Gary Senior, the ex-London Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie, has been fined £55,000 and ordered to pay the SRA's costs of £40,000 for trying to kiss a junior lawyer against her will. But he avoided being struck off.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ruled that Senior committed serious professional misconduct when he attempted to embrace and kiss a junior colleague without her consent. The incident occurred in 2012 when Senior asked the junior lawyer to stay behind in his hotel room after a work event and drinks.

The tribunal also found that Senior had sought, due to his position of seniority, to improperly influence the subsequent investigation by the firm. 

Senior's barrister, Gregory Treverton-Jones QC said the tribunal's decision was a "devastating blow" to his client who had acted in "a moment of madness" after drinking too much.


What Gary's inner monologue should have said (sound required)


At the hearing, the SRA had also accused Baker McKenzie of failing to effectively and independently investigate the complaint and allowed Senior to improperly influence the firm's investigation. However, the SDT dismissed the allegations against Bakers.

The firm's former head of HR, Martin Blackburn, and a former litigation partner, Tom Cassels, who oversaw the investigation, were also cleared of any misconduct by the tribunal.

RollOnFriday first blew the lid on the matter in February 2018, following which the SRA referred the case to the SDT in July 2019.

"The Firm has co-operated fully with the SRA throughout this process. We are pleased that no finding of professional misconduct has been made against Baker McKenzie," a spokesman for the firm told RollOnFriday. He said Bakers was "a different firm" with "new leadership" and had taken action and introduced polices to "ensure that all of our people, regardless of seniority, feel empowered to call out wrong or inappropriate behaviour." He added that "something like this must never happen again."

"I bitterly regret what happened in 2012," Gary Senior said. "The matter was not covered up by the firm in 2012. An investigation was carried out by the firm involving a number of senior partners. At the time I believed I behaved appropriately in that investigation while cooperating with them and no comment to the contrary was made to me by those conducting the process." He said that he could not make any further comment until he had studied the tribunal’s judgment, which will be published in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the SRA told RollOnFriday: “We will await the SDT’s judgment before considering any further steps.”

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Comments

Phew 19 June 20 09:33

It’s amazing that Bakers got away so lightly if they allowed an investigation to take place improperly and “ineffectively” and no doubt, with a view to protecting an influential partner/cover up. That sort of institutional dishonesty is surely serious and involves misleading other partners in the firm and anyone else (eg the SRA?) that the investigation reports to.

Holding My Breath 19 June 20 09:51

Lets hope for a transparent judgment, detailing the costs that were being sought by the SRA.

Aged practitioner 19 June 20 11:00

This is a sorry tale. I worked at Bakers in the mid 80's and knew Gary quite well. I was higher up the food chain than he and he was considered to be an OK lawyer but nothing special. He had senior patrons though that almost guaranteed he would make it to the top. He was simply promoted above his skills level; he knew that, everybody knew that. And in the end he just unravelled with the stress of it all. A great pity. 

Aged practitioner 19 June 20 11:23

This is a sorry tale. I worked at Bakers in the mid 80's and knew Gary quite well. I was higher up the food chain than he and he was considered to be an OK lawyer but nothing special. He had senior patrons though that almost guaranteed he would make it to the top. He was simply promoted above his skills level; he knew that, everybody knew that. And in the end he just unravelled with the stress of it all. A great pity. 

Anonymous 19 June 20 11:36

£50,000 fine for this (direct quote from previous ROF article):

Person A told the tribunal that once the others left, Senior "paid me a compliment" and said, "can we have a hug?"

Senior then kissed her neck, although he disputed her claim that she turned away from him, or that he gripped her.

What is the world coming to?

Anonymous 19 June 20 11:58

100k for an attempted kiss?

That could have bought a helluva lot more in a gentleman's club. 

[Insert nudge nudge wink wink emoji]

Anonymous 19 June 20 12:12

True Aged Practitioner - often in cases like this the human cost on both sides is overlooked.

Anonymous 19 June 20 12:43

It is infuriating and saddening in equal measure to see more examples of how the SRA fails to act appropriately in response to the brazen mistreatment of junior lawyers by their senior colleagues. 

When an organisation carries out an investigation involving the sexual harassment and/or bullying of a junior (who inevitably ends being forced out of a job) by a senior member of staff, there can be no expectation of a balanced enquiry.  I certainly have not experienced anything different, having been bullied out of an in-house job and after an investigation that was tantamount to gaslighting me. 

As with Bakers (and many others), the organisation will simply close ranks around its senior employees, and the SRA will be unfailingly useless on every occasion, raining shit on the junior lawyer and providing a cursory slap on the wrist to an influential perpetrator. When will this change?

