Hammonds’ Birmingham office was rocked last week by the revelation that an unknown individual has been urinating in the footwear of female staff members.

The situation has apparently become so bad that office head Ian Forrest was forced last week to send an email to all staff in an attempt find the perpetrator of what he describes as “disgusting acts”.

In the email, Forrest warned staff to be alert for individuals loitering where they ought not to; he also suggested that personal belongings be left at home, if at all possible. He left the culprit in no doubt that their conduct constitutes gross misconduct and, if found, they would face summary dismissal.

The email also implies that the problem is not a new one, as Forrest wrote: “It is with regret that I have to raise an issue that was thought to have been resolved.”

The email was sent out to all staff in the Birmingham office on Tuesday 19 April, but within hours was making its way around the legal community, both in the UK and abroad.

The speed with which the email circulated is reminiscent of the Clare Swire affair in 2001, when an explicit email exchange between Swire and Norton Rose lawyer Bradley Chait was forwarded around the world.

Hammonds declined to comment on the affair, saying that it was an internal matter.