Framed By The Frogs

CHAPTER 21
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After the exposure of Steve Wilson’s lies and the humiliation of Carolyn Sample on the Witness Stand, what can I say except that perhaps Renault should really have chosen its witnesses more carefully?

 

Certainly Renault's lawyers should have done some better planning on Trial strategy because, having bet on Steve Wilson and Carolyn Sample to set the tone and tempo for its case before His Lordship, and then lost the bet somewhat spectacularly, Renault’s only real chance to restore authority at the Trial is now in the form of one Toby Johnstone, Esquire.

 

However, despite being the chief witness for Renault, the man who was right up at the pointy end on the supply of cars through the BALPA account, Renault is so concerned about his viability as a witness that they have put him third in the running order.  And for the first time so far in the Trial, I think Renault will be proved right in its decision.

 

Because whatever shortcomings Toby might have otherwise had as a witness, they are likely to have multiplied whilst he has been sitting in Court for the past two days watching the gruesome carve up of Steve Wilson and Carolyn Sample.  And having watched every excruciating moment of their cross-examinations from the back of the Courtroom, as Toby takes the Oath he must be wondering just what the Hell we have in store for him.  Which is making me smile.

 

Again, Laura has been briefed.  As with Steve Wilson, Toby was also a recent new-comer to fatherhood and his wife had, I think, been made redundant shortly after sales had commenced through the BALPA account, which must have placed a financial strain on him.

 

In addition, whilst Carolyn and Steve were corporate people managing business relationships, Toby was a ‘street-fighting’ salesman; he was out on the front line and responsible for bringing in sales one by one. 

Toby Johnstone was savvy and capable of ducking and diving in the world of trading cars, and by that I don’t just mean selling cars, I mean real metal-trading, with all the manoeuvring necessary to get a sale.  But that doesn't bode well for us - whatever he could get away with on the dealership forecourt he might well try to get away with on the Witness Stand.

 

Armed with that, Laura has made a start, setting off with the seemingly innocent.  What is Toby’s salary?  £16,000pa.  And his commission on each car sold through the BALPA account?  £50 per car.  So what is his total annual commission?  Maybe £16,000 a year, which means that commissions make up half Toby’s annual earnings. 

And it also means that the 220 or so cars sold through the BALPA account must have accounted for over £10,000 of that commission.  Nearly 2/3rds of Toby Johnstone's entire year’s commission came solely from the cars sold under the BALPA account, and not far short of a third of his total annual income for that year.

 

Think about that for a moment.  Just like Toby Johnstone would have.  Little wonder that Toby would initially go to great lengths to protect the Golden Goose of the BALPA account, and therefore me.  Like tipping me off when Steve Wilson was going to ‘challenge’ me about the cars sold under the BALPA account.

 

But no wonder too that in his Witness Statements he subsequently denied everything.  Presumably if he admitted that he knew all along what was happening then Renault might just have come to him and said ‘Toby, it’s time you paid back your commission from the BALPA account.’.  Or worse.  Ouch.

 

So Toby, Laura continued, what is it like at Renault Croydon?  Well there is a team of people.  Toby, his line manager Pam Hillman, also about four other support staff who sit just outside Toby’s office door, and up until about December 2005 there had been another salesman, Keith Hayles, plus an assistant for Pam, Amanda Veness. 

 

And then the scene setting was over and Laura began once again to close the net.  How many other affinities schemes did Toby manage for Renault Croydon?  Just one, the Civil Service Motoring Association scheme that Carolyn Sample had mentioned in her testimony.  And did he sell lots of cars through it?  No, not to begin with.  It had grown slowly.

 

So how come in his Witness Statement Toby had claimed ‘In my experience affinity schemes either take off, or flop and, on average, you would probably only expect orders for in the region of 5 or 6 vehicles in the first month.’

 

In what ‘experience’ exactly?  Hadn’t Toby just told the Court that he only had one other affinity scheme, the CSMA, so how could he claim to be an expert on them?  And as far as car sales were concerned, there were over twenty orders under the BALPA account in the first thirty days, so wasn’t this was completely out of line with what Toby claimed to be his ‘experience’ of affinity schemes?

 

And speaking of the orders under the BALPA account, could Toby take a look in the evidence bundle in front of him at the first ever order?   The order was sent from me to Toby via e-mail.  Attached to the e-mail was an electronic file, named ‘PO 050609-0003 - ecarservices - Renault Grand Scenic 2.0 VVT Dynamique Pearl Black.doc’.

 

Now what all that gobbledy-gook meant was actually quite simple.  It was a purchase order number 050609-0003 for a car sold to ‘eCarservices’, one of the best known car brokers on the Internet at that time, for a Renault Grand Scenic motor car in black.

 

And what did Toby do when he got the e-mail?  He opened the attached order file.  And to do that he would have to look at the attachment and click on its name wouldn’t he?  Of course he would, but Toby is claiming that he did not see the word ‘ecarservices’ in the name of the attachment, even though there was no attempt by me to hide it and even though, after Toby had clicked on the attachment, the file name would have been right in front of him, sat at the top of the screen, where file names are displayed in Microsoft Word, all the time Toby was reading the order.