Fred 19 June 20 14:55

From what I have read, Senior agreed to pay £40,000 towards the SRA's costs.  Let's hope that the SRA was not avoiding disclosing the level of its costs to the SDT.  Those costs must have been at least ten times the £40,000 figure, so there is an impression that it did a deal on costs direct with Senior (rather than showing the SDT its costs and asking it to assess them).  If we assume that the SRA's costs were more like £400,000, the profession has incurred unrecovered costs of £360,000 in order to obtain a fine of £55,000.

You also have to ask why the misconduct found by the SDT - including attempting improperly to influence the internal the investigation - did not merit something more than a fine.

Dearie 19 June 20 15:55

"At the time I believed I behaved appropriately in that investigation while cooperating with them and no comment to the contrary was made to me by those conducting the process."

Right... so it sounds like he's still surprised that his conduct in the investigation wasn't up to scratch because 'no one told him not to'. Not the best choice of words and indicates a poor culture. 

Someone Besides Fred 19 June 20 16:14

Fred, presumably you’re saying the SRA was too light touch, rather than saying this wasn’t worth pursuing?

Anon 19 June 20 16:53

There are several examples of flawed investigations by senior management in big law firms that I am aware of, involving people in the firms who are supposed to be looking out for bad behaviour basically working backwards from pre decided outcomes with a view to protecting errant but powerful partners. There are many more examples I am sure that get hushed up and never leak out of the relevant firm. It is this sort of systematic deceit that the SRA needs to focus on. There was an appalling example last year, which involved partners at the very top of the firm including the general counsel. They were caught red handed but nothing ever happened.  

Anon 19 June 20 17:05

There are several examples of flawed investigations by senior management in big law firms that I am aware of, involving people in the firms who are supposed to be looking out for bad behaviour basically working backwards from pre decided outcomes with a view to protecting errant but powerful partners. There are many more examples I am sure that get hushed up and never leak out of the relevant firm. It is this sort of systematic deceit that the SRA needs to focus on. There was an appalling example last year, which involved partners at the very top of the firm including the general counsel. They were caught red handed and had to publicly bend the knee and make a huge payment to the person they were trying to stitch up. I don’t think the SRA ever did anything about it

Anonymous 19 June 20 17:11

These investigations are usually a damage limitation exercise. Its decided at the outset who will be believed/supported, usually based on the power of the accuser v that of the accused. While sometimes this benefits the accused, just as if not more often the side if the accuser is taken out of fear that they might go to the media/regulator/courts and the accused is automatically found guilty and forced to leave even if they've done nothing wrong.

Anonymous 19 June 20 17:45

I think he's saying that he thought he didn't do anything wrong in terms of the investigation because nobody at the firm told him otherwise Dearie. The SRA agree with him on the one hand, finding that the firm did no wrong , but somewhat confusingly found that he did do wrong in relation to the investigation, although it appears that the firm (who it was found didn't do wrong) were OK with his approach.

Fred 19 June 20 18:50

The idea of the SRA being "too light touch" is a bit comical.  I mean that I want to know the level of costs which the SRA actually incurred in this case.  I also struggle to see why, given the SDT's findings, this did not merit rather more than a fine.

Anonymous 19 June 20 20:19

@12.43 - it happens to males too if they're not senior enough when they're falsely accused by a perpetrator. The same bogus investigations and closing ranks. As far as I'm aware, no individual or firm has ever been held to account by the SRA for making false accusations. To change this the CIPD and other bodies who regulate HR need to put prope measures in place to stop their members lying.

Anonymous 21 June 20 09:10

"What is the world coming to?"

Indeed. It's terrible that people in positions of power are being punished for uninvited physical sexual contact with their subordinates. 

Anonymous 21 June 20 15:53

Evidence is for the accuser to provide, not the other way around 21st @ 9.13, thats how it works. Until proven, the accusation is false.

Anonymous 21 June 20 16:22

Turns out that 3 out of the 4 accusations in this case were false. 75% ratio of false accusations is probably about right.

Anonymous 21 June 20 16:51

What are the examples of flawed investigations 17.05? What you say is correct, and tends to involve senior management hanging people out to dry who have been falsely accused.

