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A former solicitor with Gowling WLG, O.E.B (acronym for his name), is set to face a tribunal to answer multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. The charges, brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), involve three separate complainants and paint a distressing picture of alleged inappropriate behaviour. 

What are the allegations?

The SRA has charged Bretherton with a series of serious allegations related to sexual misconduct. The first complainant accuses him of sending messages with inappropriate content, pressuring the complainant to engage in inappropriate activities, and making unwanted physical contact. Furthermore, it is alleged that Bretherton exerted unreasonable control over the complainant and explicitly requested them to keep his actions undisclosed. The SRA asserts that this behaviour was sexually motivated and constituted an abuse of his position of seniority.

In a separate set of charges involving another complainant, Bretherton is alleged to have used inappropriate language and sent online messages that were deemed ‘inappropriate in both volume and/or content’. The SRA contends that these actions were sexually motivated and represented an abuse of his position. The third complainant accuses Bretherton of behaving inappropriately in a sexualised manner while also abusing his position of authority.

Messages on phone
Legal proceedings and denial of charges

These allegations, which span from March 2017 to January 2019, will be examined by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Bretherton is expected to deny his charges. Following the hearing, both sides will present their arguments and evidence.

What are the broader implications of these allegations?

Cases such as these highlight the importance of addressing and preventing sexual misconduct within the legal profession. The allegations against Bretherton serve as a reminder of the power dynamics that can exist within professional environments and the need for systems that protect individuals from abuse in the workplace. It is crucial for law firms and regulatory bodies to prioritise the well-being of their employees and foster a culture of respect, accountability, and transparency.

The upcoming tribunal hearing involving former solicitor O.E.B and the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him are of significant concern. However, this case serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for the legal profession to address issues of sexual misconduct, establish robust reporting mechanisms, and cultivate an inclusive and respectful work environment. By doing so, the legal industry can strive towards a future where all professionals feel safe and protected from any form of harassment or abuse.

Update: the result of the sexual misconduct hearing

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found 70 allegations proved against O.B after a hearing lasting more than two months. His conduct was found to be sexually motivated, as well as an abuse of position and a lack of integrity.

Following the decision, David Fennell, chief executive at Gowling WLG, said: ‘We are appalled that some of our people had to endure such unacceptable attention from a colleague. Mr Bretherton’s behaviour was abhorrent and bears no relation to the values which Gowling WLG believes in and stands for.

‘Our priority is our people and in particular those individuals that stood up for what is right and reported Mr Bretherton. We will continue to support them and to encourage anyone experiencing unacceptable behaviour of any type to come forward.’

If you or someone you know has been subject to sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace, Wildings Solicitors can offer you the support and assistance you need.

Contact us at info@wildings-solicitors.co.uk or free-phone 0330 333 8797 today.

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