An investigation carried out by TenEighty has revealed that the “lawyer” representing YouTuber Craig T. Dillon does not, in fact, exist – and that Dillon has previously impersonated a YouTube employee.
Six men have come forward – five in the past week – to accuse Dillon of sexual assault. The men were aged between 15 and 19 when the alleged assaults occurred. Dillon (full name Craig Thomas Dillon) has denied all the claims in a blog post on his website.
Meanwhile, a person named Thomas Corbett, claiming to be “a legal representative for Craig Dillon”, first appeared in media coverage of the accusations on 11 November 2014, when a Daily Dot article was updated to include a statement from Corbett.
Corbett’s name also appeared on a Defamation Notice sent via YouTube to James Pine, one of Dillon’s six accusers. Pine has given TenEighty permission to name him and share the screenshot below.
In the Notice, Corbett identifies Dillon as “my client” and uses the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
On 11 November, The Independent cited an unnamed “lawyer for Dillon”, who was said to be “pursuing defamation action”.
An editorial assistant at The Independent has clarified to TenEighty that “a legal representative for Dillon contacted the paper after the allegations were put to Dillon”.
Corbett’s name reappeared on The Daily Dot on 12 November, which also referenced the Independent coverage. A Daily Dot editor explicitly identified Corbett as “Dillon’s lawyer”, and revealed that he had “threatened to initiate legal proceedings against the Daily Dot”.
However, TenEighty has discovered that the Law Society database, which keeps a public record of registered legal practitioners in the United Kingdom, has no record of a Thomas Corbett.
Moreover, TenEighty has learned that a ‘Thomas Corbett’, using the same email@example.com email address, has previously contacted concert promoters, claiming to be “from YouTube” and attempting to obtain backstage passes and interviews for Dillon’s YouTube channel.
It would, therefore, appear that Dillon has established a historical pattern of misrepresenting the active participation of YouTube management in obtaining special and inappropriate favours for his personal channel, explaining how Dillon has demonstrated an uncanny ability to obtain tickets and backstage passes to concerts and celebrity appearances unavailable to most other YouTubers.
A prominent YouTuber, who has asked to remain anonymous, contacted TenEighty after recognising the name ‘Thomas Corbett’ from a series of emails he received on 20 October 2014.
The emails show ‘Thomas Corbett’ – once again using firstname.lastname@example.org, and writing “on behalf of” Craig Dillon – had contacted a tour promoter (who has also asked to remain anonymous), claiming to be “Tom from YouTube” and requesting interviews with various bands at YouTube Space London for Dillon’s YouTube channel.
The tour promoter, unsure if Corbett was genuine, asked the prominent YouTuber for advice, as the tour promoter thought it “seemed a bit off” that the emails sent in Corbett’s name had apparently come from Dillon himself.
Significantly, the youtubermanagement.com domain, from which ‘Corbett’ sent emails claiming to be “Tom from YouTube” and, as of this week, “a legal representative” of Dillon’s, is publicly listed as being registered to – you guessed it – Craig Dillon.
It appears that Dillon purchased the youtubermanagement.com domain on 16 April 2014, the day before the start of McBusted’s 2014 tour.
TenEighty has verified that the contact details associated with the domain are also Dillon’s. TenEighty also understands that no-one named Thomas Corbett has ever worked for YouTube.
The Solicitors Act 1974 states that “any unqualified person who wilfully pretends to be, or takes or uses any name, title, addition or description implying that he is, qualified or recognised by law, to act as a solicitor” is guilty of an offence.
When TenEighty approached Dillon for comment, he said:
“Thomas Corbett is a relative of mine who works with me. He uses the domain owned by me because he works with me. At no point has he ever stated to be a lawyer or legal representative. That is one of the many false claims the websites have reported. Thomas works with me, therefore he can reply to emails on my behalf.
“We sent a joint email to The Daily Dot requesting them to clarify the points in their article. As I’m sure you understand, due to current media circumstances, emails sent as myself will be quoted by journalists, so I asked Thomas to send it on my behalf. I have been recently been [sic] discussing many projects with the YouTube Music Team, therefore Thomas and I have been contacting many bands and artists.“
TenEighty contacted an actual attorney, for his professional take. He told us:
“I would first refer you to the Defamation Claim Notice. In that notice, Mr. Corbett represents that he is filing the notice on behalf of Mr. Dillon – his ‘client’. In our opinion, the use of the term ‘client’ is an unmistakable attempt to mislead all recipients into believing Mr. Corbett is a lawyer.
“A grandfather or other non-lawyer relative would never call his relative a ‘client’ in a notice of legal claim absent an intention to mislead. This Notice appears to be an intentional fraud on the recipients. It would also appear that the newspaper which referred to Mr. Corbett as Mr. Dillon’s ‘lawyer’ was similarly misled. Any other conclusion would defy reasonability.“
For the latest updates on this story as it develops, follow @TenEightyUK on Twitter.