Russell McVeagh is investigating a complaint one of its partners made inappropriate comments while drinking at a client event. 

Chair Malcolm Crotty said today the partner wouldn’t be at work while an investigation was under way.

“The seriousness with which we are treating this investigation confirms our commitment to building a culture of trust and transparency.”

He said the partner in question was under the influence of alcohol when the comments were made.

Corporate Communications Manager Joanna Comerford told Newsroom she wasn’t able to confirm whether the incident happened before or after Russell McVeagh released its independent inquiry two months ago as long as the investigation was in progress. 

Dame Margaret Bazley’s report into the incidents involving five summer clerks during 2015/2016 highlighted the issue of drinking culture at the time, saying:

“It is my hope that the changes proposed will ensure that future generations of junior lawyers will be safe and able to realise their full potential.

“The firm has accepted the recommendations set out in this report, and with the leadership of the current Board, I am confident it is well-placed to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Bazley chose not to look at the firm’s response to the alleged serious sexual misconduct of a partner and a solicitor, citing the need for “a fair process and observing the rules of natural justice”.  

The report also highlighted Russell McVeagh’s failure to inform the Law Society as per their legal obligations under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act at the time the firm was made aware of the events.

In the latest of claims, Comerford says the firm has arranged to meet with the Law Society, and “will be providing them with a full report following that meeting and once the investigation is complete”. 

At the time Bazley’s report was released, questions were raised whether heads would roll – former Prime Minister called for the entire board to resign, for example. 

Newsroom understands an internal email was distributed to staff suggesting CEO Gary McDiarmid was to resume his retirement early, and that HR director Lesley Elvidge went on holiday.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Crotty told audiences at last week’s Women in Leadership Summit that the firm was to publish details as to how the firm was implementing Bazley’s recommendations in the first quarter of 2019. 

It was the same summit that media were barred from attending. 

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