Former Baker Mckenzie London managing partner Gary Senior propositioned a junior lawyer at 3am after asking her to stay behind in his hotel room, a tribunal heard today.
The incident took place in 2012 but was hushed up by the firm, with Senior keeping his job and the junior lawyer (Person A) leaving with a payoff after signing a non-disclosure agreement.
The firm, its former head of human resources Martin Blackburn – now head of HR at KPMG – and former partner Tom Cassels – now a partner at Linklaters – are also being prosecuted in the same case for allegedly carrying out a flawed investigation into the incident. All parties deny wrongdoing.
Andrew Tabachnik QC, prosecuting for the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said: “The first respondent [Senior] while managing partner of a leading UK and global firm propositioned Person A, a six months or so qualified associate solicitor in the early hours…having asked her to stay behind in his hotel room when all others left.”
Senior, by his own admission, “offered an inappropriate compliment about her appearance and gave her an unwanted kiss on the neck,” Tabachnik said.
Immediately after the incident, Senior sent Person A an email that read “Sorry!!”.
“The first respondent’s admitted actions were aggravated by his alcohol consumption during the relevant evening,” Tabachnik said.
Senior drank during a work dinner, then went to a bar and a nightclub.
Returning to his hotel and finding the bar closed, Senior and four junior members of the firm retired to his room where they emptied the mini bar and ordered more beer and wine.
Senior was “the most senior member of the firm in attendance…He should have known better than to drink to that extent,” Tabachnik said.
“Person A was extremely distressed at the actions of her managing partner,” Tabachnik said.
“She was fearful her career at the firm would be adversely affected by resisting the managing partner’s advances,” he added.
At a later date, Blackburn read a statement of apology to Person A from Senior during a meeting which left her “visibly upset,” Tabachnik said.
In his statement of apology, which was read out to the tribunal, Senior said: “I was drunk and it was a moment of madness”.
He said: “One of the reasons I am a popular managing partner is I enjoy drinking with others.”
And added: “If I get drunk I get tactile, affectionate, But I don’t get unpleasant.”
Senior and Person A are both set to give evidence during the course of the 15 day hearing.
Senior left Baker Mckenzie in July 2018 and according to his Linkedin account is now a managing director at headhunting firm Helix Management Services.
The case continues.