dilley

Dilley, Blake, Jones.


Womble Bond Dickinson partner Stephen Dilley has defended his record conducting the Post Office’s case against sub-postmaster Lee Castleton in a session of the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry. 

Dilley, who at the time of the case was a solicitor at Bond Pearce, told the hearing that he could have given a very short statement consisting of “I don’t remember” since it all occurred around 18 years ago, but chose not to because “I didn’t think that would be helpful; we’re here to learn”.

Julian Blake, a barrister at 11 King’s Bench Walk and counsel for the Inquiry, wanted to learn if Dilley wished to say anything to Castleton or his family, who were made bankrupt as a result of the Post Office’s case against him. 

“No there isn’t”, Dilley replied. He said that he was “Satisfied that I acted - and my firm acted - politely, compassionately and appropriately at all times”.

Dilley explained that he never believed Castleton dishonestly took money from the Post Office, and emphasised that his client had tried to settle the counterclaim brought by the sub-postmaster many times without success.

He also denied that the case had been intended to make an example of Castleton to scare off other sub-postmasters who might have made claims over the shoddy IT.

“I think it was less about making an example of Mr Castleton, and more about sending a message that they were willing to defend the Fujitsu Horizon system”, said Dilley, which Blake suggested were not materially different positions. 

The solicitor took the opportunity to publicly address Castleton’s allegation that before the original hearing, he told the sub-postmaster that the Post Office would “ruin” him.

“I refute using that language", said Dilley. "It just doesn’t sound like language I would use?”

“It makes me sound like a Vinnie Jones character from an East End gangster film. It’s just not at all who I am", he said, adding that if he had used those words, he would have written them down in his note of the call. “I was saying the costs to him were going to be significant to him if we win, and that’s entirely right”, said the partner.

“I don’t want to speculate what his mind was saying to himself as I said that…But I am clear - really clear - that the language that I used to Mr Castleton was not that the Post Office would ruin him”.

Although, said Dilley, “I entirely accept that we had advised the Post Office more than once that there was a serious risk that if we succeeded in their case against Mr Castleton that he would be unable to pay all of their claim”.

During the Castleton case, the Post Office chose not to disclose the fact that it was logging 12,000 to 15,000 calls a month from sub-postmasters flagging issues with the Horizon system, or the substance of those calls.

Asked if that huge volume constituted a reason to investigate further for the purposes of disclosure, Dilley told Blake, “I don’t think so”.

Not only would it have been too onerous an exercise, it also didn’t necessarily mean there were real problems with the system, explained Dilley. As an example, he joked that when he called the Womble Bond Dickinson IT team, the problem usually turned out to be his fault.

“I ring my IT support desk because I think I’ve got a problem with my computer - when you make the call, it’s mostly me”, he laughed.

The implication that he believed the same was true of thousands of sub-postmasters' calls appeared to leave Blake briefly speechless, but Dilley went on to explain that Horizon was very hard to use, citing the fact that its user manual alone filled one or two lever arch files.

“So 12 to 15,000 calls is too many to search, but not enough to show there’s a problem with Horizon?” asked Blake.

Dilley replied that it would not have generated enough relevant information, and would have “drowned Mr Castleton”. 

Blake asked if that was a matter for Castleton, rather than Bond Pearce, but Dilley retorted that a regular complaint from claimants was that disclosure had “swamped“ them. 

“I absolutely believe that Post Office met its duty of carrying out a reasonable search by the criteria of the Civil Procedure Rules”, said Dilley.

However, towards the end of the session, some cracks appeared in Dilley’s staunch defence of his client. 

During Castleton’s case, the Post Office also chose not to disclose that many other sub-postmasters were in the process of bringing claims, but Dilley said that he was only ever made aware of two others by his Post Office contact.

“She did have a turn of phrase that wasn’t always, I came to learn, accurate, and the only two cases that came to my attention, when we dug on this, were those two”, he said. "If she was aware of more cases - 555 more cases - she never told me, she never told my firm".

“I asked the Post Office if they had done a thorough job…and I thought they had", he said.

A spokesperson for Womble Bond Dickinson said that as Dilley's testimony was continuing on Friday, it felt it would be inappropriate to comment.
 


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Comments

Sub 22 September 23 07:37

Glad he could have a chuckle over his IT issues. Unlike the sub-postmasters who were then fired, arrested, and banged up. 

💩 22 September 23 07:38

Womble Bond Dickinson are nasty not just 💩.

This is the biggest miscarriage of justice in British legal history and has been linked to the deaths of 63 innocent people.

