Second witness says she was touched inappropriately by veteran solicitor



A second witness has told a tribunal she was touched inappropriately at work by a former partner of a London firm.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard this morning from a member of support staff at Simkins LLP who said Samuel Charkham had ‘flicked’ her from behind with his fingers as he walked past.

The witness said the incident was ‘actually quite painful’ and prompted her to report Charkham, after she had previously been told by a colleague about her own similar repeated experiences at the hands of the solicitor of 43 years.

Charkham, who has yet to give evidence, denies wrongdoing. It was submitted this morning that he had not touched the second witness with his hand but instead had given her what was described as a ‘playful kick’.

Responding to this suggestion, the witness said: ‘He would have to be a contortionist if it was a foot [that made contact]. He was walking and didn’t pause at any point so I am not sure how it would have been a foot.’

The tribunal also heard from Sarah Parker, another former colleague of Charkham, about an incident at a Christmas dinner outing in 2016. Parker said that the solicitor made what was referred to as a racist joke with a play on the word ‘tycoon’. This was despite other staff, including a black colleague referred to as person A, being present at the occasion.

Parker added: ‘It was one of those embarrassing jokes you didn’t know whether to laugh at because of the nature of it. I remember feeling a little bit awkward… there was a little bit of fake laughter just to pass it over quite quickly.’

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Another former Simkins employee and a prosecution witness, Sal Mamujee, told the tribunal the joke’s punchline was ‘tycoon’ and added: ‘It was the kind of joke I have not heard for 25 years.’

Parker also described how she witnessed Charkham come out of his office a month later and approach where person A was sitting, wearing a hat fashioned out of a white A4 envelope and asking which clan he was from.

She added: ‘I said [to him] that’s not funny. He said it was only a joke. I told him it was quite inappropriate and he took the envelope off his head and went back to his office.’

Asked about the same incident, Mamujee said he had been in the same office as Charkham when he declared what he was going to do. Mamujee added: ‘I shook my head and said “oh god no”. I think he thought it was funny.’

The tribunal heard more yesterday afternoon from person A, who alleges she was touched on the bottom by Charkham on 18 separate occasions over four years. She said she had told the solicitor to stop bullying her and reported that she had reached her ‘breaking point’.

In cross-examination, Charkham’s representative Jonathan Goodwin said the ‘reality’ was that none of the allegations happened and in fact person A had threatened the solicitor with physical violence following an altercation in the office.

She responded: ‘It all happened. I am the one who went home and took a shower and felt dirty… I had to be strong to maintain my position.’

The hearing continues.

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