Not sure about this supervisor tbh.

The judgment ordering Oliver Bretherton to be struck off has been published, revealing the extent to which the former Gowling WLG legal director admitted messing around with very junior employees.

Bretherton maintained that he formed a consensual sexual fantasy with an 18-year-old legal apprentice he interviewed and hired, known as Person A, and said that elements of many of her claims were false. 

However, the tribunal agreed with Person A that Bretherton instigated the relationship and repeatedly took advantage of the power imbalance between them.

It said his admissions “were minimal” and made only when he was “faced with contemporaneous documentary and oral evidence”.

That evidence saw Bretherton accepting that he asked Person A to rate the attractiveness of their REF team mates, but the tribunal agreed with Person A that he also asked her to rank who would be the “best in bed” and “the kinkiest”.

Bretherton had admitted that the pair engaged in mutual masturbation while messaging each other, but denied telling Person A “you will just have to make yourself cum”, telling the tribunal he found it “incredulous” to suggest that he made her “masturbate against her will”. The tribunal disagreed.

It also decided that Person A's account was more credible when their accounts of what happened to a bowl of ping pong balls on his desk diverged.

Bretherton and Person A agreed that she had masturbated with one of the balls in the toilets. But the tribunal found Bretherton instigated the endeavour, and that he then stared at her as he popped the ping pong ball in his mouth.

Bretherton denied other allegations completely, but the tribunal ruled many of them to have been proved, including Person A's claims that the lawyer:

  • “would ask me to send him pictures and videos of me weeing which I thought was odd.”
  • “told me to go to the toilet and put [the remote-controlled sex toy] in me”, which the tribunal decided he had activated while an equity partner was chatting to the pair in Bretherton's office.
  • “would make out that he was the best person to have sex with and anyone who had sex with him loved it.”

Bretherton’s efforts to convince the tribunal that he didn’t always go as far as Person A alleged were hampered by the numerous occasions where he conceded that he had gone quite far indeed.

That included admitting that he told Person A to open her legs on her office chair so he could look up her skirt, that he asked her to send him sexual photos, that he sent her a video of him masturbating in his pants, that he kissed her on the lips with, she said, "a lot of tongue”, and that he admitted it was "highly likely" he encouraged her to buy a sex toy.

Several colleagues gave evidence, and one strongly supported Bretherton’s version of events.

‘Colleague 3’ testified that Person A was “quite informal” in the office and volunteered sexual conversations on a couple of occasions which were “shut down quite quickly” by her. She formed the impression that Person A liked to “shock people” and was “causing trouble”. 

Another colleague conceded that Bretherton “had a reputation for not being the most socially observant person in the team”.

A second complainant, ‘Person B’, joined Gowling WLG as a trainee and was assigned to be supervised by Bretherton. 

She described him as initially being “very friendly” but said that his “behaviour changed once he got my personal mobile telephone number”. 

She said he would “be really off” with her in the office if she didn't reply to his texts, and would not speak to her or give her work. 

Person B stated that “things came to a head” towards the end of her training contract when Bretherton described her as “hot” in a conversation, leading to a text conversation.

"So I have been giving your comment on weds about inappropriate chat when being married a lot of thought over the last few days and apart from massively upsetting me because I have never been inappropriate to you & that comment is completely out of character, it has also massively spooked me", texted Bretherton. "I have a really important year professionally coming up & I can’t risk having any comments like that being made around work colleagues”. 

Person B replied, “Once again you’ve completely twist[ed] what I said, I never said inappropriate, I said I personally don’t like being told if I’m hot because I find it uncomfortable and rather than having a conversation you blew [sic] off the handle. I’m also stunned by ‘I can’t risk any comments being made around work colleagues’ – I have never once made a comment like that to a colleague and I think you know me well enough to know I never would. You were unbelievably rude to me yesterday at the point where I cried in front of [Colleague 3] as I left because I’ve never been made to feel like that in a social situation”.

Because Person B preserved their messages, Bretherton was compelled to admit that he’d sent her a “stream of texts”, said the tribunal, including demands to know who she had been with.