 

So let’s move on.  Though not too far.  Because just two weeks after the orders commenced Toby received a rather peculiar order form from me.  So could Toby now take a look at another document in the evidence bundle before him please?  This e-mail order also had a file attached.  The name?  ‘VO b2b050623-0013-ecarservices-Marshall-Renault Grand Scenic 1.9dci 130 Privilege Ink Blue.pdf’

 

Once again the file name showed eCarservices.  But there was more to it than this.  Much, much more.  You see, the document attached to the e-mail I sent to Toby Johnstone wasn’t a purchase order to Renault Croydon at all. 

Due to my total bungling incompetence as an alleged ‘fraudster’, instead of sending a purchase order to Renault Croydon I had actually sent Toby a copy of a completed order confirmation document that had already been sent that morning to eCarservices.

 

The document that I had inadvertently sent to Toby had everything in it about the car and the order, right down to the accessories and the car’s colour.  It was meant to confirm to eCarservices that their order had been received and processed. 

So what Toby got from me instead of a normal car order form was a document that set out quite clearly that I was supplying a car broker called ‘eCarservices’ with a brand new Renault.  Hmmm.  Now where would I have got one of those cars from?

 

And when Toby got this e-mail, clicked on the file name and opened the attachment what happened?  Well, Toby’s sense of humour took over.  Probably as a prank Toby actually rang me.  Not only that, but he called me not on my normal business number or mobile phone number, but on the separate telephone number reserved for the broker service.  Now this was a telephone number that did not appear on any business stationery used by me other than the broker stationery, so there was no way Toby could have got the number from any other source than the letter heading on the order confirmation form I had mistakenly sent to him.

 

And when I answered the phone, Toby said something like ‘Gotcha’ and asked if the broker service was where all the orders were coming from.  And, after my initial surprise at getting a call from Toby on the broker phone line and some discussion about the BALPA account I told Toby that the broker service was the source of all the orders.  Then I asked if Toby had any problems with that.  ‘No, not all’ was his response.

 

Of course, in his Witness Statements Toby denied all of this.  And I have no proof that this conversation ever took place.  I could have made it all up. Except for just one thing.  Renault has the proof.  You see, if Renault looks at its telephone bill for Renault Croydon for June 2005, on the day that the call took place, it will see the phone number that Toby dialled to speak to me.


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Renault knows the number.  The details were all in my Witness Statements.  So Renault could have wiped the floor with me on this one, all it had to do was produce Renault Croydon’s telephone bill at the Trial and show that the call never happened. 

If I had been in Renault's position I would certainly have done that.  It would have been a massive blow to my credibility as a witness, as I had made detailed claims about the conversation with Toby Johnstone in my Witness Statements and a huge element of my reputation and credibility as a witness stood or fell on this point.

 

But no, strangely, no telephone bill was ever produced.  I wonder why Renault didn’t produce it?  Unless, of course, the telephone number was on the bill.

 

But back to Toby's testimony.

So Toby, after the phone conversation, what did you do with this new e-mail and its attachment?  Well, he sent it back to me.  Why?   He just sent it back to me as it wasn’t an order.  Then why send it back to me, why not delete it?  He just sent back to me.

 

Now by this time even His Lordship, who had already put up with the denials of Steve Wilson and Carolyn Sample for two days, was getting rather exasperated with Toby.  He asked why Toby hadn’t simply deleted the e-mail.  Toby couldn’t explain why.  But Laura could.  Toby had sent the document back to me to show me what I had mistakenly sent to him, so I could see the order confirmation document for myself.

 

And what happened next?  I sent Toby the actual order for the car.  The same car as in the order confirmation document I had mistakenly sent to Toby and which Toby had just sent back to me.

 

And what did Toby do with the order for a car that he knew was for a car broker, not for a BALPA member?  Why he processed it as normal. 

But didn’t he think it odd to have just received an order for a car which he knew was the same as the one being sold by me to a broker?  No.

Hadn’t he just seen the order confirmation document sent to the broker for exactly the same car?  He didn’t think about it like that, he just took the order.  Knowing it was for a car broker?  But still using the BALPA account? 

And so Laura’s cross-examination of Toby went on.  Remorseless.  And absolutely pitiless.  As it deserved to be.

 

Laura continued.  On 16 August I sent Toby orders for four more cars, all of them in the same e-mail.  Four Renault Megane 1.5dci Oasis 5 door models.  The cars were identical except for the colour.  Absolutely identical.  Now who orders batches of identical cars?  Why companies do, for the fleets they run to provide company cars to their employees.

 

Let’s face it, the chances of four airline pilots simultaneously ordering the same cars on the same day by coincidence are probably less than my chances of growing an extra penis (notwithstanding my temporary extra scrotum following the previous weekend’s impromptu flying lesson).

 

And there was more.  When these four cars were ready to be registered, I sent Renault Croydon the insurance cover note for the cars.  In the name of RHA Telecom, of Folkstone , Kent .  So the insurance certificate wasn’t even in the name of an individual (who could then, conceivably, be a pilot), but a telecoms company (which couldn’t).