We still don’t know how much Womble Bond Dickinson trousered from the Post Office Scandal and, in particular, whether they kept things running to keep profiting. Every news outlet should be reporting on this story. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 07:40

I have sympathy for Dilley. He was a young solicitor at the time, acting for a client, seemingly without the full benefit of what the PO was doing. There but for the grace of God. Why isn't the matter partner on the stand?

Anonymous 22 September 23 07:48

Vote: do you believe Womble Bond Dickinson’s claim that they “acted politely, compassionately and appropriately at all times”?

Thumbs Up if you think it’s true

Thumbs Down if you think WBD are lying because they are bad people who know they were in the wrong

Significant 22 September 23 07:53

A very significant day for the Wombles because it is now clear they knew about Horizon issues. I really hope the inquiry will now look at the cases that followed this and the Court of Appeal case where Wombles behaviour was subject to very harsh criticism from the Court of Appeal. The other Southampton partners responsible for those cases and the tactics behind it need to be subject to the same cross examination as Mr Dilley because it was so revealing. If Inquiry does not then it will be job less than half done . I am shocked at what was revealed today but much much worse happened after this first case.

InPersuitOfTheTruth 22 September 23 07:55

So another life ruined by the Post Office and their monkeys who made massive fees creaming from the state coffers whether somebody was innocent or not. If the shoe was on the other foot then I'm sure he'd feel slightly more aggrieved.

00740 22 September 23 07:58

O740 yes much bigger fish than Dilley were and are pulling the strings on this. They have thrown Mr Dilley under then bus but that's the Wombles for you. 

Anon 22 September 23 08:04

Seems like a fuss about nothing. This was adversarial litigation and although the postmasters turned out to be innocent, there was nothing to suggest that was the case when Dilley was involved. Pointing to the Horizon System and saying, “it is the fault of the IT”, is no different from any defence. The PO were entitled to challenge that defence unless it was plainly obvious that the defence was established beyond doubt, and nobody has suggested that was so at this juncture.

Laughing all the way to the bank 22 September 23 08:07

Wombles board just don't get it . No one with an ounce of empathy or self awareness. They just focusing on this cash cow still boosting profits and partner bonuses. Post Office have very publically ( yes very late and forced by court) held their hands up for this huge miscarriage of justice. Wombles board no comment? Just not acceptable. They way they treat people is not acceptable. 

TrousersDown 22 September 23 08:08

Agree with the various comments above.  

As incompetent as Dilley is and comes across, he was a junior lawyer running the case day-to-day, 18 years ago.  Where is the partner responsible for the case? I believe his name came up in the hearing yesterday - a Mr Tom Beezer.  It appears that he made some of the strategic decisions concerning disclosure and had direct discussions with the instructing lawyer at POL without involvement from Dilley (I.e cutting him out). 

Dilley is then apparently no longer involved in any other civil litigation for POL matters but it’s run by the Southampton team led by Beezer and one of his sidekicks, who’s name is all over the Court of Appeal decision - Mr Andrew Parsons. Why did that happen? 

In how many other civil matters did POL fail to meet its duty of disclosure (with the support of Beezer and Parsons)?

It’s also clear in the class action that WBD were criticised repeatedly for their tactics and gameplay concerning disclosure.

Seems like a running theme… 

 

Ben 22 September 23 08:09

It’s worth watching Dilley’s evidence. He comes across as on the ball and entirely straightforward. The barrister scored no hits whatsoever. Quite apart from anything else, it was clear that the barrister didn’t understand the process of disclosure in litigation - which is unsurprising, as counsel are not involved in that process, but it served to undermine a major plank of the barrister’s case.

The Magic Number 22 September 23 08:14

Can anyone verify that WBD have made £54m in 16 years from this litigation? 
 

Likewise, that they are still being paid to “find” documents. 

0808 22 September 23 08:14

0808. You have nailed the issue. The inquiry needs to examine the cases after Castleton because Wombles behaviour is far far worse than anything been revealed so far. Court of Appeal case is the one to focus on. 

TrousersDown 22 September 23 08:15

08:04 - I agree with you to a point.  However it appears that POL and its advisers knew more than they admitted and then deployed highly questionable tactics to cover it up, such as the approach to disclosure in the case of Mr Castleton.  Dilley was asked yesterday by Blake whether he would have approached disclosure differently if he knew hundreds of POL subpostmasters were making the same or similar complaints about Horizon.  Dilley said he only knew about 2 other cases.  Counsel then took him to an internal memo from his matter partner (Mr Tom Beezer) which clearly refers to a class action being afoot with hundreds of potential claimants (turned out to be 555). 
 

