Gary Senior, the ex-London Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie, made a "failed pass" at a junior colleague but it did not amount to professional misconduct, his defence has argued to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The defence also said that Baker McKenzie threw Senior "under a bus" and fired him as a PR move after RollOnFriday broke the story in 2018

The SRA's prosecution of Gary Senior resumed via a virtual hearing last month, with closing submissions being presented to the SDT this week. Senior is accused of "attempting to embrace and kiss" a female junior colleague in 2012, against her will, and then sweeping it under the carpet. At a hearing in December, the junior lawyer told the tribunal that Senior had asked her to stay behind in his hotel room, and then asked her for a hug and kissed her neck. However, Senior disputes her claim that he gripped her and that she turned away from him.

In his final submissions, Senior's defence barrister Gregory Treverton-Jones QC told the tribunal that Senior's actions did not amount to professional misconduct and he was guilty of "no more than having made a failed pass at a junior colleague", according to reports in the Law Gazette and Law.com. "Many relationships" form between junior and senior colleagues in firms with "one thing leading to another", Treverton-Jones told the tribunal. 


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Since the #MeToo movement, female employees were more likely "to raise concerns about inappropriate behaviour", argued Treverton-Jones, adding that while that was a good thing, there was a "danger of permitting the pendulum to swing too far." He also argued that other misconduct allegations within the profession that have recently come to light, such as the Ryan Beckwith case, were "far more serious" than Senior's actions.

Treverton-Jones also told the tribunal that Baker McKenzie dismissed Senior for "public relations reasons" as a result of RollOnFriday breaking the story in 2018. He said that Baker McKenzie had subsequently "mishandled" the matter, and that the firm had thrown Senior and those involved in the internal investigation under a bus "to protect themselves from their perception in the media."

The SRA is also prosecuting Bakers' ex-head of HR, Martin Blackburn, and its former head of litigation, Tom Cassels, for participating in the flawed internal investigation, along with the firm itself.

In the hearing on Monday, it emerged that the firm's investigation into Senior was apparently reported to the SRA in 2015. Blackburn, the firm's former head of HR, claimed that he had sent a letter to the SRA that year, telling them that his internal investigation into the incident had caused "much annoyance" to Senior.

Blackburn also alleged at the hearing last Friday that the firm's London Management committee discussed the Senior incident when it had occurred in 2012 but decided not to report the matter to the SRA.

It was revealed at the hearing that the female junior lawyer who Senior has allegedly tried to kiss was given "around £140,000" in a settlement agreement with Bakers. 

The case is expected to conclude this week.

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Comments

Fred 07 May 20 08:57

Segregated offices needed; or else recruit only non-drinkers.  Genitals + alcohol will always lead to this sort of incident.  Naive to pretend otherwise.  So either have single-sex offices or ban all alcohol and drink at workplace events.  Even better, ban all workplace events; they're crap and a waste of personal time anyway.

Anonymous 07 May 20 09:22

Or you know, just have staff behave like sensible adults.  My team's events manage to get by with considerable amounts of alcohol and no attempts at sleeping with junior colleagues, because everyone knows what's acceptable and how they should behave at a work event.  It really isn't difficult. 

Rose McGowan 07 May 20 11:25

The old drunken pounce.

Was it Freshers' Week?

Anonymous 07 May 20 12:22

A failed pass sounds like most of my exams at law school as I was too busy seshing. 

Anonymous 07 May 20 14:28

So the SRA knew about it years before it was revealed by RollonFriday but didn't do anything.  Interesting. 

Anonymous 07 May 20 15:06

How do you know nobody in your team has tried to sleep with a junior colleague 9.22?

Anonymous 07 May 20 15:29

Having a “Senior moment” will mean something very different at Bakers now 

Anonymous 07 May 20 16:36

@15.06

Obviously I can never be certain, but there is the team rumour mill, not seeing anything at parties etc.

There are plenty of teams where that kind of behaviour is accepted as normal and everyone knows who the people to watch out for are. So while I can't be certain I can be reasonably confident. 

Anonymous 07 May 20 21:31

Possibly 16.36, but it's also possible that colleagues slept with each other without you being aware. It happens very often, and usually discreetly and without any drama. The problems tend to arise when people can't take no for an answer or where people object to being approached for whatever reason.

Anonymous 08 May 20 12:53

Poor chap. He has been shafted by 21c liberalism. 

Why would she meet him in his hotel. The girls could have said they would prefer to meet in a meeting room in the hotel, surely? Secondly, why would she hug him?

She had the freedom to say no to both. 

Of course, if Mr Senior were in his 30s and fit a lot more would have happened in the hotel room, and nothing would have been said. 

 

 

Anonymous 08 May 20 13:51

Lots of shagging goes on at law firms. Tends to be rife at the junior end of the professional. Most of it doesn't result in malice. 

Mister Mxyzptlk 08 May 20 14:08

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

Bob the bird puller 08 May 20 14:11

@  Anonymous 08 May 20 12:53

Why on earth shouldn't she meet him in his hotel?  How was she to know that he was going to try it on?  It's not her fault that he found her attractive and rather than telling her grabbed her and tried to kiss her.

It's time to stop blaming women for men's immaturity and sexual incontinence.

Anonymous 08 May 20 16:13

@Anonymous 07 May 20 09:22

It is interesting to see 5 disagree. Presumably they do find it hard to behave sensibly and not sleep with their junior partners.

Anonymous 08 May 20 23:40

@16.13 - or maybe they just find it hard to see how 09.22 could know who's behaving sensibly and who's sleeping with who.

If a junior partner wants to sleep with somebody that's their business and entirely up to them, the fact that they're 'junior's is of no odds.

SecularJurist 09 May 20 23:23

The Armed Forces ban workplace relationships. The same should apply to The Law (unless colleagues were already spouses or long-term partners). 

 

Anonymous 10 May 20 17:39

I don't agree SecularJurist, that approach just results in clandestine relationships, there is no ban in reality. As far as consenting adults go it's up to the individual who they have relationships with.

Poopot 12 May 20 15:13

I'd let him kiss me for £140,000...

Me too 13 May 20 07:23

I agree Poopot. So long as no tongues.

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