Stephen Dilley of Womble Bond Dickinson

giving evidence to the Post Office Inquiry now:

Joshua Rozenberg's article:

In my experience this type of behaviour is par for the course for plenty of litigation solicitors, who make up for a lack of legal acumen with aggression and pedantry. 

Before the trial itself, Castleton claimed that he was contacted by the Post Office’s solicitor Stephen Dilley, who urged him not to go ahead with a hearing and to drop his defence.

Castleton replied that he had to contest the claim as he had done nothing wrong, which he alleges prompted Dilley to say: ‘But Lee, we are the Post Office, we will ruin you.’ When Castleton reiterated that he would make his defence in court, Dilley said: ‘Lee, just listen, we will ruin you. Think of your family.’

Strike him off immediately.  What a fvcking khunt.

It is such a terrible tale.  But it seems also to hit a particular nerve for British society where we had this cute little trust role known as as sub-postmaster, someone who was entrusted with money and postal goods and lived locally and was one of a set: the vicar, the doctor, the postmaster/mistress, the postie, the greengrocer, the baker, the butcher...They trampled on it.

As a non-lawyer this is often my impression of you lot. Many lawyers take the duty to the client bit to extreme and that seems to block out any normal or decent approach to a situation. I can sort of understand it - they are paying you after all and it is an adverserial system. I think, overall, if I were innocent I'd prefer our system but if I were wronged I'd prefer another. 

Wot nana said. Generally speaking and without wishing to comment on any specific individuals of course, mainstream commercial litigators are all utter saddos who deserve to burn in hell. 

Part of the problem is undoubtedly inequality of arms, especially in civil law. I don't know the solution since restoring legal aid is unlikely to be popular given that most of the public don't ever need to use the law. Perhaps there should be some outright cap on costs when corporates are dealing with individual litigants, based on the individual's ability to pay - whether they are claimant or defendant? 

It's not client duty Crypto. Some of these fookers are bullies that genuinely love the power it brings.

This entire episode shows what can happen when horrid egotistical people can run unchecked, and unfortunately the way law firms are set up these days with all power to the biggest biller means morality comes a distant second, if not finding its tyres slashed at the start line. 

anyone else following his oral evidence? 

"Is it your contention that if you had used the phrase "ruin you", you would have recorded that phrase in your file note?

Fair enough, banana. Holding lawyers to account would probably help a bit, I think. It seems all the SRA does is strike off junior people for very stupid mistakes and the odd case of theft of client funds. The actual conduct of lawyers during matters seems to be a jungle. 

five stars for this comment on the news story:


Wombles Marketing Team 15 September 23 17:31

Stephen Dilley, a partner, is a beautiful and wise man who saves kittens and who definitely does not have underdeveloped empathic ability. Anyone who says he does is lying and / or a postmaster. 

As with other members of the Wombles Litigation unit his disputes advise adds real, practical value.

Long-term client relationships are important to us…Experts that recognise when cases should be fought and when swift, confidential resolution is the best course of action.

With one of the best litigation teams in the UK… Our approach is commercially focussed at every step…Resolving potential disputes before they arise is always our aim but, if that can’t be achieved, we move swiftly and robustly towards pursuing or defending litigation or arbitration.

Finally [add words in own text to make it sound like you don’t work here]. 

‘the vicar, the doctor, the postmaster/mistress, the postie, the greengrocer, the baker, the butcher’

You used to be able to include the local solicitor in this - rather like a notary, a trustworthy local keeper of public record 

now the ‘local’ solicitor works in a glass atrium in the nearest city, charges £450 an hour and threatens to ruin you…

Christ the stuff from the ‘auditor’ is fvcking outrageous

Nonetheless, the incorrectparagraph, stating (as quoted above) that “safe keys were left in the safe door and it was not secured… cash and stock were not secured… standard procedures for adjusting losses and gains were not adhered to (because losses were unauthorised) and personal cheques on hand had been incorrectly treated”, remained.

Mrs Rose had no explanation for this. The inquiry chair, Sir Wyn Williams, pointed out that she had signed a witness statement to the High Court containing information which she knew was wrong. He wanted to know why.

“I have no recollection of it. I’m sorry” said Mrs Rose.

Elsewhere in her 2006 witness statement to the High Court, Mrs Rose noted that during her audit, Lee Castleton went for lunch and came back “smelling strongly of alcohol”. This recollection was absent from her 2004 audit report. Asked why it was not in her audit report, but suddenly appeared in a witness statement to the High Court two years later, Mrs Rose said:

“I don’t know why that wasn’t in, or came later” said Mrs Rose.’

She should be prosecuted, her carelessness/idiocy ruined lives 


“Gosh that’s a good question that I would like to reflect upon “

woohahahahaha, riiiiight so in the years since the issue was made obvious to you you haven’t had the opportunity to reflect already Jebus but the enquiry Chairman/Counsel should be crushing any lawyer saying that 

without wishing to distract from the focus on the morally compromised involved in the persecution of postmasters…..

how many khunts like Dilley do we all know in our firms?

Love that hes trying to claim a spend of 3k is too much to be able to comply with disclosure.

Cvnt should be struck off, then be made to be my trainee if he wants to practice again.  

“No regrets “ other than a preference to have settled…

presumably he’d rather have settled cos that would have meant him not having to double down on this malodorous stance. Wot a human.

If his threat to Mr Castleton (that the PO would 'ruin him' if the case went ahead) was made, it's actually even more appalling behaviour than it first seems.

It appears that he didn't tell the poor bloke that the  majority of the PO's £321,000 in costs had already been racked up - so Mr C would be on the hook (and still ruined) for those if he didn't turn up, and it's just the trial costs that would be saved...

