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Filed oniehalf ol the: Defendant

Witness: M, R. Haworth

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THE POST OFFICE GROUP LITIGATION
Claim Nos: HQ16X01238, HO17X02637 and He17X04248

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
. ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE

BETWEEN:

ALAN BATES & OTHERS
Claimants

AND

POST OFFICE LIMITED
Defendant

WITNESS STATEMENT OF MICHAEL RICHARD HAWORTH

I, MICHAEL RICHARD HAWORTH of Finsbury Dials, 20 Finsbury St, London EC2Y gAQ
WILL SAY as follows:

1. I am a Network Engagement Manager for Post Office Limited (Post Office). I am
authorised to make this statement on behalf of Post Office.

2. The facts set out in this statement are within my own knowledge, or if they are
outside my knowledge, I have explained the source of my information or belief.

3. ln this statement:

3.1 the term Subpostmaster is used to generally refer to agents of Post Olfice
who operate branches on its behalf, including Subpostmasters,
subpostmistresses, postmasters, franchisees and operators.

3.2 paragraph references are to paragraphs of the lndividual Particulars of
Claim (IPOC) of Lead Claimant Mr Mohammad Sabir (Mr Sabir), unless
otherwise stated.

BACKGROUND

4. During the lasl 39 years, I have had a variety of different roles with Post Office. ln
Octobel| 978, I started my career with Post Office as a counter clerk in

Blackburn. I progressed to become a training instructor in the mid 1980s in the
North West district. I then moved into the Financial Accounting Team around the

AC 1509S8347
Glaim Nos: HQ16X01238, HQ17X0263i and HQ17X04248

time that Post Office Counters Limited was incorporated in 1987. lapplied to be
and was appointed as the Financial Accounts Manager in the North Wales and
North West district in the mid 1990s. ln around 2000 I moved into the Retail

Network side of the business as a Retail Network Manager. My patch was in
West Lancashire.

5. lmoved into the Contracts Manager role in around 2003120A4, where lremained
until 2010 (at which time I began my current role). It is my work in my role as
Contracts Advisor, and in particular the aspect of this role which required me to
interview applicants for appointment as Subpostmaster. During that time I

interviewed hundreds of applicants.

o- This statement {ocuses on my interview of the Lead Claimant, Mr Sabir

concerning his application to be appointed a Subpostmaster.

INTERVIEW OF MR SABIR

7. lhave been informed by Post Office's solicitors that Mr Sabir was the

Subpostmaster at the Post Office branches located at 4 the Parade, Cottingley,
BD l6 1 RP (the Cottingley Branch) and 33A Keighley Road, Bingley, BD16 2EZ
(the Crossllatts Branch).

o. Since this was more than 12 years ago, and as lhave carried out so many
interviews, I can no longer recall interviewing Mr Sabir. However, I have been
shown a number of documents, referred to in this statement, which I am satisfied
confirm that I did in fact inlerview him. For example, my handwriting appears on
the Returned Interview File Tick List dated 10 July 2006 along with that of
Caroline Richards, with whom I carried out interviews at the relevant time
{POL-0030280} .

L I would have conducted the interview of Mr Sabir in the same way that I

conducted interviews for all other applicants around that time. I alWays followed a
structured tormat for all interviews I conducted. I used my own personal specific
interview file to ensure I covered the same key points in each interview. Due to
the passage of time and change of roles I no longer have this tile.

10. The standard order of the interviews I conducted was:

10.1 Asking the applicant questions on the various competencies Post Office
was seeking in an aPPlicant;

10,2 Running through the 'brief summary of certain sections of the

Subpostmaster's contract'(which ldetail further below in paragraph 13 of

AC 150998347
Claim Nos: HO16X01238, HO'17X02637 and HQ17X04248

my statement), together with other areas set out in the interview checklist
(this checklist is referenced in more detail in the witness statements of
Elaine Ridge and Brian Trotter);

10.3 Checking whether the applicant had any questions and answering any
questions they might have had; and

10.4 Going through any next steps envisaged up until the day of transfer, which
included stating that the auditor would carry out an audit prior to the
transfer ofihe branch.

'11. I would make my own notes during the interview summarising the points on the
'lnterview Notes' document, which I would then review and score the applicant
against the scoring framework {POL-0030280}.

12. I had set questions which I
would ask applicants to cover the various
competencies. I would expand on my set list of questions if an applicant was
particularly weak in any area. I was involved in creating the list of questions, and
this was later circulated to the other Contract Advisors who as far as I am aware
worked from this same list. II I was leading an interview I would give a copy of my
standard list of questions to whomever else I was conducting the interview with.

13 ln paragraph 8 of the IPOC, Mr Sabir alleges that Post Office did not explain the
terms or the application ol the terms prior to his appointment. As part of all
recruitment interviews, I would run through the "brief summary of certain sections
of the Subpostmaster's contract', which was included in the invitation to interview
letter, such as the one sent to Mr Sabir {C-0003677i . I kept a copy of this
document in my interview file which I always referred to, to ensure I covered all
contractual aspects, and so I would have discussed some of the terms with Mr
Sabir. From what I can remember, from 2003/4 (when I started working in the
Contract Advisor Team) onwards, it contained elements below. I would explain to
the applicant that:

13.1 The Subpostmaster's contract is a contract for services and not a contract
of employment, therefore, personal service is not required.

13.2 The Subpostmaster is responsible, whether in the branch or not, for the
performance and operation of the branch, including the actions of their
assistants.

