Freshfields partner Ryan Beckwith acted without integrity by engaging in sexual acts with a drunk junior lawyer. He resigned just before the tribunal delivered its findings.

Beckwith (41) had been accused by a junior female lawyer in his team, known as 'Person A' (20s), of two separate incidents following marathon drinking sessions. 

Beckwith, who was Person A's appraisal partner, admitted to kissing her in a pub following after-work drinks and then accompanying her in a taxi back to her home. He conceded to the tribunal that sexual activity then took place, something which he admitted was "extremely stupid" and that he would regret for the rest of his life. But he claimed it was a mutual mistake and a "consensual sexual encounter between two adults". Person A told the tribunal that she was so intoxicated she could not consent. 

The tribunal found that Beckwith had engaged in sexual activity with Person A at a time when she was so drunk that her decision-making ability was impaired. It also found that the partner should have known that his conduct was inappropriate and that it amounted to an abuse of his position of seniority. But it made no finding on the issue of consent. 

The tribunal concluded that Beckwith breached SRA principles 2 and 6 in failing to act with integrity or behave in a way that maintained public trust in him and in the provision of legal services. It fined him £35,000 (although given that Freshfields' partners pull in an average of £1.8m a year, this probably amounts to what Beckwith tipped his outdoor clerk last Christmas) and ordered him to pay £200,000 in costs. It is probably the lightest sanction that could have been imposed given the verdict. Alisdair Williamson QC, Beckwith's barrister, had clearly anticipated the prospect of his client being struck off and requested a fine or suspension instead. 

Person A also alleged that Beckwith gave her an unwanted kiss following an all-day drinking session which started with a boozy 10am bus trip to the Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons restaurant and ended with lawyers necking jagerbombs in a karaoke booth. Another partner warned Beckwith to be "careful" after he was spotted holding hands with Person A and was seen to be "inseparable" from her at the bar. Beckwith denied kissing her, and the tribunal said it was unproven.

The tribunal heard how Person A had reported the incident to the firm, but that she was unhappy with the final written warning meted out to Beckwith. She said she felt her experience "hadn't been taken seriously" and that the sanction against Beckwith "wasn't proportionate or serious enough". She escalated the matter by writing to senior partner Edward Braham, and then by reporting it to the SRA.

"He has been crushed by this process" said Williamson QC. He added that Beckwith, except for this blemish, had been a "shining example of the profession", but there was now a question as to whether he would ever be employed in the legal profession again. The insolvency specialist has not worked since he took a leave of absence from Freshfields in December last year. He is able to appeal the judgment.


Ryan Beckwith

Beckwith next week. How it might look.


"Ryan Beckwith has been on indefinite leave from the firm for some time and has now resigned as a partner with immediate effect" said Braham.

"The firm takes all complaints extremely seriously", Braham added. "We want a culture that is welcoming and allows our people to flourish, and we work hard to achieve that. We are running a firm-wide programme to ensure our values and behaviours are consistently experienced across the firm, and I am confident we will continue to achieve change where it is needed."

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Comments

Anonymous 11 October 19 08:11

Very odd verdict. Looks like the SDT got themselves into a corner by taking this case on when it was outside of their remit and the process was unfair in a number of ways. This looks like an attempt to extricate themselves from the situation they found themselves in.

Anonymous 11 October 19 08:27

I just cannot wrap my head around the costs... £200k?? Does that go straight into the SRA's pockets?

Anonymous 11 October 19 08:47

Given the key question of consent was not proven and the police were not involved it wasn’t criminal. The partnership investigated  didn’t want to expel him so it wasn’t a partnership matter. Any employment matter was not progressed. So why on earth the SDT think they had jurisdiction to hang the guy out to dry? He would have been better off being charged in a criminal court where- if found not guilty- he would have returned to work no questions asked. Getting drunk and cheating on your wife is bad behaviour and FF may well have felt they needed to sack him for it in the circumstances but this...?

Anonymous 11 October 19 09:18

His own counsel says that he "damaged" the complainant.  I guess that's still not quite enough to sway the 'Boys will be boys' contingent, whose own strange pathologies lead them insist that there's nothing to see in this, or indeed in any other case.

Mountain 11 October 19 09:19

I'm surprised that people are defending him. The SRA's costs are clearly excessive, but that's something which we have all come to expect. The substantive issue however, surely, is the power imbalance: partners should not be pursuing sexual gratification from drunk associates, and if they do so they have crossed the line? (If people genuinely think it's acceptable for people in a position of power and authority to pursue sex from drunk subordinates, then while I disagree with you, I at least understand your position.)

