Under the Wig

A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence

William Clegg

Lawyer William Clegg recounts his most famous murder trials in this vivid and revealing memoir.
Date Published :
October 2018
Publisher :
Canbury Press
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781912454082
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 8.5 X 5.3 inches
Stock Status : In stock


'GRIPPING' – The Times


How can you speak up for someone accused of a savage murder? Or sway a jury? Or get a judge to drop a case?

William Clegg QC is a leading criminal lawyer in London. In this vivid memoir, he revisits his most notorious and intriguing trials, from the acquittal of Colin Stagg to the murder of Jill Dando, to the man given life because of an earprint and the first Nazi war crimes prosecution in the UK.

All the while he lays bare the secrets of his profession, from the rivalry among barristers to the nervous moments before a verdict comes back — and how our right to a fair trial is now at risk.

Under the Wig is for anyone who wants to know the reality of a murder trial. It's an intelligent crime read for fans of The Secret Barrister's Stories of the Law and How It's Broken and Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd.

Well-known cases featured:

• Murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common

• Chillenden Murders (Dr Lin and Megan Russell)

• Trial of Private Lee Clegg

• Murder of Jill Dando

• First Nazi war crimes prosecution in the UK

• Murder of Joanna Yeates

• Rebekah Brooks Phone Hacking Trial

About The Author

William Clegg QC is one of the most celebrated criminal lawyers in England.

A practising barrister for 47 years, he has fought more than 100 murder cases, more than anyone else practising at the English bar.

As London's leading murder case layer, he has represented clients at some of the best-known criminal trials in living memory. His cases include the Wimbledon Common murder of Rachel Nickell; the Chillenden murders (Dr Lin and Megan Russell); the Earprint murder; the murder of Jill Dando; Private Lee Clegg (Northern Ireland); the murder of Joanna Yeates; Nazi war crimes in Britain; Rebekah Brooks’s phone hacking trial; and international war crimes tribunal (Yugoslavia)

He is head of chambers at 2 Bedford Row in London.


Introduction: How can you defend a man like that?

Case 1: The Wimbledon Common Murder 

Perry Mason and the Art of Advocacy

Case 2: The Murder of Samantha Bisset

Ronnie Trott, pupil master

Case 3: The Chillenden Murders

Learning how to fight a case

Case 4: Helen Hodgson

Mutiny at 3 Hare Court

Case 5: Waking the Dead in Belarus

How to Become a QC

Case 6: Andrusha the Bastard

Defending Fraudsters

Case 7: Convicted by Earprint

Winning the Trust of a Judge

Case 8: Private Clegg and the Joyriders

How to Appeal to a Jury

Case 9: A Murder Without a Body?

21st Century Set

Case 10: War Crimes in the Balkans

Inside Chambers: Rivalry and Camaraderie

Case 11: The Murder of Jill Dando

Bribery and Corruption

Case 12: A Ghetto Shoot-out in Jamaica

Trying Times for Legal Aid

Case 13: The Murder of Joanna Yeates

Private Clients

Case 14: The Phone Hacking Trial

Afterword: A Life of Crime




One of England's best barristers provides a fascinating sometimes hilarious combination of a personal odyssey and insider accounts of the most important and famous court  cases of recent times.

From the infamous case of Colin Stagg and the Wimbledon Murders to war crimes in Belarus and Bosnia and the Murdoch phone hacking trials we share and applaud the author's deep commitment to justice and his infectious enthusiasm for one of the world's greatest professions.

An absolute must read for anyone who aspires to join the legal profession — and anyone who already has.

- Bob Marshall-Andrews QC

Bill Clegg's memoir draws on some of the most high-profile criminal prosecutions of recent years to illuminate the career of a defence lawyer at the peak of his success.

Deftly weaving personal reminiscences into the view from counsel's bench, he solves one high-profile murder case long before the police and ensures that justice is finally done in another after the tactics adopted by a better-known QC have led to a miscarriage of justice. 

Unlike many works of this genre, Clegg's case-book eschews endless exchanges with long-forgotten judges, lawyers and villains. Like the successful jury advocate that he is, Clegg reduces his story to its essence. He speaks plainly, sparing us the the bombast and the braggadocio. 

And those who still aspire to join the criminal bar will learn more from Clegg than Clegg ever did from Perry Mason.

- Joshua Rozenberg QC

This is a gripping memoir from one of our country's greatest jury advocates, offering a fascinating, no-holds-barred tour behind the scenes of some of the most famous criminal cases of modern times.

- The Secret Barrister

"Under the Wig mixes the excitement of the courtroom and some practical tips on advocacy with the more mundane life of the working lawyer."

- The Sunday Times

"Many of us conceive of murderers as uniquely wicked individuals, destined for evil by their sociopathic tendencies. Having worked on more than 100 trials, Clegg believes the opposite. “Murder is frequently committed by people who have no previous criminal record, and represents a breakdown in a domestic setting,” he says, “whether it is the single mother who cannot stop shaking a screaming child, or a partner who hits out.”

- The Daily Telegraph

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