I also agree with you that this angle will have got much clearer with the passage of time.  So the problem is much bigger than Dilley and the Castleton matter.  The later cases and the conduct of Beezer and Parsons needs to be looked at. 
 

Yes it’s an adversarial system but there is an overriding duty to the court which cannot be agreed and duties such as disclosure in the English system cannot be taken lightly. 
 

I’m not even a stickler for the rules personally tbh - most make a lot of sense but some are stupid - here however the lack of respect for the rules led to innocent working people getting shafted.  It’s not like cutting corners on formalities for a big transaction or failing to follow some superficial rules in corporate litigation where nobody got hurt. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 08:16

If the SRA continue to do nothing about this, what’s the point of them?

Wombles marketing 22 September 23 08:17

Wombles marketing Up early today !!!

TrousersDown 22 September 23 08:19

Ben @08:09 has a Southampton IP address I think.  
 

Plus he was watching an entirely different inquiry from the looks of it… 

Shocked 22 September 23 08:22

Dilley explained that he never believed Castleton dishonestly took money from the Post Office. 
 

If this is the case, one has to wonder why Dilley allowed his barrister to directly call Castleton a “thief” in court. 

An alternative view is that he thought Castleton was innocent because of IT issues but Wombles wanted to continue to make money from the taxpayer. 

 

Anonymous 22 September 23 08:26

What on Earth is going on with the thumbs up / thumbs down on these comments? Are WBD scrambling to do damage control?

Anon 22 September 23 08:26

@Ben 22 September 23 08:09 - yes, it was excruciating watching the barrister getting owned by Dilley. The enquiry should have instructed a Silk, or at least counsel who understands disclosure or the management of litigation. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 08:28

He does well imo given how many bear traps he has to avoid. 

I watched the whole thing and it’s probably a draw. He pushed back well on the narrative that Castleton was hounded by PO, by arguing that Castleton’s counterclaim meant that if Castleton didn’t settle, the PO had to fight the case, and he wouldn’t settle. 

But he also had awkward moments - like saying that in an email to the PO, he incorrectly summarised why the Castleton case was important to it - which Wyn Williams also quizzed him on, never a good sign.
Then he brought up some ancient case and said that was what it was all about, which looked like he was deflecting to avoid accepting that Horizon was, for the PO, at the heart of the case.

mind you I would have just shat it and said the PO lied to me, so I can’t be too harsh on the guy. 

CVs at the ready 22 September 23 08:40

Wombles are going to be back in the news soon for their role in the Teesworks scandal involving Ben Houchen.

Anon 22 September 23 08:43

So far, hard to see that Wombles have done anything wrong. The Enquiry will follow the evidence, not emotion. 

Cash cow 22 September 23 08:46

I think 54 million is a conservative about. Just from public documents you can see how much they were paid in the litigation. At one stage well over 6 million a year. They are billing and still billing PO many millilns a year . Times that by 19 years and that is a lot of money we taxpayers givin the Wombles plus all the covid stuff.

Wombles of Wimbledon 22 September 23 08:50

Rather remarkable that in one hour the first handful of comments got an enormous number of thumbs up / down in a ratio invariably extremely pro-Wombles, and then suddenly dropped off. 

What disgraceful behaviour from them all round, along with Dilley’s basic lack of decency to laugh in the hearing. A really shameful bunch of solicitors who have blood on their hands. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 08:52

Dilley seems to be a really awful human being.

As promised - he ruined Castleton's life (despite Castleton having done nothing wrong) and just doesn't seem to care.

*Possibly* he did nothing professionally wrong at the time and it was reasonable not to tell Castleton (who I assume had no legal representation) about the problem with Horizon or the other sub-postmasters' complaints. 

But he cannot avoid moral culpability for his involvement in the greatest legal miscarriage in legal history. And given the opportunity to apologize he just washes his hands of the whole thing. Shameful.

Anonymous 22 September 23 08:52

Values. 
 

This comes down to whether your values align with that of your employer. Personally, hunting down postmasters when there was evidence to doubt the IT system wouldn’t be in line with my values. I think they should say sorry for the harm they caused. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 08:53

The sheer number of comment votes favourable to Wombles, so soon after the story is published, suggests manipulation.  As I’m a rapid 40 downvotes from Wombles will demonstrate.

Marketing vs Morality 22 September 23 08:56

I pity the Wombles marketing team. 
 

Imagine having to disingenuously defend this s***show, when you know in your heart they caused so much damage to so many people. 

Anon 22 September 23 08:56

Entrusting litigation of this importance and complexity to lawyers in Southampton was always going to end badly. […]

nick gould 22 September 23 08:59

I still advise various victims of the Post Office Scandal.

