On the stand.
The gunnercooke partner accused of acting without integrity has defended his behaviour, arguing before the Solicitors Discplinary Tribunal that his relationship with an 18-year-old colleague was consensual and that she encouraged him.
Oliver Bretherton accepted the claims that while he was a director at Gowling WLG he sexted his teenage underling and sent her a video of himself masturbating. He also accepted that he asked her to send him photos of her touching herself, reported the Law Gazette.
He told the hearing that he did rank colleagues’ attractiveness to Person A, and also admitted that he was turned on discussing her sex life with her in the office.
Bretherton agreed that he had shared leaked nudes of a Love Island contestant with the teenager, and also admitted that he and Person A discussed her using a vibrator - but he denied giving her money to buy one.
Speaking in his defence, Bretherton rejected the allegation that he told Person A he wanted to “fuck her” in his office in front of their colleagues, although he said he could not recall if he told her he wanted to “fuck her over a pool table”.
The solicitor, who was 36 at the time, maintained that he did not take advantage of his seniority. Person A was “mature and very confident and very vocal in what she wanted me to know about her sex life previously”, he said.
“At the time I believed it was something not only that she wanted to engage with but she was actively encouraging and instigating…I should have stopped it but I genuinely looked at it as two consenting adults engaging in an activity they both wanted to be involved with.”
“I knew it was inappropriate. I was married. I don’t think I can sit here morally and say it was a positive thing”, said the lawyer.
Earlier this week a woman who was in her 20s when she worked with Bretherton at Gowling WLG, ‘Person B’, told the tribunal his attitude towards her became increasingly obsessive after they became friends.
“I felt like I was being controlled and manipulated” she said.
Person B alleged that Bretherton “bombarded” her with texts, and told her she was "competing to be a favourite blonde".
But he became angry and upset when he perceived that she was aloof with him, she alleged.
"There were constant questions about where I was and what I was doing. I was later told he was tracking my calendar [to see] whether I was physically present or away from my desk”, she said, the Gazette reported.
Bretherton’s lawyer said his client appreciated that “with hindsight some of the communications he had were not appropriate”, and that he “misjudged” how comfortable Person B was with discussing “personal topics”.
Bretherton denies acting without integrity.
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