Retired Partner 21 June 20 18:55

Agreed, Aged practitioner.  Gregory Treverton-Jones QC’s reference to Gary Senior’s attendance at a ‘substandard comprehensive’ feels potentially insulting to others who attended Cross Green School in south-east Leeds, now demolished it seems.  If thirty years in the profession have not taught Senior that even one ‘moment of madness when he had had too much to drink’ is not acceptable, then he would have learnt little else at a more ‘establishment’ school.  If on the other hand this was the one ‘moment of madness’ where he got caught, then Cross Green School did at least teach him how to get away with the others.  The people of Yorkshire may be owed an apology.

Anonymous 22 June 20 07:48

Which comments say that it's terrible that people in positions of power are being punished for uninvited physical sexual contact with their subordinates?

Unfair 22 June 20 12:44

And yet Lord Lester QC, who sexually harassed a woman, abused his position and was voted out of the House of Lords, was not sanctioned by the BSB.

 

Correction 22 June 20 12:48

Anonymous 21 June 20 15:53: not false, just not proved. It is merely an allegation. An important forensic distinction.

Fair 22 June 20 13:46

Lord Lester wasn't voted out of the House of Lords and hasn't been found guilty of sexually harassing anyone or of abusing his position. This has been recognised by the BSB, who completely cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Anonymous 22 June 20 14:14

@Retired Partner - I think his description of the incident as a 'moment of madness' shows he regards the incident as unacceptable. There are no suggestions of other 'moments of madness'.

Anonymous 22 June 20 14:33

The evidence is for the person making a claim to provide, 15:53. You are making the claim there are false accusations. Where is your evidence?

Anonymous 22 June 20 15:32

@14.33 - it doesn't work that way. It is for the person that made the original accusation to provide evidence. Until then the claim is false, so there is no need to provide evidence that it is false. Otherwise anybody would be able to make a false and unsupported accusation and then attempt to rely on the accused having to prove that the accusation was false.

Anonymous 22 June 20 16:47

@15:32

It most certainly does work that way. I hope to high heaven you are not a lawyer.

Just because a claim cannot be objectively proven, that does not mean it is false. Plenty of claims are true but cannot be proven because no evidence exists beyond the victim's testimony. What other evidence do you think could be provided in these cases? Usually there are no other witnesses, no CCTV and no forensic evidence. What exactly is the victim supposed to do?

Equally, to accuse some one of making a false allegation is just as serious an allegation as to accuse them of improper sexual conduct. You need to provide objective evidence of the events in question to prove that the accuser's testimony is false. Do you have a CCTV recording of the night in question? No? Then you have no right to assume the accusation is false.

Otherwise, any accused could simply deny the allegations against them (as they always do anyway) and innocent victims would have to be penalised. And now do you understand why victims rarely come forward?

 

Anonymous 22 June 20 20:26

It does work that way.  You have made an original accusation.  You have said that there are false accusations.  You need to provide evidence that is true.  Otherwise, your claim is false.

Anon 22 June 20 20:36

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.”

The BSB did not clear Lester. They merely concluded that, despite his conduct, he should not be sanctioned. The Times explained this in a correction to their earlier headline, which wrongly said that Lester had been cleared: 

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 22 June 20 23:55

So, by your own logic Mr Evidence, your inability to support your accusation of false accusations means your accusation is false.

Anonymous 23 June 20 09:02

@22nd @23.55 - there is no need to prove that an allegation is false Mrs No Evidence. Until the original allegations are evidenced and proven to be true they are false. Until then any claim that the allegations are false is correct.

Anonymous 23 June 20 09:06

22nd @ 20.26 - it does work that way. The original accusations are the false claims. Until they are proven, it is true that they are false accusations.

Anonymous 23 June 20 09:31

@22nd, 16.47

It most certainly does work that way. I hope to high heaven you are not a lawyer.

Until a claim is proven, that does mean it is false. Plenty of claims are false and cannot be proven because no evidence exists and they didn't happen. Victims don't make claims, alleged victims do. Otherwise, any accuser could simply accuse someone of anything with no evidence to support it and rely on the accused having to prove themselves innocent. And innocent victims would have to be penalised.

And now do you understand why people don't come forward about false accusations.

Anonymous 23 June 20 09:45

Indeed, [email protected], Hansard and The Times in no way contradict the facts that Lester wasn't voted out of the House of Lords and hasn't been found guilty of sexually harassing anyone or of abusing his position by the House.

The House recognised that the Commissioner and Committee claim to have a different view, although the House voted that the process involved in the Commissioner and Committee coming to this claimed view was unfair.

This has been recognised by the BSB, who completely cleared Lester of any wrongdoing.

Anonymous 23 June 20 10:22

@09.31 I am a litigator, hence I have grasped the fundamental distinction between an allegation that has not been proven, and an allegation that has been proven to be false. Totally different things. The former is simply a lack of evidence, the latter requires positive evidence.

