Hogan Lovells dismisses senior litigator over £1m of false expenses

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  • Gotta love that hog.

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  • That's £5k per week over a 4 year period. Apparently all on PD as no clients were affected. How on earth was this not picked up earlier????!

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  • What was Lovells PEP last year? Around £600k was it?
    Frankly, who can blame the guy? Let's start a whip round now. I've got 38p and a Eurolottery ticket in m pocket which I'm prepared to donate. Anyone with me?

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  • This is a very strange situation. He clearly didn't need the money if he's going to be able to pay it back within two weeks. Have the police been called? This is, after all, theft.

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  • Well, that's one way to boost your PEP!
    (Maybe he felt the firm wasn't paying him what he they owed him and tried to claim the difference on expenses - strangely similar to the MPs' expenses scandal.)

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  • Fruit & flowers?

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  • @mary
    Is it theft? Who has he stolen from?

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  • Well I worked with him for years and he was always polite and friendly and I feel desperately sorry for him. I can't imagine it was just greed - something else must have driven him to this

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  • Congrats to Lovells for facing up to this and dealing with it. Certain other firms (to name no names) turned a blind eye to their "robber barons" doing this for years.

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  • to be fair that's probably only a cab to and from the strand and a Pret butty every day BCCI was in court...'poor' chap

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  • That's a lot of Chicken Katsu.

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  • I have also worked with Christopher and have only good things to say about him. I'm sorry that this has happened and that he is having to face this publicity.

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  • Whilst HL claims clients were not affected at all, indirectly they were, I believe. As client fees are heavily driven by internal operating costs. As internal costs rise (thanks to this circumstance) so do fees. Therefore and indirectly, clients are affected.

    The reputation risk to HL is punishing despite publicising they brought fraudulent conduct to an end. They would have been better off dealing with this quietly.

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  • City partners are clearly well paid by the standards of the general population, but do many of them have a million cash lying in a readily accessible bank account?
    Or is this bloke making frantic calls to his bank manager to round up the notes?

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  • I worked with Christopher and I am truly shocked: he was always a gentleman, kind and trustworthy. Something must have happened to prompt such out-of-character behaviour.

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  • @anonymous 1.11pm. They would not have been better dealing with this quietly. It would have got out eventually and done even more damage. They appear to have handled this well. Conducted a thorough investigation and taken the appropriate disciplinary steps.

    Anyway, you are assuming that HL are able to control the flow of information to the press. I don't see a press release on this. This is either good, old fashioned reporting by sniffing a story that might otherwise have been buried, or a leak to the press.

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  • Booking your first class flights on points and claiming the money back from the firm might be one way he managed to spend quite so much in so short a period and evade the internal controls. Funny though, most firms are aware of this one.

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  • @Anonymous | 17-May-2011 1:11 pm
    Making no announcement may have at first seemed the right thing to do, but imagine the news came out in a year's time and it seemed HL had been suppressing the story? That could be very corrosive to the brand. Or perhaps more tricky still, the partner leaves for a rival (obviously not telling the rival why they are leaving HL), and then HL has to give a reason to the press why this senior lawyer has left creating double the mess (remember the case with the Hengeler partner who went to a US firm then had to leave them too when revelations were made about reason for his departure from Hengeler.)
    The thing is, if you deny it/conceal it then it takes on a life of its own and it becomes unpredictable. Get it out and forget it is a tough PR strategy, but at least HL can put this behind them and move on, same goes for the partner.

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  • Having worked with Chris for a number of years I echo the sentiments expressed by Anonymous@1.18pm. He was always the consummate professional, hard-working, a fantastic leader and a gentleman. I cannot imagine what prompted this behaviour and am sorry that he is having to endure this.

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  • Where does the figure of £100k come from in The Lawyer e-mail on this story?
    "If possession really were nine tenths of the law, then former Hogan Lovells litigator Christopher Grierson would only be faced with paying back £100,000 to his erstwhile partners.
    As it is, law firms are usually full of the kind of people who know that such legislative inaccuracy has no place in the statute book, so Grierson will have to find the cool million he pilfered from HoLo coffers over the course of four years of expenses wangling"

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  • Cool in a crisis: meet the lawyers thriving despite the recession (http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article5852780.ece)

    "In what must surely rank among the most complicated mandates to have emerged from the downturn, Christopher Grierson was hired to help navigate Bernard Madoff’s maze of assets in Europe. Appointed by the US bankruptcy trustee supervising Madoff’s fallen $50 billion empire, the Lovells litigator is working alongside administrators Grant Thornton to solve legal problems standing in the way of Madoff’s creditors recovering their cash. Other crunch-related work has included advising the FSA on the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which involved Grierson helping to man a 24-hour rolling conference call between parties affected by the investment bank’s collapse. On the corporate side, Grierson was also a key player in negotiating a peaceful resolution to the long and bitter dispute between shareholders in TNK-BP, the Russian energy joint venture. He is married with teenage children, but family life has understandably taken something of a backseat in the last few months."