I would argue that Freshfields should have dismissed him, but commercial realities mean that firms will rarely take action against 'rain makers' when it's cheaper to simply get rid of more expendable associates. In that context, the SRA had to act because Freshfields failed to do so; perhaps in future firms will jump before they are pushed by regulatory action and the accompanying dreadful publicity.

I may be wrong, though. Perhaps I'm missing something - I'm happy to be persuaded of that.

Anonymous 11 October 19 09:19

This is why:

"The tribunal found that Beckwith had engaged in sexual activity with Person A at a time when she was so drunk that her decision-making ability was impaired"

He didn't just get drunk and cheat on his wife. The tribunal found he engaged in sexual activity with a junior member of staff when she was extremely intoxicated. Can you not wrap your head around why that might be a professional conduct issue?

Fred Shred 11 October 19 09:21

Privileged rich white women imagined grievances.  In 2019, any bloke with half a brain should treat work dos as essentially being re-interviews for your job.  Rules:

1 Arrive just before the meal.  

2 One drink max.  

3 After the meal, circulate briefly (to show you've bothered to turn up to the event-chore), make bland small talk.  Nurse your one drink (do not replenish it).  

4 Discreetly leave within one hour of the meal finishing and head down the pub with your mates or go home.  

Anyone nowadays who thinks you can relax and have fun at a work do is an idiot.  It's the age of the New Puritanism folks, all the way from the 1950s.   

Lydia 11 October 19 09:32

The second he drank too much when out with junior colleagues he should have known he might be in for trouble. Then when he went into her house  - someone junior to him who had been drinking - that was the second very big mistake.  No matter who said what those are facts and show he was extremely foolish. What did he expect would happen? Did he not think about the risks?

Anon 11 October 19 09:34

The problem is the combination of power imbalance plus large amounts of alcohol. 

In answer to Fred Shred's suggestions, partners can still get sozzled as long as they keep their hands to themselves. 

Relationships between partners and fee earners are probably still OK but not where one person's decision-making ability is impaired. 

To be honest, that's just common sense isn't it? It shouldn't really be necessary for the SRA to asked to adjudicate in a situation like that.

Anonymous 11 October 19 09:34

I know Fred, it's terrible, isn't it?  It won't be long before the puritans tell us that a little bit of rape is no longer acceptable.  

Anonymous 11 October 19 09:36

@ Fred Shred

If more than one drink leads to a tendency to try and have sex with your heavily intoxicated subordinates, this is probably good advice.

For those with a little more self control, not so much.

basementfaxx 11 October 19 09:49

"Getting drunk and cheating on your wife is bad behaviour and FF may well have felt they needed to sack him for it"

I doubt it - half the partners in the City would be dismissed on that basis. 

"The tribunal found that Beckwith had engaged in sexual activity with Person A at a time when she was so drunk that her decision-making ability was impaired"

He was undoubtedly drunk too, with impaired judgement. 

There is admittedly the power-disparity issue which I think makes this a slap-on-the-wrist-from-your-firm issue which has been blown way out of proportion. Which is precisely why the SDT twisted and writhed and ended up with an odd verdict which ultimately leaves him free to pursue his career. 

This will blow over, what a waste of everyone's time. Two adults, behaved badly, made mistakes, 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. End of. 

Arachnae 11 October 19 09:53

@Fred Shred funnily enough, this is how most partners I've worked over the years behave. The grown up non creepy ones anyway. Maybe 2/3 drinks?  But you certainly shouldn't be posing with the others in the survivors' photo with a lampshade on your head at 2am. At least 2 people I know who didn't get that memo are now pretty much unemployable.

If you can't, as others have eloquently said, wrap your head round why this is a conduct issue, you possibly need to be more aware of your own future behaviour for the good of your career.

Really? 11 October 19 10:03

Fred Shed, if your idea of "relaxing and having fun" is shagging an incredibly drunk junior associate - who the defence counsel admitted was deeply scarred by the events - you really need to watch yourself at the next drinks event. As I'm sure you're aware every year when you sign off for your PC renewal, we have a code of conduct with clear principles ensuring we hold ourselves to the highest account (and behave accordingly). There should be no place for toxic masculinity in this profession or any others: sure have a few beers with your mates, but when you start fingering the drunkest girl in the room take a long hard look at yourself, and realise you're a f*cking tw*t. 

