Former legal boss Gary Senior accused of trying to kiss a colleague and cover it up

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A City lawyer has been accused of ‘attempting to a kiss’ a junior female colleague and trying to influence the investigation into his alleged misconduct when she complained.

Gary Senior, once one of the most powerful lawyers in the City as head of European and Middle Eastern operations at Baker McKenzie, is accused of three charges of professional misconduct.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which handles discipline in the legal profession, referred Mr Senior to a disciplinary tribunal on charges of “behaving in an inappropriate manner” and seeking to “initiate intimate activity” with a junior female colleague in 2012.

He is accused of telling her he was attracted to her, attempting to hug and kiss her, and persisting when she told him to stop.

He is also accused of attempting to influence an internal investigation into his conduct when the woman complained. 

Mr Senior vigorously denies the allegations.

Two of Mr Senior’s former colleagues at Baker McKenzie, Tom Cassels and Martin Blackburn, have been charged over allegations they allowed him to use his seniority to influence the investigation.

The watchdog also referred Baker McKenzie itself to a disciplinary tribunal for allowing Mr Senior to attempt to influence the investigation, and for telling the woman who complained about him that he had not. 

The firm is also accused of not referring Mr Senior to the SRA when it learned of his alleged misconduct in 2012.

Instead, the woman agreed to sign an NDA with Baker McKenzie after the internal investigation had been concluded.

The scandal first emerged in February 2018, when the existence of Baker McKenzie’s investigation was revealed, and rival firm Simmons & Simmons was appointed to conduct another independent review.

The second investigation found “a number of shortcomings in the way the incident was handled” by the first.

Although it was known that a sexual misconduct investigation had taken place at the firm, Mr Senior was only named by the SRA yesterday, after months of speculation about the details of the incident.

It was also revealed that he was promoted after the incident took place, moving to become head of operations in Europe and the Middle East.

Last year, Mr Senior left the firm and joined Helix Insight Services, a headhunting firm that declined to comment on the allegations against him.

Tom Cassels and Martin Blackburn, both accused of allowing Mr Senior to affect the investigation, now work at the City firms Linklaters and KPMG, respectively.

Both firms said they were aware of the SRA’s decision to refer their conduct to a tribunal.

Linklaters added that Mr Cassels had the firm’s “full support”. 

Baker McKenzie last night told The Telegraph that it had been “co-operating fully” with the SRA, but admitted that its probe into Mr Senior’s conduct was “undermined in a way that was unacceptable and should never have happened”.

It stressed that it had taken steps to improve the company’s culture, including changing the way candidates are vetted for promotion.

In May, a report revealed that more than a third of female lawyers have been sexually harassed, and warned that the the profession risked “hypocrisy” in the way it dealt with the #MeToo scandal. 

Horacio Bernardes Neto, the International Bar Association President, said that he hoped that the findings were a wake up call as it was “deeply shameful that our profession, predicated on the highest ethical standards, is rife with such negative workplace behaviours”.



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