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Ex-Sidley partner cleared in tax case as CPS admits ‘wholesale failures’ while Dentons partner leaves following harassment inquiry

Former Sidley Austin partner Matthew Cahill, who was accused of tax offences, has had all charges against him dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) admitted to ‘wholesale failures’ in its disclosure process. Meanwhile, a Dentons partner accused of sexual harassment has left the firm following an internal investigation.

Cahill’s charges related to investments he made in Zeus Partners, a film scheme setup by HSBC, which HMRC deemed to be fraudulent in December 2015.

Cahill and a KPMG partner, as well as a JPMorgan banker, were the only three investors to be prosecuted out of a wider group of 400 individuals who had invested in the schemes. However the charges against Cahill were dropped in July 2017, before he had even filed a legal defence.

The prosecution submitted a written statement of position to Birmingham Crown Court in December last year, in which it admitted to ‘wholesale failures’ in its disclosure process as well as a ‘clear and stark’ failure to follow certain lines of inquiry.

The admissions came after the prosecution replaced its lead counsel, 7BR’s Andrew Wheeler QC and 4 Breams Buildings’ Stuart Trimmer QC, with a new team led by Helen Malcolm QC of Three Raymond Buildings. The new prosecution team reviewed its case, and then admitted to the failures.

Corker Binning partner David Corker, who was instructed by Cahill, told Legal Business that there was a strong possibility that Cahill will sue the CPS. He said: ‘He’s angry. He had to leave his firm because of the prosecution. He’s pretty bitter about the situation.’

On the admission that the CPS failed to follow certain lines of inquiry, Corker said: ‘When they investigated Cahill, they didn’t investigate the role played by HSBC, who had marketed the scheme. It was as if they had left HSBC to the side.’

Both the CPS and HMRC have confirmed that they will be conducting internal reviews into issues raised by Cahill’s case.

Matthew Dening, managing partner of Sidley’s London office, commented: ‘The firm was very pleased to learn of this outcome and, in particular, to learn that this ordeal is over for Matthew.’

Elsewhere, Dentons has confirmed that one of its partners accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour has left the firm.

The allegations made against the unnamed partner were made around 15 months ago, prior to Dentons’ tie-up with Scottish firm Maclay Murray and Spens (MMS).

Upon learning of the accusation, Dentons launched an internal investigation and placed the partner on a leave of absence. Despite the investigation finding no evidence of sexual harassment, the partner has now left the firm.

A Dentons statement read: ‘During the investigation it became apparent that the behaviour of the partner concerned fell well below the expectations that we have of our partners’.

The departure of the Dentons partner amid sexual harassment allegations follows a similar controversy at Baker McKenzie this week, where one of the firm’s partners has left after claims of sexual assault .