case and the Business will come under grave criticism which the Defence will exploit as can be seen in recent prosecution cases.”

Was that a concern that you shared?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I would say so.

Mr Blake: If we go over the page, please:

“I Also understand the losses fall short of the £15,000 threshold and therefore this case will not be recovered by means of confiscation.”

Were you aware of whether or not a matter can lead to confiscation being a factor that’s taken into account as to whether to prosecute?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes, I think it may have been that I was asked to investigate this case despite my concerns because Mrs O’Dell wasn’t paying back the money, maybe to have it – have an investigation interview. There would have been more – I don’t know – then it could have gone through a recovery process, if there was a prosecution.

Mr Blake: Was confiscation, whether money could be confiscation, whether it was over a particular threshold, relevant to the decision to whether to prosecute or not?

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t think so.

Mr Blake: He then says:

“In the circumstances, my view is that a caution should be administered in this case.”

He sets out there terms of the caution. Were you aware of whether or not the Post Office had the ability to issue a caution?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I think it was – I think I was aware.

Mr Blake: I want to take you back to your witness statement WITN04670100. Am I right in saying that this case, therefore, didn’t proceed?

Jonathan Longman: Well, a caution was drawn up and I telephoned Mrs O’Dell to say I had the caution. She says she wasn’t going to sign it and it was just left on file.

Mr Blake: So the matter proceeded no further.

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: If we go back to page 46 of your witness statement, paragraph 97, it’s a paragraph we’ve looked at already this morning. 97, paragraph 46, if we scroll down, this the paragraph where you say:

“At the time, I did not believe that I considered a challenge to the Horizon system in one case to be relevant to other cases.”

Looking back at the case that we’ve been looking at, the O’Dell case, isn’t that a case that would have been relevant to the case of Seema Misra?

Jonathan Longman: Looking back at it now, yes. It was another case where Horizon was being blamed for losses, so yes.

Mr Blake: It’s not just – I mean, you said earlier today that where there is a proven error with Horizon, that would be something you should have disclosed. Where there was a case that was discontinued because of a concern that there may have been a problem with Horizon, do you accept now that that is something that should have been disclosed in Seema Misra’s case?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, my thinking at the time was only cases where a bug had been identified needed to be disclosed but I can see what you’re saying now, that, yes, this should have been mentioned, or presented to the defence so that, obviously, they could make their own enquiries or representations about this.

Mr Blake: It’s a similar time period, it was you who was involved in that case. It must have been in your mind at the time to some extent, mustn’t it?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes, I’d say so. It was around the time and it should have been at least mentioned to the solicitor or the barrister in our Misra case – Mrs Misra’s case.

Mr Blake: Looking back at that memo from Jarnail Singh, was the concern one that the business will come under grave criticism if it were known about?

Jonathan Longman: Well, that wasn’t my view. Yeah, as an Investigator, you should be fair and open. I take what you’re saying, this should have been disclosed or mentioned at least and then advice given from our barrister as to what should happen in terms of whether it should be disclosed.

Mr Blake: Trying to think through the reason for its non-disclosure, was it simply because you didn’t consider that those matters should be disclosed or was there a wider concern for the business, as suggested by Jarnail Singh’s memo?

Jonathan Longman: No, I would say because this hadn’t been fully investigated and a bug had been identified, and that’s the reason it wasn’t disclosed.

Mr Blake: But it wasn’t fully investigated, was it –

Jonathan Longman: Well –

Mr Blake: – and nobody looked into whether a bug did or didn’t exist?

Jonathan Longman: Again, costs come into it, transactional data and –

Mr Blake: Can you see I problem, though, in where you don’t continue with the case because there may be a bug but you don’t look into that bug and, therefore, you don’t consider it to be a case that merits disclosing because you haven’t identified that bug?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I understand what you’re saying and, with hindsight, that was the case that, as I said earlier should have gone up to Fujitsu for an investigation.

Mr Blake: Was a tactical decision taken not to investigate it further because it might actually show a bug?

Jonathan Longman: No, I wouldn’t say that, no. There was no deliberate attempt to not – I think the – to not investigate it, I think it was because the transaction log data had been refused on cost, so, without transaction log data, you can’t investigate, you know, for faults or bugs on Horizon. That’s my understanding.

Mr Blake: At the time, though, that you wrote that investigation report, you still could have requested transaction data. It hadn’t been deleted by that time, had it?

Jonathan Longman: No, I just went by the fact that the costs was a prohibitive factor, and it wasn’t being provided. I also think I said – I was asking Mrs O’Dell if there was a smaller period of time where she could identify problems, during the interview, so that a smaller and less costly amount of data could be achieved or obtained, sorry.

Mr Blake: Do you think putting a burden on a defendant to identify a smaller period, do you think that is a difficult burden to put on them?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes, and I think when Horizon was mentioned at an interview or there’s been problems with the system, as an Investigator, I wasn’t really aware of what that meant, so I always thought was it a certain transaction, you notice it during this week that you started having problems? So I didn’t know that we’re talking about the whole Horizon system that was possibly having glitches or faults. I thought it could be certain transactions that they were putting through or, you know, did it happen during a certain time period.

Mr Blake: Do you recognise now that that is a difficult burden to put on defendants in criminal proceedings?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes but I’m also trying to say that I wasn’t fully aware of what these faults or potential bugs with Horizon were.

Mr Blake: Can we look at FUJ00122928, please. We’re on 15 July 2010. We can see, at the bottom of this, page an email from yourself and it relates to Gareth Jenkins’ witness statement in Mrs Misra’s trial and an issue with ARQ data. If we turn to page 5, please, we can see an explanation of what that issue was with ARQ data. It’s an issue that the Inquiry has heard quite a lot about in Phase 4. We can see there an email from Penny Thomas, so that’s in the bottom of the chain that you ultimately are involved with, and she describes it as follows. She says:

“However it has recently been noticed that the HNG-X [that’s Horizon Online] retrieval mechanism does not remove such duplicates and a quick scan of the ARQs [audit transaction data] provided to Post Office Limited since the change to the new system indicates that about 35% of the ARQs might contain some duplicate data. A PEAK has been raised [that’s an error log] to enhance the extraction tool set and remove such duplicate data in the future. However, until the fix is developed, tested and deployed, there is a possibility that data is duplicated.”

If we scroll up, please, we have an email from Mark Dinsdale, who was the Security Programme Manager. At this stage was he a member of your team; was he senior to you; where did he fit into the overall scheme of your department?

Jonathan Longman: He was senior, more senior to me, and I think he worked in a sort of like an old Casework Team sort of department.

Mr Blake: Thank you. This is his email and he says as follows, he says:

“We had a meeting with Penny from Fujitsu today in respect of a problem that has potentially been in existence since January.”

This is 2 July that he’s writing. Were you in that meeting?

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t believe so.

Mr Blake: So it’s since January, we’re now in July, so it’s been happening for about five months or so; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: Sorry, when …

Mr Blake: So he says there it’s potentially been in existence since January and he’s writing in July?

Jonathan Longman: That’s about five/six months, yes.

Mr Blake: “It appears that the audit data has a number of duplicate transactions contained within … It is potentially as a result of systems backing and rechecking itself up towards the close of play as it appears to affect data from around 16.40 until close.”

He says as follows:

“The duplicate transactions have the same transaction number so can be readily identified, so there is no danger of mistaking them for fraudulent duplicate transactions such as POCA [I think that’s Proceeds of Crime Act] duplicate withdrawals. Unfortunately you may feel this works in favour of the defence as this may strengthen claims as they question the integrity of Horizon.”

We see there another concern about questions being raised about the integrity of Horizon. We’ve seen that in a number of emails so far. So, by this time, the summer of 2010, was there a general concern within your department about defendants questioning the integrity of Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: I would say – well, looking at that email, yes.

Mr Blake: He continues and he says:

“The duplication of audited records has not, in any way, affected actual physical transactions record on any counter at any outlet. The duplication of records has occurred during the auditing process when records were in the process to of being recorded purely for audit purposes from the correspondence servers to the audit servers. It should be noted that this duplication of data in the audit stream has always been happening. However the Horizon retrieval process automatically discarded duplicate records before creating the ARQ spreadsheets, while the current [Horizon Online] retrieval process for Horizon data does not do so.

“Therefore I’m not sure of the course of action we should take. My initial response was to CEO that Fujitsu provide a witness statement to quantify the above that we could attach to each case (as appropriate), and treat each case where this is not accepted individually.”

Just looking at that, were you concerned about historic cases? We’ve seen that you were involved in a number of cases prior to this. Were you concerned about the potential for audit data to have been provided that wasn’t accurate?

Jonathan Longman: I can’t say that – well, my dealing with duplication data was sort of limited to West Byfleet but I take your point that it maybe should have been a trigger to sort of look back at other cases to see if there was any duplicated data in those, but it wasn’t undertaken, no.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at FUJ00122929.

Sorry, actually, if we could just go back the previous one, FUJ00122928. In the first of the emails that I showed you, I just draw these to your attention, you say there on page 1, the bottom of page 1, you say:

“Gareth’s statement is fine. It explains why the duplicates occurred and most importantly of all it confirms that it has no affect on Horizon’s accuracy. I have added an extra paragraph to tie it in with the trial of Seema Misra and can confirm that only ARQ447 has any duplications within the disk you produced …”

So it seems as though a statement has been obtained from Gareth Jenkins explaining the duplication issue in this particular case but, as you just explained, that doesn’t necessarily address what happened in previous cases or previous investigations?

Jonathan Longman: No, I think his statement initially addressed duplicated transactions generally. There was a general statement about duplicated –

Mr Blake: Yes.

Jonathan Longman: This additional paragraph was just to make the reader of that statement aware as to which particular ARQ had the duplications in the Seema Misra case.

Mr Blake: If we look at FUJ00122929, that’s the witness statement, if we scroll down to the second page, I think we can see the words that you added in are in bold on that second page, if we scroll down.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: Are those the words that you added in to that statement?

Jonathan Longman: I can’t recall exactly but, because it’s in bold, I would say, yes.

Mr Blake: Thank you. Just pausing there and trying to identify where we’re at in terms of timing, this is the summer of 2010. In addition to Callendar Square and all those other matters that I mentioned previously, by the summer of 2010, you had also been told about an error that occurred that affected auditing data?

Jonathan Longman: Mm-hm, yes.

Mr Blake: Did you at that stage still believe that what occurred in one case was not necessarily disclosable in another case, with regards to issues with the Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: Well, again, not at the time but I can say that it should have been disclosed, even though this duplicated data didn’t cause any discrepancies within Horizon.

Mr Blake: Because potentially it shows that the system itself is prone to errors?

Jonathan Longman: Well, it’s prone to errors, albeit maybe my thinking was because it didn’t create, or that it didn’t create any data integrity issues then, it wasn’t going to affect anything.

Mr Blake: It did create data integrity issues: it affected the audit data and resulted in them being duplicated but it seems that a workaround was in place and that, in future, it wouldn’t show up.

Jonathan Longman: That’s right. But when there was duplicated transactions I think the statement makes it clear that it wouldn’t have affected the data, although it was a fault, it didn’t actually affect –

Mr Blake: It wouldn’t have affected the terminal data; it would have affected only the record of the audit data?

Jonathan Longman: That’s right.

Mr Blake: I want to move on to conducting investigations. At paragraph 6 of your witness statement you say that you were aware of the duty placed on investigators to follow all lines of inquiry; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: You were aware that you needed to pursue lines of inquiry that pointed away from the guilt of a suspect; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: That is correct.

Mr Blake: I want to begin by looking at a statement that you produced in Seema Misra’s case. Can we please look at POL00054041, please. Thank you. These redactions are slightly heavy and they should have been removed but we’ll try and make the best we can out of it. If I tell you that that was 5 February 2010, that will assist you with the date.

Could we scroll down, please. Do you remember preparing this statement and submitting it in Seema Misra’s case?

Jonathan Longman: This might have been in relation to the defence expert questioning what knowledge Investigators had about the system, I think.

Mr Blake: I’ll take you through it. If we look at that second substantive paragraph, the final sentence, it says:

“Also have no IT knowledge as to the workings of Horizon equipment or data transfer.”

You then, in the next paragraph, say you have had minimal training on Horizon.

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: Then the final sentence on that page and over to the next page, it says:

“I have never experienced any problems with the Horizon system other than pressing the wrong icon on the screen and requiring assistance from a more experienced clerk to get me back to the correct screen.”

Now, I’m not suggesting that that is untruthful because you’ve made very clear that you don’t really use the Horizon system, but what was the purpose of that sentence?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I was just referring to my personal experience of when I used Horizon on those very few occasions, that, you know, it was fairly straightforward to use, although, on occasions, when I was working on the counter, I did get into a bit of a pickle, if I can put it in that way, and needed someone to come and help me get back onto the right screen.

Mr Blake: Why would you want say in criminal proceedings that you have never experienced problems with the Horizon system? Was it in some way meant to be supportive of the reliability of the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I suppose – it was just saying that, when I used Horizon, albeit briefly, I never encountered a problem. If I’d used the system and I had encountered a problem, then I would have – you know, that would have been something that I would have mentioned.

Mr Blake: Did you think at that time that that supported the reliability of the Horizon system or that it didn’t take matters –

Jonathan Longman: No, it’s just reporting what my experience was. I’m not – I wasn’t trying to defend Horizon with that sentence, I’m just saying that that was my experience of Horizon when I used it, that I hadn’t had any issues.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down and this is the paragraph that I want to ask you about with regards to investigations, you say:

“When conducting enquiries at Post Office, if any interview with a member of staff reveals a system problem as a possible cause for the loss then this would be followed up as a matter of course by making the necessary enquiries with our Financial Department at Chesterfield in the first instance. If during interview no mention is made of system failures and other reasons are given for the cause of loss such as … thefts then I would not as an Investigator make [such] enquiries.”

So it seems then that this is consistent with the evidence you have given in your witness statement for this Inquiry, that the burden is very much on a subpostmaster to raise system problems and, if they didn’t raise system problems, no such problems would be investigated; is that right?

Jonathan Longman: Well, that is correct, if a subpostmaster or manager or whatever at interview did not mention system failures but explained other reasons for why there was a deficiency in the cash, then you would write up your report, and forward it to Legal Services for review …

Mr Blake: What if they didn’t know? What if they were experiencing shortfalls but didn’t know what caused them?

Jonathan Longman: Well, normally, there was a reason given for the shortfall.

Mr Blake: Perhaps we can look and see how this worked in practice. If we look at the interview with Jerry Hosi, that’s FUJ00123110. So that’s a case that was proceeding along the same track as Seema Misra. You’ve already explained you weren’t the Investigating Officer, that was Lisa Allen, but you were present at that interview. That interview took place in November 2006. If we please turn to page 10, I’m just going to read a little bit of the transcript. If we could scroll down, please, Lisa Allen says:

“I believe you when you say you’ve been inflating your cash-on-hand figure, to cover up for the losses, but what I don’t believe is that the losses are genuine. I think you have taken the money that belongs to Post Office Limited.”

He says:

“This is what you believe because you see that, that is the only thing …

“Question: I have no evidence to suggest otherwise.

“Answer: No, no, no, what evidence can you … you say that you believe that I took the money.

“Question: The money has been stolen from the Post Office.

“Answer: Why do you believe that?

“Question: Well, where is it, £70,000-odd?”

Then there’s discussion about working on the Post Office Counter, and Mr Hosi says:

“This was my first experience and I didn’t take the money, but the money is lost, what can I do?

She says:

“Well, there’s only three people that work in the post office, isn’t there, there’s you, your son and your wife. I can’t see how £70,000 can get lost in the system anyhow.

“Answer: Because it’s not one day.”

She says, “It’s not one day?

“Answer: Yeah.

“Question: Well what evidence have you got for this £70,000 of errors with the system? You’ve talked about your error notices and transaction corrections but nothing in the region of £70,000. The £70,000 one has already …”

He says:

“My dear, I told you and if there us [maybe ‘is’] something you can check with your data, then please I would ask you to do that because I don’t take the money and my wife, my son, no one of us would take of the money. Even if you see they are chasing me [the council for] this thing”, and he goes on.

Do you accept that it wouldn’t have been possible for somebody like Mr Hosi to have said “There is a bug in Horizon, I know that there is a bug, identify a bug that you can investigate”. I mean, it’s pretty difficult isn’t it for somebody who is being interviewed to raise issues with Horizon to the level that you seem to have expected?

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, I – you know, from what you’ve just read, then there should have been an investigation into what he was saying to see if Horizon was at his office causing glitches or problems. I think the hardware was analysed but, again, I agree there should have been some investigation into whether what he was saying about the Horizon system had any merit.

Mr Blake: But is that sufficient for your purposes to trigger your investigation into the Horizon system? What are you going to be looking for there?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I – well, again, I would be looking at – if it was me, I’d be asking “Can you remember specific transactions or a time period when you think this started?” But, yeah, transaction data should have been obtained. But I do – I seem to recall that the computer system was analysed at this branch but, not being my case, I’m not 100 per cent sure. There were some checks carried out but –

Mr Blake: Let’s look at one more which is the interview with Dawn O’Connell and that’s at UKGI00015099. I can take this one quite briefly. You, again, are not the main interviewing officer but you are present and do ask some questions in interview. If we scroll down, Ms Allen says:

“This morning the Investigation Team received a call to say there was going to be an audit shortage at West End Post Office. The Auditors have gone to the office and you have spoken to the Auditor and said it is going to be about £40,000-odd short.”

If we go over the page, please. Ms O’Connell says as follows:

“I believe there to be a loss of around £40,000 in the office. It seems to have been building up over a period of several months. It appears to be in the main safe which is MM stock. To make the stock unit balance I declare cash that wasn’t there. How this has accumulated I do not know. I have tried to search the units before but haven’t been able to find where the loss could be. I do feel that none of the staff have been involved in the loss.”