He texted her comments including, “You have to compete to be my favourite blonde”, and, in relation to a female vac schemer, “Yep we have a pretty blonde”.

The tribunal also agreed with a third complainant, ‘Person C’, that Bretherton dropped ice cubes down her dress at Gowling WLG's Christmas party in 2019 without consent, and then told her, “You tell me where this is going, your cleavage or elsewhere”.

As well as abusing a power imbalance, his actions showed “a demonstrable theme of misogyny directed at young women”, said the tribunal.

Rather than being a mitigating factor, Bretherton’s involvement with Gowling WLG’s work/life balance initiatives “was advanced in an attempt to camouflage and detract from his nefarious misconduct”, it said.

Whilst the Tribunal accepted that Person A “wanted to be noticed” within the firm, Bretherton “took advantage of her age, naivete and the fact that it was her first job after leaving school”. 

It said that Bretherton was “sexually motivated” and “controlling” as regards Person A, “unreasonable” as regards Person B, and “inappropriate, laddish and childish” as regards Person C. 

David Fennell, CEO at Gowling WLG, said at the time of the judgment, "We are appalled that some of our people had to endure such unacceptable attention from a colleague".

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Anonymous 06 October 23 09:16

That's your takeaway 9:12? What a gotcha. Naive 18-year-old encouraged by her supervisor in her first job to perform for him, and you're here whatabouting that it's her fault.

You're gross. 

Question Man 06 October 23 09:24

Can we be sure that Bretherton really worked for Gowlings? Is it not equally possible that he was an agent provocateur who repeatedly sneaked into the building and pretended to be a solicitor for eight hours a day as part of a long running scheme to discredit the firm, and men more generally, by committing inappropriate* acts while masquerading as a member of staff?




Anonymous 06 October 23 09:26

@09.16 - can we be sure that it wasn't her fault?

Does the tribunal's decision explicitly rule that out?


Superduperfly Guy 06 October 23 09:30

While agreeing that this is not in any way the point of the story… wouod one normally expect to be subject to punishment for masturbating in the bogs anyway? Surely everyone does this from time to time.

Spotty Lizard 06 October 23 09:33

@Anonymous 09:12. Why would one not be allowed to masturbate in the lavatories? Masturbation is not illegal in this jurisdiction.

Or is your objection to the venue of choice - do you believe that she should have done this at her desk/in the canteen instead?

Maggie May 06 October 23 09:42

It was a gross read that judgment. How he thought his behaviour was appropriate is beyond me. I mean seriously what was he thinking.

Anonymous 06 October 23 09:45

Older man corrupts younger woman.

It's as simple as that to those trying to blame the teenage girl!

Maggie May 06 October 23 09:49

And as for the cost order. How can the regulator's costs be so low when the hearing went on for so long and at a KC appeared. It is beginning to look like the SRA just makes it up as it goes along. Who would trust the SRA and how it exercises discretion?

Anonymous 06 October 23 09:50

@9.26 - well done. An apologist for a sexual predator who demonstrated controlling and coercive behaviour. You must be very proud. 

Anonymous 06 October 23 10:11

"While agreeing that this is not in any way the point of the story… wouod one normally expect to be subject to punishment for masturbating in the bogs anyway? Surely everyone does this from time to time."

I sort assumed that it was encouraged and endorsed. They're forever telling us not to sit at our desks for too long and to take regular breaks to get up and move around.

Am suddenly worried that there might have been a grave misunderstanding about what was being suggested.

Anonymous 06 October 23 10:12

@09.50 - do you have evidence that I am proud?

False allegations of pridefulness are very common.

Anonymous 06 October 23 10:37

I wonder if he was always like this when he thought he could get away with it.

I wonder if he watched porn, what kind, how much...

And I'm reminded of this quote from a psychiatrist who studied all sorts of psychos and ran prisons in the US.

The most dangerous men on earth are those who are afraid they are wimps · James Gilligan

Toby Greenlord - Defender of the Weak 06 October 23 11:38

This is a shameful abnegation of responsibility and abuse of power and I'm glad he has been named - particularly since he is clearly quite unable to recognise what he has done.  He sounds like a danger to any young woman he encounters and probably will be for the rest of his life.