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  • I also have worked with Christopher over many years and simply cannot understand this. He always appeared the cunsumate professional and one can only assume that there is some explanation that goes beyond mere greed.

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  • Surprised at all the sympathy for this guy. He was (allegedly) stealing, right? He was also already equity, right? Whatever drove him to it, a plea of mitigation looks hard to entertain.

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  • Wasn't he known for his fraud and asset tracing skills? To all that commend him on his personal skills, I agree - a true gent. To those who feel sorry for him, take a good hard look at what you are condoning....

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  • @Hugey | 17-May-2011 3:37 pm
    Agree with Hugey - this kind of sympathy for what appears a criminal act is classic public school boy morality - i.e. if he's 'a gent' then he must be alright.
    So sick of this posh-boy, English mentality. The subtext of such sentiments is effectively that if you are rich you are above the law.
    If a support staff member had stolen £1m from HL there would be universal derision for the person.
    The class system is alive and well in the City that's for sure.

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  • To all those expressing outrage at sympathy, you shouldn't be so quick to judge. You have a few lines of press report and no inside knowledge. No-one is condoning criminal conduct but the man's character and the fact that he was a senior equity partner for many years go very much against the idea that he set out to steal in order to boost his bank balance.
    We can see he's admitted submitting false claims - only he knows why at the moment.
    Presumption of innocence, anyone?

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  • Reminds me of Yes Minister talking about bankers...
    Sir Desmond Glazebrook: I mean of course they've broken those, but they've broken the basic, the basic rule of the City.
    Sir Humphrey: I didn't know there were any.
    Sir Desmond: Just the one. If you're incompetent you have to be honest, and if you're crooked you have to be clever. See, if you're honest, then when you make a pig's breakfast of things the chaps rally round and help you out.
    Sir Humphrey: If you're crooked?
    Sir Desmond: Well, if you're making good profits for them, chaps don't start asking questions; they're not stupid. Well, not that stupid.
    Sir Humphrey: So the ideal is a firm which is honest and clever.
    Sir Desmond: Yes. Let me know if you ever come across one, won't you.

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  • Taxi's and coffee?

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  • This is theft, pure and simple. Think of the poor people in accounts, marketing, the mail room .... as well as the fee earners ... even if it was 1 or 2, who may not have had to take redundancy as a direct - or indirect - result of this man's greed.
    Gent or not; it makes no difference.

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  • How can clients NOT be affected??? Someone who fiddles expenses, fiddles expenses. Are they really expecting us to believe that he was so "honest" that he made sure none of the £1m of fraudulent claims was on client matters?
    I can see why they want to say that to avoid being sued themselves, but is anyone out there seriously buying that line?
    Be interested to hear from anyone who is!!

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  • "Presumption of innocence, anyone?"
    General query, but are you still presumed innocent when you've already admitted stealing stuff?

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  • @mary. Yes, it is theft. If true, he's stolen from his fellow partners...

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  • I assume that he will be re-paying the £1m + interest..

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  • It is a horribly sad situation for all concerned, and a real shame that a long, admirable career should be remembered primarily by the way it ended.
    While no one condones the wrongdoing, and the firm has acted swiftly to make that clear, perhaps the human emotion of those who know Christopher shouldn't be so quickly deprecated - less still where the full extent of the commentator's information comprises only the contents of this article.

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  • "Presumption of innocence anyone?" I wonder what planet some of the above live on. He has agreed to pay HoLo one million pounds in 14 days and leave the firm pronto - nothing odd there, then, as he's innocent. I don't hold with the "public schoolboys sticking together" nonsense, but do the "he's a real gent, helps old ladies across the road, kind to cats" crew think they would have the same view if it was their own bank account which had been raided?

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  • Hats off to H-L: so far textbook handling of a deeply smelly affair. Chain of reporting seems spot on too. SRA, then Partnership, then firm-wide, then media. Front foot, take the hit, avoid sensationalism whilst displaying seemingly genuine sadness. Provided there's nothing else to add to the scandal, you'll take a short term reputational knock. Grierson however may not be so lucky.

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  • Since when has the basis of proof of a theft been whether one is a Good Chap or not..........(I probably do not want to know the answer to that - in case the answer is "Always has been, always will be - who do you know?")

    For me as a non lawyer the above postings are hilarious to read as a body of work on the question of guilt and punishment. Im sure some of the postings must be tongue in cheek old boys network style.....these can't all be real people?

    * Employee in a position of trust (breach of fiduciary duty anyone?) takes advantage of that trust.
    * Claims an extra £1Million in expenses not due - just remember this is an EXTRA £1Million on top of what was approved)
    * Most of these expenses WILL have been billed to Clients (Will they get a rebate?)
    * Caught by his employer
    * Admits guilt
    * Repays what he was caught for.

    I will accept that he may have a professional demeanour, a friendly character and be an effective lawyer but that makes the offence doubly bad doesn't it ?

