Hill Dickinson and RPC have cut ties with members of Exeter University's Law Society after they made wildly racist comments in a WhatsApp group.

In the exchanges on the 'Dodgy Blokes Soc' group chat, law students including future Hill Dickinson trainee and General Secretary of the Bracton Law Society, Matthew Bell, and an RPC Brand Ambassador and the BLS pro bono officer, Alex Crawford, used racial epithets to refer to their peers. They also proposed a race war and joked about gang raping other students. Screengrabs of the chat were exposed on Twitter and Facebook by Exeter Uni Law School student Arsalan Motavali, who said he decided to reveal the messages after seeing the coverage of racist chants at Nottingham Trent University.

In the chat, the students frequently used terms such as "n***er", "coon" and "monkey". Bell suggested organising a social "where we invite pure ragheads and turn them away". First year law student Bailey Grant replied that they should hold the event in South Africa instead as it "means we can add in gang rape". He said they could "buy blacks in bulk" and put "bars on the shed". Crawford replied "You only need to go as far as Mauritania to get slaves. Much cheaper". In January this year, the group again turned to the subject of rape, with Bell commenting, 'Hey rape is funny'. He asked Grant to tell a female student they knew that "we'd all like to gang rape her".

Motavali set up the WhatsApp group in 2017, but said that when Bell took over as the administrator and added more students the content "became increasingly racist and deplorable". Motavali said he decided to stay in the group to collect evidence. "I refuse to stand by and let such people who speak in these terms go on to recruit at future law firms", he said, while "cowering behind their phones and talking like this about people that are part of the society they represent".

In the chat, Bell said of a fellow student, "He's such a stupid little arse licking paki". Ash Chandraharan, who is currently running to become the next Bracton Law Society General Secretary, replied, "He's why I'm for racial discrimination", and referred to another person as "such a dirty arab". The group also discussed a photo of London Mayor Sadiq Khan at a football stadium. Grant, identified in the screenshots by the last three digits of his telephone number, 594, commented, "I'm disgusted", "get that cancer away from my ground", and "this is why we need a race war".


  Cockwise from left: Bell, Crawford, Grant, Chandraharan.

Within 15 hours of Motavali posting the messages on social media this week, Hill Dickinson and RPC both severed ties with Bell and Crawford. In a statement, Hill Dickinson CEO Peter Jackson confirmed the firm had terminated Bell's training contract. He said, "We are deeply disturbed by the messages that were brought to our attention last night and would like to stress that the views expressed by the individual and others involved in this matter do not in any way represent the views of the firm and we absolutely do not condone this behaviour."

RPC Training Principal Simon Hart said that the firm had ended its relationship with Crawford. The student, who did not have a training contract with RPC, was paid by an agency on behalf of the firm to promote RPC on campus. Just not like this. Hart said, "We are absolutely appalled by what we have read this morning, and condemn this sort of behaviour in the strongest possible terms. It is indefensible, vile, and has no place in any society. Despite the fact this individual was never an employee of RPC we, of course, treat the situation as seriously as if he was – it goes wholly against everything we stand for". It went so far as to terminate its 'Brand Ambassador agreement' with the agency who employed him.

Bracton Law Society said it had booted the students from its committee and banned Chandraharan from standing for election, while the University of Exeter has suspended the students while it investigates. On Thursday Bell apologised in a statement to the BBC, saying, "I will not attempt to excuse and deny any of the statements I have made. The comments, which I shall not repeat, are inexcusable and undeniably wrong. I would like to make it publicly known that I do not honestly believe any of the things I have said".

On Facebook, shaken Exeter Uni student Chris Omanyondo said, "These are people who I shared the pitch with week in and week out, have been out with, who have smiled in my face for several months, only to find that in their eyes, I’m 'a happy monkey more like'".

