Rebuke for solicitor caught on camera making “lewd gesture”

Christmas party: Solicitor failed to treat colleague with respect and dignity

A solicitor who was caught on camera making a “lewd gesture” at a colleague at the firm’s Christmas party has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

A notice from the regulator said that Samuel Thorne was working as an associate at central London firm Russell-Cooke at the time in 2017.

He “made a lewd gesture to his colleague in front of other staff members at the firm’s Christmas party and this was captured on video footage”.

In doing so, he failed to act with integrity, maintain public trust or conduct himself in a way that encouraged equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, all in breach of the SRA principles.

The SRA said Mr Thorne’s conduct was serious by reference because it demonstrated a lack of integrity, “caused harm and distress to the recipient”, and “failed to treat a fellow professional with respect and dignity”.

It continued: “Given that Mr Thorne acted with a lack of integrity, damaged the trust placed in the provision of legal services, had direct control and responsibility for his conduct and caused harm and distress, it was decided that a rebuke was an appropriate and proportionate sanction.”

Mr Thorne, who now works in-house, was also ordered to pay costs of £600.

A spokeswoman for Russell-Cooke said: “Samuel Thorne left the firm in 2018. We were made aware of the incident in question in 2019, and promptly launched an investigation.

“We take any allegations of possible professional misconduct, whether inside or outside of the office, extremely seriously. Had the individual still been employed by the firm he would have been subject to our robust disciplinary process.”

It is by no means the first time a male lawyer has got into trouble with their regulator for what he did at a work Christmas party.

Last year, a trainee solicitor who subjected two female colleagues to “harassing and abusive behaviour” was fined £2,000, while in 2021 a barrister was reprimanded and fined £6,000 for whispering suggestively to a younger female colleague and then smacking her on the bottom.

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