Then, if we go over the page to page 3. She’s asked:

“What can you tell me about that?”

She says:

“I really can’t tell you anything about that. It seemed to start some time last year in the middle of the year, about July or something.”

Pausing there, we seem to have a number of interviews where those who are being accused of having stolen from Horizon aren’t able to pinpoint exact transactions, exact periods. They know that significant periods of time have passed and losses have developed over that period. Reflecting on that, do you think that it was unrealistic to expect them to provide you with more specificity about when these losses were incurred?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I would agree, from my point of view, I always thought that you may – as a subpostmaster you may be able to identify when the losses started and give some steer on to what sort of data to obtain but, yeah, in these cases you just read out, there’s no – they’re not able to give a specific date or transaction. So what we – or what I would be asking for doesn’t always seem possible for a subpostmaster to give me back, you know, a response to when this started.

Mr Blake: The first was an interview in 2006, this one is an interview in 2008. Knowing what you knew in 2010, we’ve looked at Callendar Square, we’ve looked at the ARQ issue, we’ve looked at the growing number of cases, The Grocer, the Computer Weekly article. Did that make you rethink those cases that you had previously been involved in at all?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes. There should have been much more investigation in regards to claims where they’ve had unexpected losses.

Mr Blake: Going back to where we started today, about the part of your witness statement that said that you wouldn’t have done anything differently, I know it’s been your evidence that that related to the Seema Misra case only. Looking back at these cases and knowing what you know now, would you have approached them differently?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I think I would have applied for transaction log data and, really, I think we probably needed a process in place so that it was a consistent approach by all Investigators, so that, if you came up across examples like you’ve just put up, there was a process to follow. Whether Horizon could cope with all these extra enquiries, I don’t know, but that’s by the by, that’s for – you know, there should have been a process and a protocol maybe in place earlier for dealing with unexplained losses.

Mr Blake: Sir, that might be a convenient moment for us to take our mid-morning break.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes.

Mr Blake: Could we please come back at 11.45.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, certainly.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much.

(11.26 am)

(A short break)

(11.45 am)

Mr Blake: Sir, can you see and hear us?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, thank you.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much.

Mr Longman, I’m going to move on to the issue of disclosure in Seema Misra’s case and it’s a matter we have touched upon. Could we look at POL00050750. It’s the Schedule of Non-Sensitive Unused Material. You compiled this list of unused material, didn’t you?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I did.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down we can see your signature, your name: your signature is covered by a restriction order. You can see there that you were, it says, “Signature of officer”, and if we look at the very top of the list, sorry. If we scroll up, it says:

“The Disclosure Officer believes that the following material which does not form part of the prosecution case is [non-sensitive].”

You’ve very candidly admitted in your evidence that you weren’t aware that you were something called the Disclosure Officer. Who did you consider to be responsible for disclosure?

Jonathan Longman: Well, me. But I didn’t know I held – I was actually called the Disclosure Officer.

Mr Blake: You’ve said that you understood your role to include updating this schedule.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: Did you also make decisions as to the reasonableness of the disclosure and the timing of disclosure?

Jonathan Longman: What do you mean by that, sorry?

Mr Blake: Well, we’ll come to look at the approach that was taken to disclosure. Do you feel that you were just somebody who compiled a schedule or were you also somebody who either provided instructions on whether or not to disclose or at least inputted on the timing that the disclosure was provided, whether or not something was or was not reasonable?

Jonathan Longman: No, I just compiled the schedule. That’s how I saw my role, just to list the items on this schedule.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at FUJ00152817. I’m going to start in June 2009, so very early on and, if we scroll down, it’s an email from you to Andrew Dunks, and you say:

“Let’s run with this statement as it is. If the defence wants details of the 107 calls then a further statement will be needed at a later stage.”

That’s a reference to Helpdesk calls?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: It seems from that email that you took the decision that you didn’t need to provide the Helpdesk calls to the defence as at June 2009; is that correct?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, that’s what the statement says, yes.

Mr Blake: So, insofar as those kinds of things were concerned, you did input as to whether or not it was necessary to provide something to the defence?

Jonathan Longman: That was my view at that time, yes.

Mr Blake: So it wasn’t simply a matter of compiling a schedule; it was also providing, certainly with respect to some matters, whether or not something needed to be disclosed at a particular time?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00107817. The bottom email is from you to Jarnail Singh, and you say:

“At the hearing on 14 July 2009, the defence indicated that they would be seeking the services of a forensic accountant to analyse the Horizon data as Ms Misra is now challenging the accuracy of Horizon. I have tried to order the data for the time Ms Misra was subpostmaster (3 years) but as you can see from the email from Dave Posnett there are a number of issues.”

Perhaps we can scroll down to those issues. He has said to you as follows:

“Due to the size of the ARQ request I cannot authorise Fujitsu to proceed at this stage. This equates to approximately 31 ARQs (1 per month of data). We have an annual allowance of 670 ARQs, so the defence request represents quite a chunk of our quota. Also, we can only Request 60 ARQs per month, so this defence request could be detrimental to other prosecution requests.”

Just pausing there, did you think that was an appropriate consideration to take into account when deciding whether something should or shouldn’t be disclosed to a defendant?

Jonathan Longman: Well, with hindsight, I wish all the data requested had been provided but, at the time, when I put the application in, I knew it was going to take up a lot of our requests, so I probably wasn’t surprised that it was turned down in the first instance.

Mr Blake: He says:

“We have a contract with Fujitsu to acquire ARQs for our prosecution cases, and we pay for these. We do assist where we can and where requests are reasonable in terms of our quota, eg police, other parts of the business, small defence requests, etc.”

So it seems to distinguish between where requests are needed for the police and where requests are requested by the defence. He says:

“For ‘lumpy’ defence requests, we can obtain a quote from Fujitsu for the work, which will then sit outside our quota. Defence can then 1) pay-up, 2) seek [legal advice] and pay up, 3) cancel the request, or 4) seek authority from the court to insist that the request is carried out.”

Were you aware that that was the approach that was taken to ARQ requests by defendants that are considered to be “lumpy”?

Jonathan Longman: Well, all the ARQs that I’d got previously were for smaller periods. This is, I think, probably the first ARQ for, you know, a wider period, a longer period. So this was probably my first – I can’t say this was my first time I’d had an ARQ request turned down. I can’t – I’m pretty sure that it may have been my only ARQ request that had been turned down but I’m not positive on that. But, yes, it was because it was such a long period that was requested.

Mr Blake: It goes on to say:

“Aside from the costs and our quota, another reason for this approach is because many cases plead guilty at the eleventh hour and/or nothing is found by ‘experts’ to challenge Fujitsu data – the usual attempts of muddying the waters.”

Was this is an email that came by surprise at all?

Jonathan Longman: Not the rejection. You know, when I put it in, maybe I was expecting a response “Maybe could the defence consider maybe only a year’s worth of data initially and, if something is found, then further data could be released”. But yeah, I suppose the last – the two paragraphs are a surprise.

Mr Blake: You were surprised or, on reflection, you’re now surprised?

Jonathan Longman: No, I am surprised. It’s basically saying that, you know, that some people can have – or some organisations can have the data and some can’t. So, sorry, that’s the second paragraph, isn’t it, saying police would get the data, other parts of the business and small defence requests would get the data but large defences wouldn’t get the data. So that’s clearly not really right.

Mr Blake: Did you take it up with Mr Posnett at all?

Jonathan Longman: I didn’t. I referred this to Mr Singh, that the requests had been refused.

Mr Blake: Did you have a discussion with Mr Posnett where you took issue with his approach?

Jonathan Longman: No, I just referred it to Mr Singh.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down the page over to page 3, please, we can see that there are three requests. The second there is for transaction data which is the ARQ data, the third is for the Helpdesk logs, and that’s a matter that we’ve seen earlier in that earlier email from 2009 and we’ll come on to look at the approach taken to those two things: transaction data and Helpdesk data.

Can we start by looking at the Helpdesk logs, POL00052234. If we scroll down, please. It’s headed, the subject, “[Witness statement] for West Byfleet HSH calls”, so it looks as though this email is about the Helpdesk logs, and Mr Posnett says that it’s going to take around six weeks to obtain. Is my reading of that correct?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, it would take about six weeks to obtain.

Mr Blake: These were the Helpdesk logs that we saw in that email that you didn’t consider it necessary to obtain back in June 2009?

Jonathan Longman: What, the ones that were refused? You’re talking about the ARQ data?

Mr Blake: No, so we looked at an email from June 2009 where you said, “Let’s run with the statement as is, if the defence do want details of the 107 calls, then a further statement will be needed at that stage”. It seems that things had moved on by August and that there is a request for those 107 calls.

Jonathan Longman: That’s right, yes, sorry. I’m with you now. Yes. So it’s taken six weeks to get that data.

Mr Blake: If we scroll up, you tell Phil Taylor that it’s about six weeks for that data. So a witness statement, by this stage, had already been submitted which suggested that the number of calls wasn’t actually particularly high; do you recall that? I think it was three to four per month was not seen as high?

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, a review had been undertaken, I think, of that data and, yeah, that the number of calls per week or per month were not deemed excessive or, you know, alarming by Fujitsu.

Mr Blake: But it would still take six weeks to obtain that data or that information?

Jonathan Longman: To get the underlying data, you know, the raw data for it, yes.

Mr Blake: Can we look at FUJ00154851, please. A letter is written to the defence. Dave Posnett emails you to say:


“A good letter – I like it.”

If we scroll to page 4, please, we can see the letter that had been written to the defence. Thank you. If we scroll down, please, it’s a letter, I think, from Jarnail Singh although – oh no, it’s from Phil Taylor, if we scroll down, over the page, please, we can see it’s signed off by Phil Taylor, Legal Executive, Criminal Law Division. If we scroll up, please. Are you able to assist us with who wrote this letter? Did you input into it?

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t think I did. This is from somebody who worked in the Legal Department, probably somebody more junior to Mr Singh.

Mr Blake: I’m just going to read to you a few paragraphs. It says:

“The data will take some 6-8 weeks to produce. Additionally your client made 107 calls to the Horizon Helpdesk during her period of tenure which equates to roughly 2-3 calls per month. In order to provide the data Fujitsu will wish to know exactly what is required and for exactly what period. Please could you also advise as to why you consider the data relevant. You will already have the Notice of Additional Evidence from Andrew Dunks of Fujitsu dealing with the calls to the Helpdesk.

“The retrieval of data by Fujitsu is not a free service. It is very expensive and depends on the amount of that which has to be retrieved which is why you are requested to be very precise. At that stage a firm quotation can be obtained and counsel will be asked to give further advice as to disclosure and payment for this service. The Post Office will not underwrite the cost if counsel considers the data irrelevant. You will of course be aware that the same system operates throughout the country and was not particular to your client’s sub post office.

“I have set out the matter above quite clearly because in the past many thousands of pounds have been spent on obtaining this type of data subsequent to which a late plea of guilty is tendered which means that the exercise has been a complete waste of time and money.”

Now, that letter is clearly an attempt to dissuade the defendant from seeking the underlying data; do you agree with that?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I agree with that and I have to say that I – having – you just read it back to me and I didn’t have any input into this, this was – this letter was written by the individual who’s obviously signed it, without any input from me whatsoever.

Mr Blake: You were the Disclosure Officer in this case, as we’ve seen from the schedule. Are you were you concerned at all? I mean, you did receive this. You’ve sent it on to Dave Posnett. Were you concerned at the time about the tone and the content?

Jonathan Longman: Well, no, because it came from the Legal Department, I accepted it, you know, on face value that this is – this was their view. If they said, “No, we will retrieve the data”, then, obviously, we would have got the data straight away but, because it’s come from the Legal Department, I didn’t question them.

Mr Blake: So was your view at this stage that you didn’t mind providing disclosure to Seema Misra?

Jonathan Longman: No, I would provide any disclosure to Seema Misra that I was asked to.

Mr Blake: You weren’t reluctant in any way to provide disclosure to Seema Misra?

Jonathan Longman: No, not at all. I wish that everything had been provided but, when I had asked for – when I was given a list of disclosure or asked to get this or asked to get that, if there was a barrier to getting that disclosure, then I’d have to refer it to somebody else to see – to take advice.

Mr Blake: But your personal view was neutral on the subject, was it?

Jonathan Longman: No, my role would have been much easier if I’d just been able to get every disclosure item to the defence. We wouldn’t have had all this toing and froing of – you know, and all these legal arguments about disclosure. I genuinely wished that all the requests that had come in from defence I’d been able to obtain without question and provide it. So, you know, I wasn’t objecting to any disclosure being sent to Mrs Misra but, obviously, there were barriers in terms of costs that were put up by others as to why this information should be provided.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00053527. This is an email from you to Phil Taylor and others, November 2009, and you say:


“She will be lucky to get any of it at this … stage. Is she attending at 10.30 tomorrow at West Byfleet.”

That appears to be showing a lack of concern in respect of disclosure and, contrary to the evidence you have just given, what do you say about that?

Jonathan Longman: No, I think it must be some information – information that’s due to come from Fujitsu or some other department, and I’m just really saying that there’s no way we’re going to get it by the hearing tomorrow. I mean, yeah, my phrasing could have been a bit more professional at the beginning but, no, it’s not – it’s not –

Mr Blake: I think the trial was 30 November, this was 16 November.

Jonathan Longman: There must have been a request for some data, I must have been asked when is this data coming and I’m just replying quickly saying “At the moment, there’s a hold-up and, you know, they’ll be lucky to get it at this late stage”.

Mr Blake: Was there a deliberate attempt to delay disclosure until as late as possible in the day before the trial?

Jonathan Longman: Not on my part, no. As I said to you, all the disclosure requests that I received I tried to action and get the data. The transaction log data – I think there was some – when that was refused, the three years worth of data, it did take a long time for the – to come back with what data was acceptable. But that wasn’t my doing. I just referred it – any rejections to disclosure being made and there always seemed to be discussions between our Legal Services and the defence solicitor as to whether they would accept a smaller sample.

But I want to make it clear that I never delayed or – getting disclosure. Wanted to get the disclosure as I was asked but –

Mr Blake: Can we look at POL00054008, please. This is a document entitled “Third request for disclosure”. By this stage it seems the trial has been adjourned and there has been an order made by the judge on 1 February 2010, and the defence have submitted a request for disclosure. If we look to take some examples, if we scroll down, “Contract” 2, the request is:

“The Post Office case has always been that the Horizon system is robust and does not have any problems. If there are subpostmasters who have had losses on the Horizon system, but have not been prosecuted for theft and false accounting, this would tend to suggest an acceptance by the Post Office that problems can exist, a situation which is borne out by the immediate recognition of Callendar Place [I think that’s meant to be Callendar Square], Falkirk by a Fujitsu analyst as referred to in paragraph 23 of the Castleton judgment. This information would, therefore, potentially undermine the prosecution case and/or assist the defence case. Please comply with the request.”

Now, isn’t that exactly a request for the kind of information that we saw in the O’Dell case, somebody where there was going to be proceedings taken for theft and false accounting but that weren’t proceeded with because of potential issues with Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, sorry, can you just – this advice has come from?

Mr Blake: This is a request from the defence in the Misra case. They’re seeking information.

Jonathan Longman: Right.

Mr Blake: That request for information seems to be very much a request of the kind of knowledge that you had in relation to the O’Dell case.

Jonathan Longman: Right, and this advice would have been sent to?

Mr Blake: Well, it’s a request for disclosure. You were the Disclosure Officer. Did you see this request for disclosure? If we scroll up, you can have a look at the format.

Jonathan Longman: I don’t know if I received it in this format or whether it was sent to the Legal Department and then a memo sent regarding this. I can’t really comment.

Mr Blake: Am I right to say that at no point during the Seema Misra case did you consider whether you should or shouldn’t disclose information relating to the O’Dell case?

Jonathan Longman: No, I didn’t consider disclosing that, no.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down, please, there are a number of other requests. We won’t go through them all. I’ll take you through this relatively quickly. Over the page, please, paragraph 6, we see that that’s, 6(a), still requesting the Helpdesk logs.

If we scroll down to 7, please. There’s a reference there to EPOSS transactions that can get lost. That’s something that the Inquiry has heard quite a lot about in Phase 2.

Jonathan Longman: Right.

Mr Blake: If we scroll down, please, to 8, that’s just a repeat of the request regarding information about other cases.

Paragraphs 9 and 10, there’s a request for a witness statement and that’s one that we’ve seen – your witness statement that we see later.

Then, at 10:

“We repeat the second half of this request. Given the Investigator’s lack of understanding of the system and his reliance on counter clerks who, by your own view, can be of questionable quality, what back-up teams does the Post Office have to ensure that all reasonable explanations are considered before a criminal investigation is commenced?”

What they seem to be questioning there is, given your own evidence that you weren’t very familiar with the Horizon system, how can it be that the Post Office ensures that all reasonable explanations are considered? Do you think that there was an issue there, at the Post Office, with having somebody who was in charge of pursuing reasonable lines of inquiry but who didn’t have a significant knowledge of the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes, I mean, the onus was then on the Investigator to find the people who could explain how the system worked, hence, I think in the Seema Misra case, we had to get a statement from a Mr Bayfield to outline some of the Post Office procedures. But, yeah, it was – when putting a case together, if there were questions about Post Office procedures that I couldn’t answer, yeah, it was a task to find someone who could provide a statement to that effect, and –

Mr Blake: If we scroll down to number 11, this is a repeated request for the transaction data. Do you see that there?

Jonathan Longman: Which paragraph is it?

Mr Blake: 11(a).

