Sexist email DLA Piper partner fined £15,000

Nick West hit headlines back in 2014 after a number of derogatory emails between him and Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore were leaked


A partner at international giant DLA Piper has been slapped with a £15,000 fine, and a £12,000 order for costs, after it emerged that he had exchanged a number of sexist emails with a high profile client.

Nicholas West — a sports and media law specialist at DLA Piper’s London office — found himself at the centre of media frenzy back in 2014, when an email thread between himself and Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore was leaked to the press.

According to the Law Society Gazette, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard yesterday how West — who is “regarded as one of the best sports broadcasting lawyers” according to his online profile — used inappropriate language during a number of email exchanges with Scudamore.

The tribunal were told how West used the word “klunt” in various email exchanges claiming that this was actually a reference to a character in the Ricky Gervais book Flanimals. A Klunt (pictured below) being a ‘blug’ who is extremely aggressive and very, very angry and sweats profusely because its blood is always boiling in anger.

KLUNT copy

It was hard to reconcile this claim with an email citing a potential new female member of staff in which the experienced lawyer used the word “kluntilicious” and the phrase “dangle on your dongle”. And in other emails in which he used the words “klunt”, “klunty” and “kluntastic”.

In further emails flagged up at the hearing, West used the term “foetus shopping” and seemed to offer the Premier league big-wig a spot of financial advice, saying “save the cash, in case you find some gash”.

Accepting that the emails had breached the Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) principles, Russell-Cooke’s Peter Cadman, who was representing West (pictured below), told the tribunal that the line between client and friend had become “blurred”.


Describing the incident as a “painful lesson” Cadman stressed that West was the “replier” and not the “instigator” but accepted that this was “not an excuse” for his behaviour.

Cadman — who revealed to the tribunal that West had missed out on a bonus from DLA Piper estimated to between £20,000 and £25,000 — continued:

He [West] never expected to be here in his professional career. He has lost his good name.

Describing the length of time over which the emails were exchanged as “significant”, the tribunal suggested that an “experienced solicitor” would have “urged caution”, before continuing:

Some of the emails were despicable in content, particularly so where the client was striving to promote equality and diversity. It was a sad and salutary lesson for West given his previous exemplary career.

When news of the emails first broke, DLA Piper conducted their own investigation into the matter. With West issuing an apology stating he had “let myself, my firm and its clients down”, the senior lawyer and the firm reassured those calling for his sacking, that nothing like this would happen again.

A year on and with West presumably thinking he was in the clear, the SRA confirmed that he would face disciplinary action. The conclusion of which has resulted in the DLA man being handed a £15,000 fine and a £12,000 bill for costs.



An epic arsehole, but these were private messages between a lawyer and his client.

Leaves a bad taste in the mouth.


What an embarrassing story for the profession, “dangle on your dongle. …” dear me……what’s going on in those DLA Piper offices?


Maybe Nick West and Mark Small should open up a new firm together….?

Difficult to work out who was the bigger clown


Am I really alone in thinking this was ridiculous? Private emails to a friend who was also a client were leaked by a third party.

The emails were purile, but aren’t we entitled to be purile in correspondence intended to be private?


This is just lads bonding. That’s all it is. It’s a shamefully over-feminised society we live in where lads can’t be themselves in private. They were harming no one.

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Just Anonymous

The tragic reality is that West will almost certainly not appeal this decision even though in my (thoroughly non-professional) opinion he absolutely should do so.

The point is simple. These were private emails between two individuals who were plainly comfortable with, and consenting to, the type of conversation being conducted. Those emails are therefore no business of the SDT or anyone else.

I think the problem here is that, because the content is objectively objectionable, everyone has to be outraged and be seen to be punishing West – otherwise they’ll be accused of sexism themselves, and they’ll fall victim to the same witch hunt.

This is why we desperately need an independent judge, immune to this nonsense, to look at this matter and clearly state that no wrong has been done.


Wrong has been done, you idiot. This is the sort of shitty attitude that makes some firms such a hostile and intimidating place for women. How dare he comment to a client on the f*ckability of a potential new staff member? What if that female member of staff had had professional dealings with Scudamore – is it fair that he would already know that someone at her firm was viewing her in light of her looks rather than her abilities as a lawyer?

And most importantly, they were not private. Nothing is private from a work email account – they can be leaked and they were. The secretaries of both of these men probably had access to their emails. They may have separate PAs who did. If no one felt offended or upset by them they would never have been leaked. I’m all for a bit of banter but these are outrageous and exactly the sort of thing that makes women feel that they simply won’t be welcome at the boys’ club. He is creepy and disgusting and he’s damned lucky he wasn’t sacked.

Social Justice Warriors everywhere

Looool, chippy man-hating beta spotted. It’s because of shitskins like you that this country is heading down the tubes.

Do yourself a favour and emigrate, it will be for the greater good.

