Male former director with international firm Gowling WLG ( Now At Gunnercooke) told a teenage junior colleague he wanted to have sex with her in front of colleagues

Where does one even start with this story?


The UK Law Soc Gazette reports

A male former director with international firm Gowling WLG told a teenage junior colleague he wanted to have sex with her in front of colleagues and asked her to masturbate every day in the office, a tribunal heard today.

Oliver Edward Bretherton faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct relating to three different women. A 10-day hearing started at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal started today.

The tribunal heard that Bretherton, then 36, had interviewed an 18-year-old woman who had recently finished her A-levels and she was subsequently hired to work in his department.

Nimi Bruce, for the Solicitors Regulation Authority, alleged that Bretherton then gave the woman tasks ‘relating to his sexual gratification’, telling her he wanted to ‘f*** her and he would do it in the office and he didn’t care if there was a glass wall’.

Bretherton told the woman, referred to as Person A, that she should sleep with a man she was meeting for a date and send pictures of them having sex.

He allegedly asked her to masturbate in the office toilets and before bed every day and encouraged her to send messages which were ‘descriptive and explicit’. Bruce said the woman ‘found it funny’ at first but was increasingly uncomfortable with what was going on, particularly when he allegedly sent her a video of him masturbating, which she told him she had watched when she had not.

The complainant alleged that on another occasion Bretherton threw ping-pong balls down the front of her dress, and when he missed he would make her go back and pick them up.

Bruce told the tribunal that Bretherton dictated and controlled her conduct outside of work, sending messages asking where she was and who she was with. These messages would start first thing in the morning, so that when the woman had finished her early commute ‘she would have a stream of messages’. The woman alleged that he texted her all day and watched her to note her reaction each time from his office.

Bruce added: ‘[Bretherton] told her what to wear in the office and tried to influence her relationships and who she had sex with. He would time her toilet breaks… he would tell her she was so lucky [to have her job].’

The alleged misconduct continued for more than a year and Bruce said Bretherton used his position to suggest she was ‘beholden’ to him.

‘[The misconduct] was not only repeated but was relentless and occurred over the period of a year,’ said Bruce. ‘It was planned and deliberate. His attempts to conceal his actions were painstaking and meticulous.’

Bretherton contests the allegations against him. His defence has yet to be heard, but the tribunal was told that he says that Person A instigated their relationship.

Allegations are also made relating to sexually-motivated conduct involving two other colleagues.

Bretherton, admitted in 2007, is now a banking and finance partner with virtual firm gunnercooke, advising on complex structured and secured real estate finance transactions. Before joining Gowling, he worked for Bird & Bird and Macfarlanes. He graduated through the University of Exeter and BPP Law School.



Oliver Bretherton