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, can I just – was this not responded to by Legal Services and some of it rejected or –

Mr Blake: Absolutely. We will come to that but the question really for you is – and we’re now in 2010, February 2010 – the impression that you get from the documents might be that Seema Misra really needed to fight for disclosure, particularly in relation to those logs, the Helpdesk logs and the transaction logs; is that something you agree with or disagree with?

Jonathan Longman: I’d have to agree with it, yes.

Mr Blake: Can you assist us with why that might be?

Jonathan Longman: Well, some of it was costs, as we’ve – the transaction log data. As for the rest, why it wasn’t provided, that wasn’t my decision. You know, if it – if this request had gone thorough to Legal Services and then it said, “Please obtain all this as soon as possible”, and I’d received that, then I would have got all this data together. Again, if I came up against any other department not providing the data within Post Office, I’d have had to refer it back for advice but, what I’m trying to say is, if I was asked to get this data, I’d have made every effort to get this data.

Mr Blake: Is there any point at which you think “Well, I’m the Disclosure Officer, I’m the Investigator, as well, I think that it’s only fair to obtain this data irrespective of cost”?

Jonathan Longman: I agree. Costs shouldn’t have come into it.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00029369, please, page 3. We’ll see shortly that you are on this email chain eventually, you’re not on this particular email but it’s an email to Jarnail Singh from David Jones, who is the Head of Legal, UK Private Sector Division at Fujitsu. He is there providing Gareth Jenkins’ witness statement, and he says as follows in the bottom paragraph that we see there. He says:

“One concern is that [the Post Office] have not apparently requested transaction data for West Byfleet for the period and transactions in question. This would normally be provided in previous cases and would include Fujitsu extracting log files from the system to enable us to provide details of transactions. Surprisingly this has not been requested in this case. Perhaps you would consider the need for this.”

So you have there Fujitsu themselves questioning why transaction data hasn’t been obtained; do you recall that at all?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I do. I mean, what was the date of this email?

Mr Blake: If we scroll up we can see 5 February 2010, so quite late on, really. We’ve looked at emails from 2009, we see November 2009 there was meant to be a trial, the trial was postponed, we then have the defence request for disclosure and you have there, in February 2010, Fujitsu raising a concern that the transaction data hadn’t been obtained.

Jonathan Longman: Well, I think in August ‘08, or was it ‘09, that the initial transaction log data for three years was requested. I fully accept that transaction log data should have been provided to both experts for analysis, but the data was refused for three years, the amount of that was refused and it went back to Legal Services and then, for some reason, it’s taken a ridiculously long period of time before – I don’t know how the agreement was made that only a year’s data would be given but, you know, data should have been provided and I can’t explain why it took so long to just finally supply a year’s amount of data. That was – that had been referred to Legal Services, so I can’t tell you why it took that amount of time.

Mr Blake: If we could scroll up, this chain addresses a number of other issues, requests for disclosure or requests for explanation. If we go to page 1, we see at page 1 an email from Warwick Tatford to Jarnail Singh, and he says:

“Dear Jarnail,

“Jon Longman sets out in his email below the extra matters that I asked Mr Jenkins to look at.”

They relate to the Callendar Square issue and also whether there were any known problems with the Horizon system. He says as follows, he says:

“The areas where Mr Jenkins says ‘for POL to respond’ should be deleted from the statement. These areas will only lead to a flood of further disclosure requests and I am afraid that POL will never respond.”

Are you able to assist us with that? I mean, how did you understand Mr Tatford’s approach to disclosure to be? Were you content with the advice he gave in respect of disclosure?

Jonathan Longman: Are you referring to that second paragraph or –

Mr Blake: The second paragraph and also your general reflections?

Jonathan Longman: Well, my understanding of the second paragraph is that Mr Jenkins did do a draft statement and, on certain points, he said that it was for POL to respond and we did find somebody within POL to respond and provide a statement.

Mr Blake: But the reference there to a “flood of further disclosure requests”, was the general atmosphere by February 2010 that there were too many disclosure requests coming from Ms Misra’s team?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I’d say so. Again, it wasn’t my view, but –

Mr Blake: Whose view was it, to the best of your recollection?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I have to say it’s Mr Tatford’s, if he’s written that.

Mr Blake: How about Mr Singh, were you aware of his views on the matter?

Jonathan Longman: Well, Mr Singh would deal with – I recall that when there was a lengthy amount of disclosure requested by the defence, he made mention that we wouldn’t provide it and that they’d have to do something called a Section 8 statement or Section 8 application at court. I can remember that about some of the disclosure requests and also that we weren’t obliged to supply this or that. So they’re the things I can recall about disclosure by Mr Singh.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00054557, please. This is a message from Jarnail Singh to yourself of 6 April 2010. If we have a look there, it looks as though it took until approximately that time to disclose the transaction logs and also the Helpdesk logs?

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: It says:

“I understand that the defence have now reviewed the disk containing”, and it refers to the 430,000 transactions.

Then it says, if we scroll down:

“With regards to the defence request for all the Helpdesk calls … I now have the disk containing the information which I have copied and will forward … you …”

Am I right to understand your evidence that you accept that that’s all rather late in the day and it simply shouldn’t have taken this amount of time?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, there was a really long period between the defence requesting what they wanted and actually getting some of the items or not getting the full information but I stress it wasn’t my – I wasn’t trying to delay or prevent the defence from getting any of this disclosure. If I was asked to get this disclosure, or get this item or this item on the disclosure list, I would try and, if it wasn’t a positive response from whichever department I went to, then I would refer it back to discussion, I presume, between Mr Singh and the defence solicitors.

Mr Blake: Can we look at FUJ00153157, please. We’re now in July 2010. If we look down to page 2, we see there a request from Ms Misra’s solicitor, Issy Hogg and it relates to a meeting that’s taken place between the defence expert, Charles McLachlan, and Gareth Jenkins. She’s requesting access to the system in the Midlands where it appears there are live, reproducible errors. She refers there to the Known Error Log in that third bullet point?

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Blake: If we scroll up, please, Jarnail Singh is sending an email to you and to Warwick Tatford saying:

“Could you please be kind enough to let me have your urgent instructions as to access and information she is requesting in respect of the system in the Midlands and the operation at Chesterfield and the error logs.”

Now, who did you understand Mr Singh to be asking for instructions with regards to disclosure?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I’d have thought it would be to me, to find out about the system in the Midlands and the operation at Chesterfield. I can remember dealing with those or trying to deal with those items.

Mr Blake: Did you regard yourself as somebody who could give instructions?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: Who, in your view, would have been the appropriate person to provide instructions?

Jonathan Longman: Well, Mr Singh – or, sorry, Mr Tatford.

Mr Blake: Mr Tatford was counsel in the case, so counsel traditionally takes instructions, rather than gives them.

Jonathan Longman: I’m a bit confused by the question. If I can just take a moment –

Mr Blake: Who did you regard in this particular case to be the client who provided instructions to their Legal Team?

Jonathan Longman: Well, that would be Mr Singh, wouldn’t it? He would provide instructions to – I’m not sure.

Mr Blake: If we scroll up, you have emailed Penny Thomas asking Gareth to explain in more detail those points and, if we scroll to page 1 we see a detailed response from Penny Thomas. She refers to access to the system in the Midlands and she says:

“It would appear that challenges is aware of a Post Office which was having issues similar to those which have resulted in prosecution …”

Are you aware of which case that is, at all?

Jonathan Longman: It doesn’t mention it, does it?

Mr Blake: No, it just refers to a system in the Midlands.

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t. I don’t believe I do, no.

Mr Blake: “System Change Requests”, at the bottom, it says:

“Basically, he was asking to look at all system faults. I suggested that as we kept all testing and Live faults in the same system and there were about 200,000 of them then this wasn’t going to get him far.”

After that she says:

“My view is that Charles is ‘fishing’ and I don’t personally support any of these requests. However they seem harmless – other than wasting a lot of people’s time – and hence money.”

We’re now very far down the line, July 2010. You’re being told about something called a Known Error Log. Did you know what the Known Error Log was?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: No? A post Office in the Midlands experiencing problems, 200,000 system faults: when you add that to the knowledge that we’ve established that you had about Callendar Square, about magazine articles, growing number of cases, the issue with ARQ data, why didn’t all of those together change your view as to the reliability and integrity of the Horizon system?

Jonathan Longman: Well, with hindsight, it should have done but, at the time, I was probably focused on only offices where an actual fault with Horizon had been identified.

Mr Blake: I’m going to move on now to expert evidence and I’ll only be relatively brief on this. Jarnail Singh has given evidence that you were Gareth Jenkins’ main point of contact. Would you agree with that?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I would go through Penny Thomas, we used Penny Thomas and then she would – I’d contact Penny Thomas and say, “Can we have this, this, this and this”, and then she would probably forward it to Gareth.

Mr Blake: You’ve been very open in your witness statement about not being aware of the various duties of an expert and I’d just like to ask you a little bit about your relationship with Mr Jenkins and your level of involvement with the evidence that he gave. Can we please look at POL00167129. So we’re going back in time now to January 2010. This is in the context of Ms Misra’s case. You say to counsel, Warwick Tatford:

“Penny Thomas telephoned me late yesterday and said that their expert, Gareth, would compose a witness statement dealing with Callendar Square as he would be more able witness to be cross-examined [than] Anne. Penny is unaware at the moment as to what the issue was with Callendar Square but hopefully a statement should be with me by the end of [the] week.”

Are you able to assist us with what was meant there by the fact that Gareth Jenkins would be a “more able witness” to be cross-examined?

Jonathan Longman: I think this is what I was – again, I think I recall there were some emails from Anne to Gareth asking if he could deal with it and Gareth agreed, I think.

Mr Blake: Were you aware, for example, of any concerns that Anne Chambers had expressed after the Lee Castleton trial in January 2007 about giving evidence?

Jonathan Longman: I think there’s a document that was served late yesterday that I was asked to look at, and I think, in there, Anne Chambers has said that she was approached by an Investigator to give some evidence but she –

Mr Blake: So you’ve seen now this reflections document that the Inquiry has seen but, at the time, as at January 2010, were you aware of concerns that had been expressed by Anne Chambers about giving evidence?

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t recall. I don’t recall much about Anne Chambers.

Mr Blake: So “more able to be cross-examined”. What does that mean? Does that mean –

Jonathan Longman: Well, maybe had more knowledge about the Callendar Square bug. That’s –

Mr Blake: “More able witness to be cross-examined” though. It suggests that some sort of judgement has been made about how they would present to the court or whether they might be undermined; do you recall making any kind of judgement along those lines?

Jonathan Longman: No, I wouldn’t. I really can’t add much to that at all.

Mr Blake: Can we move on then to FUJ00153029. 5 March 2010, if we look at the bottom email we have an email from Penny Thomas to Jarnail Singh and to you and she says:


“We need some help with analysis and witness statement generation for Gareth, would you be available Monday or Tuesday to visit us and help?”

Are you able to assist us with what she may have meant by “analysis and witness statement generation for Gareth”?

Jonathan Longman: All I can recall, my only – my intention was to go and take a witness statement from Mr Jenkins, and I actually travelled to their Fujitsu Head Office with my laptop to sit down with him and to obtain a statement but he advised me that he would write his own witness statement, so …

Mr Blake: Did you help him with some analysis, though?

Jonathan Longman: No, I’ve got no knowledge in that area or – you know, to offer any help with analysis for Mr Jenkins.

Mr Blake: Could we please look at FUJ00122906. This is the witness statement we looked at before, where you did insert a paragraph relating to Seema Misra’s case, a Seema Misra-specific paragraph. It’s also the statement where he describes the issues with Horizon Online and the duplication in ARQ data and I’d like your assistance, please, with the handwritten note that’s on page 2. Is that your handwriting there?

Jonathan Longman: No, I’ve tried to read it but I can’t, if –

Mr Blake: Let me tell you what I think it says and you may be able to assist us with whether that jogs your memory about a conversation. It looks like it says:

“Rang Jon Longman 12.00, 21 July and advised that contrary to paragraph 2, page 2, POL had not greet to this workaround.”

It may say “workaround”, that’s one reading of it:

“He said he was happy that as a representative of POL he had agreed this process in this case. He will come back to me if he requires a replacement statement.”

Do you recall a discussion about the workaround to provide in respect of the duplicate ARQ issue and that it seems as though, on one reading of this, you were content for it to happen in this particular case but you weren’t giving a view as to, for example, whether the Post Office was happy with that going forward?

Jonathan Longman: I’m afraid I can’t recall what was meant by that or what’s meant by that note. I really don’t know what it means or why – and, you know, what my thoughts were at the time on this. I’m sorry, I just can’t offer any –

Mr Blake: That’s absolutely fine. There’s another statement that’s produced by Gareth Jenkins. Very quickly go to FUJ00122999. I’m only taking this really for chronological reasons. We’re now in 6 October 2010 and he emails to say:

“It was good to meet you last night and put some faces to names and voices. Following that I’ve now attempted to draft a witness statement …

“Here is the first draft and I’d appreciate feedback as to whether I have captured your requirements as to style and approach. I appreciate that you probably cannot comment on factual content.”

Then behind that we see a further witness statement, and perhaps, if we just look at page 9, we can see that this is the statement that refers to Callendar Square, at page 9.

In respect of whether you assisted Mr Jenkins with some analysis, can we please look at FUJ00154934, please. It’s an email sent by you to Gareth Jenkins, we’re now in October 2010, and you say:


“I have scanned a few of the Branch Trading Accounts for analysis as agreed last night. I have more, but would envisage that this sample should be enough for you to prove whether she was hiding money in the cash in pouches awaiting collection figure and more importantly whether it was increasing.”

Are you able to assist us with the work that you were carrying at there and whether or not this was some sort of analysis or assistance you were providing to Gareth Jenkins?

Jonathan Longman: No, it’s no form of analysis. It was just sending Mr Jenkins branch trading accounts for him to look at, and do what whatever analysis he thought he needed to do to see if there was any money that was being hidden in cash and pouches.

Mr Blake: Wasn’t that something – I mean, Mr Jenkins, presumably, would have had access to the Horizon data from the Fujitsu side. Why would he need you to assist him in providing information like that?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I had the copies of these branch trading accounts so I just copied them and sent them to him.

Mr Blake: Did you see the two of you in some way working together?

Jonathan Longman: No, not at all. All I’m doing is just sending him some documents. Nothing more than that.

Mr Blake: I’m going to move on now to my final topic, which is specific, really, to this phase, Phases 5 and 6, and growing concerns about Horizon within the business.

Can we start by looking at POL00175972. So we’re here in the summer of 2010, 19 July 2010, and this is an email chain that is sent to you. But I want to start at the bottom of the chain, so over the page, please. There’s an email from somebody called Andrew Daley Security Programme Manager. He was part of your team?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, he was.

Mr Blake: He says “Hi All”, and I don’t think this one is sent to you but you’re on the chain higher above:

“Have you guys heard anything from the [Post Office] Executive on the Horizon integrity risk?

“The Investigators are concerned that if we lose a case based on the Horizon integrity, we’ll be in a world of trouble. They have also been getting queries from solicitors during case briefings. So this is still very much in the spotlight and not going away.”

Now, this is during the time that we’ve seen quite a lot of the correspondence relating to Seema Misra’s case. What were you aware of, in respect of the Post Office Executives concern regarding the Horizon integrity risk?

Jonathan Longman: No, I had not heard anything or – about the Post Office Executive or, you know, on the Horizon integrity risk.

Mr Blake: It says:

“The Investigators are concerned that if we lose the case based on Horizon integrity, we’ll be in a world of trouble.”

You were one of the Investigators dealing, at that moment in time, with a case relating to Horizon integrity. Are you one of those Investigators who thought that you might be in a world of trouble?

Jonathan Longman: Well, no, I mean, all I can say is that Andrew Daley wasn’t an Investigator in my team. I think he was maybe up north somewhere, so maybe it’s his particular team that –

Mr Blake: Yes, so if we scroll down, it says he’s part of Fraud Strand North?

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, I think he was up in Scotland.

Mr Blake: So you weren’t aware at that stage about concerns amongst the Post Office Executive?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: If we scroll up, please, we have an email from Andrew Hayward, I think, to Andrew Daley. He says:


“Sue Lowther’s team have reviewed this on behalf of Security … “

Was that your team?

Jonathan Longman: Security, yes, well –

Mr Blake: Sue Lowther’s team?

Jonathan Longman: I wasn’t in Sue – no, Sue Lowther, she wasn’t in the Investigations Strand. She might have been in one of the other strands in Security, I don’t know.

Mr Blake: “… and will be producing a briefing summary for the stakeholders. In essence it will state that there are no underlying issues or trends identified regarding the Horizon challenges to date and that we will continue to ‘manage’ each case as and when further challenges arise. This is also the recommendation from the Legal Team in that if we carry out a ‘drains up’ exercise we are leaving ourselves open to an even greater risk of challenge (ie in simple terms: why are you looking if you say everything is okay!).”

What did you understand by that when you received this email? I know that you’re not a direct recipient here but you are – if we look above, this is an email that was sent to you. Do you recall receiving that email?

Jonathan Longman: I don’t recall the contents of it, no. If I’m copied in, I must have received it, but –

Mr Blake: So we see the top email from Graham Brander to yourself. I’ll just read the one just below that first. It’s an email from Andy Hayward and he says to Graham:

“At yesterday’s SLT [I think that’s Senior Leadership Team] Nigel Viles …”

Do you recall Nigel Viles?

Jonathan Longman: I haven’t heard of Nigel Viles.

Mr Blake: You have or haven’t, sorry?

Jonathan Longman: I haven’t sorry.

Mr Blake: “… mentioned that one of the Investigators had mentioned concerns re: Horizon challenges in one of his cases (this being you I believe). Please see my recent reply to the team on this matter. If however you need further and specific support please let Jason/myself know or if required contact Dave K.”

