Plexus Law is investigating two members of staff following accusations of sexual harassment at the office Christmas party.

Last week the insurance firm held its Manchester office party at the Malmaison hotel for 50-60 staff. The festive celebrations took a lewd turn as over a dozen female staff "were groped and/or sexually harassed repeatedly at the party", according to an attendee. They said the number of gropers numbered ten.

"There was unwanted sexual touching of a woman’s breasts, unwanted sexual touching of a number of women’s buttocks, unwanted kissing of their necks" and "other body parts" said another attendee. The shocked staffer also said they witnessed "men grabbing some women” and "rubbing their chests up and down the women’s breasts." 

Numerous unsavoury comments were made at the event, appalled staff alleged. One female staff member had her buttocks grabbed while a leering male colleague exclaimed, “I want to fuck you”, claimed a source.

Another female member of staff was allegedly asked “how do you like to be fucked?” An older, married male colleague allegedly muttered "the things I could do to you" to a junior female member of staff, half his age. Other female staff were asked where they were staying the night and if they wanted company, said a source.

Octopus disco

Spot the gropers.

“We can confirm that we have received a complaint relating to the behaviour of two individuals, which we are actively investigating" a spokesman for Plexus Law told RollOnFriday. "We take any allegations of this nature extremely seriously and we are taking all appropriate action".

Plexus has charged staff to attend the office Christmas party in previous years, but presumably female staff won’t wish to attend future parties even if they’re paid.

Tip Off ROF


Xfactor 20 December 19 08:27

10 blokes committing criminal offences simultaneously at a private party for 50 people? I don’t buy it. There is always a couple of idiots once the beer kicks in, but this sounds like exaggeration to me. 

Menage 20 December 19 08:29

What a shame. Always someone ruins it for everyone else. I remember some cracking parties at Plexus years ago. Good fun and good banter. This sounds scruff. Presume the women reported this abuse at the time? Hope they did. Weed out the idiots who can’t handle their beer. 

Anon 20 December 19 09:04

"Weed out the idiots who can't handle that women are people." Fixed that for you, Menage. It's not the beer that is the problem. 

Anonymous 20 December 19 09:40

What is more shocking about this article is they had a Xmas party at a fancy hotel which was paid for by the firm as opposed by staffers.  When I was there you have fork out for your own do.  Not too surprised this type of behaviour is going on. Living in trendy Chorlton [or possibly Sale - not] and reading the Guardian does not mean you are a nice person or attractive.  Also knowing that firm very well any impartial investigation undertaken by Leeds will find the victims to be the problem and will completely exonerate the badly partners.    

Anonymous 20 December 19 09:47

@Truth-teller It's entirely possible that 10 people acted inappropriately with the firm only investigating 2 of them

Anon 20 December 19 10:35

@Harvey: it is important that victims go public with these matters. Otherwise, people such as Lord Lester QC would have got away with it. 

Anonymous 20 December 19 11:25

The allegations don't say whether the alleged gropers are partners, 9.40, or the alleged victims for that matter.

Anonymous 21 December 19 03:13

This must be a record breaker. 


Who will challenge this total at next years xmas party?

But why? 21 December 19 07:43

Does anyone like office parties.  I always feel like they're more of an obligation than a pleasure.  Most colleagues are unbearable when they're sober.  Why on earth would you want to spend time with them when they've had a drink?

Anon 21 December 19 09:10

Lord Lester wasn’t cleared of the findings of sexual harassment and abuse of position. He was given “clearance to practise” by the BSB, in spite of the those findings, which remain unaffected. (Indeed, the BSB had no jurisdiction to consider or interfere with the fact-finding process or result. The BSB’s remit was to determine whether Lord Lester was fit to continue practising in light of his established conduct.)

Helmsman 22 December 19 22:06

I see it's all over the tabloids. Great publicity.  Watch the insurance company backlash. Major loss not looking so major. 

Bird from the Co-op 23 December 19 09:55

Plexus - you just cant buy this kind of publicity.  Will the insurance clients keep with you.  Got to rush I need to stop by Miller Street and pass on some news.

