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DLA Piper silent on rumours that partner who described women as ‘gash’ is under investigation by the SRA

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Firm’s refusal to comment on matter gives credence to gossip

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International law firm DLA Piper has this morning declined to deny rumours that one of its top partners is under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) over sexist comments.

Sport and media law specialist Nick West hit the headlines last year when private emails which he sent to Premier League boss Richard Scudamore were leaked. They included advice to Scudamore to “save the cash in case you find some gash” — an apparent reference to women.

In another, West — whose firm profile photo doesn’t obviously mark him out as laddish type who is also sexually irresistible — boasted in reference to a female colleague: “have spent all day fending Edna off my graphite shaft. She is terribly relentless isn’t she?!”

nick-west

Despite widespread calls for West’s head, DLA opted to stand by him — not least, it has been suggested, because he is one of the firm’s top rainmakers, hauling in huge amounts of money each year for the firm.

This is the statement DLA issued at the time:

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. We have accepted Mr West’s assurances that these emails are not reflective of his beliefs and values and that there will be no recurrence of this behaviour.

West also issued an apology, in which he said that he “let myself, my firm and its clients down”, adding: “I give my assurance that this will be the case going forward.”

Basically, it did the trick. And as the media turned its attention to other news, West seemed to be in the clear.

Until this week, when gossip began circulating that the SRA had — rather belatedly — launched an investigation into the DLA Piper lad.

This morning legal blog RollOnFriday published a report of the rumours. And Legal Cheek has since followed up with a phonecall to DLA — which politely declined to issue a comment.

The SRA was similarly coy, providing us with this statement:

We do not usually comment when matters are on-going. It is only if disciplinary or regulatory action is necessary that our work becomes a matter of public record.