 

Provincial Powerhouse 11 October 19 10:14

Poor judgement, poor self-control, willingness to betray someone close to him (in this occasion his wife) for short term gain.  Hard to see why his fellow partners may no longer want him as a colleague. 

But, as basementfaxx says, plenty more like him in the City.  That's why I would never want to work in the City and distrust all who do until they prove themselves otherwise. 

Anon 11 October 19 10:29

She was all over him too on previous occasions, many people saw it. Very bad judgement on his part but any suggestion it was not consensual seems very unfair to him. Otherwise this should have been a rape trial if that allegation was true, not a disciplinary hearing. It was not a rape trial and if there was not enough evidence against him to allege that, that allegation as a basic principle of natural justice should not have been thrown around the tribunal. 
 

What the case does show, and this has been shown in a number of big London based law firms recently, is how difficult it is to get complaints dealt with fairly and openly when they are made against partners and especially management within these firms, and the way they close ranks to protect each other. 

Anonymous 11 October 19 10:42

They damaged each other 9.18. They both admitted it was a mistake. It's more 'people will be people' rather than 'boys will be boys' or 'girls will be girls'. Buts it's not an SRA matter.

Octopus man 11 October 19 10:43

There are so many examples of powerful male partners in Big Law abusing their power over young females in the industry and getting away with it as their firms protect them, even if it means destroying complainants.

it was not long ago that a married corporate partner in the magic circle got a trainee pregnant. She was paid off and signed an NDA. He was shipped off to Dubai for some tax free years to help fund the following divorce settlement as his wife left him. Whilst there, he behaved in a similar way with secretaries and juniors. He comes back to London, gets appointed head of his group globally and continues to behave like Octopus man. The management group are well aware of his behaviour but they are all buddies and he gets away with it.

Anonymous 11 October 19 10:48

@Mountain -  I think that more than defending him, people are attacking the process which was clearly unfair, including the costs, which are as you say, clearly excessive. There was a power imbalance on both sides and even the SDT found that it wasn't him who was the initiator.

It would have been unfair of Freshfields to sack him at the outset as he denied the claims and having sex isn't a stackable offence. I don't think the publicity has been that damaging, my impression is that most people feel that the process was unfair in naming him and not her.

Anonymous 11 October 19 11:00

From the Gazette:

"In the aftermath of the [first incident] event, Beckwith spoke to another partner who had seemed to be ‘wagging his finger’ at him during the evening. Beckwith explained it was said by this partner that 'Person A and I were spending a lot of time with each other, we were inseparable at the bar [and] he said it was nothing to worry about but I think she likes you and at one stage you were walking ahead and holding hands’." 

Freshfields and the Other Partner are clearly also culpable for not taking appropriate action at this earlier junction.

Howdy Partner 11 October 19 11:07

Fred Shred:

What you have described is how partners should behave on work functions anyway, although perhaps a few more drinks than just the one provided they can maintain their office persona. These functions are rewards/ thank yous for the staff who have flogged themselves to get their work done, not to be confused with a massive session with your mates. Partners should still be on ‘work mode’ and calling it a night if they start getting too drunk that they drop their guard.

Anyone not mature enough to automatically behave like you have described probably shouldn’t have been made a partner in the first place.

Anonymous 11 October 19 11:19

They were both intoxicated 09.19. Getting drunk and cheating on his wife isn't a professional conduct issue. It isn't for the SDT to pass moral judgement on people. The case was biased as there was no mention of whether she was married or in a relationship.

Anonymous 11 October 19 11:22

They were both drunk Lydia, and by their own admission, extremely foolish. There were faults on both sides, but I don't see one party as 'victim'. I doubt he expected this would happen, so wouldn't have been aware of 'the risks'.

Anonymous 11 October 19 11:33

Anon @9.34 - there was an imbalance of power on both sides and they were both sozzled. Neither of them kept their hands to themselves. Even the SDT found he was not the instigator.

Associate-lover 11 October 19 11:45

Am I getting this wildly wrong, or, given that the SDT put the issue of consent to one side, does this mean that the act of getting drunk and having an affair with a more junior member of staff constitutes evidence of a lack of integrity that is sanctionable?

If so, that strikes me as an extraordinary standard. 

It means people in different positions within a firm should never sleep together because, even if they consented, in the SRA’s eyes it represents a de facto abuse of power by the senior party. 

I get the adage don’t shit where you eat, but I always thought the penalty for ignoring it was awkwardness in the office. Not an obligation to self report and a career-ending tribunal finding. 

Anon 11 October 19 12:34

The managing partner of CC married his trainee. So based on the comments from the SDT, should he get investigated?