Anonymous 23 December 19 16:38

No, Lord Lester was completely cleared of any wrongdoing by the BSB, who had full jurisdiction. They made no finding of sexual harassment or abuse of position.

Anonymous 23 December 19 23:55

Whether or not there is a backlash from insurance clients might depend on whether the allegations are true or not.

Helmsman 24 December 19 12:20

@ 23.55 the internal investigation outcome will depend on who is doing the investigation and more importantly whether the badly behaved males are business crucial or not. If they deemed strategically important they will be cleared to carry on. 

Anon 25 December 19 06:21

Lord Lester was given clearance to practise, not cleared of the findings of harassment and abuse of position made by the Lords. Those findings remain. The BSB has confirmed this. 

Anonymous 26 December 19 00:16

@Helmsman - at this stage we don't know if there were any badly behaved males, so the most important issue facing the investigator is establishing whether or not there were. It is to be hoped that any investigation is fair and won't be influenced by who is doing the investigation, by prejudgements of guilt, by external pressure for a guilty finding or by whether or not the accusers or accusees are business critical or not.

Anonymous 26 December 19 09:28

25th @ 6.21, Lester was completely cleared by the BSB who made no findings against him. Where is your source of the BSB confirming that they believe Lester guilty of anything?

seamus 27 December 19 18:35

3 suspended not two. Hopefully all sacked. As should the top female employee who laughed as the breasts of two young apprentices were exposed by a lecherous female manager at another sites summer function.

Get a grip 27 December 19 21:35

Not just miller street insurer client. Manchester office staff work for a number of clients. Truth will out. Suspect all taken out of proportion. Someone get rejected?? 

Anonymous 30 December 19 10:58

Hopefully they'll only be sacked or disciplined if they actually did anything Seamus. Were the top female employee and lecherous female manager reported, and was it established that they did what they were accused of?

anon 30 December 19 11:02

The BSB have made it clear in a statement that (i) they did not clear Lord Lester, but rather gave him clearance to practise; and (ii) the findings made by the Commissioner and Committee, as endorsed by the House of Lords, remain unaffected.

Anonymous 30 December 19 13:24

Get a grip. Is that the same as turn a blind eye to sexist bigots. I bet you use the mantra man up too. Typical rubbish from poor leaders. I know one major insurer will not like being linked to this type of conduct.  Look what happened  at Clydes

Anonymous 03 January 20 07:29

No, Lord Lester was cleared by the BSB, and the Lords merely recognised that the Commissioner and Committee stated an opinion. The found that the process undergone by Lester was unfair.

Anonymous 03 January 20 08:36

Alleged conduct 30th @ 13.24 (the allegations are being investigated to see whether or not they're true). What happened at Clydes?

Anon 04 January 20 15:45

As for Lord Lester, the House of Lords upheld the findings of the Committee and recommended that Lord Lester be suspended. He resigned before that suspension could be implemented - with all the attendant negative connotations.

The initial vote was that the process was unfair. The matter was then remitted to the Committee to reconsider; the Committee concluded the process was fair; the Lords then reconsidered the matter and voted to approve the conclusion of the Committee that the process was fair. So the Lords decided the process was fair.

“The Senior Deputy Speaker

The noble Lord said that there were six contemporaneous witnesses. We invite Members to read their accounts.

In her own words,

“on the basis of the strong and cogent evidence of the complainant and her witnesses”,

the commissioner found that Jasvinder Sanghera was a victim of sexual harassment and that Lord Lester was guilty of a grave abuse of power. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct reviewed and endorsed this view. We ask the House to do the same. I hope the House will now agree to this report.

Motion agreed.”

The Hansard report speaks for itself. The House of Lords endorsed the findings of the Committee that (a) Lord Lester was guilty; and (b) the process which determined Lord Lester’s guilt was fair.

So despite being found guilty, after a fair process, of sexual harassment and abuse of position, Lord Lester was not sanctioned by the BSB.

