The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict in a case involving a Freshfields partner accused of sexual misconduct tomorrow after hearing, this morning, closing submissions from counsel for the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Ryan Beckwith.
The SRA alleges that Beckwith kissed or attempted to kiss Person A in circumstances where he was in a position of seniority or authority. It also alleges that a few weeks later Beckwith initiated and/or engaged in sexual activity, where he ought to have known his conduct was unwelcome and that the other party was intoxicated to the extent she was vulnerable and her decision-making ability impaired. By doing so, it alleges that Beckwith failed to act with integrity and failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and the legal profession.
Beckwith denies the allegations.
The seventh day began with the tribunal hearing from two character witnesses for Beckwith. Person 1, a solicitor, said Beckwith was an 'extremely upstanding person'. Asked to sum up for the tribunal what he would say about Beckwith, he said: 'He's the kind of person you would want your kids to be friends with. He's the kind of person, if your daughter would ever bring home, say "this is the person I want to marry", he's the person you would genuinely be happy about.'
Another character witness, Person 2, told the tribunal that Beckwith 'is extremely hard working, really cares about his job, he's really kind and always looks out for other people'.
Making closing submissions, Riel Karmy-Jones QC, for the SRA, told the tribunal: 'It's plain that the respondent should not have sought to engage in sexual activity with Person A in that state. His behaviour in the lead up to [the second incident] was inappropriate and unacceptable.
'The respondent was in a position of seniority and authority at the time of [the second incident]... The fact that Person A is a well-educated solicitor makes no difference to what she knew happened or how you would expect her to have behaved... Someone in her position would be more likely to think through and understand, try to understand the personal and professional implications of making a complaint. A young solicitor may well be more likely to feel ashamed or embarrassed [to] get into a position where a senior colleague can take advantage of her... She's put herself through a series of interviews, questions, she has no reason to make this up.'
Alisdair Williamson QC, for Beckwith, said Beckwith 'is a good man, he's a man of integrity'. He said: 'If an adult decides to go back with another adult after a few drinks, and both consent, and no pressure put on either of them, that's not serious misconduct. It might be unwise, it might cause difficulties at work, but we submit it is not serious misconduct.'
Update at 1300 on 9 October: The tribunal is expected to deliver its finding tomorrow.