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A senior partner at a major UK law firm is under investigation by the SRA in relation to allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues.
The solicitor, whom RollOnFriday is not naming at this stage, is understood to have been removed from his management position as a result of an investigation commissioned by the firm which found that there was misconduct.
An initial allegation was made by a junior lawyer who claimed that the partner pushed her up against a wall and forcibly kissed her at a work event.
In the course of the firm's probe into that incident, a senior lawyer came forward and alleged that the same partner let himself into her hotel bedroom without consent and climbed into her bed while she was in the bathroom. She also accused him of inappropriate behaviour at drinks events, including unwanted physical contact.
RollOnFriday understands that the firm was compelled to instruct an external lawyer to undertake an independent investigation after one of the alleged victims complained to the firm about the inadequacy of its response, specifically its decision to allow him to keep his management role.
In a statement, the firm said, "Having received a complaint in relation to [the partner's] alleged conduct, the Firm completed an initial investigation and then promptly reported the material issues to the SRA. The Firm has since kept the SRA updated on developments". It said "the Firm cannot comment further given that there is an ongoing SRA investigation".
RollOnFriday has not seen the external lawyer's independent report, although a source said that its scope was limited to the senior lawyer's complaint and that it was partially upheld.
The firm decided the partner's conduct did not merit termination or suspension, but did then step him down from his management position, said sources. He was also prohibited from attending work drinks and required to undertake counselling, according to sources.
The partner's solicitors told RollOnFriday that he could not comment in view of the ongoing SRA investigation.
Although the firm offered the senior lawyer the opportunity to stay, she left after deciding it was providing inadequate protection, said sources. The junior lawyer is understood to have left the firm shortly after her complaint was made.
One source said that several staff "are deeply unsettled by how this was and continues to be handled".
A spokesperson for the SRA said, "We do not comment on our work while it is on-going. It is only if we find evidence of misconduct and action is necessary that it becomes a matter of public record".
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