A senior partner at city law firm who romped with an “exceptionally drunk” junior lawyer has avoided a ban on practising law - but was handed a bill of £235,000 following a tribunal.
Ryan Beckwith, 41, was told he can continue to practise as a solicitor but immediately quit his job at 'Magic Circle' law firm Freshfields Bruckhause Deringer LLP.
The married senior partner was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 costs by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal at the conclusion of a nine-day hearing.
The regulatory body heard that the 20-year-old junior lawyer referred to as Person A, who has since left the firm, had been out with Beckwith on a works do in 2016.
The woman told the tribunal that he plied her with alcohol and then ‘tricked’ his way into her flat, where she woke up to find him telling her she had "nice tits" and asking if her flatmate had a condom.
She emailed Beckwith, who is still with his wife, in November that year accusing him of taking advantage of her.
Beckwith denied breaching professional standards of failing to act with integrity and behaviour that brings his profession into disrepute, dismissing the woman’s account as “complete fabrication”.
But at the conclusion of the hearing on Thursday, the panel found that he knew or should have known that Person A was too drunk to make a proper decision about sexual activity and he should have known it was inappropriate.
Following the hearing Beckwith gave a brief statement through his solicitor, saying he was “disappointed” with the finding.
Harriet Wistrich, who runs the Centre for Women’s Justice, told The Times that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) should consider asking the police to investigate.
She said although the tribunal had not specifically focused on the issue of consent, the sexual misconduct described came very close to meeting the threshold for rape, given the “incapacitated state” the woman was in.
During the tribunal, Person A also claimed that a "very respected" female senior lawyer at the firm had told her not to speak about the incident.
A spokesman from Freshfields Bruckhause Deringer said after the hearing: “The firm takes all complaints extremely seriously.
"We want a culture that is welcoming and allows our people to flourish, and we work hard to achieve that.
"We are running a firm-wide programme to ensure our values and behaviours are consistently experienced across the firm, and we are confident that we will continue to achieve change where it is needed."