'13.3 The Subpostmaster is responsible for staffing the branch and for the
training of their staff, and they need to register them with Post Office.

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Claim Nos: HQI6X01238, HO17XO263i and HQ17X04248

13.4 The Subpostmaster was responsible for any losses and gains identilied in

the branch accounts, whether incurred by themselves or others. I would
give the same example in each interview to put this into context. I would
set the scenario of a Subposlmaster taking a bank deposit and mis-keying
t90 for t900. I would explain that if this happened, they would have to
cover the t8'10 difference and so it was a good idea to have a contingency
of cash to cover any such shorlfalls, I did also make it clear that if for
example, payment wasn't taken from a customer or incorrect cash was
paid out to a customer, then these were errors which they were fully
responsible for making good. I would also cover that, in contrast, the
branch could sometimes make a gain. Again, I made it clear that if there
was a gain, this was most likely down to an error and that the accounts
should always balance.

13.5 Post Office couldn't guarantee that the remuneration it paid in respect of
the branch would remain the same as the estimated remuneralion in the
Ietter enclosing the application form (as sent to Mr Sabir on 18 May 2006

{POL-0030259} ), as Post Office could change the products and services it
offered at the branch from time to time. I would give an example such as
withdrawing the service of providing motor vehicle licences if the DVLA
decided that it no longer required tax discs.

13.6 The Subpostmaster was required regularly to produce accounts in the form
required by Post Office.

13.7 That the 3 month notice period worked both ways, whether Post Office or
the Subpostmaster wanted to end the relationship. I would give an

example such as the Subpostmaster wanting to solely focus on the retail
element of their business. Although it was unpleasant to talk about at an
if something untoward happened such as a
interview, I would say that
major breach of contract, Post Otfice could end the relationship
immediately wiihout giving 3 months' notice.

14. When I explained the extracts of the contract during an interview, I always
mentioned that these were just 'a summary' of some of the important sections of
the contract. I would use the 5 page document enclosed with the standard
invitation to interview letter as guidance for the key terms I wanted to bring to the
applicant's attention {C-0003677} I used to use an analogy that the actual
contract was like a book and that the document I was reading from was only a few
pages of that book and contained a limited description of certain elements. I

would have made it clear to Mr Sabir that the contract was a long and detailed

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CIaim Nos: HQ16X01238, HQ17X02637 and He17X04248

document which he needed to read and understand with the benefit of advice if
he was successful with his application.

15. I would have mentioned to Mr Sabir that there were operational instructions which
were issued regularly, which would contain things such as accounting changes.
This was something I mentioned in all interviews. I would not discuss the
operations manual or any other instructions which Post Office provided to
Subpostmasters in any real detail, as this topic would be covered in his training
after he was appointed.

16. ln paragraph 10 of the IPOC Mr Sabir alleges that his records indicale that he
was told at interview that his appointment was conditional on a number of factors.
He appears to have inferred that I told him at interview that he was successful
subject to those conditions. I would not have informed Mr Sabir at the interview
that his application was successful (conditionally or otherwise).

17. ln paragraph 4 of the IPOC, Mr Sabir alleges that Post Office provided him with
the estimated remuneration for the Cottingley Branch and specified the hours for
which the Branch must remain open. I have also been shown a letter by Post
Office which was sent to Mr Sabir by the Agent Recruitment Team setting out the
proposed Conditions of Appointment (COA) before his interview {POL-0030259/2}
. I would have clarified and agreed the proposed COA with Mr Sabir during the
interview and advised that these would form part of any contractual otfer made if
successful, as this was something I would explain in every interview to an
applicant. I would have agreed the hours which the Branch must remain open for
during the interview with Mr Sabir. I can see this is referenced in his COA
{c-0000148} {PoL-0030340} {PoL-00301s2} {PoL-00301e8} {poL-0030205}
{POL-003021 6} {POL-0000433} .

18. ln paragraph'10.3, Mr Sabir alleges that he was informed that he would not be
appointed unless he agreed to provide personal service. When I was running
through the 'brief summary of certain sections of the Subpostmasler's contract'
and covering the 'contract for services' element, I would have asked Mr Sabir
what his intentions were in relation to providing personal service. I would be
seeking to ascertain whether he intended to provide, on average, a minimum of
'lB hours personal service aweek atthe branch. lf so, Iwould have mentioned

the holiday substitution allowance. This topic would also be considered in the
context of his business plan to ensure he had sufficient staffing of the branch.
Whether or not Mr Sabir intended to provide any personal service was noi
something that I would have referred to as a condition of his appointment, and his
appointment would not have been conditional on personal service. I would not

AC 1509S8347
Claim Nos: HQ16X01238, HQl7X02637 and HQ17X04248

have said that as I knew that personal service is not required from
Subpostmasters.

19. ln paragraph 20, Mr Sabir alleges that he was not advised to seek independent
legal advice. I would have told every applicant at interview (including Mr Sabir)
that if they were successful, it would be advisable to take independent legal
advice before signing their agreement to the contract. I always gave this advice.

24. ln paragraphs 79 and 80, Mr Sabir alleges that Post Otfice was his agent for a
number of speciflc purposes. I would never have agreed that Post Office would
act as Mr Sabir's agent. I always made it very clear that the Subpostmaster
acted as Post Office's agent.

STATEMENT OF TRUTH

I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.

Signed: r() le.

Date: 23 August 2018

AC_1s0998347