The woman at the centre of allegations against a partner at magic circle firm Freshfields has been cross-examined on her conduct - including her alcohol consumption. Day three of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing of charges against Ryan Beckwith heard his defence cross-examination of 'Person A', who is giving evidence from behind a screen. 

For Beckwith Three Raymond Buildings’ Alisdair Williamson QC asked about an incident where Person A, months after she had left Freshfields, went to her gym and saw the respondent.

Williamson said: ‘When you say a “gym”, it’s no more a gym than the Soho House is a gym. It’s a private members’ club, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, but it’s also a gym,’ said Person A. 

Williamson said: ‘You describe it as a gym. You say it’s close to your new office… It’s a notorious private members’ club of City lawyers. It’s not really surprising to see a City lawyer in a City lawyers’ club, is it?’

Person A replied: ‘I was surprised to see him. I was upset and distressed to see him. Yes I was a member because I paid upfront for a year to be a member… The first opportunity I had to end my membership I did.’

The tribunal heard that Person A returned to the gym on another occasion. She said: ‘There’s a difficult balance between trying to avoid that person but also trying to be brave and push on with your life. I felt strongly in general that I should not have to alter my own behaviour as a result of what happened to me. That thought process was not familiar. Sometimes I felt I wanted to retreat. At times I felt I should be able to do what I want to do.’

Person A was questioned about how much alcohol she drank at a work event after which, she alleges, Beckwith attempted to kiss her.

Williamson told the tribunal that Person A said she could not recall how much alcohol she had on the coach, but that it had been at least two or three glasses of champagne.

Person A said: ‘A glass is different in both cases. On the bus it was plastic cups. A small amount of champagne compared to a large glass of wine in the [City pub].’

The tribunal was told that, after the event, Person A went to another bar and continued drinking. Later, Beckwith emailed colleagues saying they should not be paying for anything out of their own pocket.

Williamson said: ‘You did not pay. There was no need for you to reply to that email.’

‘Correct, I did not pay’, she said. The tribunal heard she made a ‘flippant, sarcastic comment’ in her reply about how much she drank. 

Williamson said: ‘There was no need to reply to this email at all, was there?’

Person A said: ‘This email. It was odd to reflect on it now, given the unintended kiss that occurred that evening. I felt the best way to deal with it was to be flippant and try and brush it off and move forward.’

The Solicitors Regulation Authority 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 she was intoxicated to the extent she was vulnerable and her decision-making ability impaired. Beckwith denies the allegations. 

The hearing continues.