Anonymous 06 October 23 12:30

@9.16 - that's a takeaway. So according to you Person A was in no way responsible for masturbating in the toilets? You're gross.

No Answer Woman 06 October 23 12:37

Are you saying that Bretherton didn't really worked for Gowlings and that he was an agent provocateur who repeatedly sneaked into the building and pretended to be a solicitor for eight hours a day as part of a long running scheme to discredit the firm, and men more generally, by committing inappropriate (allegedly) acts while masquerading as a member of staff?

What is your evidence to support this?

Anonymous 06 October 23 13:06

@9.26 - yes, by naming the male and not the female they are indicating that they are blaming the male

Anon 06 October 23 14:25

Glad to see Bretherton out of the legal profession. He hasn’t appealed so the decision and findings of fact are final. 

Anonymous 06 October 23 16:50

@9.50 - I certainly wouldn't go as far as to call Person A 'a sexual predator who demonstrated controlling and coercive behaviour'.

DannyB 06 October 23 17:13

Despite the SRA Tribunal’s guilty verdict about 70 cases of abuse by one of its senior colleagues Gowling WLG is still claiming to be one of the ‘Best Workplaces’ in an advertising campaign.

Anonymous 06 October 23 17:16

think you're good 10.11 - seems like the regulators are ok with masturbating with ping pong balls and handing them around

Anonymous 06 October 23 22:28

"Character is destiny"  - Heraclitus

Sorry Oliver.  Even if the only reason things went as far as they did was because you finally found someone who was prepared, at least to start with, to indulge your tawdry fantasies, you tried to impose yourself on at least two other women previously.

You are the architect of your own destruction.  Not person A.  You.

Anonymous 07 October 23 09:20

I really don't understand the posters who seek to blame Person A.

If she was foolish, immature, and/or damaged enough to behave inappropriately at work he was supposed to mentor her, not join in.

Anon 07 October 23 13:03

At least Bretherton admitted his misconduct. See para. 19 of the judgment, which records the submission made in mitigation on his behalf by his KC:

“Ms Carpenter KC submitted that Mr Bretherton, very much regretted his misconduct and apologised to all concerned.”

Anonymous 07 October 23 21:13

This is terrible news.  The poor man will have to cancel all his OnlyFans subscriptions.

Anonymous 08 October 23 14:47

@ 6 @ 14.25 - we don't know if he has appealed and there have been no findings of fact.

Anon 08 October 23 21:08

His poor wife and son. They didn’t ask for this, and what they must have been through is terrible. Ick. Poor them. 

Anon 08 October 23 21:15

I love the idea of Oliver furiously posting anonymous comments in his defence. I bet he wouldn’t ever believe he was in the wrong even if the highest court of the land told him so.

Keep it up - only you, Oliver, think you’re not a filthy sex pest - if that helps you sleep at night.

Toby Greenstrong - My Roots Go Deep 09 October 23 10:10

Toby Greenweak?

Easy tiger.  I can do 8 press-ups without stopping.

Anonymous 09 October 23 11:25

So Bretherton interviewed and appointed this young woman and assigned her to his own supervision.  It's hard not to come to the conclusion that his aim was always to find a junior who he could groom into a sexual accomplice.

Anonymous 09 October 23 11:33

I have no doubt that Oliver Bretherton is a sexual dynamo, a colossus in fact.  After all, he said words to that effect himself.  I do not believe that he is an immature, insecure fool still trying to compensate for a disappointing lack of sexual experience in his late teens and twenties.  I certainly don't suspect that one or more than one of his partners laughed at him or told her friends that he was a disappointment.

That's just not possible.

Anonymous 09 October 23 14:58

@DannyB - what guilty verdict on 70 cases of abuse? Don't think we've seen that one!

