One of the top private equity lawyers in London has been accused of ordering sensitive information to be destroyed.

The story began when Jonathan Fairman, one of the founders of Ocado, left to set up rival grocers TDP. Ocado claimed that TPD had made inappropriate use of confidential information. TPD denied this, said that Ocado’s allegation had forced the collapse of a lucrative tie-up with Waitrose and announced that it would be coming after Ocado for a fortune as a result. An unholy mess, and one which will undoubtedly prove very lucrative to the many lawyers involved. 

One of whom is Raymond McKeeve, Jones Day’s leading private equity man and one of the best-known corporate lawyers in the City, who is acting for TPD. And who, The Times reports, has now been accused by Ocado of contempt of court.

Ocado claims that when it asked for files on TPD’s secret communications service to be preserved,  McKeeve told his client to destroy the evidence “initially with a message that read ‘burn it’ or ‘burn all’ and promptly thereafter over a telephone call… It is to be inferred that the communications platform contained information relevant to the defendant’s unlawful conduct”.

 


 How it might have looked



TPD is having none of it, saying that no evidence was deleted, the communications system was simply a device to provide cheap phone calls, and that McKeeve asked for it to be deleted “for personal reasons”. It may well be right – this could be an entirely baseless allegation and nothing more than a tactic by Ocado. But readers will have to make up their own minds, because Jones Day refused to defend their man and provide RoF with any comment.

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Comments

Gobblepig 18 October 19 08:19

Anyone who, when facing litigation in England, decides to seek advice on the issue from (i) a Corporate lawyer (ii) at Jones Day, deserves absolutely the worst things possible in English proceedings to happen to them. 

Anonymous 18 October 19 09:06

Really??  lawyer acting for a party is accused of contempt by the people who are suing his client?  I know ROF Towers has a whole floor devoted to "what nasty stuff can we say about Jones Day because they don't speak to us", but this is below the belt.  Lawyers are regularly attacked personally by people who are in a fight with someone they have represented and I wouldn't expect ROF, who must know this happens, to give it oxygen.  I was once physically threatened by someone who thought someone I had acted for 15 years before owed him money (he didn't) and it is pretty frightening when that happens, only made bearable by other lawyers backing me up, and reminding me (a) this wasn't my fault and (b) I was just caught in the cross fire.  I have never met McKeeve, and for all I know he could be a complete crook, but could you actually wait until he has done something before pointing fingers?

Anonymous 18 October 19 09:57

To Anon @9:06 - From what you say I assume you are at or ex-Jones Day.  Regardless, the real point to focus on is why is a corporate lawyer sending messages to his client suggesting that they destroy evidence?  So when you chastise RoF and ask whether they could "... wait until he has done something before pointing fingers", it sounds like that time has long passed.

Also, what legitimate "personal reasons" could he have had for wanting to delete the messages, knowing that they might be disclosed as evidence?

Who knows, but it sounds like I'd certainly rather be on the other side of this argument.

 

@anon 18 October 19 09:58

Simple question - seeing as you're very quick to defend him suggesting he hasn't done anything:

1. TPD seems to accept that the system - which it was asked to preserve by litigants was deleted at the request of McKeeve - this is pretty questionable in and of itself.

2. TPD then suggests that its communications systems was deleted for McKeeve's "personal reasons" - why on God's green earth would a lawyer who has "done nothing" EVER need data deleted from their client's IT systems for "personal reasons"?  I don't know what kind of advice you give, but last time I checked mine doesn't usually contain things I'd need deleted for personal reasons.

There is, if you don't mind my saying, a hell of a lot of smoke here for you to turn around and say "well we don't know there's actually a fire so let's give him the benefit of the doubt".

I hope you're just naïve but given the overly defensive intro about Jones Day I assume you are either McKeeve or just work in Jones Day's and were keeping an eye out for the story once the firm received a request for comment from ROF so you could try and drum up some sort of defense for a position that, from the outside, looks plain rotten.

Anonymous 18 October 19 17:43

Following the suspension of a London JD partner for sexual misconduct in July, I think this tells you all you need to know. It makes it uneasy, being sleazy.

There are honourable exceptions though, notably a partner known colloquially as "Mr Coffee", who is a thoroughly decent chap with integrity and who should have been leading the litigation practice years ago.

Belinda Claire De Camborne Lucy 21 October 19 13:37

@Anon18/10 21:49 - lay off my husband. We are two of the most common, non-establishment, people of the people around. As for my husband being accused of contempt of court, it is us that holds the court in contempt, not the other way around. 
 

PS. This is a parody. Much like the real version. 

Fire starter 22 October 19 06:09

What a foul stench.  Telling a client to burn it is only good advice if DEFRA is involved and support the advice in the interests of eradicating mad cow disease.

Stormont Man 27 October 19 00:38

Does indeed seem a curious episode. 

Unless some light is shone upon it, one wonders if if might finish up getting MSM air time as I gather Mr McKee is closely connected to big wigs in politics. He was married to a senior Brexit Party MP and very close to "disgraced former defence minister" Dr Liam Fox.  

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