Judge revokes the anonymity of a lawyer who sued her former colleague for sexual misconduct and also said he boasted of microwaving a Hamster

I literally just scratched my head at this one…

Roll on Friday

A judge has revoked the anonymity of a lawyer who sued her former colleague for sexual misconduct, after discovering that she hid material facts about the relationship from the court.

Stefano Mariani was sacked by Baker McKenzie when a junior lawyer identified only as ‘X’ claimed that he coercively controlled and sexually assaulted her while they both worked at Deacons, a Hong Kong law firm where he was a partner and head of tax. She also successfully argued that she should remain anonymous.

X claimed that Mariani invited her to his home on the pretext of showing off his collection of Japanese swords and then sexually assaulted her. He also boasted that he had once microwaved a hamster, she said.

But a judge has now lifted the anonymity order in a judgment which heavily criticised the foundations of her claim. Judge Harold Leong discovered that at the original hearing Jennifer Baccanello had only disclosed 50% of the WhatsApp messages exchanged with Mariani, and that the complete record painted a more favourable picture of him.

When he saw the missing texts, the judge said that they “appear to show that this was simply a romantic affair, entered into freely and consensually, and it ended by mutual agreement because of various factors (including perhaps a mismatch of expected level of commitments)”.

“Importantly, at least on the face of these records, I find no obvious evidence of any accusation of improper conduct of any description by either party”, he said.

Judge Leung, a former Mayer Brown partner, also discovered that when the relationship ended Baccanello had sent anonymous emails to at least two firms and a chambers containing statements which Mariani’s lawyers said were untrue, and that Mariani had threatened her with defamation proceedings for sending them.

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