Staff leave top law firm amid 'serious' sexual allegations

Author
Rosie Gordon,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Feb 2018, 6:39AM
Russell McVeagh is under fire over two assault allegations against female interns. (Photo / Getty)
Russell McVeagh is under fire over two assault allegations against female interns. (Photo / Getty)

Staff leave top law firm amid 'serious' sexual allegations

Author
Rosie Gordon,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Feb 2018, 6:39AM

At least two staff members from one of New Zealand's top law firms have left after allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour towards young, female law-clerk students.

Victoria University's Vice-Chancellor says he would best describe one alleged incident between a Russell McVeagh staff member and a law student as "sexual assault".

Grant Guilford says he's aware of other young women who experienced inappropriate behaviour during the summer ending 2016.

He couldn't give more details due to privacy issues.

Guilford says they've since worked with the firm and others to make major changes to the clerkship programme

"We have worked closely with Russell McVeagh and with other firms to ensure that young women or any young person is well protected."

He says new cadets now have access to a hotline to report such behaviour.

"You can imagine how you feel when you have been appointed and all of a sudden you're assaulted, and it begins to create a sense of that's why they wanted to hire me."

Russell McVeagh chief executive Gary McDiarmid confirmed last night that the firm had received "serious allegations" about events in Wellington more than two years ago.

"Where allegations were made, we immediately conducted a full internal investigation at the time and initiated a formal process. Those who were the subject of the allegations left the firm following the investigation," McDiarmid said. 

McDiarmid said the firm had "zero tolerance" to bad behaviour.

Newsroom.co.nz, which revealed the allegations yesterday, said two incidents happened at Christmas functions and another at the El Horno Bar in Wellington. 

At least one complaint was made to police about a man's behaviour at El Horno.