Just Anonymous

Calling me an “idiot” really gives me confidence that I’m about to hear an intellectually rigorous reply…

In private, people are entitled to say to each other whatever they like, be that the f*ckability of another human being or otherwise. To hold otherwise results in a frighteningly authoritarian and oppressive society that I, for one, really do not wish to live in.

Furthermore, these emails were private. Your argument that they were not appears to be that they could be leaked. Well, anything can be leaked. So if that’s your argument, we inevitably reach the conclusion that nothing is private: an unsustainable conclusion.


They were not from a PRIVATE email account. They were from a WORK email account. Your secretaries, and other members of staff, and HR, and anyone that might glance over your shoulder at your desk, and anyone that has to go through your emails when you get disciplined for your crappy behaviour all have legitimate access to your email account. As do all those people in relation to the person you sent the email to.

They are sent with your firm’s signature on the email and with your firm’s name in the email address, and probably from a phone paid for by your firm. These emails were not private, nor can he have expected them to be. It is not inevitable that nothing is private: if you want to send private communications, send them from your hotmail account – to which none of the above people have access. Failing to understand the difference is pretty idiotic.


That’s more or less completely wrong.

He certainly couldn’t have complained if his employer had read the emails and disciplined him (subject to prior notice of email policy). But the unauthorised circulation of private emails, particularly externally, is no more acceptable for work accounts than personal accounts.


The first question is: has a wrong been done in relation to the Code of Conduct? Just because we are rightly appalled by his language and attitudes does not mean it should have legal consequences outwith his contract of employment. We need to bear in mind that the SDT is essentially a quasi-criminal tribunal: he has been deprived of substantial sums by the state AND the tribunal refused to allow a compromise between the SRA and the respondent. That power of the SDT to agree or not agree compromises is one of the factors lifts this jurisdiction out of the purely civil category of law.

Even if can be said that he breached the code we should consider whether it is suitable to prosecute. Not every case is different and not every arguable breach of the Code should or will result in a referral: letters of advice can be given.

Then we should ask: is this conduct which should be viewed from a regulatory perspective at all? Please consider how much day-to-day abject negligence and ignorance occurs in practice but is should not be a regulatory matter. This guy seems to be unpleasant and with poor judgement but the community of colleagues and clients should judge him, not a quasi-criminal tribunal.

One would need to read the judgment but it does sound from reports that it would have made no difference if he had sent these emails from a personal email address. Given that the client instigated this, it is hard to see how his comments being on a work account aggravate this into the regulatory sphere where otherwise it would not have been.


Stasi UK. Breach the holy diktats of equality and diversity, even in a private conversation, and be publicly shamed. Meanwhile, FGM, terror cells, Sharia patrols slapping beer cans out of peoples hands, harrassing gay people, all good matey, nothing to see here. 13 years of Labour has destroyed this country.

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Charlotte Proudman

This is outrageous! Why wasn’t he put immediately in front of a firing squad?

Grammar Fash

You mean “why wasn’t he put in front of a firing squad, immediately?”

Grammar Fasc

You mean “why wasn’t he put in front of a firing squad, immediately?”


Because it was determined that all those pointing rifles would be a little too phallic and thus in breach of safe space policies and the feelings of queer teddybears and transwomyn of color.


This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Heterosexual white male feminist of Counsel

Nasty creepy little man.

That bill is small change to him so it’s really just a slap on the wrist.

Most men really don’t think/speak/write like that- this guy is sick and needs help.

I vote for the penis-guillotine!

Trump & his Trumpet

No help for the utterly emasculated likes of you, I’m afraid.

Outraged of Islington

I had a dream in which a woman performed a sexual act on my person.

I was horrified and disgusted with myself. That act, which shall not be named, is demeaning to women and I, as a gender-transformative-bio-degradable-non-Times-reading-perdaughter, would never do such a thing in real life.

I thrashed myself 100 times and tomorrow I’m getting a lobotomy.


One of the tests that should be applied before sending an email is “would you be happy for your wife to read the email”. If the answer is “no” then don’t send it.

Pro diversity man

As I understand it these were work-related emails and sent through an office email account. Of course they shouldn’t have been leaked. However, the content was objectively deeply offensive and to use such language, and to display such attitudes, in a professional context is – well, unprofessional. On the basis of what I have read (and of course, I would want to hear the other side, and any mitigation, but on the basis of what I have read…) I would have no problem concluding that he brought the profession into disrepute.

More importantly, I would have little difficulty concluding that his judgment was so seriously flawed that his continued employment would be at best undesirable, and his behaviour was probably criminal.

I’m amazed he is still employed.


Save the cash in case you find some gash.

Save the moolah in case you find some poonah.

Save the bills in case you find some thrills.

Save that quid in case you dip your squid.

Mirin the remuneration

Save that penny in case you bag some fanny.

Save the coin so you can get some loin.


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