back to article I miss him already, says judge as Mike Lynch's court marathon ends

The judge in the long-running Autonomy trial has joked that it's a "very strange feeling" not to see the British firm's former CEO in the witness box after Mike Lynch's marathon testimony to the High Court finally ended. Rounding off Lynch's four solid weeks of giving evidence about what happened before and after Autonomy plc …

  1. JuJuBalt

    Rab-c-nesbit....perhaps they were friends,as well as colleagues?

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      That will need to be in-vest-igated.

  2. macjules Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Thinking of the poor children ..

    I do still hold some small hope that Deloitte will be called to account for their role in the Autonomy fiasco. Are they scheduled to be called to the stand?

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

      Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

      Deloitte haven't done anything wrong. Here, anyway.

      In general, most people seem to have completely the wrong idea of what auditors do, and criticise them for not doing it. In fact auditors (mostly) only audit the accounts, not the underlying business, and so only report on whether the books add up. Competent fraudsters will pass an audit until it all falls apart.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        And, I seem to remember from one of the first trial reports, that Mad Leo signed off on the purchase before the auditors had a chance to file their completed audit reports.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        I find that strange. After all auditors, at least around here, have two jobs. The first is to check the books on behalf of the owners of the company so as to not be beholden to what the CEO says. And if you don't go into details you sure have a new Enron coming up. The second part is to report to the authorities/Companies House and have the status published after independent auditing, and that is to be independent even of the owners.

        I am on the board of a small company and part of my job is to check these things. Also we have a subsidiary, and if the auditors didn't go into details they would be practically useless.

        I used to be a quality assurance auditor and I once used these skills to audit the auditing, and found big, gaping holes in the verification. You would have thought they did the job more thorough after that, especially as the company struggled. But no, just a few years later it came to light that the CEO had embezzled large sums and the auditors were given an ear full by the court for not having discovered this. At least the court found grounds for criticising the auditors.

        Anonymous, since the company still exists, barely.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

          Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

          What auditors do is audit the accounts, to check that they're reasonable from a tax and accounting perspective. What they don't do is e.g. check with a bank that the cash claimed to be held in an account is actually there - unless there's some red flag, of course.

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        "In general, most people seem to have completely the wrong idea of what auditors do, and criticise them for not doing it."

        You mean like Arthur Andersen? IIRC they were extremely incompetent fraudsters in regards to Enron.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

      Are they scheduled to be called to the stand?

      As this trial is being held in the UK can we have witness box please? I regard "stand" as an imported abomination.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        Your hono(u)r, I object! I object to language changing! I object to English absorbing new words and phrases from other languages, and in particular, I object to legacy English absorbing bits of these new-fangled offshoot dialects! English should remain pure and unsullied by adaptation, just as it has since Chaucer's time!

        1. I sound like Peter Griffin!!
          Headmaster

          Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

          "..The established convention for submitting an objection in opposition to witness statement is to state 'Objection!', followed by < the legal grounds proposed to be pertinent to support said objection > .

          As you have failed to align your attempt at an objection with this long-established convention, your attempt is over-ruled as invalid in front of the court, and you are hereby warned to realign or be in contempt of court.

          Please continue, Council (Commswonk).."

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Coat

          Yeah, well turn off the Internet then, because otherwise, all is lost.

          Ah, who am I kidding. All is lost.

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        So you are taking a stand about the use of taking the stand?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        "As this trial is being held in the UK can we have witness box please? I regard "stand" as an imported abomination."

        Tough if you're in a wheelchair to stand.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

          "Tough if you're in a wheelchair to stand."

          Taking the stand does not require one to physically stand. Most of the time, "taking the stand" involves sitting in a chair.

      4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        As this trial is being held in the UK can we have witness box please? I regard "stand" as an imported abomination.

        OK, but then someone will definitely have to take the stand. If you don't remove it there will be no space for the witness box.

        :)

      5. 's water music Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

        As this trial is being held in the UK can we have witness box please? I regard "stand" as an imported abomination.

        <fx>gavel drop</fx>

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

          tbh, I was unsure whether to upvote or downvote. Which means I should upvote I guess. But no, the objection to "gavel" is just too strong because while there is an English equivalent to "the stand", there is no equivalent to the gavel. English judges are not auctioneers.

          1. 's water music Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

            duh -----------------------------------------------------------------------------^

        2. Ken Shabby Bronze badge

          Re: Thinking of the poor children ..

          As the trial is being held int eh UK, there is no gavel. The gavel as an imported abomination in a court of law.

  3. john.jones.name
    Mushroom

    emails not stored on the server ?

    does nobody else finds it ironic that Mike Lynch made a point of not "storing" his emails on the Autonomy/HP server

    Its like he didnt have a backup either...

    he founded a discovery company and now in court is relying on the fact Autonomy didnt keep a record... If I was HP barrister I would at least point that out and at the same time be asking for a full transcript of all the emails and backups from Autonomy/HP and putting them into encase etc for a full search...

    scary

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: emails not stored on the server ?

      does nobody else finds it ironic that Mike Lynch

      It would be interesting to see the ones flying around HP.......

      "We've bought a lemon and we didn't do our due diligence properly, who are we going to get to carry the can on this one to save our phoney baloney jobs ?"

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: emails not stored on the server ?

      He knew very well what happened to Enron.

      Anyway it looks there's a lot he didn't knew, even where his new venture was incorporated...

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: emails not stored on the server ?

      does nobody else finds it ironic that Mike Lynch made a point of not "storing" his emails on the Autonomy/HP server

      No. It's mentioned elseware that emails were sent to his personal address, which would probably mean that like most high level managers he decided that the company rules don't apply to him and that he can have his emails forwarded to his personal gmail/hotmail account so that he can use them on his iPhone. Hence, no emails from him on the mailserver as they went through gmail etc rather than the onsite mailserver.