Dilley reminded me of a grey little man , a clerk. His callous and dismissive attitude surprised none of us. This miscarriage of justice has, among other things, shown the massive power of the State and its legal advisors. They can and do put "two fingers up " because they have no responsibility / accountability and believe they are above the law. Maybe they are .

The lack of interest of the Law Society  and much of the legal industry , remains an absolute disgrace . 

Wombledover 22 September 23 09:01

Womble board seems to always get the big calls wrong(and instructing partners to police the ROF boards is a small example) 

Anon 22 September 23 09:06

As much as I hate to say this, and was prepared to dislike Dilley, he came across very well. And whoever said he’s morally responsible for what happened is being ridiculous. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Dilley pursued a case he knew to be wrong. And frankly, the attribution to him of using words such as “we will ruin you - think of your family” is ludicrous. Nobody speaks like that and, having watched the footage of Dilley’s evidence - where he comes across as careful and mild mannered - it is obvious that Dilley did not use such language.

Anonymous 22 September 23 09:12

How long until 🇬🇧 business loses the right to use the name Wombles? 
 

After all, Elizabeth O. Temple and the other 🇺🇸 Wombles will soon figure out the damage this lot are doing to their brand. 

0906 22 September 23 09:14

0906. You are entitled to your opinion. Whatever the view on Mr Dilley it is the court of appeal case and the partner named in that case that needs to be before the inquiry

Anon 22 September 23 09:14

Interesting to see the HR teams from rival firms and people from the PO engaged in multiple downvoting of comments positive to Wombles and Dilley. Pathetic.

Anonymous 22 September 23 09:26

All the pro-Wombles comments on this thread give the strong impression of being written by people who don't actually practise law or have ever been engaged in big litigation. 

The last suggestion that Dilley seems "mild-mannered" so could not possibly have threated the Claimant with financial ruin if he did not bow to PO's case, being one example.  It's normally these kind of little men who are the worst when they find themselves in a position of power and Dilley will have been only too keen to rely on the inequality of the parties' financial positions to bully the claimant. 

Having watched both sessions yesterday, it was painfully obvious in my opinion that Dilley was involved in a massive breach of disclosure obligations.  They knew of the existence of 12k-15k help desk calls/complaints about Horizon but failed to do any kind of search of those calls (presumably an easy task with digital searching technology) and made the perverse decision that not to disclose any documents (or even confirm the existence of a class of document which could be relevant).   That does not just seem like a purely negligent decision but an intentional one aimed solely at winning the case by depriving the claimant of valuable evidence they knew harmed their claim.  

 

Anon 22 September 23 09:27

So Dilley was 4 years pqe when this all happened?  Pretty sure he wasn’t the one making tactical decisions or calling the shots! 

Anonymous 22 September 23 09:27

There is not one solicitor with more integrity in this country than Mr Dilley. Many people say so, the best people, some of them have knighthoods. But the path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men, such as the "barrister" who put those nasty questions - very nasty questions - to him. THe nastiest questions ever asked!

But blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And the LAW will strike down upon the unbelievers with great vengeance and furious anger, very very furious, especially upon those who attempt to poison and destroy Mr Dilley. And you will know we are the LAW when we lay our vengeance upon you.

 

Or something.

[Anish, please get everyone to open more "private windows" on their computer, you can upvote this on each of those. Set VPN to "UK".]

 

Goldenturds 22 September 23 09:31

Once a golden turd always a golden turd. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 09:35

This is a national scandal. 
 

WBD ought to recognise their role in a national scandal and act appropriately to prevent it happening again in the future. 

Anon 22 September 23 09:44

The only evidence adduced so far shows that Wombles did nothing wrong.

Anonymous 22 September 23 09:52

A spokesperson for Womble Bond Dickinson said that as Dilley's testimony was continuing on Friday, it felt it would be inappropriate to comment.
 

I’ve got a funny feeling that some of these comments are from Womble Bond Dickinson, who presumably think that is inappropriate?

Stephen Willey 22 September 23 09:57

The voting on these comments is surprising.

I watched a fair bit of the enquiry yesterday and Mr Dilley did not come across well, to put it mildly.

Anon 22 September 23 09:57

Anon 22 September 23 09:14 - yes and not just multiple voting but making disparaging comments about WBD and Dilley. 

Asturias Es Mi Patria 22 September 23 10:01

It looks suspiciously like a bot has its eyes on this thread 

lf like me, you think Mr Dilley was made to look reeeeeaaaallly bad by Inquiry Counsel yesterday please vote above. Not on this one but on the posts above

i willingly to bet that as soon as you do, I suspect you’ll notice the opposite opinion up tick 2 or three times . Not hard to set up TBH

But no, that can’t be so. they can’t be that dumb . If anyone was caught with a bot campaign that might undermine their reputation even more, no?

