A City lawyer who shared intimate pictures with a teenage apprentice and sent her a video of him pleasuring himself was yesterday struck off.
Oliver Edward Bretherton was a director of international law firm Gowling WRG at the time and claimed he acted “with integrity throughout” his two-year relationship with Person A.
He said he viewed her as a mature adult “who wanted to take part in this consensual relationship”.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) rejected his argument last month in finding him guilty of most of the 76 allegations he faced and yesterday, with two other young women also subjected to his misconduct, decided to strike him off. The full reasons for the decision will be published in due course.
Mr Bretherton had admitted some of the alleged misconduct on a limited basis which was not accepted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and therefore resulted in a fully contested hearing.
Mr Bretherton, 41, became obsessed with the 18-year-old, sent her a video of himself masturbating and threw ping-pong balls down her dress, the SDT heard.
The SDT held that, when in a position of seniority in respect of Person A, Mr Bretherton used various inappropriate words, sent inappropriate messages, directed her to engage in inappropriate activity, touched her inappropriately, “engaged in conduct towards Person A that was unreasonable and/or controlling”, and asked her to conceal his conduct.
He was found to have been sexually motivated in doing so, to have abused his position and to have taken unfair advantage of Person A.
In relation to Person B, he was found to have used inappropriate words and sent messages that were inappropriate “in both volume and/or content”. This was abuse of position and unfair advantage, but sexual motivation was not proved.
His conduct in relation to Person C again included inappropriate words but while unfair advantage was proved, sexual motivation and abuse of position were not.
Mr Bretherton, who was subsequently a non-member partner at fee-share law firm gunnercooke, was also ordered to pay costs of £23,550.