Who predicted regulators would one day be analysing the yawn/arm manoeuvre.
A former Clyde & Co partner has been rebuked and fined £600 for putting his arm around a trainee in a strip club.
Pete Walmsley was head of the large loss and catastrophic claims team at the firm when he attended a work-related event in November 2017.
After drinks in a local Christmas market and several bars, several attendees called it a night at 10pm and peeled off to the hotel. The trainee, identified as 'AB', Walmsley, two male senior associates (one of whom had supervised AB) and two clients, one male and one female, decided to carry on at another bar instead.
The venue they picked turned out to be a strip club, staffed by women in underwear who were "available to customers for private dances".
The Solicitors Regulation Authority agreed that neither AB nor Walmsley appreciated it was a strip joint until they got inside, and that the partner didn't even know AB was there until he spotted her.
AB felt "uncomfortable" when she realised where she was, but "felt obliged to stay for a short period, primarily because she did not want to embarrass the clients". Then, in the booth where they all sat, the partner placed his arm round her waist. "This was unwanted by AB and it compounded her discomfort, particularly in view of the environment they were in", said the SRA.
Feeling unable to challenge Walmsley’s "unwanted behaviour" because of his seniority and the presence of clients, AB moved away as she "felt uncomfortable with his arm around her". But when she returned, he did it again. After having another drink, she left the club.
Walmsley's embrace in both instances "was done openly, and without any improper or sexual motivation on his part", said the SRA, which also found that Walmsley "did not ask or encourage” AB to go to the club, and that “he had not visited the Club before, and it was not his choice of venue".
However, the partner accepted that he ought to have taken steps to ensure AB was not discomforted "by the nature of the venue", or placed at risk by being there, and that he should have checked whether putting his arm round her would exacerbate her feelings of discomfort.
Walmsley apologised to the trainee when he discovered how she had felt, and the SRA also took into account his subsequent efforts to "prevent his behaviour from being detrimentally impacted by alcohol when in the presence of colleagues or staff".
Clyde & Co sacked him after its own investigation, which was prompted by reports from two junior members of staff. At the time of his dismissal, the firm told RollOnFriday, "We hold ourselves to the highest standards of behaviour and expect all of our partners and staff to act with integrity, maintain high ethical standards and to respect local and global regulatory environments at all times", explaining, "We do not tolerate inappropriate behaviour".
Walmsley has overcome the setback with a new phase of his career at Horwich Farrelly, another insurance specialist. A Horwich Farrelly spokeswoman said, “This incident occurred over five years ago and Peter Walmsley now manages a very successful team at Horwich Farrelly. During his time here he has performed with impeccable conduct and with the full support of his team and clients who were made fully aware of the facts".
The firm said it took "issues of this nature very seriously and agree with the SRA findings that Peter should not have put himself or others in this position", but it emphasised that the SRA noted "there was absolutely no intent from Peter on the evening in question to attend a club of that nature, and there was no sexual or inappropriate motive or intent behind his actions".
"Immediately after the event, and in the years since, Peter has shown that he has taken the matter extremely seriously and regrets the incident wholeheartedly", said the spokesperson. "He has focused on his personal development to ensure he always puts the wellbeing of every team member first, in every situation. It is due to his constructive approach since the event that Horwich Farrelly believed he deserved the chance to further his career".
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Storm in a teacup!!
Let's drag this person's name through the mud publicly for a one-off mistake which cost him his job, five years ago.
One has to question the logic of taking *any* employee into a strip club.
"Let's drag this person's name through the mud publicly for a one-off mistake which cost him his job, five years ago."
We have literally no other purpose.
If we weren't doing this then our jobs would be meaningless and redundancy would beckon.
Our survival depends upon the processing of this kind of triviality.
It's you or us.
I thought the No touching rule only applied to the strippers, not the trainees too.
@10.57 - it was accepted that neither of them knew it was a strip club. And if the SRA fined everyone with questionable logic they'd be very busy.
So your choice is, after the Supreme Court ruling, incur irrecoverable costs of 250k or take a bullshit rebuke and pay £600 to a twisted and out of control woke regulator. No choice really, is it?
I feel very sorry for him, there seems to be very little in this.
