A partner who left London law firm Winckworth Sherwood after harassing female colleagues at its Christmas party last year has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
According to the regulator, last December John Burnand, “whilst intoxicated, behaved in an inappropriate, physical manner towards several female members of the firm’s staff.
“The firm investigated the matter, although the members of staff did not raise formal grievances about Mr Burnand’s behaviour or seek to take the matter further in any other way.”
Mr Burnand made a firm-wide apology on Winckworth’s intranet and resigned five days after the party.
According to a report by website Legal Cheek at the time, the corporate finance specialist told colleagues that he had attended “a business development event prior to the party and had drunk more than [he] should on the day”.
He continued: “I am very sorry for offending so many by my conduct. I know that this is not acceptable behaviour and must never happen again. You may rest assured that it never will.”
The SRA said Mr Burnand had admitted breaching principle 6 of the SRA principles, namely that “you must behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services”.
In deciding that the agreed outcome was proportionate, the SRA said it took into account Mr Burnand’s mitigation that: “he has apologised, is remorseful and promptly accepted that his conduct was inappropriate”; he resigned promptly from the firm as a result of his conduct; he cooperated fully with the SRA; and he had a clear regulatory history.
Mr Burnand also agreed to pay £600 in costs to the SRA. The Law Society’s ‘Find a Solicitor’ directory does not list him as working at a firm at the moment.
Yesterday, we reported on a rebuke handed out to a male partner who received a police caution after punching a female colleague during a social event just before Christmas 2015.