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The former Eversheds partner at the centre of a row over questioning a female interviewee’s commitment to full-time work has claimed that the firm made advance inquiries about the candidate at her place of work without her consent.
Stewart Shackleton, who resigned from the firm last month, said that “no such prior inquiries were made of the male candidates” for the same position.
Shackleton questioned Eversheds’ version of events surrounding emails sent by partner Stuart Dutson, who had asked for advice on how to ask questions to identify the woman’s commitment (29 January 2010).
In a statement denying that he had leaked the email exchange to the press following his resignation, the former partner further claimed that Eversheds did not investigate the incident at the time it took place, as the firm said.
Shackleton said: “The email exchanges were widely circulated in the department and beyond at the time (not by me) causing concern to employees and staff. However, apart from support from the HR department, I’m not aware of any internal ‘investigation’. Certainly, nothing was said to the litigation department.”
Dutson emailed his head of department Mark Davenport about the candidate in June last year to ask if there were guidelines on “how to ask questions… to identify her commitment, hours she is prepared to do, how she will balance work and a child”.
In a later email, Shackleton said he “wished to have no part” in the interview process as the candidate’s position was “already compromised”.
A spokesperson for Eversheds said: “We’ve presented all facts accurately and any assertions by Mr Shackleton to the contrary are bemusing but a matter for him.”