Anonymouse 22 September 23 10:09

Definitely a bot. As soon as you vote on any of these posts, there’s an automatic vote for the opposite. Perhaps Jamie could look into and comment on this?

Anonymous 22 September 23 10:11

My friend is at WBD but is in the process of leaving. Apparently this article is making the rounds and the WBD die hard fans are shocked anyone could have an issue with WBD. Thats why any WBD criticism above is getting heavily downvoted. 

@WBD - You put fees before acting with integrity and definitely brought solicitors into disrepute with your behaviour.

Something to remember me by 22 September 23 10:13

Love the fact there was clearly some sort of internal memo sent round yesterday ordering all the folk at WBD to get on RoF and up vote the favourable comments. They’re so painfully transparent.

Dilley’s not the person who should be on the stand. There are some awful characters sitting in the background, and not just those named in the comments here, who should be held to account.

The amount that firm trousered and never tired of congratulating itself on is scandalous in itself. 

Will keep saying it until they get what they deserve: awful people at the top - from the board, to HR to the (alleged) “GC” - giving some extremely competent, decent, people a bad name. 

Anonymous man 22 September 23 10:14

I’m furiously checking the CPR to find the bit where you are allowed to withhold masses of relevant disclosure, perfectly aligned with the central issue in the case because ‘there’s too much of it’. Anyone help?

Whatever PQE you are, you know that withholding relevant disclosure is not permitted. Even if you got that wrong, the disclosure statement should have said it was being withheld and for what reason. 

It appears more likely that they buried it because it harmed their case.
 

Let’s hope the SRA have someone there making notes. 

 

1013 22 September 23 10:29

Yes 1013. The client partner and at time he was also managing partner and then chairman is the real person who needs to be on stand. As someone said Stephen was a 4 Pqe at time and 50 million plus revenue is a powerful motivator for a client partner MP and chairman even if a good person and he is far far from that 

Asturias Es Mi Patria 22 September 23 10:39

TBH if the “pro” campaign are not the sort to deal well with ambiguity then we could have a bit of fun here

somethIng like

“Mr Dilley’s performance was not a reflection on the firms stellar reputation “

might cause difficulties….

 

Anonymous 22 September 23 10:57

I had no idea rof was important enough to warrant damage limitation from WBD! Really?

“@Ben 22 September 23 08:09 - yes, it was excruciating watching the barrister getting owned by Dilley. The enquiry should have instructed a Silk, or at least counsel who understands disclosure or the management of litigation. “

This is pathetic - either cynically disingenuous or very naive. Counsel quite elegantly allowed Dilley to dig his own grave, Dilley’s manner spoke volumes (don’t take up poker Dilley!) and inappropriate humour also revealing. I have a very small amount of sympathy for him as a junior solicitor building a career but - over and above all that the likes of him and Paula V (CBE) need to accept responsibility and show some backbone - at this stage the game is up. Certainly Dilley’s supervisors, the PO people instructing his firm, Fujitsu people also need to be put on the stand. 

1013 22 September 23 11:14

Spot on . Dilley a little naive yes but another partner in Southampton was driving all this and getting very very rich . Dilley a foot soldier sent over the trench. Wombles not nice people.

Spotty Lizard 22 September 23 11:22

We should give careful thought to this.

Being lawyers, let us look at the details.

Doing anything else could cause you to miss the margin notes.

I am sure you all agree that we should judge a firm on overall performance.

Selecting individual cases is not a fair methodology.

So, that being the case, let us judge WBD in the round.

How has it been as a firm over the years?

I think we can all agree that it is, globally, a highly impressive and distinctive firm.

To conclude anything else would be wrong. I look forward to lots of upvotes

Anonymous 22 September 23 11:42

Where is the partner?  This smacks of Dilley being put out there like a sacrificial lamb.

 

Anon 22 September 23 11:53

I was waiting for the cross-examiner to score a point but he was wide of the mark all the time. Clearly doesn’t understand the process of disclosure, and Dilley put him back in his box.

City 22 September 23 11:55

Transparently obvious that the HR teams of rival firms are putting out negative comments and downvoting positive comments about Wombles.

Anonymous Anonymous 22 September 23 11:57

During the Castleton case, the Post Office chose not to disclose the fact that it was logging 12,000 to 15,000 calls a month from sub-postmasters flagging issues with the Horizon system, or the substance of those calls.

Chose not to disclose 12,000 to 15,000 calls a month. Why not?  Does this need to be investigated further? Hiding important details? Should the legal firm pay compensation?

