Lawyer, 68, who told black secretary he had joined KKK fined £30,000
Senior lawyer, 68, who pulled white envelope over his head and told black secretary he had joined the Ku Klux Klan before slapping her bottom is ordered to pay £30,000 fine at disciplinary tribunal
- Samuel Maurice Charkham, 68, shouted across the office: ‘I’ve joined the KKK’
- Found guilty of slapping the secretary’s bottom 18 times and racist remarks
- He also made a racist joke at a Christmas party involving the word ‘c**n’
A senior lawyer who did a Klu Klux Klan impersonation in front of his black secretary and repeatedly groped her bottom was hit with a £51,000 bill today.
Samuel Maurice Charkham, 68, pulled a large white envelope over his head in the central London firm’s offices as the woman was about to take dictation.
He ran down the corridor calling her name shouting: ‘I’ve joined the KKK’.
Charkham routinely squeezed her buttocks and told a racist joke in front of her at a Christmas work party which included the word ‘c**n’, the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal heard.
The lawyer insisted that although his jests were in bad taste he was not a racist and was just being ‘playful’.
After an overnight adjournment the panel found him guilty of making the racist jokes and groping the secretary.
Samuel Maurice Charkham (pictured), 68, pulled a large white envelope over his head in the central London firm’s offices and shouted to the secretary: ‘I’ve joined the KKK’
Jane Martineau, head of the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal panel, said: ‘The tribunal order that the respondent Samuel Maurice Charkham to pay a fine of £30,000 and it further orders he should pay £21,000 costs.
‘We recommend that he undertakes training in equality, diversity and inclusion.’
Charkham was a partner at Simkins LLP in Bloomsbury where staff were used to his racist and sexist behaviour.
His secretary told how he groped her bottom at least 18 times.
‘It happened as frequently as he wanted it to I suppose,’ she said.
‘He clenched, sometimes he slapped.’
Recalling when Charkham made the remark about the KKK, she said: ‘It sort of came out of nowhere really.
‘I was sat at my desk with my other boss she was just about to dictate me a letter and she was stood on my right side and then the respondent shouts my name in the hallway and I am a bit busy.
Charkham also slapped the secretary’s bottom on 18 occasions over a three-year period at media and commercial law firm Simkins LLP in Bloomsbury (pictured)
‘I was poised with my hands on the keyboard and then the respondent came running through the office with a white A4 envelope on his head laughing, joking saying he has joined the Klu Klux Klan ”hahaha”.
‘I was shocked that this had happened’.
Charkham also disgusted the woman when he told the racist joke in front of colleagues at the Christmas dinner in December 2016 which included the word ‘c**n’.
The secretary recalled: ‘I positioned myself as far away from him as I could.
‘He made a joke which I sort of caught the odd word but I realised it had some racial connotation because everyone at the table instantly starred at me, like I had soup on my face.
‘I just wanted the ground to open really, because here I was again I would rather just be a home.’
An accounts manager also told the court how she complained when Charkham flicked her bottom in 2018.
‘It was too hard for it to have an accident,’ she said.
‘The reason I decided to report it was because the secretary who had previously reported some behaviour of his had said that he had touched them on the bottom.
‘At the time, I did not think I believed it off her, but when it happened to me I thought I should report it.’
Charkham, who became a solicitor in 1977, has since left the firm and was working for Portner Law Limited, Marylebone at the time the allegations were announced by the SRA.
He said his joke at the party was racist but said the political climate was different three years ago.
‘I would never dream of doing it now,’ the lawyer said.
Of the secretary he said: ‘I don’t accept that it was directed at her.
‘I accept that it was in bad taste. It was a joke I heard and I just repeated it. As I say, I apologised afterwards and I cannot see the point of any further discussion.
‘What I can say is my understanding of that group now is a lot more detailed and I understand what it is and what it represents now and I wish I knew what it represented then because I would not have dreamed of it.
‘The Black Lives Matter movement did not exist four years ago.’
Charkham insisted: ‘I know it sounds ridiculous in retrospect but I was just being playful.’
Of his KKK impersonation he said: ‘It was not funny and I should have understood that before, but it was not racially motivated.’
He said he fell out with the secretary a few years before the sexual misconduct and racial allegations were made.
‘I believe from that moment onwards she clearly did not like me. It was some years after that she made these allegations.
‘I did not touch person A on the bottom on any occasion and there is not a single piece of evidence I did on any occasion.’
The secretary took the company to an employment tribunal for racist and sexist discrimination which was the subject of an undisclosed settlement.
The solicitor, of Pinner, northwest London, denied all the charges.
He has been found guilty of slapping the secretary’s bottom 18 times, flicking the account manager’s bottom and making the racist remarks.
Jon Goodwin, defending, said: ‘He is working as an in-house solicitor as a property conveyor.
‘He and his wife are looking to down size both for financial and practical reasons which has been delayed because of this process.’
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