 

So Toby denied seeing the insurance certificate.  These went to the support staff at the dealership, he claimed.  Yet as the account manager he would have had day-to-day use of the files for every car order as he went about his account management business, and even if he had missed the insurance certificate in the file, what about the support staff outside his door?  Didn’t any one of them raise the issue of orders allegedly for airline pilots being supported by an insurance certificate in the name of a telecoms company?  No, Toby said it wasn’t their job and no one discussed these sorts of things.

 

But if the support staff never talked about these things, then how come, as I set out in my second Witness Statement, Toby Johnstone told me that one of the support staff, Jennie Tomlin, had wandered into Toby’s office one day and jokingly expressed her surprise at seeing an order actually for BALPA?  (The association had actually ordered a company car for one of its employees.)  How come knowledge of what was going on with the BALPA account was so widespread at Renault Croydon that the staff found it to be a joke that a car going through the BALPA account was actually a genuine BALPA car?

 

Toby said it wasn’t true, the conversation with Jennie Tomlin had never happened.  I must have made it up.  In which case Toby, as you had advance notice of this evidence in my Witness Statement, why wasn’t Jennie Tomlin asked to give a Witness Statement to deny what I had said?  Perhaps because Renault couldn’t persuade Jennie Tomlin to lie?

 

And so it continued.  Why had the staff at Renault Croydon not queried any of the other ‘unusual’ insurance certificates for cars ordered through the BALPA account?  The other ones in company names for SMMS Ltd and Advantage Business Group Ltd?

 

Why had Toby’s boss, Pam Hillman, first telephoned me, and then e-mailed me, to let me know that one purchaser, The Gas Transportation Company, had called her?  They had asked her to arrange for a car that was being ordered for them through the BALPA account to be registered to them at their company address, rather than in the name of one of their employees, as had originally been put on the order form sent to Renault Croydon.  And Toby, didn’t this mean that your boss Pam Hillman knew all about what was going on as well?

 

There was just no let up for Toby on the witness stand as Laura hounded him.  Point after point.  A car ordered for a Mr Kelly was covered by an insurance certificate in his name but addressed to him care of the, by now, very well known eCarservices.

 

And then Toby, what about an e-mail to me from one of the other Renault Croydon support staff, Lisa McSherry?  Lisa had e-mailed me about a customer who was proving to be a problem at the car delivery handover.  When presented with the handover documents to sign off, she had said to the delivery driver that, in Lisa’s words, she ‘…. does not want to sign the keeper/reg doc paperwork as it states c/o fleetpro but she has no idea who you are! Can you explain the situation with her’?

 

Well, if the customer was an airline pilot, Toby, and buying through BALPA’s appointed affinity scheme agents, my company FleetPro, how come she didn’t know who we were?  Surely she would have known who she was buying a car from?  Unless of course she did know exactly who she was buying the car from, but she was buying the car from the broker to whom I had sold it.  And because of this she wouldn’t have had a clue about who we were, as we were the unseen ‘middlemen’ in the deal.

 

And Toby, how many doctors does it take to fly an airplane?  Because six of them bought cars through the BALPA account and all had their cars registered by Renault Croydon under the title ‘Dr’ followed by their names.  Why?  Because that was what was on their insurance certificates.

 

Well, Toby thought that it wasn’t unreasonable that pilots could be married to doctors.  OK, Toby, maybe, but six doctors out of just two hundred and twenty orders?  Crikey Toby, how many doctors do you think there are in the county, and how many of them do you think are married to pilots, and how many of them would have wanted to buy a Renault in the short life of the BALPA account?  And what about the car for a Professor?  Professor of what?  How to flap your arms and fly?

 

And then there was the case of the dud diesel engine.  Remember the one that Steve Wilson had already been cross-examined about?  When Toby was asked to sort out a demonstration car for the customer, didn’t he think it odd that a steel fabrication company had bought a car through the BALPA account?  No, apparently not.

 

And then there was ….. well, I’m tempted to go on with Toby’s cross-examination, but I think you are probably getting the message by now.  It was not a pretty sight.

 

And all I can say is that, having seen what we’ve done to Toby, if this is a preview of what’s waiting for me at the hands of barrister Andrew Bruce, well it has scared me fartless.  And I’ve only been sitting back as a spectator to this carnage.  So God knows what it’s done to Toby, as he was in it.  Right in it.

 

Laura has trailed him and nailed him, hounded him for hours and now that he’s left the witness stand Toby Johnstone must be punch drunk from denying everything that has been put to him.  It wasn’t me, I knew nothing, these things did not concern me, I didn’t get involved.  On the Witness Stand and in his Statements, over and over the denials have just kept coming, all variations on the same theme.  And none of them believable.

 

And yet, Toby, you trousered the commission cheques all along.  And you made sure you could keep the money by saying anything that you could think of to try and weasel your way out of any responsibility for what happened with the BALPA account.  And you knew it was all lies.  Shame on you.  Shame on you.


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