JUNIOR LAWYER SAYS SHE WAS TOO EMBARRASSED TO GO TO POLICE AFTER HER BOSS “GROPED HER” FOLLOWING DRUNKEN NIGHT OUT
October 1, 2019
A junior lawyer broke down in tears as she described how she was too embarrassed to go to the police after she woke up to find her married boss groping her in bed.
The woman claimed, Ryan Beckwith, 41, a senior partner at the Magic Circle law firm where she worked, took advantage of her when she got "exceptionally drunk" at an office gathering.
Giving evidence from behind a screen at a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, described how Mr Beckwith had invited himself back to her flat after sharing her cab.
She said she later woke up in her own bed with Mr Beckwith on top of her, but admitted she was so drunk she could not be sure what had taken place.
More than three years on the woman said she still has weekly therapy sessions and took medication for anxiety.
“I do still struggle with the incident," she said. “I spoke to a friend’s father who is a retired senior police officer. As a result I decided to pause because at the time it felt too difficult.
"I could hardly admit it to myself, let alone the thought of being interviewed, the thought of police having to interview you. Just the concept of everybody knowing what had happened didn’t feel like an option at that time.”
The hearing was told that she reported the allegations to the firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in May 2017, almost a year after the incident took place.
She explained: “I almost went from feeling that I could never tell anyone to feeling like I had to tell someone during that period.
"I also started to have therapy and discussed it regularly with her and it sort of got to the point where I couldn’t move forwards or recover without telling someone that it had happened."
The firm launched an investigation which saw Mr Beckwith receive a final written warning but retain his role as a partner.
The woman said: “I was concerned that he wasn’t being removed from his position, that it was decided whilst part of my initial complaint was upheld, that he would remain in post.
"He remained as a trainee partner and an appraisal partner and a mentor and I felt that was a concern given my own experience.”
The allegations were later referred to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, which brought charges of breaching professional standards and acting in a way that discredits his profession.
Mr Beckwith, who is on indefinite leave from the firm, where partners earn an average of £1.8 million a year, denies the allegations.
The hearing was previously told how the woman had been with a group of colleagues, including Mr Beckwith, who had been drinking after work on 1 July 2016.
The junior lawyer claims her boss kissed her following an evening at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire
Several weeks earlier she alleges he had tried to kiss her following another works outing to the Michelin star, Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons restaurant in Oxford.
Referring to the July incident, the woman described how Mr Beckwith had accompanied her uninvited on her journey home, before asking if he could use her bathroom.
She told the hearing that, despite being extremely drunk, she remembered telling him that he should not be there.
Breaking down in tears again she said: “The next thing I remember, I’m under the covers. I just remember it being quite chaotic, I didn’t have sheets on my bed.
"I think I was asleep because I woke up with the sound of his voice saying things about my body I think because I'm just waking up I roll onto my back almost."
She said he was complimenting her on her body and putting his hands on her.
"I sort of rolled onto my back and he was on top of me and I was quite conscious that his head and his hands were moving downwards and I was just trying to stop him from doing that.
“I think I had so much to drink that I was just very unable to really push him off or anything like that.
“He was saying 'Do you have a condom? Does your flatmate have a condom?' and I was just so tired really, and I don’t think I really responded.
Mr Beckwith later left and the following morning she told her flatmate that he had been there, but did not say what had happened because she felt ashamed.
The hearing, which is expected to last ten days, continues.
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