Time for Mr Evidence to open a law textbook and learn how evidence actually works. If I was as naive as you I'd be out of a job.

 

 

Anon 23 June 20 10:34

Anonymous 23 June 20 09:00: the only body which determines the truth or falsity of a claim is the court. Until verdict, therefore, there is only an allegation. 

Anonymous 23 June 20 11:09

So you admit your original accusation that there are false accusations is a false claim Mr Evidence? That's some progress at least.

I'm not a woman btw, but thanks for highlighting your prejudices even further.

Anonymous 23 June 20 11:18

Hey Mr Evidence - is there any reason you haven't demanded the evidence for the claims reported in the other stories on Rof? 

Anon 23 June 20 15:40

Anonymous 23 June 20 09:45: you sound like you are stomping your feet because things did not go Lester’s way. 

Read Hansard, which speaks for itself. 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.

Therefore, 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 23 June 20 15:51

No, Mrs No Evidence @11.09, there is no need to prove that an allegation is false. Until the original allegations are evidenced and proven to be true they are false. Until then any claim that the allegations are false is correct.

And you're welcome.

Anonymous 23 June 20 16:00

@10.22 - if you were you would know the difference between an allegation and a fact and the need for you to prove the case you're trying to make.

Time for Mrs No Evidence to open a law textbook and learn how allegations actually work. If I was as naive as you I'd be out of a job.

Worried 23 June 20 16:23

The commentator here who replies to others by repeating what they have said, as in Anonymous 22 June 20 13:09 and Anonymous 23 June 20 16:00, demonstrates a troubling pathology.

Anonymous 23 June 20 16:55

@Worried - it demonstrates a troubling pathology to think that turning someone's own accusations and arguments against them demonstrates a troubling pathology.

Anonymous 23 June 20 16:57

Indeed, [email protected], Hansard and The Times in no way contradict the objective facts that Lester wasn't voted out of the House of Lords and hasn't been found guilty of sexually harassing anyone or of abusing his position by the House.

The House recognised that the Commissioner and Committee claim to have a different view, although the House voted that the process involved in the Commissioner and Committee coming to this claimed view was unfair.

This has been recognised by the BSB, who completely cleared Lester of any wrongdoing.

Anonymous 23 June 20 17:00

@Worried, couldn't agree more. Mr Evidence is starting to get seriously disturbing.

Mr Evidence, if you're reading this, you need mental health care and quickly. Either that or learn to develop some basic reading comprehension. You've been completely owned in these comments.

Anonymous 23 June 20 18:34

One need only look at this case for examples of false accusations. Even the SRA agree, having dismissed most of the claims.

Anonymous 23 June 20 18:41

Once again, an infuriating example how senior lawyers get away with seriously questionable conduct.

It's not even just the attempted kiss, but no doubt the subsequent bullying and silencing of the junior lawyer and the influencing of the investigation and abuse of power. But what is that, compared to, let’s say, forgetting a briefcase on a train.

Anonymous 23 June 20 19:11

@17.00 - if you think making @Worried 'completely owned' anybody, then perhaps it is you who is disturbing or in need of basic reading comprehension!

Anonymous 23 June 20 19:29

What lawyers got away with it 18.41? What 'seriously questionable' conduct? He was found guilty!

I'm not aware of even an allegation of bullying and silencing the junior lawyer, much less there being 'no doubt' it happened.

Anon 23 June 20 20:14

Anonymous 23 June 20 16:57: why are you just writing the same thing again? You need to get help.

Anon 24 June 20 17:29

Anonymous 24 June 20 13:17: but it’s not normal behaviour just to cut and paste the same language again. We understand your point, even though we might disagree. You don’t need to make it again; still less do you need to repeat it in exactly the same language. It’s just a bit weird to behave like that. 

Anonymous 24 June 20 19:05

@17.29 - glad you understand the point, thanks. Not sure why you find something telling the truth weird. We don't.

Anon 24 June 20 20:25

Anonymous 24 June 20 19:05: it’s not that you are telling the truth. In fact, you are wrong. As you can see from the voting, the significant majority of people reading your views disagree with what you are saying. It’s the manner in which you express your beliefs, rather than the substance, which is disturbing.

Anonymous 24 June 20 20:33

"No, Mrs No Evidence @11.09, there is no need to prove that an allegation is false."

I wasn't asking you to prove that an allegation was false Mr Evidence.  I was asking you to prove that your allegation is true.  And I'm still not a woman. Not all men are misogynists. HTH.

