The Ince-Cora Affair: possible findings.
"Action has been taken" against Ince staff in relation to allegations they behaved boorishly at a Cardiff restaurant, its Non-executive Chairman has said in an internal email obtained by RollOnFriday.
Ince made headlines for all the wrong reasons in May after Cora's chef, Lee Skeet, tweeted allegations that one of his waitresses was "talked down to, disrespected, and touched unwantedly" by members of a group of Ince staff hosted by Robert Biles, the firm's head of finance.
Biles, who is the father of Ince's Chief Executive, Adrian Biles, and another Ince partner, John Biles, announced his retirement soon after the adverse publicity began rolling in, although the firm said his resignation was unrelated to the scandal.
Non-exec Chair Simon Howard sent an email to staff last week, perfectly timed to get buried in the Jubilee holiday, in which he revealed that Ince commissioned CM Murray, "a firm specialising in partnership matters", to investigate the alleged shenanigans, and that it had finished its "exhaustive" probe.
"The individuals concerned have been made aware of the findings, and where appropriate, action has been taken", said Howard. "All such accusations, whether public or not, whether substantiated or not, will always be taken seriously by the firm", he said. But, "as is normal practice with all investigations relating to staff or Partner behaviour, the contents of the report will remain confidential".
The report’s secrecy is good news for the Ince management figures rumoured to have been in attendance at the boozy bash, and in particular the staff member understood to have been the main source of the meanspirited banter.
Staff have been assured that although they are being kept entirely in the dark about who did what wrong, they should trust their bosses - perhaps some of the same ones who larged it up at dinner - to lead them towards a kinder, less brash culture at Ince. "We need to understand what broader lessons we can learn as a firm", said Howard, which is a demanding requirement for most Ince staff given they weren't there and haven’t been told what happened.
Carol Ashton, a non-executive director who previously headed up DLA Piper's HR function, has been tapped to lead a review of Ince's policies and training "to ensure that the Ince Group standards of conduct and behaviour are clearly stated and maintained", said Howard.
The firm did not respond to a request for comment.
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