A former Baker McKenzie boss accused of propositioning a junior associate in a hotel room dictated an apology note to the firm's head of HR, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has heard.
The global firm is accused of failing to properly investigate the incident involving former London managing partner Gary Senior. The second week of a 15-day substantive hearing began with Senior being cross-examined by counsel for Martin Lawrence Blackburn, who was head of HR at the time.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Blackburn, took the tribunal through a chronology of events after the February 2012 incident.
He told Senior: 'When the tribunal looks at suggestions you and Martin were working together and assertions of that sort, he had told you nothing on Monday of Person A's complaint. He had seen her alone. As we can see, matters were left in her hands at the end of that meeting in Starbucks on Monday afternoon.'
Referring to an email where Senior told Blackburn 'this feels to me like someone is after a big payoff', Laidlaw said: 'Martin does not engage or align himself on that view.' The tribunal later heard that Blackburn said to Senior 'I do not think she is vindictive but I think she is fragile'.
Blackburn told Senior he was going to take external legal advice on a number of issues. He gave no advance notice to Senior that he was going to speak to Thomas Cassels, a partner at the firm. Blackburn was not notified about or invited to a dinner with Cassels and Senior.
Turning to the Solicitors Regulation Authority's suggestion that Senior and Blackburn composed an apology to Person A together, Laidlaw said Blackburn's case 'is that the note was dictated by you to him'.
The tribunal heard that the third bullet point of the note stated that Senior had been at Baker McKenzie for 28 years, which Blackburn would not have known. The fourth bullet point stated: 'One of the reasons I'm a popular managing partner is because I enjoy drinks with others.'
Laidlaw told the tribunal he saw 'pure Senior language. This is not written for you by Martin Blackburn... This was not composed together. This was dictated by you to him. You thought, and it was ill judged, this would be a good idea, to present an apology of sort to Person A'.
Senior, admitted in 1986, is accused of trying to embrace and kiss Person A in 2012 despite receiving no indication of consent, and persisting despite Person A indicating that it was not appropriate. Senior, who last year left Baker McKenzie, allegedly acted knowing he was in a position of authority and responsibility. He denies the allegation.
Thomas Kennedy Cassels and Martin Lawrence Blackburn, who were with Baker McKenzie in 2012 as a partner and head of HR respectively, are being prosecuted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in relation to the investigation that began when Person A made a complaint. The firm is also being prosecuted.
The hearing continues.
Update (Tuesday, 12pm): the hearing has been adjourned until Monday.