Screenshots from the group chat:



























Tip Off ROF

This Week’s News

Comments

Anonymous 23 March 18 08:36

May these four individuals get their just desserts: this has to be one of the most vile and deplorable reports to feature on ROF. To think of all that their parents/carers have invested in them being blown to hell like this. Time to pay the piper and face the music for your sins lads... and may someone take mercy on your souls. On the positive side, four less for the rest of the UK's aspiring trainee solicitors to compete with me thinks!

Anonymous 23 March 18 09:38

I am astounded at what these people have written. Bell's own apology (I am not sure it really qualifies as an apology?) is pretty pathetic: "I do not honestly believe any of the things I have said". It rather begs the question, "why say them", and even then, "what happened to your independence of thought?". I wonder whether he really has a spine or any self-control at all.

I've seen people get involved in some pretty loose chat on social media at times, but this is way beyond anything I have ever seen.

I hope that these people are never employed in the profession in any way, certainly not as colleagues as mine.

Anonymous 23 March 18 09:38

In bird culture, publishing private communication to put someone on the pillory is considered a dick move.

Anonymous 23 March 18 09:49

I found those messages really hard to read. I trust Exeter will be kicking them out?

Anonymous 23 March 18 10:07

WTF did I just read?! These dudes are massive tossers and deserve everything that is coming to them...

Anonymous 23 March 18 10:07

Absolutely no chance of any of this lot ever getting a job now that this is what will come up when their names are googled, which is the least they deserve. Here's hoping they're also kicked out by the university. Absolutely deplorable - they would clearly never be fit for practice.

Anonymous 23 March 18 10:47

Can't say it better than 08:36 but just wanted to add another voice to say how despicable these people are. Hopefully this is the only necessary and very large nail in the charred remains of what was their respective careers.

Anonymous 23 March 18 10:57

Imagine facing one of them now in a TC interview. How would you react? I'd be more than tempted to ditch the set questions and given them a total grilling.

Anonymous 23 March 18 11:54

"I would like to make it publicly known that I do not honestly believe any of the things I have said".

I mean..... I am so sick and tired of hearing this. If you put it out there, you meant it. Own your crap.

Anonymous 23 March 18 12:04

I can understand why their non white friend dobbed them in it. Okay young people often do have extreme views, show off to friends, go along with others because they are weak but even allowing fior all that and even allowing for the fact it was private chat, I just don't believe they don't have the views they express. Even if they don't have those views and even allowing for their age most teenagers would not be foolish enough to express them even on closed whatsapp chat. We all know people can photograph chat when shown it on a phone. It's there forever.

I want to know why they hold those views though, more than anything else. Is it their parents? Is it their schools?

Anonymous 23 March 18 12:32

These are not the first racist, sexist, entitled dickheads to hold or air these views, and they won’t be the last.

What shocks me is their utter arrogance - they knew this was a forum with many members and they knew any online conversation can be recorded. Nonetheless, they had no hesitation in saying these things and egging each other on to even more monstrous words, feeling safe that they would never be challenged. They are educated, clever and still hold these views. Their privilege made them feel untouchable. How many more are out there or in our offices?

Anonymous 23 March 18 12:54

These chats are bordering on evil. They can't dismiss it as attempts at shock humour. It is inexcusable.

Anonymous 23 March 18 13:51

deplorable - how do these cretins get into university, let alone the law, with conduct like this

Anonymous 23 March 18 15:45

Exeter Uni is 'investigating'. How long will it take to kick them out? Amazed the morons thought that this wouldn't be exposed. Clearly Exeter has low entry standards as it seems to allow in the most thick shits going. Any chance of them being prosecuted for hate crimes? I bet not, not doubt 'good boys really' from posh backgrounds.
PS - paid by an agency on behalf of the firm to promote RPC on campus - how low can you get?

Anonymous 23 March 18 16:25

‘Clockwise’, 10.36. It’s the same way your watch goes round. From the photo I think the most pertinent observation is ‘I can’t believe Bell and Crawford aren’t brothers’.