The SRA is an out of touch attack dog. It is an embarrassment to the profession.
Is this a hangover from the bullshit “me too” crap the SRA misguidedly embraced? Over-reaching yet again.
I’m sure many of us have done much much worse things…..
An investigation taking 5 years to conclude?
Disproportionate and pathetic but nothing less than we might expect from the SRA.
He sounds like my sort of chap! Give him a peerage!
I would have loved this form of affection from my supervisor. Instead, he just kept on looking at Her bosoms, during a 2 4 1 dance at the Windmill.
@11:35 - hear hear!
The legal profession gives good legal advice to clients. Take this piece of advice, drinking alcohol with clients often leads to stupid errors of judgement.
Lol #astroturf comnents
I’m sure many of us have done much much worse things…..
Which is exactly why attention needs to be drawn to the fact you can actually get into trouble for this at some firms. Well done to the partner for showing contrition. Less so for all of types who think its OK to invade their employee's personal space.
*cue the barrage of thumbs down by a bunch of a certain type of bloke*
Whenever I "accidentally" take a female trainee into a strip club I always give her a cuddle.
After all, I don't want her to feel uncomfortable.
Judging by the comments feels like we are all ok with strip clubs being an acceptable part of law firm activity?
@11.56 - why do you want to peer at him for ages?
By the pricking of my thumbs, a series of unproductive enquiries this way comes.
Premonitions see at 11.12 and 16.42.
Say nought or he shall question you.
Arm around midriff, no groping nor touching suggestively.
It all seems a bit harsh.
However, I would never take a female, particularly a junior staffer into a table dancing club. I've been in hundreds and the performances are pretty, how shall we say, well extreme .
@12.57 - you can't hear it, its a written comment!
@Acronym - he didn't realise it was a strip club.
She's very likely to feel uncomfortable if you take her to a strip club and give her a cuddle Toby!
Taking her to a strip club by accident and putting your arm around her as a gesture of support perhaps less so.
You should have asked him Harold!
@ Now You Tell Me - I think the no touching rule probably only applies to sexual touching. Shaking hands is probably ok.
As soon as he realised it was a strip club, he should have informed the clients that it was not appropriate for him and the other lawyers to be there with them. That would likely have been fully understood by the clients. The group could then have left.
One can almost smell the disdain from the SRA in having to deal with this. Im sure outside of the hearing they feel a lot if sympathy for Walmsley and consider him blameless. I doubt they think much of the two junior members of staff who reported this, nor of Clyde who over-escalated it.
27th @ 13.53 - only if the alcohol is drunk to excess!
Was AB drunk? She made the same error as Walmsley in ending up in the strip club without realising what it was. And staying 'because she didn't want to embarass the clients' was an error of judgement (if true that this was the reason). She's a grown woman and not a 12 year old - even if drunk she should have been mature enough to leave if she felt it was inappropriate when she realised what it was, not stay and complain later. I hope Clyde trained her to be more responsible in future - she's working with clients in a responsible job.
@Anonymous 28 May 22 07:37
My hands are always shaking inside strip clubs.
'Uncomshtable' and 'unwanted behaviour' are emotive buzzwords which are often used in this type of claim. They ought to raise red flags.
Some people claim he didn’t realise it was a strip club.
I find that tests my view of reality more than a bit.
If you walk into such a venue, and by the way there are usually big warnings outside that it is an adult venue, and you see a lady dancing naked around a pole, whilst others are walking around almost naked, and there is a side room with more ladies dancing naked on tables, would you mistake it for a normal pub or restaurant?
27th @ 14.45 - unlikely anyone would get in trouble for this nowadays. Anyone who thinks putting a sympathetic arm around someone is 'invading employee's personal space' probably shouldn't be passing judgement on cases like this. Glad his new firm are standing by him.
*cue the barrage of thumbs down by a bunch of a certain type of girl*
Aaaah... the old "we went into a strip club by mistake and were too embarrassed to leave" defence.
Said something similar to my second ex-wife about how I had sex with her predecessor. And her best friend. And her sister.
Haven't tried it at work yet though.
@27th @18.48 - your thumbs are less likely to be pricked and more likely to be painful from all of your multiple upvoting of your own comments and multiple downvoting of others.
