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Simkins is a legal services company based out of London, United Kingdom.

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Law Firm Partner Surprised To Find That Dressing Like The KKK And Groping A Secretary Is Inappropriate

Oct 27, 2020

Shares0 Samuel Charkham, 68, is a partner at the British law firm of Simkins LLP. Well. He was. At the time of the allegations, Charkham was a partner at the firm; now, he’s been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. According to reports , the tribunal found Charkham made racially insensitive “jokes” and repeatedly touched the rear end of a secretary. As RollOnFriday notes, the charges against Charkham include play dressing 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 to Person A (who is black), while wearing a white A4 envelope as a hat. Person A, a secretary at the time, said she was shocked by Charkham’s behaviour and wanted to quickly finish the task she was working on, so she could go outside and get herself together. A former colleague who had witnessed the incident told Charkham that it wasn’t funny, to which he responded it was only a joke, the tribunal heard. That’s right, Charkham trotted out the ol’ joke excuse “I was being playful,” saying, “I know it sounds ridiculous in retrospect.” Indeed. He also said he didn’t really know what the KKK represented at the time (though apparently he knew enough to think simulating a white hood was “funny”), adding, “I wish I had known what it represented at that time.” Charkham also blamed his “old fashioned” sense of humor for a separate incident: In another incident, Person A, was at the firm’s Christmas dinner when the partner make a racist joke in her vicinity. The secretary said she caught the “odd word” including “c*on.” She said the joke caused her colleagues to gasp and turn to look at her. A colleague at the time told the tribunal that the joke by Charkham was a play on the word “tycoon.” Another former Simkins employee and witness said the punchline was “the kind of joke I have not heard for 25 years.” But the tribunal rejected this excuse, saying, “We do not accept for one moment these were jokes.” Adding that describing the incidents as “banter” would be “a grotesque misnomer and should be rejected in the strongest possible terms.” At least Charkham seems to recognize now that this behavior is inappropriate: “I have told racist jokes in the past in a very different political climate than we are now, and I would never dream to do the same thing again.” He said, “the Black Lives Matter movement did not exist four years ago”. That recognition is in contrast to the allegations of touching a secretary’s bottom, which he denies. However, the tribunal found he inappropriately touched a secretary at least 18 times: The tribunal also found allegations of misconduct against Charkham proven that he had inappropriately touched the secretary’s bottom at least 18 times on various occasions in the office or at work events, over a period of four years. However, Charkham denied touching Person A, and told the tribunal that the allegations were false. The tribunal also found that Charkham touched another female colleague’s bottom, although Charkham said in his defence that it was a “playful kick”. After leaving Simkins LLP, Charkham joined Portner Law. However, that firm says “we removed Sam as a consultant as soon as we were aware of the allegations of his conduct prior to joining us.” Kathryn Rubino is a 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  with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter ( @Kathryn1 ). Promoted

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