Rosie Brocklehurst 22 September 23 11:59

Could someone please anonymously post all contact details they have for WBD otherwise it is a form I have to use to even get near them. I have an office address but no emails or Press Office email . I want to contact UK CEO  Paul Stewart re concerns about WBD's involvement in shaping evidence for Court in Lee Castleton's case. I also seek  views and suggestions about whether or not to bother referring again to SRA who some believe to be a dysfunctional body. Is it worth it? Further,  when Stephen Dilley talked about 'Settle' it was not explained by him that 'settle' simply meant that they and Post Office hoped Lee Castleton would go away and pay the debt he did not owe . There was no offer of any payment to Lee. Additionally. Dilley did not  show compassion. He was not compassionate at the  Inquiry and tried to direct the Inquiry himself.  He struck me personally as shifty and unpleasant despite what some have said about him.  I will post his Linked In (now deleted) remarks about his victory in the Lee Castleton Post Office case which was removed from his profile shortly after the Justice Fraser judgement in the High Court .  May I also point interested parties here to journalist Nick Wallis's Blog The Great Post Office Scandal-in particular the Blog of yesterday 21st September, where can be read the Impact Statement of Lee Castleton's daughter. It is a powerful explanation of what can happen to an 8 year old who is the daughter of someone accused of theft from a Post Office in a small community. It is not just the Postmaster who suffered a terrible injustice but the children too. My bona fides are that I am a retired journalist and PRO who worked for the BBC/LWT/the Labour Party and Charities. I know how to campaign and have some good contacts still. I organised an event where I live which Nick Wallis attended (author of the book The Great Post Office Scandal) in May, partly because I was helping the daughter of an Eastbourne Subpostmaster, whose mother was convicted at Lewes Crown Court in 2010 and told to please guilty or get a custodial sentence (as so many others were told). Her husband the subpostmaster Mr Bob Crane, was suspended for an accumulated loss of £60,000 which was paid back  to the Post Office under the terrible contract. They could do this because they a legacy from the children's  grandmother. Dad then died after a leg amputation and when he was suspended he was so ill and had to go into a care home . He was only in his 50s. The daughters were shamed and vilified as was Mum, who had taken over work at the Post Office they had bought for their retirement because of Dad's illness. Mum is still completely traumatised and could not get a job after she was convicted, and was knocked back time and again from carer jobs as she had to admit her conviction for something she did not do - a black cloud she lived under for 13 years. She is now in a queue for an appeal and can't even apply for compensation until her conviction is overturned. This is also the case for over 600 others. The £600,000 offer mentioned recently by Minister Hollinrake is a smoke and mirrors exercise, as only some people can apply and the rest may have to wait up to ten years to have their convictions overturned who were convicted on Horizon evidence.

Anonymous 22 September 23 12:06

More Clangers than Wombles

Elizabeth Beresford’s estate must be aghast by the association with Newcastle’s most boastful law firm. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 12:11

Vinnie Jones has never played a character so morally bankrupt as a Womble Bond Dickinson lawyer

Anonymous 22 September 23 12:17

Last time I saw this level of brain-washed support for a firm it was in relation to Halliwells. 

 

Anon 22 September 23 12:20

@Ben 22 September 23 08:09 - spot on, and especially re disclosure, which the barrister had totally wrong. 

Anon 22 September 23 12:26

After that performance, the barrister would be well advised not to ask Sir Wyn Williams for a Silk reference!

Sociopaths 22 September 23 12:28

I honestly can't believe SD didn't have anything to say to Mr Castleton. Even when acting professionally and respectfully, as they say, the firm can still show some basic human empathy for what happened to the postmasters. But no, zero contrition shown, no values, no empathy, only greed. Honestly who is advising this lot? 

Anon 22 September 23 12:30

@Rosie Brocklehurst 22 September 23 11:59: Stephen came across well. The person who seems shifty and unpleasant is you!

Anonymous 22 September 23 12:30

Pleased to see a balanced approach from ROF. Maybe mistakes WERE made, but this guy was a green junior solicitor at the time - if this happened to a junior now we’d all be saying how very unfair it is that he’s being hauled on to the stand to defend his firm and the PO, rather than the partner in charge. I know he feels he can’t run that defence but it is relevant.  

Anon 22 September 23 12:33

@Sociopaths 22 September 23 12:28: Dilley had nothing to apologise for. It is clear from his evidence that he acted entirely properly at all times.

Anonymous 22 September 23 12:41

Anon @ 12:30 - are you even watching the evidence? From the answers he is giving, it is quite clear he was fully integrated into / leading the decision making in at least this particular case (Castleton). He is admitting major decisions relating to disclosure were his - as was the advice given to PO.  