Then above there’s an email copied to you. It says:

“I know my memory isn’t what it used to be but I think this might relate to Jon Longman’s West Byfleet case. Apparently it was raised by a couple of the team (not Jon) at a recent focus group meeting led by Nigel.”

So it seems to have been sent to you because you were involved in Seema Misra’s case, in July 2010, so prior to the conclusion of Seema Misra’s case, and referring to concerns within the business, the Senior Leadership Team, also a reference to the Post Office Executive, and concerns regarding the Horizon integrity risk. Is this not something that would have jumped out at you at the time, as being a real concern?

Jonathan Longman: I just don’t recall these. You know, I can see that I’ve been copied in there. I really can’t comment – it doesn’t, you know, jog any memory at all. Never heard of Nigel Viles that I can recall, anyway.

Mr Blake: Let’s move on in time, to POL00055590. We’re now in October 2010. This is the well-known email that we’ve seen a number of times in the Inquiry from Jarnail Singh, congratulating people on the success in the Seema Misra case:

“We were beset with an unparalleled degree of disclosure requests … we were able to destroy to the criminal standard of proof … every single suggestion made by the defence.

“It is to be hoped the case will set a marker to dissuade other defendants from jumping on the Horizon bashing bandwagon.”

Was that a view that you shared at the time, that there was a Horizon-bashing bandwagon?

Jonathan Longman: No, not at all. I do recall this email. I think I had to read it twice to sort of really make sure what – you know, just to confirm what had been written and I’d have to say that I don’t know why that comment was put in. I mean, it wasn’t necessary and I didn’t respond to that email. I remember. I remember it clearly and, you know, I don’t see that there was a Horizon-bashing bandwagon going on.

Mr Blake: Well, it is, though, consistent with that previous email that we just looked at, relating to the large number of challenges that are going on at that time relating to the Horizon system. Were you aware –

Jonathan Longman: Sorry –

Mr Blake: Did you think that the Seema Misra case was significant in relation to dissuading other defendants from challenging Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: No, I don’t think it was going to dissuade. It developed, if you like, into – and I didn’t know this at the time but I think there was a lot of people in different departments within the Post Office watching the outcome of this very closely. So it sort of developed into a bit of a test case, I suppose you could say.

Mr Blake: You say you didn’t know it at the time. Can we please look at POL00169170. This the follow-up email from Rod Ismay that the Inquiry has also seen, 22 October. He says there, and you’re included in this email:

“… please note Dave Smith’s thanks to all of you for your work on this important case.”

I think that’s who we know as David Y Smith, former Managing Director.

Jonathan Longman: Right.

Mr Blake: It says:

“Dave and the ET [the Executive Team] have been aware of the significance of these challenges and have been supportive of the excellent work going on in so many teams to justify the confidence that we have in Horizon and in our supporting processes.”

So you were presumably aware at that time, October 2010, that there was quite senior people discussing, aware of and interested in the result of your case?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Blake: Were you not aware of that?

Jonathan Longman: No, this case came to me and I dealt with Mr Singh and Mr Tatford, and that’s – it was the three of us who just dealt with this case. I didn’t know that anybody was reporting to anybody on the Executive Team or keeping them informed on this case. I don’t –

Mr Blake: I mean, you’re copied into this email. Didn’t you think “Oh, gosh, you know, some very senior people in this business are very happy with the work that I’ve done”?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yes, I can see that but, during the conduct of the case and going to trial, I wasn’t aware that, you know, other than the three names I mentioned, myself, Mr Singh and Mr Tatford, that anybody else was watching this case as closely as they were.

Mr Blake: By 22 October 2010, were you aware of very senior interest in your case?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I can see from that email, yes, that what I was trying – the point I was and to make is I didn’t know at the time the case was progressing that it had gone up to a senior level and that there was a – you know, there was a close eye on the case because I wasn’t reporting to anybody – any of these people. Obviously, Jarnail and Mr Tatford but I wasn’t really talking to any of these other people.

Mr Blake: Putting this email to one side, by this stage, were you aware that members of the Executive Team had been interested in the case? Even if you weren’t aware during the case, were you aware at that stage that they were, by then, interested?

Jonathan Longman: Well, only by seeing this email. Sorry, did you say “put this to one side”?

Mr Blake: Yes, if we put this email to one side, do you recall any conversations or anyone telling you?

Jonathan Longman: No, no. Not at all, that I can recall.

Mr Blake: Can we please look at POL00176080. Moving to the next month, November 2010, we have an email at the bottom there from Ann Bailey, Former Agents Accounting, and she says:

“On the West Byfleet case have you received the official notice from the court yet and would it be possible to let us have anything or would you know of where we could get the court transcripts?”

Then she says:

“I was [very] surprised to hear from Sarah that Mrs O’Dell is now trying to go down the route of blaming Horizon for the loss.”

Now, this is quite late, November 2010. We started today looking at the O’Dell case. Who was Ann Bailey and why, as far as you were aware, would she be interested in those two cases?

Jonathan Longman: Well, it says she’s a former agent, so I don’t know if she’s tasked with trying to recover monies as a result of losses. She’s based in Chesterfield and that’s what she’s typed and that’s what’s she’s made her view to be, that Mrs O’Dell was going down the route of blaming Horizon for the loss. But I’d like to say that that wasn’t my – you know, there’s no input from me and that wasn’t my view.

Mr Blake: I mean, we spoke earlier about your thoughts about whether or not you should have been disclosing in the Misra case the facts relating to the O’Dell case. Did this November 2010 email not make you think “Ooh, gosh, maybe I should have been drawing some dots between the two”?

Jonathan Longman: No, it didn’t. Maybe I should have done but, at the time, it didn’t. It didn’t occur.

Mr Blake: We’re going to move on now to September 2011. Can we look at POL00056857, and we see an email here at the bottom from Penny Thomas to you, and the title there is “Horizon Integrity Challenges”, and it refers to the cases of Scott Darlington and Julian Wilson. Are you able to assist us with what your involvement was with Horizon integrity challenges by September 2011?

Jonathan Longman: I’ll try to give you a shortened version but, after Ms Misra’s trial, it was either the – some solicitors sitting at London asked either Dave Pardoe or John Scott who worked in Security whether I could go and assist them with getting some of the documentation, because they were having – I think Shoosmiths was the solicitors acting for these two post offices and they were making quite a number of disclosure requests and they thought that I could be – you know, I could be useful in helping them get these disclosure requests.

Mr Blake: Thank you. I’m going to take you to one other document around the same time, POL00056928. Did you have formal role at all in relation to drawing together these various cases by 2011?

Jonathan Longman: Well, they were trying to free up some of my workload in the Investigation Department, so that I could spend more time trying to, you know, retrieve documents, training records, whatever was requested. So I was doing a bit of my existing job and trying to dedicate as much as I could to retrieving documents to help serve on Shoosmiths.

Mr Blake: Can we please turn to page 5 of this email chain. There’s reference at the bottom email there, or the middle email, to the case of Julian Wilson, do you recall being involved in that?

Jonathan Longman: In terms of retrieving documents, yes, but I had no involvement in the actual investigation.

Mr Blake: So is this the same job? I mean, we saw there before Scott Darlington and Julian Wilson. I’m just going to read a little bit to you here, it says:

“As you may be aware, we have just received two claims from former subpostmasters challenging the integrity of Horizon and claiming they did not receive adequate training – we expect to receive more in the next few weeks as this has been building a head of steam for years.”

Was that a sentiment that you shared at that time, that Horizon challenges had been building a head of steam for years?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I think they’d been increasing, the number of challenges. So I would have agreed with that comment, yes.

Mr Blake: If we turn to page 3, please, the bottom of page 3. I think the evidence that you’ve just given is that you were concerned about having sufficient time to dedicate to this particular task; is that right?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, that’s right. I was – they wanted me to assist them as much as possible but I still had other jobs to do within the Investigation Department. So I had to bring it up with my manager to try to free up some of my investigation cases, so that I could spend more time helping the – the solicitors.

Mr Blake: If we scroll up, we can see there that you’re described as, it says there – “his help” – sorry, the top of page 3:

“… it looks as though there may be an issue with Jon Longman’s ability to assist on the Horizon claims. His help is extremely valuable and is saving considerable legal cost, so I wonder if anything can be done to free him up …”

If we keep on scrolling up to page 2, there’s even a reference at the top of page 2, from Hugh Flemington, saying:

“Apparently having Jon Longman help us is saving us hundreds of thousands in external fees.

“Problem is [he] is being pulled in [many] directions.”

How is it you were saving them hundreds of thousands in external fees; what is it you were doing?

Jonathan Longman: All I was doing was trying to retrieve documents, like training records – well, just dealing with any disclosure requests that the Shoosmiths solicitors – I think it was Shoosmiths – wanted. So maybe I was cheaper to employ than a solicitor to employ and do this type of work. That’s – I don’t know of hundreds of thousands but, yeah, that’s all I can offer on that point.

Mr Blake: Sir, I only have two more documents to go to. Would you like to take our lunch now, and come back perhaps ten minutes early? We do, I’m told, have sufficient time this afternoon.

Sir Wyn Williams: Well, I am in your hands, really, Mr Blake, as to what you think is the more efficient.

Mr Blake: Perhaps if I could finish now, so if we could sit until 1.10, I think that would be helpful.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right, fine.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much.

Can we please look at POL00056927, please. We’re now on 15 September 2011. Over the page, please. There’s an email from Dave Pardoe saying:

“Jason, would you please give me a feel for what Jon has on at the moment – has he discussed with you his Horizon commitment? Other than the FS piece what else has he got on please? Clearly, the Horizon issue a biggie and we may need to look at stripping out his workload to accommodate.”

Then if we scroll up, we see an email that sets out your current workload. You had 12 operational cases on hand, various other matters. If we look down, it says:

“10 cases have been identified by Civil Litigation in regards to potential challenges, when engaged in seeking recovery for outstanding debts to former [subpostmasters], of these 10, 2 have enacted no win, no fee lawyers and were challenging the business.”

Then it explains what you were doing. You were a facilitator to the matter, assisting in the provision of evidential information or individual experts in areas that require witness statement support and, moving forward, you have asked for a steer.

I’m going to move on to one other document on the same point and that is FUJ00155070. So you were gathering all this information for the civil litigation or potential civil litigation, presumably using the knowledge that you had obtained over the years in dealing with cases?

Jonathan Longman: Well, a lot of the retrieval of information where I had knowledge was about Fujitsu data and a lot of it was that they wanted costings for this amount of ARQ data. I wouldn’t say I had a lot of knowledge about retrieving our training records and records from within the Post Office because that turned into a bit of a nightmare at times, trying to retrieve stuff like that. But I think the main point they might have wanted to use me for was to access or be the key to the door to get into Fujitsu and, you know, knowing the relevant people there for getting the information from them.

Mr Blake: If we look at page 3, there’s an email from you raising some concerns about the costs of that work. You say, as follows:

“I have just had a meeting with some of our lawyers who are dealing with the Horizon integrity issues …

“The requests for information are getting very large and the feeling from the meeting is a lot of this information is unnecessary and should be challenged. A decision was also made that we need to make the solicitors acting for subpostmasters aware of the cost of retrieving the data from Fujitsu and get an undertaking that they are willing to meet this cost. Therefore, I would be grateful if a costing could be obtained as soon as possible from Fujitsu for the Transaction Log data and Fujitsu error log data for all four post offices for the following periods.”

I mean, is this a theme now that has translated from the criminal cases that you were doing now to the civil cases, that it’s all going to cost too much and, therefore, the number of requests should be limited?

Jonathan Longman: Well, can I just make it clear that that wasn’t my comment. That was what was said by the solicitors at the meeting. So I didn’t go there and say, “Oh, it’s very costly, you should challenge it”. I just want to make that clear. It came out from the meeting with the solicitors that this was their feeling and I hadn’t – you know, I had no involvement in that. They just came up with this, so I can’t comment whether it’s crossed over from the criminal side of the investigation to the civil lit side.

Mr Blake: But did you notice a similar approach taken by the Post Office with regards to disclosure of information to those requesting it?

Jonathan Longman: Well, again, as you can see, costs was a big issue to – in disclosing this information.

Mr Blake: Was it just costs or were there other concerns? Let me take you to another document, it’s POL00057175. Thank you. If we scroll down to page 3, we have an email from Emily Springford, who is a principal lawyer and in dispute resolution. This is an email not sent to you, it’s sent to a number of senior individuals within the Post Office business. She refers to the four letters of claim. This is an email regarding document disclosure and preservation and also addresses future communications. She says, for example:

“Please ensure that this communication reaches everyone in your department who has access to, or who is in a position to create, documents relating to the issues arising in the claims …”

This is an email that we may well come on to in due course in this phase. If we scroll down, it addresses documentation preservation and also document creation. But I want to ask you about the very final paragraph. So, over the page to page 5, please. It says:

“The volume of information required is significant, so in order to make this fact-finding exercise as manageable as possible, our external lawyers have highlighted in yellow the information which it is absolutely necessary to gather in the next week or so. The information which is not highlighted is less urgent. Jon Longman in [Post Office] Security has been tasked with gathering this information but he is encountering some difficulties from various business areas in getting responses back quickly. Please would you support Jon as much as possible in the process …”

Did you experience problems in obtaining information within the Post Office in respect of the civil litigation?

Jonathan Longman: Yeah, as I think I mentioned it briefly earlier, things like training records were some of the documents that were requested, and you’d ask for the training records, and they weren’t where they should be. And we were having real issues trying to track down that sort of information. It became a bit of a nightmare for certain items. So that’s what I’m referring – well, that’s what I think she might be referring to, that I was having difficulty, you know, I was getting mainly cooperation from all the other departments but there were some documents that were difficult to pinpoint and find.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much.

Looking at your work during 2011 on all of those Horizon integrity cases, the civil challenges, did you ever reflect on the work that you had undertaken as an Investigator and did that make you question some of the lines that you had taken over the years regarding the reliability and robustness of Horizon?

Jonathan Longman: The – Horizon – we’ve never been made aware that Horizon had any bugs or issues. All our cases where we used ARQ data was always supported by statements from Fujitsu saying it was in working order. So – but as I performed this role, I began to get even more aware that there was more challenges coming in. Now, if these challenges had been investigated and they all had bugs then, obviously, that would have, you know, had a greater emphasis that there was something wrong with Horizon.

At this stage, they were just – they’d – nothing had been proven with the Horizon system. So yeah, I was becoming aware that Horizon integrity challenges were increasing.

Mr Blake: But did it not make you think “Ooh, I was involved in the prosecution of Seema Misra, there seemed to be a number of people who are saying that they’ve had serious problems with Horizon, maybe she was right all along”?

Jonathan Longman: Well, the fact that we were successful in the case of Seema Misra probably suggested to me that there wasn’t anything wrong with Horizon.

Mr Blake: Did it make you question the disclosure decisions that you had made throughout that case?

Jonathan Longman: No, not until this Inquiry came about did I realise that there were issues with disclosure.

Mr Blake: Thank you, sir. I think that is an appropriate moment. There will be some questions from Core Participants. Perhaps we could come back at 2.00.

Sir Wyn Williams: All right, fine.

Mr Blake: Thank you very much, sir.

(1.10 pm)

(The Short Adjournment)

(2.00 pm)

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

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

Mr Blake: Sir, we have some questions from Core Participants, they should last around 30 minutes. First we’re going to hear from Ms Oliver, on behalf of Gareth Jenkins, and then from Mr Henry, and then from Mr Stein, and then we’ll proceed to a very short break while everyone will stay in the room for five minutes, and we’ll go on to hear from Mr Leighton.

Sir Wyn Williams: Very well.

Mr Blake: Thank you.

Questioned by Ms Oliver

Ms Oliver: Good afternoon Mr Longman, I ask questions on behalf of Gareth Jenkins.

I just want to look at two occasions, if I may, where you received information from Mr Jenkins during the course of the Seema Misra case. Firstly, if we can have up, please, POL00175703, please.

Thank you very much. This is an email from you to Penny Thomas on 29 January 2010 and it says:


“When Gareth completes his statement about Callendar Square could he also mention whether there are any known problems with the Horizon system that Fujitsu are aware of. If none could this be clarified in the statement.”

Do you remember making that request?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I do.

Ms Oliver: Did that request derive from some advice that you had received from Mr Tatford –

Jonathan Longman: It did, yes.

Ms Oliver: – in relation to POL’s disclosure obligations?

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Ms Oliver: Thank you. If we can have up, then, please, FUJ00167159. It’s FUJ00167159 – let me check that reference, I’m sorry.

It is an email we’ve looked at over lunch on the system, so I’m hoping that it will be available. Can we try it, this may be my error, I’m sorry if it is.

Can we try POL00167159. Apologies.

Thank you. That’s the one, I apologise.

Can we scroll down, please, thank you. This is an email from David Jones to Mr Singh that was forwarded to you on 8 February 2010. Do you recall that email?

Jonathan Longman: Well, if I was copied into it, you know, I would have read it at the time.

Ms Oliver: All right. Thank you. If we can look at paragraph 3, what Mr Jones says there is:

“He is not currently in a position to make a clear statement. It is possible for there to be problems where transactions have been ‘lost’ in particular circumstances due to locking issues. When this happens then we have events in the underlying eventing logs to indicate that there was an issue. Whenever we provide transaction logs to POL we check for any such events. In the case of West Byfleet we have not been asked to provide any transaction logs and so have not made these checks.”

This, I suggest, was a response to your question of the 29 January as to whether there are any known problems within Horizon; do you recall that?

Jonathan Longman: I remember asking, obviously, the question on the previous statement. Whether this particular paragraph relates to that, I’m not sure.

Ms Oliver: All right. But what is clear, isn’t it, is that what Mr Jenkins or what you are being told from Mr Jenkins is that he can’t make a clear statement to that effect and that there are possibly problems where transactions can be lost within Horizon; do you agree with that?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, and that it needs transaction logs to make checks for the West Byfleet case to see if there was any issues.