Anonymous 11 October 19 12:41

They both made a mistake Arachnae. It's not a professional conduct issue for either of them. It's not the place of the SRA or the SDT to spout moral judgement.

Anonymous 11 October 19 12:44

@Really? - they were both drunk, as they both admitted, and both regret what happened and were left scarred.

Presumably the highest professional standards entail not going around calling people 'f*cking t*ats'.

Anonymous 11 October 19 12:48

Did he rape her? No. Did he abuse his power? I don't know. Did he threaten to give her bad feedback for appraisal if she didn't sleep with him? I don't know. Did the girl say "No" at any point during the event? I don't know. Did he at any point think she wasn't consenting? I don't know. Before she got "very drunk", did she do anything that led him on? I don't know. Were they attracted to each other? I don't know.

I worked at a City firm; a Partner, the first year he was made up, dated a trainee who joined the same year. That was about 20 years ago. They are now married with two daughters.

Alco Pop 11 October 19 12:50

The big UK firms have always had a 'work hard, play hard' culture: Code for - we're going to work you until your eyes bleed. In return, we'll throw you an occasional excessive social event on the firm's ticket (which you'd never afford for yourself) where you can drink your weight in champagne and convince yourself that all the toil and lost personal time has been worthwhile. That's right, you're SPECIAL. 

And because you're special, you can handle it right. You work to excess, other excess follows. Who needs mundane rules and regulations, those are for other, 'regular' people aren't they. 

Happily, most people will work this out of their systems in their twenties. I'm sure a psychologist would have a word or two to say about those who can't and who end up  deriving their sense of worth and importance from being the big 'I am' hanging out with the kids, doling out the largesse.

That's been the way of it and unsurprisingly, 'accidents' have happened. Firms have turned a blind eye because that has been the cost of doing business. I predict the end of the play hard bit of the equation, the environment will become even more unforgiving and fewer and fewer will want to stay the course for the toil. 

 

Anonymous 11 October 19 13:03

Everyone reading this thread, just think about one very simple thing: "Why didn't she call the police?" I can't work this out. If she was so drunk that she couldn't be consenting, and he did it anyway, isn't this a very obvious "rape" or "sexual assault" case?

She complained internally and with SRA. But why not the police? The fact that she didn't call the police suggests to me she "did" consent to it. A man and a woman had consensual sex. What's the problem?

Anonymous 11 October 19 13:03

Judgements like this deprive women of all agency, and are intensely regressive. Part of being a modern and liberated women is having the freedom to make decisions about our sexuality which we may regret later - no matter how unpleasant the process of regretting is, it is part of discovering ourselves and learning how to live in society. We don't need to be kept away from men like residents of some puritan colony (or, perhaps, Saudi Arabia) when most of us are entirely capable of making our own choices and living with them.

As a side note, some readers would be astonished at the number of my female colleagues who make sexual comments about older individuals in the office. The idea that any interaction between a younger woman and a senior man is some sort of abuse of power, rather than women having the ability to choose who they want, is absurd.

Anonymous 11 October 19 13:06

Poor judgement and self-control from both of them Provincial Powerhouse. For all we know, she could have been married or in a relationship too. This shows the unfairness of identifying one and not the other - it allows judgements to be formed about on person involved but not both to the same extent.

Hmmmmm 11 October 19 13:09

Many of you have ripped into Fred, but frankly his (or her... don’t want to be accused of sexism) advice is spot on. No male partner in their right mind would go to an event with alcohol and associates (male or female).

The risk of trouble if you do... modest to high

The risk if you don’t.... zero.

Once alcohol is introduced the actions and the perceptions of those actions all change. And firms (and now the SRA) are willing to latch on to anything to make a metoo appropriate statement.

The associate in question was not an innocent victim in this. If she was, she would have gone to the police.

If these two did not know each other before hand, no issue. If they did not work at the same firm, no issue, even if he was a solicitor. The employer/employee relationship makes it a sacking offence for reputational reasons. The fact he is a regulated solicitor now makes it fair game for a stripping of career - that is a completely disproportionate where there was no issue as to consent and the associate apparently failed to provide any evidence she was, appeared to be, unwilling in her participation. 

The proportionate response from the firm was to break the work relationship by providing another supervisor. 

 

 

anon 11 October 19 13:44

And yet Lord Lester QC was found to have made unwanted sexual advances towards a woman and abused his position, with the result that it was decided that he be suspended from membership of the House of Lords - but he remains unsanctioned by the Bar’s regulator.

