Legal Business Blogs

DLA Piper partner caught up in sexist email scandal with Premier League chairman fined £15,000

Nick West, a London-based partner at DLA Piper, has been fined £15,000 for sending ‘despicable’ emails to the Premier League’s executive chairman Richard Scudamore.

West hit the headlines in 2014 when a crude email exchange with Scudamore, which contained sexually explicit and sexist comments about a female colleague of Scudamore’s who the pair had nicknamed ‘Edna’, was made public by the Premier League supremo’s former personal assistant Rani Abraham.

While he avoided heavier punishment, which could have seen West struck off from the solicitors’ roll, he was hit with a £15,000 fine and ordered to pay £12,000 in costs at a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) hearing yesterday.

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority, which decided in August 2015 it would pursue the case against West, proved to the criminal standard of proof that West was involved in inappropriate emails with his client.

Following a conduct review, DLA stood by sports specialist West, who apologised. While DLA has yet to respond to requests for comment on the fine and outcome of the hearing, in 2014 the firm said it ‘accepted West’s assurances that these emails are not reflective of his beliefs and values and that there will be no recurrence of this behaviour’.

At the time, the firm added in a statement: ‘We have concluded that there was a failure to meet the high professional standards in which we take pride as a firm, whilst recognising that these were emails exchanged between friends and accessed without permission.’

An SRA spokesperson said: ‘We welcome the recognition that behaviour of this sort is unacceptable. Solicitors should uphold the high professional standards that we set and the public expect.’