Pity for a flawed man but no excuses 10 October 23 08:04

Perhaps it's something to do with the culture at Gowlings but the problem with Bretherton's efforts at justification is that the supervisors I have had would have slammed the door shut on any sexual inappropriateness the instant it occurred.  I have seen trainees passed to other supervisors and let go within weeks.  Supervisors talk to each other about their trainees and share experiences - I'm willing to bet real English pounds that Bretherton didn't talk to anyone about sharing pictures and masturbating in the toilets.

This is a failure on an epic scale and there really is no excuse for it except a weakness of character so profound that it should be regarded as a disability.  If you don't accept that then as far as I can see the only other view is that he's an opportunistic dirty old man who got caught.

If you're putting a few instants of sexual gratification before the work then you don't deserve to be in a senior position.

Anonymous 10 October 23 08:18

He reminds me of the fat bloke down the gym who tells you how he used to be super fit and chiselled every time you see him.  If he was such a great and experienced lover he wouldn't have had to knock one out to photos of his trainee having a wizz.

He'd have had all the fit women queuing up to wizz on him for real.

He's going to end up telling people that the dancer he only sees in a strip club is his girlfriend or giving all his money to an online dominatrix isn't he.

Anonymous 10 October 23 08:46

@6@23 - as everything was consensual the architect of his destruction was his gender

Anonymous 10 October 23 11:04

@[email protected] - although if she was foolish or immature enough to behave inappropriately at work that's surely her fault and hardly his. Even if she is female and he is male.

Anonymous 10 October 23 12:38

@[email protected] - we don't know if he or his accusers have Only Fans subscriptions, but its none of our business. And none of this means they will have to cancel those subscriptions if they have them.

Anonymous 10 October 23 13:25

"He'd have had all the fit women queuing up to wizz on him for real."

That's fair. It's a fact, a sometimes unwelcome one, that a small number of highly attractive men receive a disproportionate amount of interest from a larger pool of fairly (and above) women online. The same would have happened to Bretherton if he were in that category. Ironically, it leads to dissatisfaction for both men and women alike; attractive women bemoan the fact that decent men won't stick in a relationship (because why would they, they're inundated with exciting new offers) and attractive men bemoan the fact that they can't get dates (because their 'peers' are all bidding up and competing for a scarce commodity they are unlikely to secure in the long term). It's both a frustrating experience for participants, until they go into settling mode in their early thirties, and a social phenomenon that the makers of dating apps have made millions attempting to unpick.

The upshot is, as you say, that if Bretherton really had been attractive then his experience on online dating would have been:

Stacey: Hey Bretherchad, liked your profile. Wanna chat?

Bretherchad: 'Sup?

Stacey: Just chillin' alone, no big plans.

Bretherchad: Nice pics. You wanna go for coffee some time?

Stacey: Yo, can we just cut to the chase? You wanna come over and bust [...] in the en-suite right now?


Like you say, if you are an attractive man then that is what life is like.

Anonymous 10 October 23 14:56

Anonymous 10 October 23 11:04

@[email protected] - although if she was foolish or immature enough to behave inappropriately at work that's surely her fault and hardly his. Even if she is female and he is male.

You seem to be struggling under the misapprehension that the supervisor and the trainee have equal power and equal responsibilities and equal expectations upon them. 

If you ever get a senior position in a large organisation, or perhaps I should say if you ever get a job, you will find out that is not the way seniority works.

Anonymous 10 October 23 15:15

@6@23 - as everything was consensual the architect of his destruction was his gender

He failed to do his job.  That was his problem. 

It's telling that all the women he targeted were junior to him.

Was it consensual when he put ice cubes down one woman's top?  Was it consensual when he bombarded another woman with texts because she didn't spend all her attention on him?

You clearly have an agenda to promote, that men are discriminated against in sexual harassment cases.  Bretherton is not the poster child for your cause.  He is a textbook case of a man who abused his seniority to harass women and got caught when they all decided to speak up.

Anon 10 October 23 15:41

Anonymous 10 October 23 08:46: that it was consensual was irrelevant in law. As the Tribunal found, Bretherton’s behaviour amounted to an abuse of authority and thus constituted professional misconduct.