Human 11 October 19 13:51

Why didn't she go to the police? I can think of a number of possibilities that don't contradict the complaint to the SRA a) didn't want humiliation of a rape test and hostile cross exam b) couldn't prove her case beyond all reasonable doubt or c) impaired consent was possible to a criminal standard (how drunk is too drunk to consent?) but that the partner was still in breach of higher ethical standards.

Regarding the point about infantalising female agency - theoretically the same could apply to a male - the weight was put on the trainee / partner power differential rather than the male / female aspect.

I would be disingenuous to suggest that as society is currently constituted, men have more to fear from the precedent that this judgement sets. It follows that all those complaining that this ruling constitutes a diminution of female agency have implicitly accepted that on average men have the power which this precedent seeks to regulate. It undermines the very universalist "all lives matter" argument they seek to make. 

I am constantly amazed at what passes for appropriate behavior at work socials, and I think this moment of reckoning is long overdue. I cannot think of any well adjusted colleague - male or female - who actually will miss the shenangians. 

Anonymous 11 October 19 15:13

The accuser was drunk too Howdy Parner. Are you saying she should never be made partner because of it?

Anonymous 11 October 19 15:50

I'm not sure what he's been found to have done is compatible with being a decent guy.  Others will disagree, of course.

Not a lawyer 11 October 19 16:09

I think every lawyer in London can thank person A for killing post work drinks

or for resurrecting boys nights at the lappy 

Anonymous 11 October 19 16:36

@13:51 The problematic aspect of this ruling is not that it seeks to regulate 'male power'. It is that it implicitly acknowledges its existence, specifically in the field of male-female sexual relations. It makes the assumption that all such interactions are occasions of male dominance over women unless there is unimpeachable proof to the contrary. That's just plainly untrue, patronising and will give rise to a terrible breakdown of trust between men and women unless corrected.

Enough ROF 11 October 19 16:45

I agree it is a tragedy for all concerned and the punishment for the transgressions has been distressing to see.

I hope ROF can take down the image poking fun of him they use with the headline for their article. Report the story, yes, but no need to try and further humiliate him. 

London Eagle, eh? 11 October 19 17:09

Last time I checked, "decent" does not mean cheating on your wife and only coming clean after being told about the internal investigation into your conduct. Nor does it mean sh@gging junior or frankly any colleagues when you're married (consent issue aside)... 

Anonymous 11 October 19 17:28

"The managing partner of CC married his trainee. So based on the comments from the SDT, should he get investigated?"

Did he marry her when she was so heavily intoxicated it was reasonable to call into question whether she meant "I do", and did they get married at a work function?  If so, maybe.

Howdy Partner 11 October 19 17:43

@15.13

I think you have missed the point - wasn’t so much talking about the case but what Fred Shred was saying this meant for partner behaviour generally. To answer your question, if she was a partner then the same criticism stands. Whether you are a male or female partner you are the grown up in the room and you need to conduct yourself in line with that status. If you are so drunk that you are vomiting on the dancefloor, spilling the office secrets, getting into fights or telling offensive jokes, you are not behaving like a partner. 
 

There are loads of cases to confirm that office parties are part of the workplace and partners need to behave like that rather than an overgrown student drinking as much as they can to try to feel they are one of the gang.

Starfish 11 October 19 17:46

Octopus Man, I know that partner in question and was one of his trainees too (obviously not the one he got pregnant!) I've long since left the firm but is he still up to his old tricks? Didn't he marry again? 

Anonymous 11 October 19 18:02

Others will disagree, 15.50, because just because someone does something which is not decent doesn't preclude them from being  a decent person.

Anonymous 11 October 19 18:10

@London Eagle, eh? - remember consent wasn't an issue here, as per the SDT. She snagged a colleague too. She may have been married or in a relationship too. So you are accusing her of not being decent by your logic.

Anonymous 11 October 19 18:23

They were both intoxicated 17.28. Even the SDT made clear that he was not the instigator and that consent was not an issue they were considering. This was a moral judgement about people at different levels sleeping with one another - well outside the SRA's remit.

Anonymous 11 October 19 18:25

They were both drunk Howdy Partner - unfair to blame just one of them because he's a partner. They both made a mistake, as both have admitted.

Anonymous 11 October 19 18:46

In reality the Lords decided that the process by which Lord Lester was judged was unfair. He resigned from the Lords due to the toll the process took on his health. He referred himself to the BSB, who completely cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Anonymous 11 October 19 19:45

It's interesting how many commenters are choosing to see this as men v women, rather than senior v junior, which is what it is actually about.