  4. Benson's Cycle

    Four weeks

    If you have to cross-examine someone for four weeks, what does that mean?

    [ ] 1. You are extracting loads of dirt

    [ ] 2. You don't have anything and are on a fishing expedition

    [ ] 3. You are hoping they will get so tired they can make a mistake which you can jump on

    [ ] 4. You are going to buy a yacht from this case.

    [ ] 5. All of 2-4 inclusive.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds

      Re: Four weeks

      2 & 4 - I'll fish from my new yacht.

    2. EveryTime Silver badge

      Re: Four weeks

      You are missing several options

      The witness is a slippery eel that has had years to refine non-responsive testimony.

      The lawsuit revolves around subtleties such as the fine line between exaggeration vs fraud, and ego vs incompetence.

      If I were the judge, I'm pretty sure I would rule against the last side to testify. "No, I have no idea why we incorporated the next company in (insert tax haven here)." "No, I don't know enough about the business to understand why that categorization of revenue was misleading or fraudulent" "No, it's completely normal to have email about a billion dollar deal never logged and immediately deleted".

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Four weeks

        That excellent judge Pickles J once remarked that there is plenty of behaviour that is annoying or antisocial but that the law should not get involved in.

        If the line is fine between exaggeration and fraud, and ego versus incompetence, perhaps this is such a case.

        The thing is, and assuming you for a moment to be correct, any half decent C-suite executive should be able to spot a "slippery eel" a mile off. It's part of what is supposed to justify their enormous emoluments; business experience. A failure in that regard might cause one to doubt their competence. (My father often commented on the number of cases he was involved in where the plaintiff was basically trying to cover up his incompetence from his boss.)

        I have marginally mixed feelings about some fraudsters. Madoff is a good example. Apparently intelligent people were lured by greed into investments which had a rate of return which anybody with half a brain could see was impossible. Then there were the Icelandic banks. I knew a couple of very arrogant people who really believed that they could get a safe 6% out of an unknown bank in a country with practically no economy. They got burned. One of them had bought a house in Greece intending to pay the mortgage with the 6% from Iceland. Frankly, I think they got a valuable lesson about their own financial ability.

      2. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Four weeks

        Be a lot easier to have sympathy for HP if they weren't a flaming dumpster fire under clueless Leo and that criminal board they had. No good guys in this story.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aimless questioning?

    Does it really help to establish that Mike Lynch was consulted by a colleague who had worked with him for more than a decade before resigning? Does it help if it was established that he told that colleagure to be more circumspect in accepting responsibility for the business performing worse than expected?

    I am struggling to see how any of this helps HP's case. The general impression is of a drowning man deperately flaying around and grabbing anything in the hope that it mght help and probably can't hurt.

    It is dangerous to comment on a court case you do not attend but based on what has been reported so far the case seems to verge on the vexatious. OK HP have alleged some relatively minor frauds but even if everything HP has alleged is accepted then it is difficult to see how that woud make have made a significant difference to the purchase price of Autonomy. Actually many of HP's claims seem weak or can be interpreted as normal or appropriate which makes the case still more puzzling. If there is a judgement against HP it will be more damaging than never taking the case at all. If there is a judgement with caustic remarks from the judge on the weakness of the case and whether it should ever have been taken to court that will be still more damaging to the reputation of those involved.

    Is this part of a continuing toxic managment culture where a strategy is set from above and no one can argue against it?

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Aimless questioning?

      The whole suit seemed to be based on trying to recover losses incurred from badly overpaying for and subsequently mangling Autonomy. Apparently there is no stomach or legal grounds to go after Leo the Galactic Idiot.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: Aimless questioning?

        Apotheker was appointed by the Board of HP. The buck stopped at the very top.

        It's very difficult to go after someone when their appointment calls your judgement into question.

        Especially when the possible reward is small compared to the probable outlay. You might succeed in bankrupting the defendant. You haven't got a penny back, you never will, and the potential recruitment pool for the CEO job just shrank to vanishing point as the possible candidates decided the risk wasn't worth it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aimless questioning?

      No, I don't think it does help HP at all. It seems a trivial sideline, and I'm guessing that judges tend not to look favourably on their time being wasted on trivialities. The lack of a complaint from this judge about such a waste of time doesn't bode well I suspect, given that he has complained about previous inaneties. I take it to indicate that he's just been looking forward to getting it all over and done with for now - the judicial equivalent of "Please let it stop, please"...

      I share your suspicion about the management culture. I think that the object of the deal was to have made "The Big Deal", to have ended up with that on the CV, rather than to enhance the business of HP itself.

      The problem with having a nationally pervasive manamgement culture of this sort, such I as I think exists quite widely in the US (if not elsewhere too) is that it amounts to very large organisations kidding themselves to the extent of doing harm to a national economy. If you're a very large and obstensibly profitable company it's easy to kid oneself that you're doing it right; however, it's very easy to actually be underperforming badly, hinting at downturns coming up; a competitor is doing better, or reading the political currents more accurately.

      One could level such a charge at Boeing; fantastic financial results over a fairly good period of time (helped by some imaginative accounting in the 787 programme) have lead to a very serious threat to the company, with no end in sight, a very spooked customer base, and orders now seemingly drying up all over. Google and Facebook too; gross levels of short term monetary greed, likely at the expense of long term sustainability (the lack of which will be somebody else's problem, namely the shareholders who currently don't have a vote).

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