Why do you object to questions being asked?
Anon 28 May 22 08:28: absolutely.
28th @ 8.28 - I think it was better that he stayed and looked after the trainee. The other lawyers and the clients may well have wanted to stay. He probably handled it the best way in the circumstances.
Question Man 27 May 22 18:48: yes, and our favourite sociopath is also at large in Anonymous 27 May 22 21:21; Anonymous 27 May 22 22:54; Anonymous 28 May 22 07:19; Anonymous 28 May 22 07:37; Anonymous 28 May 22 08:56; Anonymous 28 May 22 09:18; Anonymous 28 May 22 12:09; Anonymous 28 May 22 14:27; and No Answer Woman 29 May 22 09:27.
Anonymous 28 May 22 08:56: unlikely that the SRA considered Walmsley to be blameless, given that they sanctioned him. The SRA's views on the other members of staff and Clyde are unknown and in any event irrelevant, because no charges were brought against them, let alone found; however, given their findings against Walmsely, it is likely that they had sympathy for AB and for Clyde's decision to sack him.
Anonymous 28 May 22 09:18: no lack of judgement from AB. As a trainee, it is understandable that she felt that removing the partner’s hand from her waist or leaving the club would give a bad impression to the clients.
No Answer Woman 29 May 22 09:27: what we object to about your questions is that they are all raised in bad faith.
What gender were the two junior members of staff who reported this?
Am I the only one hearing echoes of Withnail and I and "we came on holiday by mistake".
I'm just glad he didn't get his Camberwell Carrot out.
How on God's Green Earth can you go into a strip club without realising it?
28th @ 11.42 - No doubt, but that doesn't change the fact that shaking hands with other people is probably ok.
Debatable it was still a 'work event' by the time they got to the strip club.
@Acronym - he didn't just say it, the SRA (who operate a low threshold of guilt in these matters) found neither he nor AB knew it was a strip club before they went in. You talk a lot about how he (but for some reason not her) must have realised it was a strip club when they were inside, but nobody is saying they didn't, however they didn't know beforehand. You're believing some bits if the judgement and not others.
Sadly there are some people who believe any accusations where the accused are men, and won't believe findings if they don't give them the outcome they want to see. That's why is so important that cases are properly investigated.
If you believe Walmsley knew it was a strip club beforehand then you must believe AB knew it was a strip club beforehand, in which case there would be no case to answer about the strip club.
@09.27 - What is harassment?
Baby don't question me.
Baby don't question me.
She's very likely to feel uncomfortable if you take her to a strip club and give her a cuddle Toby!
I don't know where you got any of that from.
If you re-read my post carefully you'll see that it quite clearly says "What the actual fuck!". All in capital letters.
The SRA plainly took this seriously - and rightly so.
As punishments go, having to work at Horrible Family comes close to the line demarking 'cruel and unusual'.
28th @ 09.18 - Seriously?
You're actually going with victim shaming, because she's found herself in a situation that no-one should ever have to find oneself, but relative power (still) frequently places junior employees? No firm I'm aware of spends long 'training' female lawyers how to not put themselves in these situations; possibly because none should need to. Why should they be accountable for staying one step ahead of their boss's or their clients' combination of lechery and inebriation? You're an utter disgrace for writing this comment; although I suspect you know how disgraceful your comment is, but it's easy when anonymous, eh?
The Sun covered this story at the time - suffice it to say it was more sensationalist in its representation; but eminently more believable. I truly hope Walmsley has changed his ways since then. The clients clearly don't care one way or the other, and shame on the SRA for presiding over a despicable sweep under the carpet.
And we're meant to be in the 'justice' game...
Anonymous 29 May 22 18:06: Remember that whether or not Walmsley or AB knew it was a strip club before going there is not the point. What is the point - and the matter for which Walmsley was sanctioned - was for putting his arm around AB’s waist twice, without her consent, thus making her feel uncomfortable.
Anonymous 30 May 22 12:22: the comment made on 28th @ 09.18 was by everyone’s favourite sociopath, AKA Question Man. His comments (including Anonymous 29 May 22 18:06) are never made seriously: they are made in bad faith. Best just to ignore him.
