08 Oct 2020

Reed Smith reviews handling of historic harassment allegation against former partner

Firm 'deeply concerned' by claims about conduct of recently jailed UK politician 15 years ago

Reed Smith office


Reed Smith has launched a review following criticism by a former employee of its handling of a complaint she says she made 15 years ago against an ex-partner who was jailed last month for sexual assault. 

The review has been triggered after the former colleague of Charlie Elphicke spoke to The Guardian newspaper on condition of anonymity claiming she left the firm’s London office because of his behaviour.

Elphicke, who was a member of parliament representing the Conservative Party from 2010 - 2019, was sentenced to two years in prison last month after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women.

The former Reed Smith employee, who was in her 20s at the time of the alleged incident, says she complained to another partner about Elphicke's behaviour and was, on reflection, “very disappointed that a formal investigation wasn’t undertaken given the gravity of my complaint”.

In a statement, Tamara Box, Reed Smith’s Europe and Middle East managing partner, said the firm was “deeply concerned” by the allegations.

She added: “The firm’s current management has only recently been made aware of this matter, and the firm is undertaking a review of how it handled this situation at the time.

“We are committed to providing a positive and professional workplace for all our people. The firm lives by its code of conduct, which is an absolute commitment to maintaining positive and productive relationships with our valued colleagues, clients, suppliers and others.”

Tax specialist Elphicke was at Reed Smith from 2001 to 2005 before spells at Mayer Brown and then Hunton & Williams, where he was head of European tax. He entered parliament in 2010 and came off the solicitors’ roll in 2012.

A spokesman for Elphicke, who is appealing his conviction, told the Guardian the latest allegations were “false and entirely untrue”.

A Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) spokesman said: “We are looking into the information we have before deciding on next steps.”

Elphicke’s alleged misconduct took place before the SRA was established and under a different regulatory regime, when there was no requirement for law firms to report misconduct to their professional body, which was the Law Society at that time.


BBC presenter and business correspondent Joe Lynam will discuss crisis management at the virtual Law Firm Marketing Summit, which takes place on 13 October. Click here to read the programme.