A male barrister who told a junior female colleague that “I really wanted to smack your arse” – and then did so – has been reprimanded and fined £6,000 by a Bar disciplinary tribunal.
Dominic Woolard, called in 2008, was found to have undermined his integrity and diminished public trust in the profession through his conduct.
According to the tribunal’s decision notice, on 21 December 2018, Mr Woolard “held A, over whom he was in a position of professional seniority, by or around the neck, an intimate part of the body as between professional colleagues, while saying to her ‘I really wanted to smack your arse’, or words to that effect, and the touching was intentional, the touching was sexual, A did not consent to the touching, and Dominic Woolard did not reasonably believe that A consented to the touching”.
The barrister then slapped A on the bottom, causing her physical pain, and pulled her onto his lap.
His actions, the tribunal found, were “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which had the purpose or effect of violating A’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or otherwise offensive environment for A”.
The full decision of the tribunal has not yet been published and will explain the circumstances around what happened, as well as the reasoning for the sanction, which on its face is likely to be seen as lenient given the nature of the misconduct.
By the standards of the Bar tribunal, £6,000 is a hefty fine. Mr Woolard was also ordered to pay costs of £3,600, again a large amount in comparison to other cases.