Former PwC Partner accused of sexual assault attempts to sue firm for £5 million

02 March 2018 5 min. read
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A one-time Partner of professional services firm PwC has commenced his bid to sue the firm for unfair dismissal. The man, understood to be in his 60s and of Indian origin, claims that allegations of sexual assault leveled at him were unfairly exploited, in order to push him out, “because of my age and because my face did not fit.” The Big Four company has rejected his claims, as part of an ongoing employment tribunal.

At the end of 2017, the corporate world was rocked by allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, with serious accusations being leveled at major senior figures across multiple industries. The "Me Too" movement initially began as a hash-tag used on social media in October 2017, but quickly went viral, and has since morphed into a multifaceted global campaign to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, although the effects of the movement have been far more wide-reaching than the Hollywood bubble.

Since then, banks, charities, professional service firms and consultancies have all been stung by claims of misconduct. A number of young French bankers have leveled claims of “outrageous harassment” at BNP Paribas, while British charity The Presidents Club was forced to close doors after hostesses stated the all-male clientele had harassed them. In a continuing scandal, global aid providers Oxfam have been thrown into crisis, amid claims that their employees had paid Haitian earthquake survivors for sex.

Former PwC Partner accused of sexual assault attempts to sue firm for £5 million

In the world of financial services, numerous accounts of sexual offences have emerged from London’s financial recruiting scene, while Cindy Gallop, a former ad industry head and US President of creative agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, told the media she had received over 100 emails over ten days, which she concluded showed that, “sexual harassment and bias and sexism is a systemic cultural problem in my industry.”

Members of the professional services Big Four have also been hit by several allegations in 2018. While an investigation was recently launched into a sexual harassment claim made against the Managing Partner of EY's Adelaide office, a Partner from rival firm KPMG’s South Australian operations has left the firm amid harassment accusations of their own.

A KPMG executive faced similar accusations in the Netherlands in 2016, and this prompted KPMG Chief Executive Gary Wingrove to issue a statement, reaffirming KPMG’s zero-tolerance policy regarding “predatory behaviour.”


Another major allegation in 2016 saw a PwC Partner in the UK forced to resign. However, the former Partner is now attempting to sue the firm for £5 million, claiming unfair dismissal on grounds of race and age.

As the tribunal continues, a spokesperson for PwC commented, “PwC takes any allegations of harassment extremely seriously and we are confident we did the right thing after conducting a thorough internal investigation. We reject the allegations that age or race had any bearing whatsoever on the decision, and we continue to support our female member of staff.”

The case centres on a trip to an Italian ski resort attended by 50 PwC staff members. It is alleged that the unnamed Partner, who was dressed as a lumberjack and had consumed a significant amount of alcohol, assaulted a woman colleague at a fancy dress party. Reports circulated by the British press said that the man was accused of putting “his hand up the skirt of a woman in an Elvis Presley costume and touched her bottom.”

The victim confronted the Partner one week later, and PwC began disciplinary procedures against him in March 2016. Upon receiving a letter from PwC’s legal team a month later, he learned he was being fired that June, and took forced retirement the next month. 

PwC statement

The former accountant, who is in his 60s, but cannot be named due to an order that is routine in employment tribunal cases of alleged sexual assault, claims that PwC's investigation “was tainted by bias.” At a hearing of the employment tribunal, the man alleged that PwC had conspired to push him out of the firm, and leveraged the accusations to do so.

He claimed, “In fact, PwC had already decided to retire me well before the disciplinary process had concluded. I believe this was because of my age and because my face did not fit. Having a senior, confident Indian beyond retirement age did not fit with the profiles at the level of seniority within the firm as it was creating tensions.” 

The former PwC staffer also said that he did not remember the incident, as he had blacked-out due to heavy consumption of alcohol, something which PwC’s lawyers alluded to being a contradiction.

PwC's barrister, Caspar Glyn QC, asked at the tribunal, “During that period of blackout, you're still saying you were in your senses, and although you can't remember anything, you still didn't do what you're accused of doing.” 

The man replied, “I didn't do anything she is claiming I did.” 

Related: Black, Asian and minority-ethnic staff earn 13% less at PwC