A former senior figure with a Liverpool firm has been fined by the regulator after forwarding on an offensive email to a colleague.
Paul Breen was head of catastrophic injury at Cassell Moore Law in August 2015 when he sent the email that was said to be ‘highly derogatory and grossly offensive towards women and persons of a particular religious group’.
In a decision notice, the Solicitors Regulation Authority stated Breen was not the author of the email and did not expressly endorse the content, although he forwarded it without condemnation.
Breen admitted that by inappropriately forwarding the offensive email to a colleague he failed to carry out his role in the business in a way that encouraged equality of opportunity.
In mitigation, he said the views communicated in the email were not reflective of his true character and belief, he has expressed remorse and is deeply ashamed of what was said in the email. He has told the SRA the behaviour will not be repeated.
The SRA said Breen's conduct had potential to cause significant harm and that he showed a reckless disregard of that risk.
The nature of the misconduct was judged to be low because Breen had cooperated with the investigation, his behaviour had not continued and there was no pattern of wrongdoing. Breen had previously enjoyed a clear regulatory history.
He was fined £1,600 and agreed to pay £600 costs.
Breen was recruited as head of catastrophic injury by Manchester firm JMW Solicitors in July 2016, after the purchase of the catastrophic injury practice of Cassell Moore. He previously worked at Manchester firm Pannone. He is currently listed as a partner with JMW.