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  • I read so much commentary of how Christopher Grierson was a consummate professional and that he was a gentleman. The fact remains he stole funds from his employer who made him so wealthy and during a four year period spanning the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    During which partners, associates and support staff were being let go and having to find employment in a market that was almost illiquid. This is appalling and inexcusable and he deserves to have the book thrown at him. No one is above the law thus to all lawyers who think they are, climb down from your ivory towers and come back to earth.

    Whilst it may not have been greed that was his motivation, the temptation could have been spawned from the jaded mentality of joining the other side (i.e. the offending fraudsters for which he advised his clients to mitigate against).

    What’s even more intriguing is that Hogan Lovells is a small company compared to the likes of the RBS (> 140,000 employees and a Plc) where one would be forgiven for such behaviour to lose itself in the ether of large corporate machinations. However, for a firm like Hogan Lovells, to not identify this criminal behaviour for almost half a decade leads one to assume and rightfully, what management controls are in place? If any, to prevent or at worst, stop prematurely this criminal misconduct.

    This sends a stern message to the legal establishment, be warned, you are not so brilliant and that your own kind will turn against you even after you’ve enriched them beyond their dreams.

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  • To me it sounds like Christopher has posted anonymously several on times on here for damage/reputation limitation. Does anyone really think so many people would post on here expressing what a nice guy Chris was?

    Don't fool us, Chris.

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  • Look, if we're talking about £1200 per day he was at work that was bent, how much was he genuinely claiming on top?

    Were there receipts, if not COAB, if there were we're talking forgery, obtaining a money transfer by deception and fraud.

    If this bloke isn't in custody answering questions under caution then there's a real problem.

    If I were a client of HL I'd be asking questions of their risk management and internal controls . . . . There's got to be more than one culpable party here.

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  • Does anyone know how much Lovells billed on BCCI and what proportion of the billed amount represented disbursements? Having made things public, in order to remain a credible outfit, HogLove must also make public whether they have reviewed the disbursements on all the major files that CG worked on.

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  • Various posters above are right - this is reputational dynamite for the firm but has been adroitly handled. The legacy Lovells press team is highly respected internally and across the City firms. The sympathetic way this has been reported by the media is the result of years of relationship building after some fairly bloody treatment in the past. The comms people deserve a lot of credit.

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  • How sickening to see the the replies here saying what a wonderful guy he is - no doubt it's his chums from the gentleman's club, rallying around.

    The guy is a thief. Pure and simple. He stole £1m over four years and if you and I had done that we would be prosecuted and jailed - that he is prepared to repay it is an admission of guilt and in no way detracts from the fact that he stole the money.

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  • In response to "Cynical about comments"

    No, I'm not Christopher Grierson in disguise, but I have known Christopher for many years and he was one of the best. I wholeheartedly concur with other anonymous entries above that Christopher was always a consumate professional, incredibly hard-working and above all a gentleman. I cannot imagine for one minute what has prompted this behaviour but it is a very sad end to a distinguished career.

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  • "Anonymous 18May-2011 9.24am"
    Obviously not that supportive that you're prepared to publicise your name. Why would that be?

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  • This shows, once again, the damage that can be caused by group think and the old school mentality of the city. 'He's one of us' thinking allowed this man to get away with stealing FOR FOUR YEARS. And now he's been found out that same mentality attempts to suggest that there are two types of stealing, one for the rich and connected and one for the rest of us. It is exactly this sort of distorted thinking that has allowed the bankers off the hook, despite their theft of billions of taxpayers money to stay afloat, and it exactly this distorted thinking that aloowed this man to get away with this for so long.
    Remember the Goldman Sachs secretary who stole from her employer..........currently serving 4 years!
    All in this together...................no!

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  • The repeated references to what a gentleman this guy was are somewhat surreal. Even Stalin was nice to children.

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  • In response to "Cynical about comments"
    I'm not Chris in disguise either. I doubt very much he is trawling through The Lawyer's website at the moment to see what people are saying about him. No-one condones what he did - or indeed understands - but that shouldn't take away from the fact that he really was one of the nicest partners in the firm. The fact that some of his ex-colleagues have shown him support and acknowledged his good characteristics doesn't deserve such derision and contempt.

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  • Let's be frank. We're at best talking money transfer by deception / fraud, possibly with forgery as well if faked receipts / dcouments were presetned alongside the claims.
    Regardless as to his pleasing character the chap needs to be interviewed under caution, it simply isn't good enough for COLP to decline to deal as this is a 'civil matter'.
    As for HoLo's reputation if I was one of their client's I would be having grave concerns as to their internal governance processes and risk management, notwithstanding that they seem to find it unsurprising that he could spend probably in the region of £1200 per day!
    Who signed off his claims, who was auditing the expenses, let's be frank if you can be so slack with £1m what's the odd leak of confidential and market senstive information?

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  • Gentlemen don't steal from their partners.

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