Samuel Charkham, 68, is a partner in the UK law firm Simkins LLP. Well. He was. At the time of the allegations, Charkham was a partner in the company; He has now been fined £ 30,000 and sentenced by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to pay a cost of £ 21,000. The Tribunal reportedly found that Charkham was making racially insensitive "jokes" and repeatedly touching the back end of a secretary.
As RollOnFriday notes, charges against Charkham include dressing up as a member of the Ku Klux Klan:
In one of the charges brought by the SRA, Charkham “joked” that he had joined the Ku Klux Klan on Person A (who is black) while wearing a white A4 envelope as a hat. Person A, a then secretary, said she was shocked by Charkham's behavior and wanted to get the job she was working on quickly done so she could go outside and sit down.
A former colleague who witnessed the incident told Charkham it wasn't funny, to which he replied it was just a joke, the tribunal heard.
That's right, Charkham trod the old joke excuse "I was playful" and said, "I know it sounds ridiculous in hindsight." Indeed. He also said he didn't really know what the KKK was at the time (although apparently he knew enough to think the simulation of a white hood was "funny"), adding, "I wish I had known what it was figured at that time. "
Charkham also blamed his "old-fashioned" sense of humor for a separate incident:
In another incident, Person A was at the company's Christmas dinner when their partner made a racist joke nearby. The secretary said she understood the "strange word" including "c * on". She said the joke made her coworkers gasp and turn to look at her.
A colleague at the time told the tribunal that the Charkham joke was a game of the word "tycoon". Another former Simkins employee and witness said the punch line was "the kind of joke I haven't heard in 25 years".
But the tribunal denied this apology, saying, "We will not accept for a moment that these were jokes." To add the description of the incidents as a "joke" would be "a grotesque misnomer and should be strongly rejected".
At least Charkham now seems to recognize that this behavior is inappropriate:
"I've told racist jokes in a very different political climate in the past than I do now, and I would never dream of doing the same again." He said, "The Black Lives Matter movement didn't exist four years ago."
This recognition is in contrast to the accusations of touching a secretary's bum, which he denies. However, the tribunal found that he had inappropriately touched a secretary at least 18 times:
The Tribunal also found that allegations of misconduct against Charkham had shown that he had inappropriately touched the secretary's floor at least 18 times over a period of four years in the office or at work meetings. However, Charkham denied touching Person A and told the tribunal that the allegations were false.
The tribunal also found that Charkham touched another colleague's bottom, despite Charkham's defense saying it was a "playful kick".
After leaving Simkins LLP, Charkham joined Portner Law. However, this company says, "We removed Sam as a consultant as soon as we were aware of the allegations of his behavior before we came to."
Kathryn Rubino is Senior Editor at Above the Law and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best so please connect with her. Feel free to email her tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@ Kathryn1).