Ex-PwC accountant James Phipps has avoided being struck off by a disciplinary body, despite serving time in jail in the US for assaulting a sleeping woman on a plane.
Phipps was on a transatlantic British Airways flight in 2018 when he groped a sleeping woman’s breasts and then threw a book at her when she awoke and rejected him.
Phipps was charged with assault on 1 July 2019. Despite claiming he had no recollection of the event, and that he had been “drinking heavily” both before and during the flight, he pleaded guilty at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on 2 August 2019, the Daily Mail reported.
Phipps was arrested in America and sacked from PwC, where at the time he was working in the firm’s Virginia office. He served 10 days in a detention centre for the assault, and then a further 10 days of house arrest.
Despite the assault and time spent in jail, the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) accepted Phipps’ argument that the assault was an “isolated incident”, and made the decision to allow him to continue to work as an accountant, according to the Mail.
At a hearing in front of the ICAEW, Phipps told the tribunal he had been sober since shortly after the incident and was “humbled and full of remorse” at what he had done and that his actions were “completely out of character”.
Though the tribunal did not exclude him from the profession, Phipps was ordered to pay £5,060.
City A.M. has contacted the ICAEW for comment. PwC said it would not comment on former employees.