Even assuming you are right, that would suggest that he clearly values his current position and the money it has earned him, ahead of being completely open with the Inquiry and identify who made the key calls / major mistakes on disclosure. 

Anon 22 September 23 12:47

@Anonymous 22 September 23 12:41 - clearly, the person who wasn’t watching the evidence was you!

Horizon Scanner 22 September 23 12:49

I haven't read through all the comments above, but the ratio of 'thumbs down' to 'thumbs up' likes/dislikes is highly unusual.

Are WBD staff - or those at the Post Office really sitting there furiously hiting dislike on comments which are critical?

 

What's the point?

 

The Court of public opinion delivered judgment a long time ago. No judge is going to spare any party involved with Post Office from a criminal sanction on the basis of how many dislikes you rack up in the comments section of an online new provider. 

 

Am I reading too much into this?

Human 22 September 23 12:50

It was an entirely inappropriate comment to make to Mr Castleton. But it was also entirely accurate. Whatever happens at the enquiry this man's life was ruined.

Anon 22 September 23 12:51

@Human 22 September 23 12:50 - but it was clear from Dilley’s evidence that he didn’t make that comment.

Bar 22 September 23 12:54

Horizon Scanner 22 September 23 12:49: we don’t do courts of public opinion in this country. We have the rule of law, and actual courts and tribunals. We follow the evidence and make findings fairly and dispassionately. And so far, the evidence is that Dilley acted properly at all times. The cross-examination drew no blood whatsoever.

Rosie Brocklehurst 22 September 23 12:57

Anon at 12.30 .  Really my comments are not anonymous are they so  'shifty' is not right , while you remain anonymous and are an obvious Womble troll and more unpleasant than Dilley by the look of it. But I shall not  debate with you. 

Sociopaths 22 September 23 13:12

@anon 12.33 or should I say Womble Marketing Team - it's not about an apology, it's recognising the ordeal Mr Castleton went through...basic human empathy. Having compassion isn't an admission of guilt just fyi...if you guys don't see that then you're doomed... 

Anon 22 September 23 13:13

Two observations:

1. No lawyer with two brain cells to knock together would put in their notes that they had used their position as a lawyer to intimidate and threaten another party in litigation - that would be insanely stupid and indeed, presumably why he picked up the phone rather than popping his clients "position" in an email.

2. Really, we don't think a mid-level litigation associate in the early 00s would be feeling all billy big bits running a case and think he was Jerry Maguire?  As they say, if you believe that, I've got a [Prince from a suspect country with money troubles] you should meet!

Anon 22 September 23 13:23

Rosie Brocklehurst 22 September 23 12:57: you can still be shifty whilst naming yourself, and you amply proved that, Rosie, by pursuing an investigative agenda whilst failing to keep an open mind (having made up your mind about Dilley and expressing yourself in harsh terms about him); asking for someone anonymously to post contact details; and then refusing to debate with me. 

Anon 22 September 23 13:23

How many Wombles have been drafted in to dislike the comments? A small army it looks like, pathetic, as if that will help. LOL 

Anon 22 September 23 13:26

Anon 22 September 23 12:30 - exactly. Nobody is more shifty than an investigative journalist.

TrousersDown 22 September 23 13:27

Bar 12:54 - really? It's hilarious that there are those commenting on here claiming the barrister does not understand how disclosure is managed or undertaken. 

Let's remind ourselves of some facts from the last 24 hours:

1) Dilley admitted he would have considered changing his approach if he thought there was a broader issue with Horizon.

2) He then said he only knew of 2 other cases.

3) Counsel pointed him to a memo from his then supervising partner, Tom Beezer, in which there are references to: (i) at least 2 other cases, apart from the 2 he claimed to be aware of; (ii) the preparation of a spreadsheet to manage the cases and from which can be inferred that there were many more; and (iii) an 'embroyonic class action' being afoot which potentially involved hundreds of claimants (turned out to be 555).

In short, Dilley's cross examination revealed that he failed to meet the duty of disclosure despite his protestations.

It is however clear that this decision and approach on disclosure was driven by Beezer and Mandy Talbot at POL.  Dilley simply did the leg work.  Instead of coming clean (possibly because it makes him look stupid and naive, which is what a lot of 4PQEs are...) he is tryign to defend the position he then took.

I fear for Dilley's practicising certificate.  Everybody is talking about the lack of action from the SRA but we all know how this works, they will soon say they are waiting for the conclusion of the inquiry and their own investigation - then they will come in heavy on anybody they can.  Dilley will be the easy target the ones hiding behind him will probably get away.