Anonymous 06 January 20 17:09

In reality, Lord Lester, who most people view as a victim, was not voted out of the House of Lords. The only vote which took place decided that the process used against Lester was unfair. He subsequently resigned from the House of Lords due to the impact upon his health (he was 82 at the time). The Bar Standards Board subsequently cleared Lester of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

SecularJurist 06 January 20 19:20

Perhaps they misunderstood the meaning of the venue as a mal maison .

Seriously, though, the organisation in question needs to review its harassment policy. 


SecularJurist 06 January 20 19:28

The English disease is to hold an office do, especially at Christmas without food and allows reckless drinking. It is the crude, binge-drinking culture that shames us in Europe. The laddish, loutish, chavvy behaviour is the national sport.

The conduct is not just a sign of mere drink-fuelled loutishness as if they are on holiday in 'Spyne', but criminal offences, namely, sexual assault. 

Bird from the Co-op 07 January 20 17:40

Heard on the QT that Miller St are not too pleased with this news.  Also good luck attracting Aviva to your portfolio.  Ain't gonna happen. I can see this going in the same direction as the MOD contract I.e up the road to Bolton.


Anon 07 January 20 18:14

As regards, Lord Lester, the Hansard report speaks for itself. The House voted to endorse the findings of the Committee that Lester was guilty of sexual harassment and abuse of position, and that the process by which he was found guilty was a fair one. That is why they recommended that he be suspended. In turn, that is why he referred himself to the BSB when the House reached its decision. (No need if the House had rejected the Committee’s decision and thereby exonerated him.)

The issue before the BSB was whether, despite his conduct, he should be given clearance to practise. The BSB gave him such clearance.

Anonymous 07 January 20 18:33

That's assuming of course that the version of events was as you described SecularJurist. And of course there has been no accusation of criminality.

Anonymous 08 January 20 10:10

7th @ 17.40 - it mostly likely won't make any difference to clients until it has been established what actually happened.

Anonymous 08 January 20 11:49

Plexus HR - a harassment policy is a document outlining a firm's policy towards allegations of harassment. It should ensure due process for the accuser and the accused and not be used as a way to justify punishing people for the enjoyment of others. Something that is often overlooked is that a false allegation of harassment is itself a form of harassment, and this should be specifically addressed in the policy.

Anonymous 08 January 20 16:38

It would appear the Firm are doing the right thing and investigating matters. The actions of a few idiots should not reflect on the whole Firm. Surely all the bad comments would be more justified if the Firm were archaic and brushed this matter under the carpet. However, the article itself makes reference to the Firm investigating and if there is any truth to the allegations, hopefully the appropriate action is taken. So please pipe down! ?

Anonymous 08 January 20 17:29

The reality is that Lord Lester, who most people view as a victim, was not voted out of the House of Lords. The only vote which took place decided that the process used against Lester was unfair. He subsequently resigned from the House of Lords due to the impact upon his health (he was 82 at the time). The Bar Standards Board subsequently cleared Lester of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Helmsman 08 January 20 19:43

@ 18.33 on 7th. If the behaviour was as described the unwanted bodily contact would amount to a crime. Being a bit handsy can also get you struck off let alone fired. I have no faith Leeds will do a proper investigation esp. If the bad guys are business critical whereas the victims are already at a disadvantage by being juniors.

Anon 09 January 20 14:11

It is a sad end to a career for Anthony Lester. At least he was able to resign from the Lords before the vote to expel him was capable of being implemented. He had a very distinguished practice as a Silk and was a champion of women’s rights. The only explanation for his behaviour was that having a peerage went to his head. 

Anonymous 09 January 20 18:05

@Helmsmann - the key part is 'if the behaviour was as described'. And there hasn't been an accusation of criminality (either sexual assault or malicious allegation of such). At this stage we dont know if its 'bad guys' or 'bad gals'. Unclear why being junior could be thought to be a disadvantage.

Anonymous 09 January 20 18:39

Given that there have been only two or three suspensions, it seems so far that either the accusation that there were 10 gropers was itself false, or that 7 or eight people have been falsely accused of groping.

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