Top Cameron McKenna lawyer’s qualification thrown into doubt

The Lawyer has obtained a document casting doubt on the legal qualifications of the Cameron McKenna lawyer at the centre of sexual harassment allegations.

Ilia Iaroslavski, who heads the firm’s Tashkent office, claims to have qualified as a master of law from Tashkent State University, in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, in 1989.

But The Lawyer has a document from the university stating that Iaroslavski was not listed among students at the university from 1984 to 1989. The document is stamped with the university’s seal and is signed by its vice- provost, S Otozhonov, and director of archive, M Rahimberdieva. The document was the product of a three-week inquiry by the university.

The authorities checked the lists of students and examination results as well as the most reliable archive – the orders, signed by the dean, which transfer students from one year to the next. They found no record of Iaroslavski attending the institution.

Iaroslavski was due to become a partner at Cameron McKenna in May 1998, but his promotion was put on hold following allegations of sexual harassment, which resulted in two tribunal claims against the firm first revealed by The Lawyer (14 June).

He is also implicated in the discrimination claims being brought by two former lawyers in the CIS group, Dmitri Chebotarev and Natasha Thomson. Cherie Booth QC is acting as lead counsel for the couple.

As revealed by The Lawyer, George Staple, head of Clifford Chance‘s financial services investigations and disputes department, is conducting an independent inquiry into allegations contained in Chebotarev and Thomson’s claims.

It is understood that the former Serious Fraud Office head is investigating allegations separate from the issues of sexual and racial discrimination that go to the heart of the claims.

Cameron McKenna would not comment on The Lawyer’s inquiries. But the firm provided a faxed copy of a certificate bearing the stamp of what was then Tashkent Lenin State University, stating that Iaroslavski studied there between 1983 and 1989 and had “qualified as a lawyer”.

Iaroslavski joined Mc-Kenna & Co in 1993. As the only lawyer claiming Uzbek qualifications he advised British American Tobacco (BAT) on the $1.1bn privatisation of the country’s tobacco industry.

BAT became his main client, but other major clients include mining companies Lonrho and Newcrest, chemicals giant ICI and the British Embassy in Tashkent.

The latest news raises questions about whether Camerons’ professional indemnity insurance would cover the firm in the event of a malpractice suit brought by a client for whom Iaroslavski acted.