Anonymous 22 September 23 13:31

Rosie Brocklehurst is right. 
 

Indeed, I hope the postmasters and all their families and friends see this news story and understand how the rest of the profession views the behaviour of WBD.  

CityBond 22 September 23 13:40

As a former Womble, I recall during financial & pricing training one partner (who was involved with this utter shambles of a case) effectively bragging about how much £££ the firm was scoring from various elements of the PO litigation. Under the guise of highlighting effective pricing strategy, of course.

More than a little grim on reflection. 

And yes, people at WBD will without doubt be furiously spamming the dislike button on every negative comment, as if that will somehow save them from the total shitstorm they find themselves in. The best/worst part is this is not the most abhorrent thing the Wombles have done, by a long way.

LOLMAX 22 September 23 13:44

Can rof towers not do a better job of managing comments than this? Clearly being manipulated! 

I guess any clicks are good clicks. 

Anonymous 22 September 23 13:54

It seems an odd way to respond to Rosie Brocklehurst, daughter of a wrongly convicted postmistress, if you are trying to convince people that you acted politely, compassionately and appropriately?

Spotty Lizard 22 September 23 14:03

Just realised that the "WBD is [poo]" hidden message in my message above is slightly harder to read on a mobile screen! Should have kept the sentences shorter. 

Morallybereft 22 September 23 14:32

So sad so many losers in this miscarriage of justice. But one big winner . The Womble partners bank accounts. £54 million and counting. 

Crust of Bread 22 September 23 14:35

Can I just clarify something - but didn't Dilley and each solicitor at WBD, who worked on the PO cases, as officers of the court, owe a professional standards duty  not to mislead the court i.e. the judge at each civil or criminal hearing.

If WBD solicitors knew that the Post Office system Horizon was not fit for purpose surely this should have disclosed. In adfition to any additional disclosure obligation found in the Civil or Criminal Procedure Rules. 

Thanks Crust

Manup 22 September 23 14:49

Come on SR TB and AP step up and stop Dilly a 4 pqe taking all the heat. You guys got all the bonuses off All this not him. You guys devised the strategy not him. You guys knew exactly what the PO knew not him. No good sending him out to battle when he only got half your story. Do the decent thing for once in your careers and step up.

Anonymous 22 September 23 15:16

Did Dilley just delete his LInkedin profile?

Lockstock 22 September 23 15:53

Agree with above . Poor Stephen has been outgunned by his senior so called colleagues. There are some lovely people at WBD BUT there are also some very horrible people.

Anon 22 September 23 15:54

Sad but inevitable to see the negative comments and spam downvoting in relation to WBD. You would have thought the firm’s rivals had better things to do with their time.

Nothing to see here: the evidence from Dilley is clear that he met the duties of disclosure.

Anon 22 September 23 16:14

@TrousersDown 22 September 23 13:27: u ok hun? There is no danger to Dilley’s practising certificate. He gave appropriate disclosure based on his own knowledge. 

Anon 22 September 23 16:17

Crust of Bread 22 September 23 14:35: there is no evidence that Dilley or any other lawyer at WBD mislead a court.

The WBD cycle 22 September 23 16:27

There’s a predictable pattern when it comes to WBD. 
 

1. denial

2. anger

3. unsubstantiated boasts

4. bargaining

5. self pity. 

Guy Ritchie 22 September 23 16:32

Inquiry look at the cases after Dilley a 4pqe was removed from the PO litigation team because he was not agressive enough. You will find a very clear trail of exactly what Wombles knew and when. Then over to the SRA. 

Former Womble 22 September 23 17:20

Citybond 140pm yes I too remember it well! Many of us tired of the deluded arrogance of being told how amazing the PO litigators were how much money they were earning for the firm and then the Board trying to justify a new bonus scheme that saw a few PO partners keep enormous amounts of money to themselves. Utterly corrrupting. The current board has no morals. Just see the £££££ . When the PO gravy train stops WBD UK will be no more . Pitmans saw it all and thank binned off the arrogant Wombles. Some decent people but many very undecent 

Tipoficeberg 22 September 23 17:38

@rosieb thank you for all your input into this sensitive and sorry saga. Keep going because there is lots more to come out from the court of appeal case especially about what WBD knew and when . Castletown as horrendous for him and his family is just the tip of the iceberg in WBD wrongdoing. So sorry for all the families involved in this and really hope the truth of WBD involvement is brought to public and SRA and their other clients' attention . Sorry and thanks again Rosie

Anonymous 22 September 23 17:45

I’d like to hear from more victims of Womble Bond Dickinson. 
 

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