Ms Oliver: Can you recall whether this information about potentially lost transactions prompted any further investigative steps by you?

Jonathan Longman: I can’t recall any, no.

Ms Oliver: Did you consider this material from Mr Jenkins in light of your disclosure obligations?

Jonathan Longman: No, I probably didn’t at the time.

Ms Oliver: Do you recall whether you sought any advice about this material from Mr Singh or Mr Tatford?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I don’t know. I don’t think so but I’m not sure. Can I just – who was copied into this email?

Ms Oliver: So if we scroll up, we can see that the original email goes to Mr Singh and is copied to Mr Jenkins, and then, if we scroll up to the top of that page, please, it’s forwarded “Warwick and Jon for your information and comments”, from Mr Singh?

Jonathan Longman: So myself, Mr Singh and Mr Tatford knew about that paragraph.

Ms Oliver: Yes. Can you recall if there was any discussion between you as to what to do with that material you’d been told by Mr Jenkins?

Jonathan Longman: No, I can’t, I’m afraid.

Ms Oliver: Thank you. If we can turn, then, to the second topic and, if I can please have up – and I hope I’ve got the reference right – it’s FUJ00153157. If we can scroll down, please. You’ve been taken to this document earlier in your evidence. If we can scroll down, I think to page 2, please – a little further – the email from Issy Hogg, who was the defence solicitor for Mrs Misra. We can see here that the defence have made some further disclosure requests and the third of those is access to the system change requests, Known Error Log and new release documentation to understand what problems have had to be fixed. Do you recall that disclosure request?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I do.

Ms Oliver: Thank you. Then, if we can scroll right up to the top, please – thank you – to point 3 within that email. So this is an email from Penny Thomas to you indicating that she’s had a discussion with Gareth and outlining what his views – or at least what his recollection of his discussion with Charles McLachlan was. At point 3:

“System Change Requests: Basically, he was asking to look at all system faults. I suggested that as we kept all testing and Live faults in the same system and that there were around 200,000 of them, then this wasn’t going to get him far. He then suggested looking at system changes and would like to see all the changes that have happened to the system. Again, I don’t think this will help and I don’t know how practical it is for Fujitsu’s Release Management to provide that. I think all we can do is ask the question.”

Do you recall that email?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I do.

Ms Oliver: Thank you. This, isn’t it, is Mr Jenkins saying that this information that the defence have mentioned about system faults and changes exists and could be investigated by Fujitsu?

Jonathan Longman: Yes. I’ll go along with that.

Ms Oliver: Thank you. A final document, please. Can I have POL00055073. Thank you. This was forwarded on by you to Mr Singh – sorry, if we can just scroll down a little bit please. We see on 27 July 2010:


“This is the response that I have received from Penny following Issy Hogg’s email.”

If we can scroll down to the bottom of that page, please. Thank you:

“As for point 3, I will ask Penny Thomas whether Fujitsu’s Release Management Team can provide the defence expert with system fault data.”

So this is you indicating to Mr Singh that, in line with what has been suggested by Mr Jenkins, further enquiries can be made of Fujitsu about this material; is that right?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct.

Ms Oliver: Did you receive any guidance from Mr Singh or Mr Tatford about investigative steps that ought to be undertaken in relation to what you’ve been told about system faults and changes?

Jonathan Longman: I don’t recall any guidance given.

Ms Oliver: Do you recall any guidance being given by Mr Singh or Mr Tatford in relation to how that material and information might impact on POL’s disclosure obligations?

Jonathan Longman: Again, I can’t recall any.

Ms Oliver: Did you consider how that material might impact on POL’s disclosure obligations?

Jonathan Longman: It depends on what – where this went, when I asked Penny Thomas – sorry, I said I will ask Penny Thomas whether Fujitsu’s Release Management Team can provide the defence expert with system fault data; it depends what was – what happened thereafter.

Ms Oliver: Well, were you aware that work was done within Fujitsu as to what investigating that system change data would involve?

Jonathan Longman: No, I wasn’t aware.

Ms Oliver: Okay. But, nonetheless, the defence requests regarding system changes, the known error log and new release documents were refused before Fujitsu could feed back on that work. Were you aware of that?

Jonathan Longman: Again, because of the passage of time, I know certain disclosure requests were refused and this may have been one of them but I can’t actually recall without seeing a document that says that.

Ms Oliver: Thank you very much, Mr Longman, that’s all I had.

Sir Wyn Williams: Thank you, Ms Oliver.

Next, please.

Questioned by Mr Henry

Mr Henry: Thank you, sir.

Mr Longman, I represent Seema Misra.

Communication between you and your colleagues as Investigators in the Security Department, there must have been good communication between you?

Jonathan Longman: Well, between – as an Investigator, you normally work with one or two colleagues on a regular basis and you’d probably have communication with them but, as a national team, I wouldn’t say there was a good communication, no.

Mr Henry: Well, you said earlier today:

“When I started putting schedules together I became aware that other investigators had potential challenges to Horizon.”

That indicates a degree of communication, doesn’t it?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, because when I picked up the civil litigation – when I was asked to assist with civil litigation, another thing that came out was that, because there could be more challenges, that any documentation for offices where Horizon could be raised as a challenge, we should make sure that we secure all documentation and don’t shred anything or destroy it in line with our normal retention periods; we should keep it longer.

So I was asked – I can’t remember how it came about – but I was asked to devise a schedule or find out if anybody had any potential offices or had done any interviews where Horizon integrity may be raised and, if so, I was then trying to save all that data from being destroyed in line with retention policies, and that’s how that schedule came together.

Mr Henry: Thank you, Mr Longman.

You had good communication with the Criminal Law Team, didn’t you?

Jonathan Longman: What, during this case or –

Mr Henry: Yes, during Mrs Misra’s case.

Jonathan Longman: Yes, yes.

Mr Henry: You also had liaison with Mr Jenkins, didn’t you?

Jonathan Longman: Through Penny Thomas, yes.

Mr Henry: But you felt able to, as it were, make changes to his statement and you must have had direct dealings with him during the course of the trial and in the run-up to the trial?

Jonathan Longman: No, I wouldn’t – I would say Mr Tatford really would liaise with Mr Jenkins more than I did.

Mr Henry: Are you saying that you had no contact at all with Mr Jenkins in the run-up to the trial and during the trial?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I’d have limited contact, yes. I’d speak to him – with regards to the statement that you mentioned, that paragraph was – I was asked to review his statement. I don’t recall a great deal of conversation or communication between me and Mr Jenkins.

Mr Henry: Right. I’m moving on to a different topic now. The receipts and payments mismatch bug, when did you first hear of that bug?

Jonathan Longman: I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

Mr Henry: On 12 December 2023, when answering my questions, Mr Wilson said that he and Mr Jarnail Singh and Ms Juliet McFarlane became aware of the receipts and payments mismatch bug on 8 October 2010. You know that Mrs Misra’s trial began on 11 October 2010.

Jonathan Longman: Mm.

Mr Henry: I asked Mr Wilson what he did in respect of that information and he said this:

“I think what I did was I spoke to Jon Longman.”

Did he?

Jonathan Longman: I don’t recall that. I don’t recall. I’m not familiar with what you’ve just mentioned. So he said he thinks he mentioned it to me but I’ve got no recollection of a conversation about it. That’s not to say that I didn’t but it doesn’t ring any bells.

Mr Henry: I see. “I think what I did was I spoke to Jon Longman”; you’re not saying these lying, are you?

Jonathan Longman: I’m saying I don’t know.

Mr Henry: So you’re prepared to accept that what he said is potentially correct?

Jonathan Longman: It might be right, it might be wrong. That’s all I can say.

Mr Henry: All right. You were surely – I mean, Gareth Jenkins, he was aware, we know this – he was aware of the receipts and payments mismatch bug. Did you discuss that with him?

Jonathan Longman: No, not that I can recall.

Mr Henry: It wasn’t disclosed in Mrs Misra’s trial, the existence of an important bug: the receipts and payments mismatch bug was not disclosed in Mrs Misra’s trial. Was that deliberate?

Jonathan Longman: Not on my part, no, because I don’t think I was aware of it.

Mr Henry: Look, I’m now going to ask you, what did you do wrong in Seema Misra’s case?

Jonathan Longman: Well, at the time, I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong but, obviously, since the Inquiry, it seems that the disclosure of other potential Horizon integrity issues should have been made known to the defence.

Mr Henry: Right. You stated, of course, at page 42, paragraph 86 of your statement, it appeared, at least, that you’d read the Hamilton judgment and you had no regrets. So I just want to now go through some evidence that we’ve heard in the Inquiry and also the Court of Appeal’s findings, very quickly.

First of all, you did not ensure that full and accurate records of her calls to the helpline were disclosed and presented at her trial; do you accept that?

Jonathan Longman: Is this to the Fujitsu helpline you’re referring to?

Mr Henry: Yes.

Jonathan Longman: A CD containing it was, I thought, exhibited by Mr Dunks to the defence.

Mr Henry: It was summarised Mr Longman. That CD. They were summarised in ways which left out significant technical problems. Did that have anything to do with you?

Jonathan Longman: Well, no, but I thought the actual raw – although it was summarised I thought there was a further two statements containing the full raw data that those – I’m sure it was disclosed to the defence.

Mr Henry: Her calls to the helpline were effectively censored to remove complaints about the Horizon system. Was that anything to do with you?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Henry: ARQ data was not provided in an unfiltered state but was culled and didn’t cover the indictment period. Was that anything to do with you?

Jonathan Longman: No, as previously explained, that was – I had asked for the full three years of data, but it was refused on costs grounds.

Mr Henry: No examination of that data for bugs, errors and defects or to justify evidence of theft. Was that anything to do with you?

Jonathan Longman: No.

Mr Henry: No evidence to corroborate the Horizon evidence. You were the Investigator and Disclosure Officer: was that anything to do with you?

Jonathan Longman: Well, to identify any bugs with Horizon, we would have been relying on Fujitsu. So – to analyse the data that was provided, which was one year. So I wouldn’t be able to identify a bug or a glitch in the system.

Mr Henry: So what are you apologising for because you don’t appear to be accepting responsibility for any of the matters I put to you?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I’m apologising because, with hindsight, maybe I should have been a bit more forceful with trying to get this disclosure to the defence and realising that, where there were previous cases where there are unexplained losses, that these should also have been made available to the defence.

Mr Henry: Right. Well, last topic about hindsight. We’ve seen your statement, which was POL00054041, dated 5 February 2010. I don’t want to put it up on the screen but you said at the bottom of page 1, going over to page 2:

“I have never experienced any problems with the Horizon system other than pressing the wrong icon”, et cetera, et cetera.

You were trying to insinuate the reliability of Horizon, weren’t you?

Jonathan Longman: I was trying to explain that when I used the system I’d had no problems, although my involvement with using Horizon was very limited to Christmas pressure time or when there was strike action. That’s all I was doing.

Mr Henry: I see. At the time you signed that statement, you had information about Mrs O’Dell’s case and Mr Hosi’s case, didn’t you?

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Henry: Mrs O’Dell, you knew she hadn’t committed theft and neither had her family; you said that and you also said that she’d made numerous calls to the helpline telling them everything in the five months before she was audited. So you knew all about Mrs O’Dell’s case and the decision not to prosecute because you knew, didn’t you, that there was no basis to prosecute?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I wasn’t happy with being given that case. I really wasn’t.

Mr Henry: Yes, and, if an unjust decision to prosecute had been made, it was highly likely you’d lose with massive and embarrassing publicity undermining the myth of Horizon, correct?

Jonathan Longman: I didn’t think a prosecution should take place because she’d been refused the transaction log data and that is a clear case where that should have gone to Fujitsu for investigation.

Mr Henry: It was out and out, as you said this morning, to do with the system. Your words.

Jonathan Longman: Sorry?

Mr Henry: You said this morning “It was out and out to do with the system”, in other words the system was at fault, in your view, looking at all of the evidence.

Jonathan Longman: What in Mrs O’Dell’s case?

Mr Henry: Yes.

Jonathan Longman: I couldn’t say the system was at fault but we hadn’t done enough in that case to prove one way or another and as we hadn’t done anything about to enquire about the workings of Horizon, I felt it was a bit of an unjust case.

Mr Henry: You said this morning, sir, “Out and out, it’s the system. It should have been further investigated”.

Jonathan Longman: Yes, that’s right.

Mr Henry: But it wasn’t investigated, I suggest, because you knew, together with Mr Singh, that you’d get the wrong answer; isn’t that right?

Jonathan Longman: No, not at all.

Mr Henry: So it was swept under the carpet, wasn’t it?

Jonathan Longman: No. The transaction log data wasn’t provided. With hindsight, I should have been more forceful and said we need transaction log data and this should go to Fujitsu for analysis of any bugs or glitches.

Mr Henry: Mr Hosi, you knew about his case as well because you, together with Mrs Allen, had interviewed him, correct?

Jonathan Longman: I only knew about it when I saw the additional documents and it was from some time ago. You don’t always particularly remember somebody else’s case.

Mr Henry: He’d made multiple calls to the helpline in the five months, again, coincidentally, five months before he was audited and he had even urgently asked for face-to-face help. You should have disclosed both cases to Mrs Misra’s team, shouldn’t you?

Jonathan Longman: With hindsight, yes.

Mr Henry: You should have revised your statement of the 5 February before her trial in October, shouldn’t you?

Jonathan Longman: To reflect this thing?

Mr Henry: Yes.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Henry: What I’m going to ask you to do in conclusion is to tell the truth. There was no inclination to investigate unexplained losses or shortfalls on behalf of SPMs, was there?

Jonathan Longman: Well, there was, in terms of – it probably wasn’t as thorough as it should have been. As I say in my statement, it would always be Fujitsu who would say – who would need to analyse all the transaction log data, and not an Investigator, because they would have far greater knowledge of the systems, to see whether there was a glitch or a bug.

Mr Henry: You and your colleagues, with the advice and counsel I suggest, of the Criminal Law Team, did not wish to investigate anything that might undermine Horizon’s infallibility or might assist the subpostmasters. What do you say to that?

Jonathan Longman: I would say that our training was to put in – to investigate, put in an offender report and, you know, and see what the reply was from Legal Services. If it was for further enquiries, then we would undertake that. But, yes, looking back, more work should have been done, where unexplained losses had occurred. But it wasn’t part of our training, it wasn’t part of our thinking at the time, if I can put it that way.

Mr Henry: There was institutional bias to do precisely the opposite of what you ought to have done, wasn’t there?

Jonathan Longman: Yes, I can’t disagree. We should have – there should have been more enquiries with Fujitsu in a lot more cases than what actually did occur, I think. I don’t know how many cases Fujitsu have actually looked at for glitches and bugs but it’s clear now, looking back, that there should have been more cases referred to them for analysis.

Mr Henry: Nothing further. Thank you.

Sir Wyn Williams: Thank you, Mr Henry.

Mr Stein?

Questioned by Mr Stein

Mr Stein: Mr Longman, I represent Jennifer O’Dell. I’m going to take you straight to a document, please, which is POL00105147. Thank you. Could you go, please, to page 6 of that document. Thank you.

Now, in your evidence today, you’ve said this, that in relation to Mrs O’Dell’s case you said that “It was the one case that was allocated to me when I think I did speak to a manager or someone else saying why had this been passed over to us?” You made a variety of other comments about this case, saying essentially that you felt that there was something wrong with it. All right?

So can we have a look at what you said in relation to matters going back to 2010. So under the words “Legal”, there’s then:

“… Trading Accounts to show a balance. Mrs O’Dell was unable to offer an explanation that made any sense as to why multiple cash declarations were made in December 2009.”

Then she is referred to as being adamant about the losses as a result of discrepancies in the system and you’re aware and will recall, giving evidence today, about Mrs O’Dell repeatedly contacting the helpline, trying to get some assistance in this matter, where you have also said today that she wasn’t helped by the helpline, okay?

Jonathan Longman: That’s correct, yes.

Mr Stein: All right. Okay. So let’s have a look at the last few lines of that paragraph under “Legal”, okay?

It says this:

“If charges of false accounting are to be considered, then section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006 would seem the most appropriate.”

Now, Mr Longman, for someone that is concerned about a case as to why it’s been allocated to your team and about someone who has made a number of complaints to the helpline with no help from the helpline, why are you even considering the possibility of an allegation of false accounting against Mrs O’Dell?

Jonathan Longman: I suppose there was – there still was 10,000 or close to 10,000 missing and false accounting had been done, by her own admission. But, with hindsight and looking at it now, I should have marked it as “no further action”, or something to that effect, I accept that.

Mr Stein: It’s not with hindsight, Mr Longman. That’s why I pointed out your evidence earlier. You have said already at the time you thought there was something wrong with this case.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Stein: But you’re going around suggesting that they might want to consider false accounting against Mrs O’Dell. How on earth does that make any sense, Mr Longman?

Jonathan Longman: Well, all I can say is that there was an amount of money that was missing and there was – well, I accept your point. I – it should have been – it should have been “no further action” and that line should not have been in there.

Mr Stein: Let’s go to another document if we can, please. The document is POL00143570. Thank you. Go to the bottom of the first page, please. Now, this document is a correspondence between yourself and Jarnail Singh. This is from Mr Singh to you and it says this, at the bottom there:

“The circumstances of the facts will cause difficulties in prosecuting this case and the Business will come under grave criticism which the Defence will exploit as can be seen in recent prosecution cases.”

Mr Longman, can you help us understand why on earth is the question of the business coming under criticism anything to do with whether someone should or should not be prosecuted?

Jonathan Longman: Well, it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t apply. That was written by Mr Singh, so it shouldn’t have been a factor, no.

