'We've done it, we've wasted further time!' Judge raps HP over Mike Lynch court scrutiny

Mr Justice Hildyard questions mountains of old deal paperwork

Autonomy Trial The judge presiding over HPE and Mike Lynch's titanic courtroom clash has told HPE's lawyer to get to the point of his marathon cross-examination of Autonomy's former CEO.

Barrister Robert Miles QC, Lynch's lawyer, questioned in court earlier this week "whether it's really cross-examination at all" for HPE's barrister to take Lynch through "documents which essentially my learned friend is asking the witness to comment on, which he has no involvement with".

For the past three weeks Lynch, the former CEO of Autonomy, has been cross-examined by HPE barrister Laurence Rabinowitz QC. By taking Lynch through documents at the time of his company's fateful acquisition by Hewlett Packard (as was) in August 2011, Rabinowitz hopes to prove that Lynch knew Autonomy was fraudulently bulking out its revenues to make itself look like a tempting takeover target.

Mr Justice Hildyard, sitting on the judicial bench above the courtroom, observed to HPE's barrister: "Well, Mr Rabinowitz, it is a very long cross-examination," adding: "I am beginning to feel now, that if the witness says that he had no involvement, to quiz him on the basis that he did have some involvement without ever being able to show any documentation suggestive of that is not right."

Rabinowitz demurred, at which point the judge spoke over him to say: "When I come to write the judgment, which is after all the purpose of this entire business, to see where the truth of the matter lies in my view, there is a danger that the true involvement of Dr Lynch will have become obscured in a welter of documentation in which he was not a participant."

Down but not out, Rabinowitz replied: "Of course this witness doesn't just deal with his own knowledge or his own involvement. He consistently comments in his witness statements about things that have been shown to him, emails that have been brought to his attention."

The barrister added that his courtroom strategy was to take Lynch to emails relating to events he commented on in his written witness statement – such as Autonomy's transactions with reseller Microtech and end customer Bank of America – "to show him that the impression that he seeks to give here... is not correct".

Evidently unimpressed, Mr Justice Hildyard, normally very judicious in his observations during the Autonomy trial, said: "You were going to take us to a series of emails with respect to this, seeking to tie in, in some way, from his responses or from the addressees or circulees of the email, the involvement of Dr Lynch. If that is so, well, of course you must take me to them in due course with such lead-up as you reasonably require. If it is not, we may have done this."

A wounded Rabinowitz riposted: "I was literally just addressing the point that he refers to in his witness statement."

"OK, so is that the last reference?" asked the judge, which Rabinowitz, lulled into a false sense of security, confirmed. Exasperation boiling over, Mr Justice Hildyard then blasted: "Well, in that case it was both too late and too early. There we are, we've done it, we've wasted further time!"

The Autonomy trial continues. It is set to break next Thursday (1 August) for the summer holidays. El Reg will be rounding up the thrust of the evidence from this week and covering Lynch's re-examination by his own lawyers next week. ®

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