Ex Clydes partner claims she was sacked for whistleblowing and pregnancy
08 June 2012
Clyde & Co
has found itself plastered all over the national press as
it gears up for an employment tribunal brought by a former
equity partner. The partner alleges she was booted out of the firm after revealing a culture of
bribery in its office in Tanzania.
Clydes has twice tried to stall Krista Bates van Winkelhof's claim. First it appealed to the court to stay proceedings whilst alternative dispute mechanisms stipulated under the partnership agreement were explored. But the High Court ruled against the firm. More recently, it attempted to get the claim thrown out for lack of jurisdiction. But whilst Clydes was successful at the pre-hearing review, the Employment Appeals Tribunal overturned the decision ruling that van Winkelhof was a "worker
" therefore entitled to make protected disclosures as a whistleblower, according to a Lawyer report
Van Winkelhof had previously worked at Shadbolts, which seconded her to Ako Law in Tanzania. She transferred to Clydes when it merged with Shadbolts, joining the firm's equity partnership in February 2010. She swiftly rose to prominence, becoming Tanzania's number one lawyer according to PLC Which Lawyer?
. But life in paradise was not all it seemed, and Van Winkelhof grew suspicious of her Managing Partner, Kibuta Ongwamuhana, who she claims admitted paying bribes to secure work and influence the outcome of cases. She reported him to Clydes' money laundering officers.
According to van Winkelhof, she was sacked by Ako Law the day after reporting the alleged bribes (although she's still on the firm's website
) and returned to London, but was then ejected from Clydes' partnership in January 2011. Van Winkelhof claims the firm kicked her out for reporting the bribes and/or because of her pregnancy. Clydes denies the allegations.
The full hearing is scheduled for later this month.