Mr Stein: Was the reputational question that related to Post Office as a business something that intruded into considerations as to prosecutions?

Jonathan Longman: I would say no. Not on –

Mr Stein: Go to the bottom of the second page, please. Now, here, Mr Singh is saying this, that, in his view, a caution should be administered in this case.

Jonathan Longman: Yes.

Mr Stein: Now, you’ve said there’s something wrong with this case, you’ve agreed with me, you wish you hadn’t written something about the possibility of false accounting. What on earth was going on that Mr Singh is proposing a caution in relation to a case that you thought frankly was wrong?

Jonathan Longman: Well, yeah, between me and Mr Singh, I think it – yeah, it should have been, as I say, the case should have been looked at and no further action.

Mr Stein: Did you ever consider Mrs O’Dell’s background, in that she’d used to work for HM Prison Service in a clerical role, she’d worked for the Cambridgeshire Police at their headquarters in the control room answering 999 calls and she’d worked at a Housing Association in her time and, at the time of these matters being investigated, she was seeking to run as a Parliamentary candidate. Did any of those matters ever come into your head when thinking about what on earth has happened here with this poor lady who is making repeat at the time complaints to a system that doesn’t answer her question?

Jonathan Longman: Well, I wasn’t aware of – I was aware of some of what you just said but, you know –

Mr Stein: Lastly, Mr Longman, when investigating this matter, if that’s the right word to use, did you once pull aside her son Daniel, aged 20, and ask him whether he loved his mother and basically suggested to him the question whether his mother might have been nicking money from the Post Office; do you remember doing that?

Jonathan Longman: I remember receiving a letter from her son and we interviewed him, not under caution but on a friend interview. I can’t remember what was said, but – and, if it was said, it wasn’t in that context.

Mr Stein: Thank you, Mr Longman.

Mr Blake: Thank you, sir. Those are all the questions for Mr Longman.

Sir Wyn Williams: Thank you, Mr Longman, for making a detailed witness statement and for answering the questions put to you by a variety of people today. I’m grateful to you for participating in the Inquiry.

The Witness: Thank you.

Mr Blake: Thank you, sir.

We’re going to have a very quick change around, so if I could ask everybody to remain seated.

Sir Wyn Williams: That doesn’t include you, Mr Longman. You are now free to go, so to speak, all right?

The Witness: Thank you, Sir Wyn.


Mr Stevens: Sir, can you see and hear me?

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

Mr Stevens: Thank you. If I can call Mr Leighton.

Sir Wyn Williams: Before he is sworn, I just want to make it clear to everyone that I had an appointment arranged for this evening, which I have tried to change but I cannot. So I’m afraid I do have to finish promptly at 4.30. That is not a declaration that Mr Leighton’s evidence has to finish by then but it is an indication that, if it hasn’t finished by then, he will have to return at some other time which is suitable for everyone.

Mr Stevens: Thank you, sir. In that case, if I may call Mr Leighton now. Thank you.

Allan Leighton


Questioned by Mr Stevens

Mr Stevens: Please take a seat. Mr Leighton, can I ask you to state your full name.

Allan Leighton: Allan Leslie Leighton.

Mr Stevens: Thank you for preparing your witness statement and for coming to the Inquiry today to give evidence. I want to start with your witness statement. It should be in front of you, dated 28 February 2024?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: Do you have that, yes? For the record, the URN is WITN04380100. Before I take you to your signature, I understand there’s a small typographical correction you wish to make, page 20, paragraph 38.

Allan Leighton: That’s correct. It’s the third up from the bottom. It says, “I note from POL00095531 that in August 2005”, it should actually read October 2008.

Mr Stevens: That should be October 2008, thank you. Can we please turn to page 30 of your statement. Is that your signature?

Allan Leighton: Yes, it is.

Mr Stevens: Subject to that one clarification that you’ve just made, are the contents of the statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?

Allan Leighton: They after.

Mr Stevens: Thank you, Mr Leighton. That stands as your evidence to the Inquiry. The witness statement will be published on the website shortly. I’m going to ask you some questions on it but, before I do, I understand you wish to say a few words?

Allan Leighton: Yes, I do. What has happened has been a terrible thing for everybody who has been involved in it, particularly the subpostmasters and subpostmistresses. It’s unbelievable that it’s happened and I just wanted to say that I’m sorry that the elements of that that occurred while I had my tenure at the Royal Mail, I’m sorry for that happening.

Mr Stevens: Mr Leighton, I’ll move on to my questions. Your evidence today concerns the role you held whilst at Royal Mail Group. Before you joined Royal Mail, your CV includes being group CEO of ASDA Group Plc and, following a takeover you were President and CEO of Walmart Europe until November 2000?

Allan Leighton: That’s correct.

Mr Stevens: You were appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Consignia Plc in April 2001?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: Now, we’ll see documents that say Consignia Plc. That shortly – well, the year after – became Royal Mail Holdings; is that correct?

Allan Leighton: Correct.

Mr Stevens: I’m going to refer to the Group as Royal Mail. If I need to, I’ll distinction Royal Mail Holdings and Royal Mail Group as we go through. So after being appointed a Non-Executive Director, you were appointed Interim Chair of Royal Mail in January 2002?

Allan Leighton: That’s correct.

Mr Stevens: Then a permanent Chair in March 2002?

Allan Leighton: That’s correct.

Mr Stevens: Between January 2002 and April 2003, you were Chairman of Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: That’s correct.

Mr Stevens: Could we please look at POL00021476. These are minutes of a Board meeting of Consignia, we said Royal Mail. You attended as a Non-Executive Director, we can see, on the “Present” list. Can we turn to page 4, please. No surprise I’m not going to the “Irrelevant” part. I’m going to (h). It says:

“Horizon: the Board also expressed its congratulations and thanks to the team working on the Horizon programme, on the successful completion of the installation of over 40,000 machines and training of over 60,000 people in Post Office Network …”

What were you told about Horizon when you joined Royal Mail?

Allan Leighton: This was in the early days of Royal Mail/Consignia as it was. Basically, I was told about the programme, the scale of the programme, the size of the programme and that this was the stage that people were at, and it was long time ago so I’m just sort of looking at the data. I think this was a stage where people felt that they put 40,000 machines in and trained 60,000 people, and that had been something that warranted some congratulations to the team who’d done it.

Mr Stevens: So it was congratulations. Was there any feedback or discussion on things that had gone wrong?

Allan Leighton: I, again, it’s a long time ago, I don’t recall that, but not that I can recall.

Mr Stevens: Do you recall asking anyone about either the pilot, design or rollout of Horizon?

Allan Leighton: When I joined the organisation and, particularly – yes, I did, and, I sort of – I met a number of people who were in charge of the projects. I’d spent a bit of time looking outside what was happening in the Post Office, as well, and, basically, the view was it’s like all big programmes. It’s a massive programme, thousands of people, thousands of offices, thousands of processes and, like all those big programmes, it was moving forward but there were issues as it went and those issues were being resolved.

Mr Stevens: When you say there were issues, could you describe what you were told about them?

Allan Leighton: No, I mean, they were just described as the normal issues that you would have when you were rolling out one of these large programmes and a lot of the conversation was about process, ie because when you changed something like this, the process change is as big as the tech change, in a strange way. A lot of it was about process and getting bedded in to using it.

Mr Stevens: Did anyone say anything to you that would give rise to suspicion that the accounting data generated by Horizon may be unreliable?

Allan Leighton: Absolutely not.

Mr Stevens: Please can we turn to page 7., and to the bottom of the page, please. Thank you. So this refers to boundary and scope decisions in the context of creating Post Office Limited, noting a paper by Stuart Sweetman:

“… which identified the outstanding issues of boundary and scope related to the creation of Post Office Limited under partial and total separation, along with the high level implications for Consignia and Post Office Limited …”

The next one refers to:

“… final decisions on total separation could not be taken until the precise purpose of total separation, and associated valuation issues, were known …”

So it was just an “in principle” decision. Could you briefly just summarise the background to what this decision was about?

Allan Leighton: Yeah, I think a decision had been made by the Government that actually POL – Post Office Limited – should be separated from the Royal Mail at some stage. It was a lot off the back of there’d been conversations when I joined of selling the Mail’s business to the Dutch Post Office, as a solution to some of the modernisation costs. That conversation would entail POL, as a government-owned social responsibility, to be separate from the rest of what was then Consignia, let’s call it Royal Mail, and that this, I think, is – this is part of that piece of thinking.

Subsequent to that – I think, as I say in my witness statement – myself and a number of other directors felt that this was not a sensible thing to be selling the Royal Mail’s Letters business to the Dutch at that particular time because it was unprofitable, would have had a real declination of value for the country and was saddled with industrial action issues and our view was on two fronts: one is financially this is not a sensible thing; secondly, there would have been a high degree, I think, of union unrest and industrial action, which would have been crippling for the organisation and for the country.

Mr Stevens: We know that separation – sorry, that document can come down for the time being – didn’t occur until 2012.

Allan Leighton: Sorry, yeah. But no, I think the other piece of this was that as planning for that separation, which some people had thought would come earlier, ie if the business was sold to the Dutch, then clearly POL would be left on its own, then this work should take place and that POL should be run slightly separately from the rest of the business anyway to get that particular focus, and the fact that, of course, it was heavily subsidised, because it was heavily loss-making, by the Government. I think it was to really just, you know, get POL in its – on its own in its own format, so it could be run separately if and when this sort of change took place.

Mr Stevens: So more like in more of an autonomous subsidiary than a business unit, within –

Allan Leighton: Yeah, I think a bit of both but I think the idea was not for it to be a subsidiary eventually but, to start with, as we decided not to sell it to the Dutch, then it would make sense to at least go to this first stage at this stage.

Mr Stevens: Please could we bring up POL00021480. A minute of a board meeting on 26 September 2002 for Post Office Limited. This is when you were Chairman of that company. Please can we turn to page 2 of those minutes. It says under “Chairman’s Business” at (a) that:

“Interviews had taken place with several candidates for the position of Post Office Limited Chairman, and for Non-Executive Directors of Consignia. Consideration was also being given to the appointment of a Non-Executive Director on to the Board of Post Office Limited.”

Was it your responsibility to find a Chairman for Post Office Limited at this stage?

Allan Leighton: Yes, because the original idea was, when I was initially recruited, is I would be the Chairman of Post Office Limited and, as you know and as you can see, that got changed in a relatively short period of time, but it was always the idea that the Post Office should have its own Chairman and, at least, probably one independent director on its board.

Mr Stevens: David Mills has given evidence to this Inquiry that – no need to turn it up – but the effect of it was that you had been instructed by the Department for Trade and Industry to appoint an independent Chair of Post Office Limited and a Non-Executive Director; is that correct?

Allan Leighton: I think “instructed” is probably a bit too far. I mean, we agreed that that was a sensible thing to do for the organisation depending on now what we decided we were likely to be and of course, obviously all those people went through the Nolan process, which is the process which the government, you know, recommend and commend, you know, people into their organisations.

Mr Stevens: When you were looking for a new Chairman and Non-Executive Director, what sort of experience and qualifications in a person were you looking or?

Allan Leighton: I think two or three things, really. One, a sort of broad commercial experience. Also, helpfully, if that person had worked in, you know, consumer goods type products, because, clearly, one of the issues that was facing POL was a lot of the Government products was being withdrawn. 40 per cent of its income was going to disappear, those products needed to be replaced with something else and, to a degree, somebody who had worked in a regulated industry and, over time, had been in organisations with a number of people.

Mr Stevens: We’ve heard evidence of the financial position Post Office Limited was in at that time. Would you accept that there was an overwhelming priority to make Post Office Limited solvent, bring it to profitability?

Allan Leighton: Well, I think solvent, I’d start with solvent. I mean, all of the businesses were in a dire strait. I mean, Post Office was losing a lot of money, the size of the network couldn’t be supported with the money that there was in the organisation. It was dependent on Government money into the mix and 40 per cent, often 60 per cent of its revenue was going to disappear at some stage. So that’s – you know, that’s pretty dire. That doesn’t happen to many organisations and, therefore, the most important thing to start with was to get the solvency and you can see, that took a period of time.

And remember, the directors of the company – that the solvency, the going concern of the Post Office, is a massive issue. But, in parallel with that, the only way that you were ever going to solve the issue was you had to have new products, you had to do something about the network and you had to have a system, Horizon, that enabled those changes to take place at a branch-by-branch level.

Mr Stevens: When you were looking for Non-Executive Directors or chairs for the Board, did you primarily have in mind people who would be able to bring it to solvency?

Allan Leighton: Well, yes but let me say you don’t just bring something to solvency. The way you bring any business into a better position is, basically, you have a better business. And so, you know, the product development side of POL was really, really important, because something had to replace the products that were being taken away. So it wasn’t just, you know – solvency is not something you can just wave a flag and it appears; you have to do a series of things to get there and, one of the things to get there, is to obviously maintain your sales or grow your sales but also to try to do that in a way which is more efficient and part of the reason, I think, of Horizon, was that it was supposed to deliver the opportunity for the organisation to be more efficient in a way in which it did its business.

Mr Stevens: By 2003, that’s where I want to look now, at that point Sir Michael Hodgkinson is appointed as independent chair?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: In the same year Adam Crozier was appointed as CEO to Royal Mail, yes?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: Mr Crozier, when he gave evidence, he accepted that, at that point, 2003, Post Office Limited was a subsidiary within the group that had the greatest level of autonomy, and that it was the only one with its own governance centre; would you agree with that?

Allan Leighton: Yeah, I think, well, a lot of the business had autonomy, I think the idea was to try to get POL to focus on the issues that were really POL issues, rather than necessarily be influenced by what was happening in the Royal Mail. There was a lot of interaction between the two because, obviously, the two organisations were very, very connected, in terms of the mix. But the idea was to try and give a degree of independence to POL that perhaps wasn’t afforded to the other pieces of the Royal Mail business.

Mr Stevens: You said that Post Office Limited should really focus on the Post Office Limited issues. What did you see the Post Office Limited issues as being?

Allan Leighton: I mean, I think it – I recall there were four big issues. I mean, the first one was this – the revenue was disappearing. Products were going to disappear, there would be no revenue; with no revenue there’s no business. So there’s a massive issue over how do you replace the products that are going to be disappearing?

Just to scale that, you know, one thing – the Benefits Agency, 40 per cent of the revenue. I mean, there are not many organisations that can lose 40 per cent of their revenue and survive. And, remember, this was already an organisation that was pretty much insolvent in reality. So number 1 thing is we’ve got to get the products right in terms of the mix.

The second thing was all about the network, you know, what should the size of this network be? How much of network should be Crown how much of the network should be rural and, to a degree, negotiating with the Government as to how much they would be prepared to pay for the unprofitable parts of POL because that was obviously going to delivery a social service, for want of a better description, which is what it did.

Then the third piece was really all about the implementation of the Horizon, that was the enabler, and those three things were the three critical areas, I think, that POL was focused on.

Mr Stevens: With hindsight, should added to that list be prosecutions of subpostmasters and oversight of prosecutions of subpostmasters?

Allan Leighton: Well, I think in hindsight, yes. But I think the most important thing is, when you are setting these things up and you’re setting the organisation up, when you’re the Non-Exec Chair, as Mike was and I was at the Royal Mail, then what you’ve got to make sure or try and make sure is that the structures are in place, for these things to be managed because obviously there’s many, many things you’re trying to manage at one time. You’ve got an Executive group.

I mean this is – I think people do get this, is there’s a big difference between non-exec and exec. Non-execs are called non-execs because they don’t execute; executives are called executives because they do execute. So our role, I think, really is to make sure the structures are in place to enable any issue in the business to be raised up the organisation. And, therefore, you’ve got – you have the, you know, the Executive Management Team who are responsible do that. You’ve got all the meeting structures from the POL Board to the Royal Mail Board to the Audit and Risk Committee to the subcommittees of all of those organisations, to the Management Boards of those organisations that move all the time and, over time, you know, we put in this thing called Have Your Say and Have Your Say was the ability for people in the organisation at all levels to say what they were feeling about the business. So were all those structures in place? Absolutely. And that’s I think what you can do as a non-exec.

What – the execution of that, I think, as we’ve seen tragically, was not always what it should be.

Mr Stevens: We’ll come to that shortly. Before we do, can I ask you about corporate codes. Did you apply or take into account any codes relevant to corporate governance and management when you were at Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: I mean, in the broadest sense, yes, that’s what we did. And, you know, I would say that all of the boards from a governance perspective, from a corporate governance perspective, I think were very much in line with some of that code.

Mr Stevens: Which code are you referring to?

Allan Leighton: Well, I think there’s a general code of how you govern an organisation. And there was – you know, there were a lot of best practices about how you do that. A lot of us had come from organisations where that had – you know, that was taking place. So, you know, certainly in my experience, all those businesses were set up from a governance perspective in completely the right way.

Mr Stevens: Just for clarity, are you referring to the Financial Reporting Council’s Combined Code of Corporate Governance?

Allan Leighton: Probably. I don’t remember it in that detail.

Mr Stevens: Were your expectations for the standards of corporate governance in a publicly owned company, like Post Office Limited, different to your expectations for a publicly listed company?

Allan Leighton: I think the right answer is no, and the reason I say that is I think there is only one good way to run an organisation and I think you set up the governance for any organisation in what you think is the right way, and you get everybody to buy in to that. I think the way that the governance was set up and the way the organisation was run, actually made it easier for the Government, as the major shareholder, to have a view of what was happening in the business than probably it did before.

Mr Stevens: Can I just say, I think you prefaced the start of your answer with “I think the right [response] is” and then you started. Is that actually your view, that there should be no difference between a particularly listed and –

Allan Leighton: I think there’s a subtle difference in the shareholding. But I think the majority of things that you do are exactly the same. I think there’s, you know, there’s one good way of running organisations.

