Daily Mail

Top solicitor ‘threw ping-pong balls down teen worker’s dress’

- Daily Mail Reporter

A SENIOR solicitor gave an 18-year-old junior colleague sexual tasks and threw pingpong balls down the front of her dress, a disciplina­ry tribunal has heard.

City lawyer Oliver Bretherton, 41, also allegedly told her he wanted to have sex with her in the office.

She said Bretherton engaged in a ‘sexual fantasy relationsh­ip’ with her, bombarding her with X-rated instructio­ns and encouragin­g her to talk about her sexual experience­s.

He allegedly sent her a video of himself performing a solo sex act, told her what to wear, demanded to know where she was and who she was with, timed her toilet breaks and made her fetch the ping-pong balls when he missed his target.

Bretherton, who was married and aged 36 at the time, is said to have abused his seniority to take advantage of the woman, known as Person A, for more than a year. She is one of three junior female colleagues who accuse him of inappropri­ate, sexually motivated conduct while he was a director of the internatio­nal law firm Gowling WLG.

A second woman, Person B, who was then in her early 20s, alleges that Bretherton, who had introduced his wife and newborn baby to her, described her as ‘hot’ and ‘competing to be a favourite blonde’.

He denies the three women’s allegation­s of sexual misconduct.

His alleged misconduct is said to have begun in March 2017 – the month he married in a traditiona­l Scottish ceremony complete with bagpipes – and lasted until January 2019, the tribunal heard.

Nimi Bruce, representi­ng the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said Bretherton told the 18-year-old he wanted to ‘f*** her and he would do it in the office and he didn’t care if there was a glass wall’.

He allegedly gave her tasks ‘relating to his sexual gratificat­ion’ that Person A initially found ‘funny’, but his ‘sexual fantasy relationsh­ip’ soon made her feel uncomforta­ble.

Bretherton abused his position to suggest she was ‘beholden’ to him, Ms Bruce said, adding: ‘ It was planned and deliberate. His attempts to conceal his actions were painstakin­g and meticulous.’

Person A told the Solicitors Disciplina­ry Tribunal in the City of London that she had just completed her A-levels when she was hired by Gowling WLG after being interviewe­d by Bretherton.

She said answering his ‘ horrible and awful’ messages could last from 8am to midnight, and he once asked her to name the ‘kinkiest’ thing she had done. She added: ‘It was psychologi­cally exhausting. I was describing things I had never done.’

She said he later made her delete WhatsApp conversati­ons in front of him and warned her that if anyone found out ‘it would be my career that would be affected and not his’.

The pair allegedly kissed during a night out with work colleagues and Bretherton claims the 18-year-old instigated their relationsh­ip.

Chloe Carpenter, representi­ng Bretherton, told her: ‘You were trying to turn a fantasy sexual relationsh­ip into a physical relationsh­ip.’

Ms Carpenter claimed Person A was happy with their relationsh­ip while it was ongoing and only changed her attitude afterwards.

Person B said she considered him a friend until he began watching her every move. She added: ‘I felt I was being controlled.’

But Ms Carpenter said: ‘ He misjudged the situation in thinking you were happy discussing personal topics more than you were.’

A third complainan­t, who has yet to give evidence, alleges Bretherton behaved inappropri­ately towards her in a sexualised manner and abused his seniority.

Bretherton is now a banking and finance partner with the law firm Gunnercook­e. The hearing continues.

‘Competing to be a favourite blonde’

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 ?? ?? Denials: Lawyer Oliver Bretherton
Denials: Lawyer Oliver Bretherton

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