Julian Blake doing good work 

Dilley’s attempt to seem like a reasonable guy doing his best in a difficult situation undone by the constant “uh huhs” when Blake talking, the strained voice, the “jokes” about calling his IT helpdesk, the hand on chest (wot me guv). 

It’s in the transcript, both at beginning and in session before lunch he was asked if , now (fully aware of the injustice etc) he had any regrets .

 Other than a vague wish that the whole thing had settled rather than go to trial, the answer was,  no regrets

Hard agree on the unconvincing mannerisms and fake sounding “laughs” re IT help desks

I can’t wait to see if he sticks to this line in the next session 

*buys popcorn *

but what would settled mean? withdrawal of allegation of theft/fraud? costs? compensation? public apology? acknowledging fundamental software problems?

settling doesn’t really work unless it accepts that either he’s left fvcked over or PO open huge can of vipers. 

‘but what would settled mean? withdrawal of allegation of theft/fraud? costs? compensation? public apology? acknowledging fundamental software problems?‘

In this case probably that the other guy accepts the case as it stands and avoids the costs of a hearing. But will still have to pay this tw@t’s outrageous costs ofc.

disgraceful, tone deaf and morally bankrupt . can see why he is head of litigation or whatever he is

BDO finds evidence of Horizon problems. Dilley says don't disclose it, let's pick up the phone and see if Castleton will settle. That seems to be a fair summary of the evidence of the last 5-10 minutes.

‘the vicar, the doctor, the postmaster/mistress, the postie, the greengrocer, the baker, the butcher’

In this case, the vicar (who is also a CBE), was at the top of the Post Office sh1teheap, raining poop down upon the postmasters.  


I've dipped in and out over the afternoon and still can't believe a lawyer, let alone an experienced litigator, would put up such a poor performance under questioning. If I were looking for someone to represent me I think I'd go elsewhere. 

Asked at the outset by inquiry counsel Justin Blake whether he had anything to say to Castleton and his family, Dilley replied: ‘No I don’t think so.’


Dilley must be finished after this, surely? If there is a finding of fact that he actually made the ‘we will ruin you’ statements against a backdrop of there being new evidence the PO would have to disclose that undermined their case then surely the SRA have to look at that?! 

It’s worse than that - they didn’t leave the safe unlocked, she’d copied and pasted it from a generic report and then ‘forgot’ to remove it from her witness statement 

She should be prosecuted 

So they didn't disclose the many many thousands of complaints about the horizon system?

Or even tell the other side they existed?

Just chose not to?

Is that CPR compliant?

Putting aside his appalling manner, he claimed that the case against Lee Castleton was won on the basis of paper accounts and not Horizon, the implication being that whatever the bugs and defects in the software, and whether or not these should have been disclosed, Lee had in fact wrongfully accounted for transactions, so causing the debt to be due.  The inquiry counsel did not challenge this claim.  Was Dilley correct on this?

He said that the whole point of the case (where they knew they weren’t going to recover their costs) was to ‘robustly defend’ horizon 

I suspect a ‘win’ based on a paper ledger but with the conclusion that you can’t trust horizon as far as you can throw it would have been on the pyrrhic side 

I know this is a minor point. When I dipped into the session yesterday at one point he was asked about the Castleton case becoming a judgment precedent. He came up with another explanation about the use of a precedent as in a document precedent. It was rambling stuff. I thought Counsel for the Inquiry would pick him up on that point, as clearly it had nothing to do with a judgment precedent, but maybe it was so ridiculous, Counsel thought he would just leave that be. 

Dear Unimog

No, they just can’t escape the concept that they were the righteous and their opponents were the unrighteous. All the answers are bent to this precept.

Despite THE MOUNTAINS of evidence that the whole process of PO investigation (upon which the litigation was based) was not just deeply flawed but guaranteed to find fault whoever it looked at. But hay the lawyers couldn’t be at fault, after all they “thoroughly” fulfilled their discovery, obligations……

by insisting that discovery on IT faults shouldn’t cover other post offices. As explained yesterday, the issue was at that branch so there was no need to carry out discovery for other post offices.

but yeah sure the books prepped by an auditor that admitted they knowingly lied proved they were right all along 

hope that helps 

Thank you.  I’ve been following this for years since first in Private Eye, so agree with what you say, and also that the victory would have been pyrrhic had evidence of Horizon’s failings been substantiated.  My question was very narrow: if the ledger entries on which he was found liable in the high court were based exclusively on the dubious audits (by the unqualified auditor, who couldn’t remember anything and who made false witness statements), why was Dilley allowed to claim the case was won on paper entries without challenge?  

Wombles getting a surprising amount of support on the news article, but seemingly none from the regular posters. Suspicious? Are the marketing team up early today?

"Many lawyers take the duty to the client bit to extreme"

Agreed. And they forget about the duty to the Court bit, which is why (one hopes) we became lawyers in rhe first place. 

The funny thing is that if someone were caught being the beneficiary of such activities then that would probably extend the news cycle on this considerably…

Heh., dux I have never met a single lawyer in my life who wished to be come a lawyer to acquire a duty to the court...

Yeah, that's a new one for me too. 

do you think they got the IT to spend their day doing it? or do you think every trainee / associate/ support staff person has been told "no billing today, just keep voting"


Seems mad to blame a 4 years PQE solicitor for this case where every witness for POL told him the system was robust and there was no strong evidence to the contrary. He doesn’t seem to have actually done too much wrong. 

bullace22 Sep 23 11:04

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my childhood memories of an innocent crush on Madame Cholet now forever tainted by association with tales of wombles of an altogether different kind.


Well hopefully he won't be wombling free when all this is over.