Anonymous 11 October 19 20:17

@Human - it's unlikely the accuser went to the SRA due to the burden of proof, given that this hearing was supposed to be beyond all reasonable doubt. The types of accusations being made were of a criminal nature, and it isn't possible to opt out of the criminal law to opt for a process which many would view as not meeting the same standards or offering the same degree of legal protection to the accused. Bottom line, the SRA shouldn't be involving themselves in this type of case, the fact that they did so when it was outside their remit goes a long way to explaining the curious outcome.

I disagree that there has been no focus on gender and would say that much of the narrative around this case appears anti-male. Likewise, I can't agree that men have the same or less to fear than women as a result of this case.

What is 'appropriate' is not easily defined and is to a large extent down to the person.  I'm not sure this is a moment of reckoning and wouldn't be surprised if this is the beginning of the high watermark of the SRA's involvement in this type of case given the adverse publicity generated.

 

Anonymous 11 October 19 21:00

The full ramifications of this are very unclear. 

For example, what if the facts were exactly the same save that Person A were a Partner of the same level of seniority as Mr Beckwith.  Is there still a lack of integrity if taking advantage of someone who is drunk? 

Or what if Person A had been the Partner and Mr Beckwith had been a junior in her team.  What then?

 

 

Anonymous 11 October 19 21:25

You might be right Alco Pop, a lot of it is just socialising though, people are different and not everyone settles down in their twenties, some managers do enjoy socialising with and mentoring staff. It would be sad if managers become afraid to do so and would lead to an even more impersonal workplace. The corporate environment can really bring out the worst in people.

Anonymous 11 October 19 21:39

As for Lord Lester, the House of Lords upheld the findings of the Committee and recommended that Lord Lester be suspended. He resigned before that suspension could be implemented.

The initial vote was that the process was unfair. The matter was then remitted to the Committee to reconsider; the Committee concluded the process was fair; the Lords then reconsidered the matter and voted to approve the conclusion of the Committee that the process was fair. So the Lords decided the process was fair.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-12-17/debates/E9E8AE1E-3CD4-4166-BCF9-0765260054A9/PrivilegesAndConductCommittee

“The Senior Deputy Speaker

The noble Lord said that there were six contemporaneous witnesses. We invite Members to read their accounts.

In her own words,

“on the basis of the strong and cogent evidence of the complainant and her witnesses”,

the commissioner found that Jasvinder Sanghera was a victim of sexual harassment and that Lord Lester was guilty of a grave abuse of power. The Committee for Privileges and Conduct reviewed and endorsed this view. We ask the House to do the same. I hope the House will now agree to this report.

Motion agreed.”

As for the decision of the BSB, it has been clarified by the Times that the BSB did not “clear” Lord Lester: it merely decided that, although he was found by the Lords (Commissioner, Committee and the vote of the Lords itself) to have done that of which he was accused, such conduct was not worthy of professional censure by his regulator. 

Anonymous 11 October 19 22:28

I am so glad I do not live in country where sex crime (Orwell’s version) is in place: I can still get laid with colleagues without go to trial. All blokes should leave UK a s matter of urgency 

Confused 11 October 19 23:20

What about Article 8 of the Human Rights Act which provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life, his home and his correspondence", subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society". source Wikipedia

The SDT are not allowed to interfere with Article 8 rights. It appears that the SDT have also had anal intercourse with Beckwith by charging him 200 k costs, for integrity issues in his private life. It appears to me that the SDT are acting ultra vires. FF are the ones who needed to act for a breach of Beckwiths employment contract, where he did the right thing and resigned, but FF should have terminated his employment much sooner. So FF are the ones who have failed to act without any integrity by not acting on this matter sooner. If the FF employment contract did not include clauses on staff behaviours, then they should employ some decent lawyers to draft them a new contract    

anon121 12 October 19 09:14

honestly, this whole affair is so distressing. my heart goes out to person A who had to endure years of this, just to watch beckwith go on with his career and have to face him again on a deal. How horrible and wish she knew there are lots of women (& men) who understand the risk she took and wish her the best.

The other big unnamed culprit is of course FF - shame on Freshfields restructuring and insolvency team for having such a stupid drinking culture in the first place and to Ed Braham and the management team for doing nothing more than a slap on the wrist when she first complained. Had Freshfields had a good culture and responsibility in the first place, a lot of the damage could have been prevented. This whole thing reminds me of why I left Freshfields, having seen tons of partners like Beckwith with an outwardly "nice bloke" attitude and charming to clients and getting money in for the team as "stars" but creepy, manipulative and toxic towards associates/trainees. Thank god I've left and don't have to endure this kind of shit.