Anonymous 24 June 20 20:36

@15:52 - You might want to learn the difference between a question and an allegation, but even if it were the latter, the comments sections of every other story that doesn't involve a woman making a claim of sexual harassment where Mr Evidence hasn't commented is the evidence.

Anonymous 24 June 20 20:42

"We don't".

Poor Mr Evidence appears to have a multiple personality disorder to add to his other mental health illnesses.  Get some help m8.  I realise being rejected by a woman at some point in your past as clearly had a very serious impact on you, but you don't need to live like this.

Anonymous 24 June 20 21:21

@20:25: the amount of likes/dislikes won't sway him. In fact, last time there were serious numbers of dislikes on his comments, he went absolutely postal and accused people of perpetrating some kind of thumbs-down fraud.  Without any evidence, ironically.

Anonymous 24 June 20 22:36

Its because people are multiple upvoting their own comments 20.25 and multiple downvoting other comments.

Anonymous 24 June 20 22:39

Mrs No Evidence @20.33, until the original allegations are evidenced and proven to be true they are false. Until then any claim that the allegations are false is correct.

Not all women are misandrists.

HTH

Anonymous 24 June 20 22:53

@20.42 - you may think female sexual misconduct accusers suffer from multiple personality disorders, mental health problems, or are bitter because of rejection Mrs No Evidence. We don't. Get some help m8!

Anonymous 24 June 20 22:57

@21.21 - the evidence he relied on was probably the number of upvotes/down votes in a very short space of time. This muktiple upvoting/downvoting is a form of false accusation, which is very common in matters related to sexual misconduct.

Anon 25 June 20 01:02

If only there was an SRA disclosure exercise where firms legally had to provide copies of the NDAs they used to hush up incidents in this vein....that would make for some very interesting reading.

Still worried 25 June 20 07:34

Anonymous 24 June 20 20:42: the reason Anonymous 24 June 20 19:05 has used “we” is because he is deliberately copying the language used by Anon 24 June 20 17:29. He wrongly thinks that copying someone else’s language is appropriate, when in fact it is a departure from normative behaviour and is just a bit creepy. It also detracts from the substance of what he is saying. He must learn not to let his personality get between him and his argument.

Anonymous 25 June 20 09:13

@24th June 20:42 - Unfortunately Still worried doesn't explain what they mean by 'normative behaviour'? Its a bit creepy of them to suggest something is a bit creepy just because they don't agree with it.

Still worried must learn learn not to let their personality get between them and their argument.

Anonymous 25 June 20 09:34

There wouldn't be much appetite to disclose NDAs as both parties would have to agree and any money paid handed back.

Anon 25 June 20 10:55

Still worried 25 June 20 07:34: you are right. But when it comes to mental illness, semper erat, et sic semper erit.

Anonymous 25 June 20 13:31

@22:26. Where's your evidence that people are doing multiple voting on the same comments?

@22:57. Where's your evidence that the votes are happening in a very short space of time?

Anonymous 25 June 20 13:33

I can't multiple vote on the same post. How did you find out out it was possible Mr Evidence?

Anonymous 25 June 20 16:27

@13.31 - the evidence is the high number of votes in a short period of time.

Thanks for conceding that evidence is important though.

Anonymous 25 June 20 16:34

I remember a male partner very insistently trying to get me to come back to his room on an NQ retreat.  I politely but firm said I was straight and we moved on.

There seem to be a lot of mole-hills being turned into mountains at the moment. 

Anonymous 25 June 20 17:55

@16:39 - Wow! So you can actually see through the interweb to witness who votes on what post? That's literally incredible!

 

PS. I'm not a woman either.

Anonymous 25 June 20 17:56

Still worried 25 June 20 07:34 - if some peoples' understanding of false accusations was as good as their understanding of Latin they could have saved themselves a lot of time and a lot of upvoting and downvoting.

Evidence 25 June 20 18:17

Anonymous 25 June 20 16:27: please evidence your claim by identifying (a) the time period to which you are referring and (b) the number of votes made during that time period.

Anonymous 25 June 20 16:29: please evidence your claim by identifying (a) the people to whom you are referring and (b) the comments in respect of which those people voted.

Anonymous 25 June 20 21:22

@16:34 - just because you are willing to tolerate sexual harassment at work doesn't mean anyone else has to.

Anonymous 25 June 20 22:06

@18.17 - the evidence is the time period in which the multiple voting took place, the number is the high number of votes, the people are the people who voted and the comments are the ones where multiple voting took place.

Thanks for agreeing on the importance of evidence and for agreeing that accusations not supported by evidence are false.

 

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