SRA rebukes hedge fund lawyer for punching fashion designer at opera

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Row over empty seat

The Royal Opera House, London

A hedge fund lawyer who punched a fashion designer during a performance of Wagner at the Royal Opera House has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Opera lover Matthew Adam Feargrieve was convicted of common assault in 2019 after punching Ulrich Engler at least once during a row over an empty seat at the plush Covent Garden venue.

The court heard how Feargrieve, a former partner at London law firm Withers, “lost his temper” when Ulrich Engler moved from his seat in row B to an empty seat in row A, shortly before the third performance of the Ring Cycle by Wagner had begun.

“By then the conductor was up and the music started and I received blows to my left shoulder,” Engler told the court at the time. “I only then turned around and saw Mr Feargrieve standing up and assaulting me. They were a constant flow of blows. They were very hard.”

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Feargrieve maintained it was in fact Engler who had started the fracas, claiming the fashion designer had thrown his partner’s coat on the floor after she objected to him sitting in the vacant seat.

But the court didn’t agree. The Oxford-educated lawyer was found guilty of assault and ordered to pay a fine of £900, costs of £775 and £500 in compensation.

Some three years on from the incident, Feargrieve has now been sanctioned by the solicitors’ regulator.

In a decision notice published this week, the SRA said Feargrieve had failed to act in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession. He was rebuked and ordered to pay costs of £300.

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Good. No one goes out to the theatre to get punched.

Red Wall Miner

This is what happens when you send your kids to private school. Daily scraps that would’ve happened on the playground take place in these settings.

David Brent

You’re hard


He did nothing wrong.

Private School

Lol did you also go to the private school Mr?


A rebuke? Is that it?

Judge Me

People forget that it’s not just chavs with no self control who resort to fists.

I’ve seen it from braying entitled posh boys when they don’t get their own way, feel slighted or don’t think their status has been sufficiently respected.


But we all know who resorts to it more quickly. And it is not the “posh boys” is it?


Yes, actually, it is.

Not a braying posh boy

I think you struck a nerve with a braying posh boy who knows how to delete cookies and downvote repeatedly, there!


There is no evidence that one person has downvoted repeatedly. The likely scenario is that several people think that the chippy nonsense peddled about “posh boys” is just that: chippy nonsense.


I see you also know how to upvote your own comments by deleting cookies!


Oct 4 2021 5:27pm: there is no evidence that one person has upvoted repeatedly. The likely scenario is that several people agree that there is no evidence that one person has downvoted repeatedly and that the chippy nonsense peddled about “posh boys” is just that: chippy nonsense.


The correlation between the fracas and the legal profession brought into disrepute is what I fail to see. Neither the punches, the opera nor the parties engaged in the show as Solicitors and you just wonder where the lines are to be drawn


To the SRA and the BSB we must all behave like drones worshipping the altar of wokery.


Because not hitting people is just so woke… 🧐


Violence? At a Wagner opera? Quelle surprise!

Wagner fans are opera’s equivalent to Millwall supporters; boorish, loud and discordant.

Given this incident of bad behaviour, I hope Covent Garden will seriously reconsider the staging of further Wagner operas.

Each to their own

There are few moments better in life than when one hears the Tristan chord.


Goodness me. I had thought this chap was throwing a tantrum over a minor inconvenience and flailing his fists around in a way that would embarrass a nine year old.

Now I realise he’s a champion of anti-wokeness, taking a stand against political correctness and being terribly based and so forth. Hopefully Uncle Piers will give him a gold star.


I’d be angry too if I worked at Withers.


Me too. A large West End firm. Like Mishcon.

Annie Onimouse

Moving seats to an apparently empty seat is really c*nty behaviour at the best of times. Often its a later arriver stuck at work.

I know people now who are deliberately booking a spare seat next to them for a bit of Covid distancing. That would cause a major row if someone tried to sit in it.

Don’t try to steal a service you haven’t paid for; sit in the seat you actually bought and there will be no punching.

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