Anonymous 12 October 19 10:11

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-12-17/debates/E9E8AE1E-3CD4-4166-BCF9-0765260054A9/PrivilegesAndConductCommittee

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/corrections-and-clarifications-lqz3n72pw

“The headline to our article “Lord Lester cleared of peerage-for-sex claims” (News, last week) incorrectly suggested, when read alone, that Ms Jasvinder Sanghera’s complaint to the House of Lords about Lord Lester’s conduct may have been dismissed. The article reported on the outcome of an investigation into Lord Lester by the Bar Standards Board. The findings of an earlier House of Lords committee are unaffected by this ruling. We apologise for any distress caused.”

Anonymous 12 October 19 10:46

So he gets drunk and gets into a taxi with an intoxicated junior colleague, feels her up and tries to source a condom to have sex with her. Then the next day (week, month) he's sitting judging her in her appraisal. Can some of the commenters really not see why this is a huge imbalance of power and why his behaviour fell short of professional standards? It's not a male/female issue, it's the power dynamic that is mainly the problem. A woman could abuse a position of trust / power just as much as a man.

Anonymous 12 October 19 12:40

This was a case which was well outside the jurisdiction of the SRA or SDT, but which was swept along on a tide of #metoo hysteria. It appears that the SDT realised too late the mess they've gotten themselves into, and that they reached the only decision available to them given the corner they'd boxed themselves into. The public backlash against the process and decision has been truly remarkable, from the general public who are appalled at his naming and subsequent trial by media vs her anonymity, and from other lawyers, with comments on the findings in the Law Gazette overwhelmingly critical of the process and the decision before all comments on the article were hastily removed. It wasn't supposed to be like this, but people are really not that stupid.

Anonymous 12 October 19 17:06

He was intoxicated too 10.46. Why are you criticising him for getting into a taxi or looking for a condom before having sex? The fact that she is junior is irrelevant. Can you really not see that professionalism doesn't come into sexual relations between adults outside of work? There was a power dynamic going both ways. Agreed that women can abuse their position of power just as much as men, but both had power over each other. I think the case has been treated as a gender issue, especially by some commenters.

Anonymous 12 October 19 17:24

Agreed 11th @ 19.56, amazing how many people are using this as a gender politics platform. Junior v senior is irrelevant, it was outside work and there was a power imbalance on both sides.

Anonymous 12 October 19 17:28

Agree with you on the HRA aspect confused, but what FF staff get up to with each other in their own time is their business.

Anonymous 12 October 19 17:36

@anon121- my heart goes out to both of them - as they both admitted, they both made a mistake. I don't think a 'drinking culture's is to blame as they both chose to get drunk. I think the issue is more of regret afterwards.

It's difficult to comment on your other allegations without knowing more details.

Anonymous 12 October 19 18:05

As for Lord Lester, the Commissioner found Lester guilty after a process which was widely criticised as unfair, which was voted by the Lords to have been such, and which ignored much of the available evidence. The Lords Conduct Committee said they agreed with the findings of the Commissioner. The Lords voted to recognise that the Commissioner had made findings and that the Committee said they recognised those findings. They didn't agree with the findings or say that they were fair. Lester had by this time resigned from the Lords due to the strain put on his health by the whole matter. So the Lords have never actually found Lester guilty following a fair process.

Lester referred himself to the BSB who completed an investigation and cleared him of any wrongdoing. As for The Times, they merely clarified that they were reporting on the BSB's findings and not those of the House of Lords Commissioner. The Times didn't say that the BSB didn't clear Lester.

Escaping Puppy 12 October 19 18:07

Is this appealable as an ultra vires decision?  I am astounded that the SRA / SDT purports to have jurisdiction over what 2 solicitors get up to in their private lives, regardless of any power imbalance.

 

 

 

 

 

Starfish 12 October 19 20:29

@anon 19.56 - if it is the person I’m thinking of (and there surely can’t have been more than one of them?) then I don’t have evidence I can point you to but I knew him and was there at the time of the pregnancy and then when he moved to Dubai. I don’t know anything about an NDA though she did leave the firm, and he did get divorced. I know he remarried (not to the trainee) so I’m interested to know whether he has now settled down or whether he is still at it with secretaries etc. 