@29th @ 11.13 - yes, absolutely wrong
@29th @11.19 - what is it you find 'sociopathic' about asking questions?
29th @ 11.27 - unlikely the SRA thought Walmsley had done much wrong, hence the small fine. One fee they would have done nothing if it was politically acceptable. You can almost smell the disdain that they must have felt in having to deal with this and they will have viewed this as an over-reaction from AB. Their views on the two junior complainants would be both interesting and highly relevant given the possibility that the complaints might have been malicious. Tellingly the SRA don't say they support Walmsley's sacking, which came at a time of hysteria.
@29th @ 11.55 - why do you think that any questions about this are in bad faith? And even if you do, why do you think that the answers to those questions are irrelevant?
@29th @ 15.40 - they both did go by mistake though, although neither if them got anything out. And the SRA are quite clear that they went by mistake.
@29th @15.42 - ask AB
There's no doubt that Walmsley and AB didn't know it was a strip club.
Bit unfair that Walmsley (he) was named and not AB (she).
@11.19 - Yo! This is your favourite sociopath on the mic! One night only! Stand back while I bust m'ting real style selecta! Shout this one out to my brother from another mother:
I'm the Question Man and I gots mad flow
Feminazi oppression I'll overthrow
Asking the questions to wake up society
No Answer Woman is just gonna cry at me
Bringing the truth for my mandem crew
You just a loser stuck on doc review
I travel the world on premium economy flights
Tireless defender of all mens rights
Y'all say Pete's a sleazy partner, but he ain't your enemy
My truth bombs drop: He was just being friendly
Catastrophic Claims Boss they call him Don Walmsley
All his new colleagues speak of him warmly
But protecting a colleague from vice and sleaze
Got him innumerable RadFem enemies
Evil harridans, a plague on God's earth
Bet every one of them is a TERF
They'll come for the TWAW's then come for you
Call the Question Man is what you gotta do.
@29th @ 19.34 - yes, a lot if accusations of harassment are made by people who don't know what harassment is.
No more what?
@30th May 6.13 - the SRA are sending out the message that these types of complaints shouldn't be being brought anymore, nor should firms be sacking staff for these types of allegations.
Which is the right message.
And which is why we won't be seeing many of these claims in the future.
@Anonymous 30 May 22 12:22
I love you a thousand.
30th @ 9.31 - how come?
Hardly a “despicable sweep under the carpet” because he received a rebuke.
My issue is the SRA’s latest attempt at being moral arbitrator. The SRA appears to have learnt nothing from the Beckwith shambles but on this occasion it found a target who was unwilling or unable to fight. The SRA loves that kind of target and disgracefully “investigated” for 5 years before presumably concluding it at least needed something to show for its pedestrian like endeavours. No doubt there was an “accept the rebuke or risk losing your house” ultimatum given.
I cannot see any sound basis for even a rebuke.
A lack of equality of arms combined with an inability to recover costs from the SRA drove this outcome and that is a complete disgrace.
@30th 12.22 - yes, seriously. The 'justice game' involves looking at the evidence and following due process to reach conclusions, not rushing to judgement based on gender. There is no victim shaming because there is no victim and no shaming in relation to what happened at the strip club, although Walmsley is a victim by having been named.
To you, a man who accidentally enters a strip club is lecherous and inebriated, but a woman, who may have being inebriated and did the exact same thing is to be defended. This was a grown woman, not a child, and if anything is an 'utter disgrace', it is your infantilisation of women. I hope AB has learned from this and that Clyde trained her to change her ways after it. Your double standards continue when you criticise others for commenting anonymously while doing so yourself.
Your source of record for this story seems to be The Sun newspaper.
The SRA didn't 'sweep this under the carpet', they gave the smallest fine they could for a matter which shouldn't have come in front of them.
Gross over-reaction from the SRA at the height of #Metoo hysteria, and thankfully very unlikely to happen now. Most people, including commentators here, rightly calling it out for the nonsense it is and sympathising with Walmsley. Clydes must be deeply regretting sacking him, and hopefully in future will be more questioning of people's motives when they raise complaints, like the 'junior staff' in this case.
31st @ 11.30 - you mean @ Acronym, not @ 29th May 18.06.