Anonymous 23 March 18 17:01

@ Anon 09:38/ In any civilised culture, spewing vile filth like this is considered a dick move. Are you perhaps of a similar mind to these evil little turds?

Anonymous 23 March 18 18:45

Horrible chat. They may pretend it was 'bants' or trying to shock each other and out-do one another with offensiveness but it's deplorably behaviour. It's hardly an off the cuff remark as the comments covered an extensive period of time.

Arsalan Motavali also does not come across well by being a grass. Should have taken it discreetly to Exeter Uni rather than be a SJW.

Anonymous 24 March 18 22:58

On the contrary - Arsalan Motavali comes across as someone with moral fibre. Are you seriously advocating that nasty little sh1ts like this should be protected?

Anonymous 26 March 18 11:29

Hopefully the police/CPS will get involved because these are some seriously aggressive and disturbing comments.

Anonymous 26 March 18 22:16

Does make you wonder about the number of Partners and heads of legal/ fellow lawyers who have slipped through the net. (Many undoubtedly) the only difference is these imbeciles aired their prejudices while others emerge in covert systematic ways. Racism is not just about the use of the N word or P world. Anyone who has worked in law or any other "professional" environment knows this.

Absolute abhorrent behaviour nonetheless.

Anonymous 27 March 18 12:59

I can't believe how bad these messages are. I know someone on Legal Cheek claimed that they were 'merely' quoting from films, but looking at these I can't believe it at all. I went to Exeter (years ago now) and am, politely, fucking furious about what these fuckheads have done. Has the Uni expelled them yet???

Anonymous 27 March 18 22:45

My thoughts are the same as the last comment: I went to Exeter some time ago and I’m furious anyone thinks this is acceptable “bantz”. I did meet a very few idiots at uni who used unacceptable language and I’m glad to say they were firmly told where to stick it by more than one person. Exeter have responded shamefully and these student should be expelled.

Anonymous 27 March 18 23:31

And this from Exeter, nothing to see here......
good grief

https://thetab.com/uk/exeter/2018/03/22/exeter-students-told-not-to-discuss-racist-hate-speech-on-social-media-38586

Anonymous 28 March 18 10:51

They made a bad mistake. However they are young and they’ll dust themselves down, reflect and improve.

These comments sound like people want to destroy these boys. Surely using this as a spur to improve is better?

Anonymous 28 March 18 15:32

Well grab the pitchforks ma, we got ourselves a good ol' fashioned angry mob! It seems pretty clear that the whole point of the chat was to be as shockingly offensive as possible - a pretty common comedic ritual. I've got no doubt they didn't actually hold any of these views. If they did it would have come out in other parts of their lives. It was a private chat, and I agree with Birdperson - dick move to put on social media, out of context (a joke chat of who can be the most offensive) and thrown to the baying masses of indignation

Anonymous 01 April 18 11:02

Kids - if you read and believe men's rights blogs you too can be a racist, misogynist sh*t stain and ruin your career forever.

Anonymous 01 April 18 11:03

"It was just a joke". The justification of liars, bullies, sexists and racists throughout history.

Anonymous 03 May 18 20:15

These are some of the worst jokes I’ve heard in years. Not my cup of tea.

That said, I am appalled by the raging mob in this comment section that basically wants to ruin these young people’s lives for essentially making awful jokes about taboo subjects... whatever happened to being an idiot, growing up and realising what a tool you were ... and moving on. We are burning these guys at the stake for god’s sake for simple stupidity. Have you all gone mad? If tomorrow I were to go through everything you have said or done since you reached the age of majority what would I find? Sure, some amongst us are without sin, but I bet it’s none of those throwing the stones!

God help us.

Anonymous 04 May 18 14:14

Am I the only one who thinks this arshlan is just a grass? Grassing on his friends?

Why didn't he just leave the group? It's just banter!!

No doubt his career will be ruined as well. Well done there! Who is going to employ a snitch! You backstabbed your pals and ruined their careers. Well done pal!