Mr Stevens: Could you expand on what that subtle difference is, to which you referred?

Allan Leighton: I think it is just that you’ve got the Government as a shareholder and the thing with the Government as the shareholder is, you know, governments change, and so do ministers, and so do civil servants. So you’ve got more – you’re dealing with slightly more churn than you probably would do in the outside world.

Mr Stevens: When you were Chairman of Post Office Limited, to whom did you consider yourself to be accountable?

Allan Leighton: Sorry?

Mr Stevens: Who did you consider yourself to be accountable to?

Allan Leighton: To the shareholder.

Mr Stevens: The Government?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: How –

Allan Leighton: And as Chairman of Royal Mail, exactly the same.

Mr Stevens: How often did you meet Government when you were Chair of Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: Probably – again, I can’t recall exactly but I would probably – we would probably have met Government two or three times in that period of time. One of the things that we set up, both in POL and the Royal Mail, was you built a plan for the year and that plan was presented to the Minister and his officials, and that plan was signed off by them. So the whole planning of the business and the business plan for the business would be signed off and agreed with the Secretary of State and the officials of the DTI, that would be number 1 thing. There would have been a lot of dialogue at this stage about the solvency of the Post Office and a lot of conversation with officials at that stage.

Mr Stevens: How much of your discussions was directly with DTI or with Shareholder Executive?

Allan Leighton: Well, it changed, as I think as you can see here. I think, if I’m correct, it started off with the DTI, then it moved to the Shareholder Executive.

Mr Stevens: Yes.

Allan Leighton: So, initially, the conversations would have been the DTI. Most of my conversations were with the Ministers because, obviously, there’d been a plan for what should happen to the Royal Mail, as I say, selling it to the Dutch, and then Post Office being left behind, and run in a different way, and that plan was no longer going to happen. So there was a lot of discussion about, okay, we’d better start again, and we already started both in POL and the Royal Mail, the renewal of those companies.

Mr Stevens: When you were discussing – well, let’s start with the DTI first. When you were having discussions with DTI, did you ever discuss Horizon?

Allan Leighton: Again, I honestly can’t remember. It’s 20 years ago. So – but I would imagine that we did. But I think it would have been more along, you know, how’s it going? I don’t think there would have been any detail – there certainly – I certainly would recall any detail or would think there would be any detailed conversations about Horizon.

Mr Stevens: Did you ever talk about prosecutions of subpostmasters?

Allan Leighton: Never.

Mr Stevens: Did your discussions on either of those topics change when you moved to Shareholder Executive? So in other words did you –

Allan Leighton: No.

Mr Stevens: No. David Mills was pointed to the board of Post Office Limited as Chief Executive in April 2002, that’s when you were Chairman?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: What was your working relationship with the Directors of Post Office Limited before David Mills assumed his appointment?

Allan Leighton: Sorry, can you just repeat that?

Mr Stevens: What was your working relationship with the directors of Post Office Limited prior to David Mills’ appointment?

Allan Leighton: In essence, I would talk to them on a regular basis and Chair the Board meetings.

Mr Stevens: So were you, effectively, overseeing the Executive at that point?

Allan Leighton: To a degree, yes, would say.

Mr Stevens: Would you accept that one of your roles as Chairman was to ensure that new appointees to the board received an appropriate induction?

Allan Leighton: Again, I think that is a combination of things between the chair and the HR team, but would expect that there well up some degree of induction taking place, yes.

Mr Stevens: David Mills – ooh, sorry, were you –

Allan Leighton: No.

Mr Stevens: David Mills gave evidence to the Inquiry yesterday and in his witness statement he said that he was barely briefed on anything by anyone when he joined:

“Even the building security was not expecting me on my first day. I arrived to an empty open-plan office and began work.”

Would you accept that?

Allan Leighton: Well, first of all, I can’t recall that, it’s a long time ago. I had a very good working relationship with David and I thought he did an extremely good job but it’s slightly – I find it slightly curious that, if you’re going to join the Post Office as its Managing Director, that you don’t really have any idea about any of the issues and they wouldn’t have been discussed in any of your interviews.

Mr Stevens: When you say “any of the issues”, what do you mean?

Allan Leighton: I’m just saying, you know, I would – certainly in the interviews with David and discussion with David we’d be talking about what needed to happen in the Post Office Limited. But I wouldn’t – I couldn’t comment on whether he did or didn’t get an induction program.

Mr Stevens: Please could we bring up RMG00000345. This is a letter to you setting out – it says:

“I am writing to confirm the terms of your appointment as Non-Executive Chairman.”

We see at the top it is dated 26 November 2003, which is significantly after when you were actually appointed, but does this represent your settled terms of appointment?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: At 1(c), one of the terms of appointment is to spend at least two days a week with the company?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: Did you do that?

Allan Leighton: Absolutely.

Mr Stevens: That can come down.

Please can we bring up the witness statement at page 4, WITN04380100. If you could go to the bottom, please. So you say after leaving ASDA you were appointed to a number of executive roles and non-executive positions, and you list these out. Were these all appointments that were made in 2000, in the first sentence, from BSkyB, Deputy Chairman of Leeds, were they all in the year 2000.

Allan Leighton: Yeah, I think so. I can’t remember, yes.

Mr Stevens: It says appointed as a Non-Executive Director to BSkyB Plc?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: Do you remember when you stood down from that role?

Allan Leighton: I think it says later on – actually, I can’t recall exactly. Let’s have look at the – sorry, I can’t recall exactly on that, yeah.

Mr Stevens: It says a Deputy Chairman of Leeds. That came, you say came to an end in 2003?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: Chairman of Lastminute, that stopped in 2004?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Chairman of BHS, do you remember when that came to an end?

Allan Leighton: Again, I can’t quite recall, I think probably around 2007, or something like that.

Mr Stevens: Chairman of Cannons, that came to an end in 2004?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Non-Executive Director of Dyson; do you remember when that came to an end?

Allan Leighton: 2004, it’s in the witness statement.

Mr Stevens: 2004. What were the time commitments for these roles?

Allan Leighton: They varied because, obviously, they’re different sizes, some of them are NED roles, some of them are iNED roles. I think the important thing about this is that, when I left ASDA, I decided I’d work full time, so I have worked full time, still do, on all of my roles. And full time to me is I work six days a week and I do 12 hours a day. So I can spend 60/70 hours a week working in my organisations because I work on a full-time basis, where most other chairs and NEDs do not do that. And so if I then look it my commitment to the Royal Mail, it was two days a week, which I see as 40 per cent of my time, rather than two days a week and, therefore, let me be very clear, I would have spent more than 40 per cent of my time on Royal Mail business the whole of the time that I was chair of that organisation.

I work in a very different way to other people. I probably would spend time nearly every day on the Royal Mail or on POL, because what I don’t do is sit in an office and talk to people. What I try to do is get out and about, and I would be in mail centres and delivery offices 5.00 in the morning, 10.00 at night.

So I want to be very, very clear that I absolutely spent the time that I required to spend on the Royal Mail and on Post Office Limited. I don’t take on any roles that don’t think that I can commit the time to and I think my reputation whilst in the Royal Mail was probably of the most visible and accessible Chair that there’d been. So I’m categoric about this.

Mr Stevens: By my count, in 2001, you – that’s when you were appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Consignia. You’re also appointed Chairman of Wilson Connolly, and Non-Executive Director of Scottish Power. That’s eight other appointments outside of Consignia.

Allan Leighton: At that time?

Mr Stevens: At that time.

Allan Leighton: Yeah. Then over a two-year period I reduced those by half but I want to be very categoric that I absolutely spent the time, more time than I was required to do in the Royal Mail and Post Office.

Mr Stevens: Were any of those FTSE 100 companies?

Allan Leighton: No. Only BSkyB.

Mr Stevens: BSkyB?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Was Royal Mail a FTSE 100 company at the time?

Allan Leighton: Royal Mail? No. Royal Mail has never been a FTSE 100 company until now.

Mr Stevens: One of the things the Inquiry is looking into is the concept of overboarding, being on too many boards at the same time. What would you say if someone suggested that you were overboarded at this point?

Allan Leighton: I would repeat what I’ve just said. I worked full time, long hours, very hard and I never take on any role that I don’t think I can put the time to that I need to. I still am still doing exactly the same today. 20 years on, I’m still doing exactly the same.

Mr Stevens: Sir, I appreciate we only just started the evidence but, for the transcriber we do need to take a break now. I’m going to ask is a five-minute break enough? No. It needs to be a 10-minute break, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Sure. So what time shall we resume?

Mr Stevens: 3.30, please, sir.

(3.19 pm)

(A short break)

(3.30 pm)

Mr Stevens: Can you see and hear me?

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, thank you.

Mr Stevens: Before I carry on questioning, I’ve looked at my note and what’s left to cover and the time available and, with apologies to Mr Leighton, I don’t think I can fairly finish his evidence today in the time available, and in fairness to Core Participants who may wish to ask questions too.

I’ve discussed with Mr Leighton’s recognised legal representative and he has kindly agreed to arrange to come back to complete his evidence in due course. That cannot be tomorrow, unfortunately. But the Inquiry will liaise with his team in due course to arrange a date in the future which will be communicated to other Core Participants.

I hope you’re content with that approach, sir, rather than seeking to rush the evidence now.

Sir Wyn Williams: I certainly don’t want to rush it and I’m very grateful to you, Mr Leighton, for accommodating me in effect. But I’m very sorry that I can’t go on beyond 4.30 today.

The Witness: That’s fine.

Mr Stevens: Thank you, sir.

On that, I will bear in mind an appropriate time to stop, considering topics but will continue with my questioning.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, Mr Stevens, just choose a time between 4.15 onwards –

Mr Stevens: Yes.

Sir Wyn Williams: – to suit where you are, so to speak.

Mr Stevens: Thank you.

Mr Leighton, I want to look at risk management. Would you accept that the identification, analysis, and management of risk is an important function for the running of a business.

Allan Leighton: Absolutely.

Mr Stevens: And it goes to the heart of the role of the executive?

Allan Leighton: Absolutely. And I think if you read in the Royal Mail accounts, it makes that very clear, that the major principle of risk management is with the management of the organisation.

Mr Stevens: What is the Non-Executive Director or Non-Executive Chairman’s role in respect of risk management?

Allan Leighton: To make sure that the processes are in place that enable that to happen, in terms of risk management, Audit and Risk Committee obviously are a big part of that, but also a lot of risk doesn’t just come through the Audit and Risk Committee, it comes from the day-to-day interface you have with people. So the most important thing is to have some set processes, to make it clear where the responsibility lies and, again, I think you can see, certainly in the Royal Mail pieces of the report and accounts, that there were – you know, risk management was built up from the bottom of the organisation.

Mr Stevens: I want to look at Post Office Limited first. Mr Mills gave evidence to the Inquiry yesterday and his evidence was that, when he joined Post Office Limited, it did not maintain a risk register; would you agree with that?

Allan Leighton: I really can’t recall that. It was – you said the Post Office Limited didn’t –

Mr Stevens: Yes, Post Office Limited.

Allan Leighton: I’m not aware of that and Mike Hodgkinson, when he came in, I know, set up a risk committee for the Post Office Limited but I don’t know the detail underneath that.

Mr Stevens: Could you just explain what your understanding of a risk register is?

Allan Leighton: Well, I probably don’t think about a risk register. It is – on risk, the way that it comes to me as a non-executive, is there’s a risk report, and it identifies the major risks in the company. Today it puts some – you know and then looks at constantly where are we with those particular risks.

Mr Stevens: So, in terms of Post Office Limited, when you say Sir Michael Hodgkinson was in post and you were Non-Executive Chair – sorry, you were Chairman, is that what you’d get: you’d get a risk report to read?

Allan Leighton: No, you wouldn’t necessarily get a risk report, you’d get a report from the Risk Committee, I think that’s a very different thing. So the work that was being done down the organisation, you probably wouldn’t see, you’d see a summary of that in some way, shape or form, and that would also go to the audit Risk Committee of the Royal Mail.

Mr Stevens: So in terms of what – I’m trying to summarise this – in terms of what you see, does that depend on people lower down the business –

Allan Leighton: Absolutely.

Mr Stevens: – identifying those risks –

Allan Leighton: Absolutely.

Mr Stevens: – and then it’s filtered through to you?

Allan Leighton: Yes, and, well, remember the way you build risks is bottom up, top down. So there’s a top-down view of what the risk may be and then there’s a bottom-up view of what the risk may be, and that’s how it’s put together.

Mr Stevens: What’s the top-down view? How does that come into play?

Allan Leighton: Well, it is that you would – in the Audit and Risk Committee, they would have a conversation about what they felt the major risks were that were facing the company.

Mr Stevens: What, if any, steps can you take to ensure that the risks that are being identified to you are the proper ones, and there’s nothing falling through the cracks?

Allan Leighton: Well, two reasons. First of all, you’ve got not just the Audit and Risk Committee, you’ve got internal audit, you’ve got the management, you’ve got the executive management, you’ve got line management. So that whole group is involved in putting together those risks. So you pretty much imagine that that group would be cover off all the major risks that there were in the business. Your major point is the heart of risk management is the management takes responsibility for identifying and managing the risks and escalating those risks where they need to.

Mr Stevens: Was there a difference between how risks was managed in Post Office Limited, as you’ve described, and at the Group level?

Allan Leighton: I can’t really recall. I doubt it. I mean, there’s only one way of looking at risk and a lot of the Post Office Limited risk work would have migrated up into the Audit and Risk Committee, which looked at the whole of the Royal Mail Group not just the letters/parcels business the looked at all the risks in all the organisations.

Mr Stevens: That pre-empted my next question.

Allan Leighton: Sorry.

Mr Stevens: No, not at all. We’ve heard evidence that at the Group level, there was an Audit and Risk Committee –

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: – and in Post Office Limited there was a Risk and Compliance Committee. Was audit a Group function?

Allan Leighton: Again, I can’t recall 100 per cent. I think internal audit, from what I can recall, probably was a Group function.

Mr Stevens: Why was it kept as Group function?

Allan Leighton: I think a bit of history. I mean, the way I’ve thought about this is that, when the company was called Post Office, which had the Letters of every other business in it, then I think each one of the individual businesses ran the operational side of things but, actually, there was a central group, which was pretty consistent, I think on risk, on legal, on all of those things. When it moved across to Consignia and then to Royal Mail, I think that same core idea was kept in place.

But you – again, I’m not sure but I’m pretty much sure you would have people within those groups dedicated to one part of the business.

Mr Stevens: So there would be someone at the Group or in Group on audit that would be dedicated to Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: I’m not 100 per cent sure but that’s what I would sort of think would be the case.

Mr Stevens: Just so I’m clear, when you are referring to, before, when it was Post Office, that’s when it was a statutory corporation?

Allan Leighton: Yeah, when Post Office was what the Royal Mail became.

Mr Stevens: Yes.

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: There was the change in 2001, where it became Consignia then Royal Mail?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: At that point, was there ever a review or thought about where audit should sit or was it just had the continued from how it had always been?

Allan Leighton: Again, I can’t – I mean, the honest answer is I don’t know, but would imagine that it just was – the idea was keep those central functions where they’re central functions.

Mr Stevens: In respect of audit, do you see there being any disadvantages with audit being a Group function and not something that the subsidiary had ownership of?

Allan Leighton: No, I mean, it’s – the issue is – the thing about – everybody thinks it’s about structure, it’s not. It’s about what people do. You can have any structure in the world and it will either work or it wouldn’t work. What the makes it work is what people do. So whether you have a central function or a local function, they do the same thing. So I think, as long as there’s some degree of focus, then it doesn’t matter where it is, in reality.

Mr Stevens: What about for the directors on the Post Office Limited Board or the Executive Team on the Post Office Limited Board, did they have access to the group audit’s staff or the group audit function?

Allan Leighton: Well, the Chairman and CEO or MD sat on the Royal Mail Group Board, so they absolutely did. I’m not sure about the others. But I would imagine that they would definitely have access, if they wanted it. And t’other way round. I mean, again, the way businesses work is they don’t just work up and down, the most important thing is how they work across. So there was an opportunity for anybody to have any interface with anyone in the organisation that they wanted. That’s what makes structures work.

Mr Stevens: Could you, just before moving on, describe what the formal reporting lines were from the Post Office Limited Board to the Royal Mail Group?

Allan Leighton: The – as I said, that Mike Hodgkinson sat on the Royal Mail Group and reported to me, and David Mills exactly the same. Then the same with Alan Cook, except for Alan Cook reported to Adam.

Mr Stevens: Crozier?

Allan Leighton: Adam Crozier.

Mr Stevens: With hindsight, do you think there was any lack of clarity in the Group structure that would prevent the flow of information between parent and subsidiary and vice versa?

Allan Leighton: No. No, I don’t.

Mr Stevens: I want to look, please, at prosecutions. Could we bring up paragraph 48 of your witness statement, which is page 25. You say:

“Although I do not have specific recollections, I must have been aware at least as a general matter that the Post Office also prosecuted individuals for fraud-related offences. I would expect (although cannot recall) that there were relevant practices, guidelines and policies available in relation to the investigation of any alleged wrongdoing and subsequent criminal proceedings.”

When did you first become aware of the prosecution of subpostmasters for theft, fraud offences and false accounting by companies within the Royal Mail Group?

Allan Leighton: In which way?

Mr Stevens: Well, when was the first time that you were aware that subpostmasters were prosecuted for those offences by a Royal Mail Group –

Allan Leighton: When I joined the organisation.

Mr Stevens: How did you find that information out?

Allan Leighton: How did I find that out? Two things: obviously as I was going to become the Chairman of POL, you know, that was the idea, then I read about POL and the history of POL and, as you know, that’s been there for a long period of time. So I knew it from that perspective and then when I joined, as I say, I would have, in all probability, seen the heads of all different departments and, you know, they would have confirmed that. So something I really knew from the beginning is the history of the organisation.