Anon 10 October 23 15:42

Anonymous 10 October 23 11:04 - no, it surely wasn’t her fault, as the Tribunal found.

Anonymous 10 October 23 20:26

I am most intriguest to see comments such as "@9.45 - women aren't children, remember!" receiving no less than 34 down votes. By disagreeing with the statement, one can only conclude that ROF readers comprise at least 34 misogynists not yet caught. This ride never ends.

Anon 11 October 23 09:12

Anyone else see an analogy with the reckoning on bbc1 and similarities in behaviour here?

Anonymous 11 October 23 09:27

Simply put, he was a lawyer, an adult, a person with a position of authority, and a husband with responsibilities, behaving like an out of control, jealous predator.  He should count himself lucky this wasn’t criminal proceedings, he could be facing prison.

Anonymous 11 October 23 15:11

@ Anonymous 10 October 23 13:25

Perhaps if you're a teenager or a student your post might be relevant, although even in that age group the people living in your pick up artist fantasy are in the minority.

But, you know, it's easier than thinking or building a life worth actually living....

Anonymous 11 October 23 15:16

@ Anonymous 10 October 23 20:26

If you wish to rise to a level of debate where you can hold your own in the sixth form common room you might benefit from the notion that context informs meaning.

Toby Greenarse - eating out of date food since 1935 11 October 23 17:35

I am most intriguest to see comments such as "@9.45 - women aren't children, remember!" receiving no less than 34 down votes. By disagreeing with the statement, one can only conclude that ROF readers comprise at least 34 misogynists not yet caught. This ride never ends.

This is not the "gotcha!" you think it is.

When Bretherton “took advantage of her age, naivete and the fact that it was her first job after leaving schoolhe had legally been an adult for longer than Person A had been alive.

Bretherton is not the victim here and this is not the narrative to stand your thesis of male victimhood upon.

In my opinion you would do well to spend more time reading books and less time watching and reading the simplistic witterings of the alpha male du jour. In fact I'd advise you to throw away the alphas altogether unless being in a pack and following someone else is the summit of your ambition.

But I doubt you're going to change your view.  You've been groomed yourself by a succession of youtube clips and social media posts that capitalise on the inchoate sense of grievance present in all young people.

They give you an instant sense of moral and intellectual superiority and best of all they ask only that you memorise the arguments, not that you think about them.  It's a lot easier when you don't have to think and I suspect you like it easy.

Anonymous 11 October 23 18:11

@Pity for a flawed man but no excuses - sounds like you're saying Person A has a disability and she be sacked for inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. We disagree.

Anonymous 11 October 23 20:09

@[email protected] - there was a mutual power imbalance. One only need look at who got struck off to see that.

If you ever get a senior position in a large organisation, or perhaps I should say if you ever get a job, you will find out that is the way seniority works.

Anonymous 12 October 23 06:46

The person who says "we disagree"....

You know there's only one of you in there, right?

Anonymous 12 October 23 06:51

Perhaps you think you're using a technical term but a "mutual power imbalance" isn't a thing.  What next?  Will a couple be "mutually pregnant"?

The responsibility for keeping the work and the relationship between them professional and compatible with the standards of the organisation lie with the senior manager, not with the trainee in her first job.  It suits abusers to be treated like ingenues, of course, but it's not going to happen.

And anyone who is not an apologist for a sexual predator knows it should not happen.

Anonymous 12 October 23 07:48

@[email protected] - glad you agree that men are discriminated against in sexual harassment cases, although that is obvious. You've fallen into the common trap of trying to argue that his punishment was justified because you don't like the man rather than what he did. Consensual acts aren't sexual harassment and aren't the regulator's business.

Anonymous 12 October 23 08:43

Lovely post at 17.35 Toby but I think you're wasting your time.

A person who sees leadership as a collection or rights rather than a collection of responsibilities is always going to be glib, shallow and superficial.

Anonymous 12 October 23 08:49

Seriously Toby, don't waste your time.

He's a troll.

There's people out there being persecuted by the forces of darkness over their TV Licences and they need your help.