Anon 13 October 19 01:35

Robyn Williams RIP joke. God gave man a brain and a penis with only enough blood to work one at a time. 

This is the epitaph of this story and many others and it is usually the alcohol that drains the brain of blood and makes it available for other purposes.  

Discoman 13 October 19 03:56

Anonymous @ 1956, I was in that partner’s group and it is widespread knowledge that he got the trainee pregnant, she left with a payoff and then his mates in management shuffled him off to Dubai for a couple of years instead of dealing properly with his behaviour. Astonishing, when he got back to London, his mates made him global corporate head. What sort of message does this send?
 

As for more recent behaviour, this was after I left CC so I can’t  comment. But I did see a video of a subsequent corporate party where he does indeed shamelessly behaves like an Octopus. Like he is at the school disco with a pretty young lady. If you want evidence, put an email address on this thread and I can probably get hold of the video and will email it to you.

Anonymous 13 October 19 04:32

Be careful what you wish for Anon1956. They are literally hundreds of people from CC or ex CC who know what happened with that trainee and that partner because everyone was talking about it when it happened.

Anonymous 13 October 19 17:43

Thanks Starfish, yes, a lot of Octopus Man's comment is unsubstantiated - if he really 'got her pregnant'  if the trainee was in a relationship too, if there was an NDA, if he was 'shipped off to Dubai' or chose to go for a fresh start after his divorce, did he 'get pregnant' any other juniors or trainees in Dubai or since his return, evidence of a cover up, etc.

Fair cop 13 October 19 18:38

As for Lord Lester, the House of Lords endorsed the findings of the Committee that (a) Lord Lester was guilty; and (b) the process which determined Lord Lester’s guilt was fair.

So despite being found guilty, after a fair process, of sexual harassment and abuse of position, Lord Lester was not sanctioned by the BSB.

 

Anonymous 13 October 19 22:00

It's not so much what is wished for 04.32, it's just that just because everyone is talking about something doesn't mean it actually happened that way.

Anon 14 October 19 04:42

Starfish and Anon 1956 I don’t know if there was an NDA but the fact there was a pay off to the trainee and that she left after he got her pregnant and that he did then go to Dubai, was widely known. I guess the existence of NDAs is often kept secret, it was easier to do that before the metoo movement and before the SRA started telling management of law firms not to use NDAs to suppress information that was reportable to them as it involved potential breaches of the SRA principles. It is now much harder for firms to use NDAs to protect partners who screw up by hiding what pay offs are for and by silencing those who complain.

Anonymous 14 October 19 13:38

@04.42 - it's not known if there was an NDA or indeed a payoff to the employee, or why she would have got a payoff for becoming pregnant. Other people will have left the employer, so its not clear that she wouldn't have left anyway. He might have gone to Dubai, but for a number of different reasons.

Both parties willingly have to enter into an NDA, in fact a lot of people who have been a victim of sexual misconduct would choose to do so in order to bring closure to the matter.

Billy Bumfluff 14 October 19 20:02

It's crazy.

What's wrong with a partner having sex with an associate.  In the old days he would have had a two bottle lunch at El Vinos to celebrate.

No wonder the calibre of applicants has gone down.  Law is not what it was.

Octopus man 15 October 19 15:11

I think the issue is a certain magic circle corporate partner has been wagging too much and not just his tongue,  Anonymous 2019

Anonymous 15 October 19 15:23

I am confused.  The SDT fined a solicitor for acting without integrity for getting drunk and having a sexual encounter with another solicitor who was drunk and had had a sexual encounter with the first solicitor.  Why was the second solicitor not fined for acting without integrity?

Anonymous 15 October 19 20:59

The issue, Octopus man/Anon, is that one has been wagging much harder than the other, without much evidence to support what it has been wagging about.

Anonymous 16 October 19 17:36

Can't see how this can be fair as he couldn't reasonably have known he was breaking any code of conduct at the time. This was an entirely new (and wrong) interpretation of the rules.

Anonymous 17 October 19 18:09

The Lords Commissioner found Lester guilty after a process which was widely criticised as unfair, which was voted by the Lords to have been such, and which ignored much of the available evidence. The Lords Conduct Committee said they agreed with the findings of the Commissioner. The Lords voted to recognise that the Commissioner had made findings and that the Committee said they recognised those findings. They didn't agree with the findings or say that they were fair. Lester had by this time resigned from the Lords due to the strain put on his health by the whole matter. So the Lords have never actually found Lester guilty following a fair process.

Lester referred himself to the BSB who completed an investigation and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

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