And the questions are whether it was reasonable to feel uncomshtable in the circumstances and whether it deserved a rebuke. And the answer to those questions is no.
I think we are all agreed that the SRA took this seriously and Walmsley was rightly sanctioned.
Good to see the SRA protecting junior lawyers. And good to see that Walmsley has accepted he behaved badly and has taken steps to ensure there is no repeat of it.
MC Question Man 31 May 22 13:30: superb. Perfectly captures the essence of everyone's favourite sociopath.
Anonymous 30 May 22 12:22: absolutely. Neatly sums up how we all feel.
@30th @ 13.30 - you just need to find something to rhyme with 'multiple upvoting' and your career as the next Al Jolson will take off.
31st @ 16.39 - maybe, but they're still wrong.
The SRA are sending out the message that these types of complaints are taken seriously and will continue to be brought, and that firms should be sacking staff for these types of allegations.
Which is the right message.
And which is why we will be seeing many of these claims in the future.
Appropriate reaction from the SRA and thankfully very likely to happen in the future in similar cases. Most people, including commentators here, rightly acknowledging that the SRA got it right and showing no sympathy for Walmsley. Clydes must rightly be feeling fully justified in sacking him, and in future will be equally keen to ensure that behaviour of the sort shown by Walmsley is clamped down on.
A horrible experience for AB. Good to see that the regulator and Clydes took appropriate action.
So the SRA has wasted yet more of our money on a moral crusade which took 5 years and led to a paltry fine and a rebuke in the most dubious of circumstances. This investigation must have cost us collectively 50k.
Yet again the SRA shows itself up as a wasteful attack dog, constantly over-reaching itself as it strives to fulfill its woke agenda.
We deserve better.
#hopeless failed solicitors.
Anonymous 02 June 22 08:51 "I hope AB has learned from this and that Clyde trained her to change her ways after it."
Learned what? Changed what ways?
Remember that no charges were brought against her, let alone proved; indeed, she was subject to no criticism from the SRA. Remember, too, that the charges and findings against Walmsley proceeded on the footing that she was blameless and the victim.
You need to read the judgment more carefully.
You can smell the SRA's disdain for Walmsley's behaviour.
5th @ 15.33 - most people aren't.
5th @ 15.46 - yes, the SRA protected junior lawyers by sending out the message that this was a trivial matter. Walmsley is a gentlemen to apologise for this.
5th June @ 15.48 - agreed, 31st May @ 13.30 is a sociopath and their attempts at rhyming are poor.
5th June @ 15.49 - nobody feels that way.
@6th @ 6.06
By giving out such a low fine the SRA are sending out the message that these types of complaints are not serious and will not continue to be brought, and that firms should not be sacking staff for these types of allegations (or indeed any allegations).
Which is the right message.
And which is why we will not be seeing any of these claims in the future.
This is plainly the correct result in every respect. The SRA rightly considered this was conduct worthy of sanction. Walmsely has clearly learnt from this and shown contrition. It also shows a general attitude on the SRA's part towards ensuring that partners are held to a high standard of behaviour, especially when it comes to the treatment of junior lawyers. There is therefore no doubt that we will see more of these cases. A good thing, too.
Awful for AB. Glad the SRA stepped in to protect her (and therefore others who might find themselves in her position in the future).
We all seem to agree that the SRA got it right.
Glad to see the SRA taking a stand against this sort of conduct.
@6th @ 6.12 - most commentators agree that this is a trivial matter and thankfully very unlikely to SRA will bother with this type of thing in the future. The SRA showed considerable sympathy to Walmsley. Clydes must rightly be feeling fully embarassed in sacking him, and in future will be equally keen to ensure that they don't do so again.
6th @ 6.14 - yes, getting drunk and ending up in a strip club was a horrible experience for AB. But the SRA and Clyde's rightly took no action against her as the matter was trivial and no harm was done.
7th @ 14.42 - learned to change the ways that she has. Remember, AB is a grown woman, not a child, and hopefully Clydes will have taught her to act accordingly in what is a responsible job.
The SRA didn't find anyone to be a victim. If anyone needs to read the judgement more carefully its you!
7th @ 16.17 - that smell is something else entirely