Anonymous 12 October 23 08:54

@[email protected]/15.42

Consent being irrelevant in law is an interesting viewpoint, but not one many people share. The tribunals views are irrelevant and its findings perverse as there was no abuse of authority as the behaviour on both sides was consensual.

The tribunal didn't find that it was his fault if she was foolish and immature enough to behave inappropriately at work. It would be odd if they did as she is a consenting adult.


Anonymous 12 October 23 10:01

The tribunals views are irrelevant

HEH!!!  Tell that to Bretherton and his practising certificate.

Toby Greensword - slayer of tyrants 12 October 23 10:27

"The tribunal is irrelevant."


Now where have I heard that before?  I think it might have been when I was doing a thing in Holland one time.  Defendant didn't win that one either.

Anon 12 October 23 10:40

Anyone who has siblings and is the oldest child will understand this comment.  At some point in your childhood as the oldest child you may have heard your mother or father say the following line ….  ‘he/she is too young to fully understand, but you are older - you should know better!”

Person A was 18.  At 18 we all wanted to be accepted as adults, but the fact is 18 is only just over the line from being a child.   Teenagers are reckless at times because they don’t always have the social maturity to deal with the type of predator that may cross their path.  

Bretherton was in his 30’s, clearly immature, but he was rising the ladder of a corporate law firm and each level came with added responsibility to his team, the firm, his career and ultimately his family.

I have worked in this environment for many years and believe me this type of behaviour goes on all the time.  Sadly not all incidents are taken to complaint level.  I’ve watched many trainee lawyers fresh out of University like rabbits in headlights in a matter of months, and the ones who are talented get fast tracked.  However boys will be boys and if I had a pound for all the stories I’ve heard on nights out about how many girls they’ve bedded after hearing they were lawyers, I’d have retired 3 times over.  Many are partners now, married with kids and huge mortgages.

18-v-30’s …. He was older and should have known better!


Anonymous 12 October 23 11:45

@ Anonymous 12 October 23 08:54

If "(t)he tribunals views are irrelevant and its findings perverse" in your first paragraph then why are you using the tribunal to justify the conclusion of your second paragraph.

It's particularly odd because you're using something the tribunal didn't talk about to support your point

But since your arguments have been non sense from the beginning I suppose it's not surprising.  If you have any ambitions in the legal sphere you'll need to work a lot harder or reconsider.  Otherwise you'll be hanging around betting shops impersonating a boiled potato for the rest of your life.

Anonymous 12 October 23 13:03

@[email protected] - so do you agree that women aren't children or not?

If you want to raise your debate to a level where you can hold your own in the 6th form common room you really ought to say.


Anon 12 October 23 14:14

Anonymous 12 October 23 08:54 - but remember that Bretherton accepted the Tribunal’s findings and views, as recorded by his own KC’s submission: “Ms Carpenter KC submitted that Mr Bretherton, very much regretted his misconduct and apologised to all concerned.”

Anonymous 12 October 23 14:22

@[email protected] - women are adults with responsibilities too remember!

I don’t disagree with your comment above, but the woman in question wasn’t the one facing the tribunal.

What crime do you think he was guilty of?

I had a bar job at a Police Club years ago and the Bar Manager began casually flirting with the female staff over a period of time.  It started as a joke at first, but ended up as something far more sinister as time went on.  I was a witness to one of the incidents which was awful to say the least.  When the women complained about his conduct to the General Manager, who said he’d have a word with him, each woman started losing shifts and the Bar Manager refused to discuss their loss of hours.  The 6 women reported him to the Police and pressed charges and the case went to court.  12 of us gave evidence and he was found guilty and sent to prison for sexual harassment.   When passing sentence the Judge said to him …. you held a position of authority over these ladies in an workplace and you abused your position, you will serve a custodial sentence for your intolerable behaviour.  

I just wonder what would have happened if the 3 women had pressed charges - shame they didn’t.



Anonymous 12 October 23 14:53

@Toby out of date - its an excellent gotcha as Person A isn't a child and shouldn't be treated as if she was merely because she is female.

There's no need to present a thesis on male victimhood in these types of case, its obvious.

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