Mr Stevens: Were you aware that the decision of whether to prosecute someone or a subpostmaster, was made by a Royal Mail Group company?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Were you aware that the prosecution was conducted by a Royal Mail Group company?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: The Inquiry has heard evidence this week from Alan Cook, who says he was unaware that the decision was made internally and that it may have been passed to CPS or the police. What do you make of that?

Allan Leighton: I mean, if that’s Alan’s recollection, it’s his recollection but –

Mr Stevens: Did you discuss the prosecutions with Mr Cook?

Allan Leighton: No.

Mr Stevens: The Royal Mail Group was involved with other types of prosecutions, other than subpostmasters for theft, fraud and false accounting; is that right?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: That included things like mail theft?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: To what extent did you consider that it was unusual at the time that Royal Mail Group companies were the alleged victims of crimes, that they investigated those suspected crimes themselves and then decided whether to prosecute them?

Allan Leighton: Well, I sort of didn’t see it as odd because it had always been the case, you know, as far as I could see from the history of the – that’s – it’s been there for a – it’s always been like that, for a long time.

Mr Stevens: With hindsight, do you think there are any difficulties with that?

Allan Leighton: With hindsight, obviously, from what I know now, yes. But, actually, if you step back and you say should that have allowed to happen what happened? No.

Mr Stevens: Sorry, can I just clarify what you mean? Is what you mean that a company should be able to be in a position as alleged victim, investigator and prosecutor, and there still not be a miscarriage of justice?

Allan Leighton: Sorry, I didn’t –

Mr Stevens: Sorry, a bad question. Is it your view that a company who is an alleged victim of crime, investigates the alleged crime and then goes on to prosecute that crime, that that in itself shouldn’t cause the –

Allan Leighton: That’s my point.

Mr Stevens: Yes, that’s what –

Allan Leighton: It isn’t – once again, it isn’t to do with the structure. That isn’t the issue because, obviously, that happened for a long, long period of time before. That should – where there is a miscarriage of justice or where there is data that has not been provided which should have been provided, that’s what’s unacceptable, not the process.

Mr Stevens: Do you not think the position – it’s been described as judge, jury and executioner, as you’ll have heard before.

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: The fact there’s no independence or third party involvement, D do you accept that the lack of third-party involvement causes inherent risks in how the prosecutions are run?

Allan Leighton: It does – so let me – today I don’t think that should happen. Today I don’t believe the way that it was operated should happen, and the reason I don’t believe it should happen is because it obviously had flaws in it.

Mr Stevens: Sorry, could you repeat that?

Allan Leighton: It obviously had flaws in the process but, if you go – if I go back 20 years or – and you say, actually, the way that it was done, in the Royal Mail, which had done it like that for hundreds of years, should that have been a reason for the tragedy that’s happened? No, it shouldn’t be. So I don’t think people can hide behind it’s because of that that it’s happened; it’s not, it’s because of people that it’s happened.

Mr Stevens: Do you think proper structures and processes could have mitigated the chances of the scandal happening?

Allan Leighton: It’s always in the process.

Mr Stevens: So you were aware of the prosecutions. Were you aware that the prosecutions of subpostmasters relied on data generated by the Horizon IT System?

Allan Leighton: I’m not acutely aware of it but it would be obvious that it would be because, obviously, that was the EPOS system of the branches.

Mr Stevens: On an operational level, who or which team did you think was responsible for investigating suspected theft, fraud or false accounting on the part of subpostmasters?

Allan Leighton: Again, I can’t recall exactly but I would say it was in that sort of Security/Legal area of the business.

Mr Stevens: So we have the Security Team. Where did you think the Security Team sat in the reporting line within the Group?

Allan Leighton: Again, I can’t – I don’t know exactly because I haven’t seen the organograms but I think my recollection is that they worked into the Legal teams and that they all worked into the Company Secretary.

Mr Stevens: So the Legal Team, where did the Legal Team sit?

Allan Leighton: Again, I’m not 100 per cent sure but I think it reported into the Company Secretary.

Mr Stevens: The Company Secretary of which company?

Allan Leighton: Of Royal Mail Group.

Mr Stevens: So Legal was a group function?

Allan Leighton: I’m pretty – yes, I think so, yeah.

Mr Stevens: Did you work with or know Tony Marsh?

Allan Leighton: No.

Mr Stevens: Do you have any knowledge of non-formal reporting lines between the Security Team and Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: Non-formal?

Mr Stevens: As in – let me rephrase that. As a matter of practice, are you aware of the extent to which the Security Team, which you’ve described, worked with people within Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: Only from the documentation that I’ve seen.

Mr Stevens: Again, at the operational level, who did you think was responsible for the decision as to whether or not to prosecute a subpostmaster?

Allan Leighton: I would have – again, I’m not – I have to say within the Legal Team.

Mr Stevens: So within Group in Legal?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Who did you think was responsible for the conduct of those prosecutions? Would that be Legal again?

Allan Leighton: Yes, I think so.

Mr Stevens: Were these matters actively on your mind at the time when you were running the company?

Allan Leighton: Not at all.

Mr Stevens: Why not?

Allan Leighton: Because, obviously, there were many other things that were being addressed both – in all of the businesses but, actually, more so, if you – when you’ve got all the structures and processes in place that you think are there and there’s nothing coming back that’s indicating in any way, shape or form that there’s some sort of systemic issue that is then resulting in these prosecutions, then nothing was ever raised of that nature, the whole time I was there.

Mr Stevens: You said when you’ve got all the structures and processes in place and then nothing comes back; how did you satisfy yourself that the structures and processes were in place in relation to prosecutions?

Allan Leighton: Because you’ve put the team in place to do that.

Mr Stevens: Which team is that?

Allan Leighton: It’s the Legal Team and it’s the Security Team and it cuts across into the Operational Teams and, you know, there’s not – there’s a number of facets, as there is in every reorganisation, that there are, you know, working together on these issues. But the critical thing from a non-exec perspective, again, is the way you have to think about it – or I have to think about it – is do you have the structures and processes in place that should enable, if there is an issue, that that issue is flagged up? As I say, you go from Board, POL Board, Royal Mail Board, Audit and Risk Committee, each management team in each one of those divisions has its own Management Board which meets every month, formally, every week off the back of it. Each one of those executives underneath that will have its own board in terms of where that mix is.

You’ve got internal audit into the process, as well, and, to another degree, when we put in Have Your Say, you’re getting – you know, that’s a facility to get feedback from the thing. So there are lots of checks and balances here that give people the opportunity to be able to flag something up. The issue was things were not flagged up.

Mr Stevens: I want to start looking at some of the oversight, I’m going to start at the Group level. Could we look at RMG00000006, please.

Allan Leighton: There we go. Thank you.

Mr Stevens: I’ve heard before it wasn’t possible to do that, so I’m very glad to see it was rotated. Thank you.

So we have the Audit and Risk Committee of Royal Mail Holdings and this is minutes of a meeting on 11 November 2003. You’re there in attendance as – well, you’re Chairman of the company but not chairing the Committee.

Allan Leighton: Yeah, I didn’t normally sit on the Audit and Risk Committee. I let the Chair of that committee chair that but I would go, from time to time, when there were specific issues.

Mr Stevens: Looking down the attendance list, we have Jonathan Evans, Company Secretary. I think – well, you said in your evidence earlier that your understanding is that’s where Legal – Group Legal would have reported?

Allan Leighton: I think so. I’m not 100 per cent sure but I take a guess.

Mr Stevens: We’ve then got Derek Foster, Internal Audit and Risk Management Director. Do you recall working with him?

Allan Leighton: No, not really at all, no. But it would be typical that the Internal Audit and Risk attended the Audit and Risk Committee.

Mr Stevens: Looking at the attendance list there, who, if anyone, has legal experience or legal qualifications?

Allan Leighton: Well, I wouldn’t know. I would imagine Jonathan Evans did.

Mr Stevens: Could we turn to page 5, please. If we can go down to the bottom of the page, please. Thank you. We have there, it says, a “Security Report”. Can I start by asking what the security report was?

Allan Leighton: Again, I can’t 100 per cent recall but it looks as if it’s a report on – I’ll just go off this, crime across the Royal Mail Group.

Mr Stevens: In your statement at page 25, paragraph 47, you refer to this document and you say:

“I assume these figures [so the figures in paragraph (a), I think, and onwards] relate to the Royal Mail side of the business as opposed to the Post Office because it refers to Royal Mail personnel”, that’s in this document, and you refer to a different document there.

Looking back, do you think here that the Audit and Risk Committee were looking solely at Royal Mail or was it looking at Post Office, as well?

Allan Leighton: Well, again, it’s a long time ago, so I can’t recall, but it seems to me – I mean it says, “Royal Mail personnel related crime across the business”, the level of prosecutions – I mean, I don’t know 100 per cent but, when I look at this, this looks to me as if it’s a Royal Mail – it’s about the Royal Mail.

Mr Stevens: I mean, in paragraph 44 of your witness statement you say that you don’t recall any discussion during Board meetings of the prosecutions that Post Office Limited was pursuing against subpostmasters. When you say that, does that include subcommittees of the board, as well?

Allan Leighton: If I was involved in those subcommittees, that would involve that but at no stage did we have any real discussion about the level of prosecutions in POL. And, you know, I studied all this – all the documents. It’s – there’s nothing in here, and it –

Mr Stevens: Just with that in mind, if you have no recollection of discussing the prosecution of subpostmasters, we have this minute where prosecutions are discussed?

Allan Leighton: Sorry, which one?

Mr Stevens: Sorry, so we have the minute here –

Allan Leighton: This one?

Mr Stevens: At (a), yes. Do you take it then, that this is purely to do with Royal Mail?

Allan Leighton: I can’t say 100 per cent but I would – it pretty much looks like that.

Mr Stevens: Do you recall whether the committee at a meeting like this would have tested whether the Security Department was acting in compliance with its legal obligations arising from bringing prosecutions?

Allan Leighton: I mean, again, I wouldn’t – I couldn’t recall that.

Mr Stevens: Is that you can’t recall, or –

Allan Leighton: No, I can’t recall.

Mr Stevens: Please could we bring up RMG00000008, please. It’s another Audit and Risk Committee meeting of Royal Mail Holdings. We can see at the top there you’re in attendance?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Can we turn, please, to page 6. Down to “Protecting Royal Mail Assets”, thank you:

“Andrew Wilson, Director of Security, attended for this item.”

Do you remember Andrew Wilson?

Allan Leighton: Not clearly.

Mr Stevens: “The Committee noted that Royal Mail was inherently vulnerable as a business to attacks on its assets, whether through fraud or other events. This is due to the scale of the business, nature and the core handling process and liquidity of assets …

“(a) the key activity of the business in protecting Royal Mail’s assets and pipeline, including increased focus on fraud investigations, protection of information and the level of prosecutions.”

Do you have any recollection of what was discussed at this meeting?

Allan Leighton: No, I think it’s 20-odd years ago. When I read it, this, I think, may be in response to the Dispatches programme that there’d just been, which it refers to in (a).

Mr Stevens: Yes. So what was the Dispatches programme?

Allan Leighton: There was a Dispatches programme, I can’t remember it 100 per cent, where I think, undercover reporters had gone into a mail centre or a delivery office and had shown, you know, bad activity, and I think including the mail theft. So when I read this, again, I can’t recall, it’s like 20 years ago, but it does mention the Dispatches programme and I would hazard a guess that this was reported off the back of that.

Mr Stevens: Again, to the best of your recollection, this is talking about Royal Mail, rather than Post Office?

Allan Leighton: Yeah. I can’t be 100 per cent but I’m – when I read it, it looks like that.

Sir Wyn Williams: Mr Leighton, if that’s right – and I’m not trying to dispute that with you for the moment – would you have expected that there would be similar Security reports dealing exclusively with Post Office Limited to the Post Office Board?

Allan Leighton: I think the answer is – I’m not sure, sir, and the reason I say that is that most of this audit work and reports came up to the Royal Mail Group Board. What I would have expected, if there was a concern in any way, shape or form, that that would have come to the Royal Mail Group Board and to the Post Office Board.

Sir Wyn Williams: I follow what you say but my thought process was a bit more straightforward. If it was thought appropriate to report to Royal Mail that there had been 399 prosecutions in a particular year, that’s the correct figure, wouldn’t it have been equally appropriate to report to the Post Office that Post Office had prosecuted 100 people, or whatever it was?

Allan Leighton: When you put it like that, yes.

Sir Wyn Williams: Right. It’s just that I’ve not seen it yet – I may be shown it – but minutes members of the Post Office Board which provide that sort of information.

Allan Leighton: And I agree with you because, I think, if that information had been available then I think that would have helped. And I think I reflect that in my witness statement at the end of the conversation. We may talk about that later.

Mr Stevens: Yes, we will come on to that.

Sorry, sir, do you have any further questions before I –

Sir Wyn Williams: I’m sorry to have interrupted but the thought popped into my head, so to speak, because you were questioning Mr Leighton about this, so I thought I’d clarify it while I could.

Mr Stevens: Of course. Thank you, sir.

Mr Leighton, is it fair to say that the Audit Committee here is exercising oversight of the investigation and prosecution of crime affecting Royal Mail?

Allan Leighton: Well, that’s what it looks like.

Mr Stevens: Do you think at any point it exercised oversight or control over the investigation and prosecution of crime affecting Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: That I don’t know either.

Mr Stevens: In your mind at the time, if you can, where did you think responsibility for the oversight of the investigation and prosecution of crime affecting Post Office Limited fell?

Allan Leighton: It fell into Legal and Security and, therefore, that reported in to the Company Secretary.

Mr Stevens: So for that reason, why – can you explain why we haven’t seen minutes of the Audit Committee of the Royal Mail Holdings – sorry, I’ll start again.

The Company Secretary attended the Audit and Risk Committee of the Royal Mail Holdings Board?

Allan Leighton: Yeah.

Mr Stevens: Why was the Audit and Risk Committee of the Royal Mail Holdings Board not exercising oversight of the investigation and prosecution of crimes that affected Post Office Limited, if that was reporting through the Company Secretary?

Allan Leighton: Sorry, I don’t –

Mr Stevens: Let’s take it in stages. You say that Jonathan Evans, the Company Secretary, that’s the line of report for Legal?

Allan Leighton: That’s what I think. I’m not 100 per cent, as I said to you.

Mr Stevens: You said earlier that you thought the decision to prosecute and the investigation of offences, responsibility for that lay with Legal –

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: – at Group level?

Allan Leighton: Yes.

Mr Stevens: We see that the Audit and Risk Committee of the Royal Mail Holdings Group are exercising oversight of the prosecution of offences affecting Royal Mail, yes?

Allan Leighton: Yes, but their oversight is on the Royal Mail and POL and Parcels. The Royal Mail Audit Committee’s oversight is across all of the elements of the business.

Mr Stevens: Yes, so that’s my question. Why, in those circumstances, was the Audit and Risk Committee not exercising the same type of oversight we see here in respect of prosecution of crime that was affecting Post Office Limited?

Allan Leighton: That I don’t know.

Mr Stevens: Is that a failure in the process?

Allan Leighton: Is it a failure in the process? I mean, when I look at all of the papers, actually, the reporting – I mean we’ve got almost eight years worth of data. If you look over that eight years worth of data, the reporting on prosecutions across the whole of the group, I think there are two or three papers, two or three in the whole of that period of time. So what it says to me, when I step back and look at it, is, if this is the landscape of seven or eight years and in this landscape there are a couple of Audit Committees where they’re talking about losses and prosecutions, then it seems to me that, in the organisation, these two things were not seen as significant. That’s what this says to me.

Mr Stevens: Can I ask: why was there not a General Counsel role on the Group board?

Allan Leighton: I mean, I looked at this, in my experience, and obviously I’ve chaired some large companies, that the General Counsel tends not to sit on the Board. You know, certainly in the organisations I’ve chaired, the counsel, General Counsel, legal counsel, are not Board members, so that’s the first thing. So, for me, it would not be unusual that there’s a General Counsel or legal counsel who does not sit on the Board of the organisation. It’s not always the case and certainly, in my experience, it’s the opposite.

Mr Stevens: Is that the same in respect of attendance at Audit and Risk Committee? Would you expect a General Counsel to attend the Audit and Risk Committee?

Allan Leighton: If the – it all depends on what – if the General – what’s confusing in this is I think Jonathan Evans is – obviously sits at every single one of these meetings all the time. It appears that everything reports in to him, so, provided there is somebody from Legal at those meetings, I think that’s fine. What I can’t see is, further down the organisation, where the legal counsel fitted in to some of the other set piece plays, for want of a better description.

Mr Stevens: Sir, it is a touch early but I’m confident the next line of questioning will take longer than 20 minutes. So I propose this as a time to bring today’s proceedings to a close, if you’re content with that.

I think you’re on mute, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Yes, I’m sorry, Mr Leighton, that this means you have to return but I’m grateful for your indulgence. Normally, if a witness doesn’t complete their evidence on a given day, they are asked not to discuss that evidence with others until it is completed but I think, in your case, that’s unrealistic – if you want to, that is – particularly since we don’t actually know when you’re going to return.

So there is no embargo upon you discussing the evidence you’ve given but I would encourage you not to. Can I put it in that way?

The Witness: You can, sir.

Sir Wyn Williams: Right. I think we’re starting at 9.45 tomorrow, is that right, Mr Stevens?

Mr Stevens: Yes, that’s correct sir, we’re hearing from Rodric Williams.

Sir Wyn Williams: Fine. So 9.45 tomorrow, thank you.

Mr Stevens: Thank you.

(4.11 pm)

(The hearing adjourned until 9.45 am the following day)