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Clifford Chance cancels YouTube rant trainee’s Singapore secondment amid regulatory concerns

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Exclusive: Fall-out from anti-West rant continues to cause magic circle firm difficulties

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Clifford Chance has ditched plans to send YouTube rant trainee Aysh Chaudhry on secondment to Singapore amid speculation that the move may cause problems with the country’s legal profession regulators and damage client relationships.

Legal Cheek understands that the magic circle giant has acted pre-emptively to avoid potential issues having assessed the position of the Singapore law authorities and local clients over Chaudhry’s anti-West diatribe, which remains live on YouTube.

In the end, no applications were made to register the first-year trainee in the country where plans had been made for him to complete a stint in Clifford Chance’s 80 lawyer-strong office from the spring. Instead, Chaudhry will remain in London.

The U-turn illustrates the difficulties that the Canary Wharf-based firm continues to face over its backing of Chaudhry, who in January generated headlines internationally for posting an anti-West video rant in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The story was broken by Legal Cheek.

Some have praised the magic circle giant for sticking by the youngster, who is aged just 22, and has an impressive CV that includes a first class degree from SOAS and a host of vac schemes at top law firms. Chaudhry’s supporters point out that he didn’t incite violence at any point during the video and is entitled to express himself freely as a private citizen.

Others reckon Chaudhry’s rant — in which non-Muslims are referred to as the “kuffar” and Islam labelled as “superior” to Western ideologies — besmirches the reputation of Clifford Chance and merits dismissal. Both views can be found on this Legal Cheek comment thread.

Big law firms typically do their best to hang onto trainees where they have made high-profile mistakes, tending to wait until newly qualified positions are offered to make decisions about their long term futures.

When contacted by Legal Cheek yesterday, Clifford Chance declined to issue a response. Chaudhry was also unavailable for comment.