A&O hit with £3.4m claim from erotic-fiction-writing former associate

Former Allen & Overy (A&O) Moscow-based senior associate Deidre Dare, who was sacked after she refused to stop publishing an online erotic novel, is claiming £3.4m in compensation over allegations of unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination.

Deirdre Dare
Deirdre Dare

In a claim against the firm filed under the name of Deidre Clark she says: “I believe I was unfairly dismissed because my boss [managing partner of the Moscow office] Tony Humphrey had developed a sexual obsession with me and that all subsequent events were a direct result of that obsession.”

Dare worked at A&O between 2007 and 2009. A spokesperson for the firm commented: “We’re aware of Ms Dare’s employment tribunal claim. We’re entirely satisfied that the termination of her employment was justified and lawful and will defend Ms Dare’s claim vigorously.”

Dare claims that she and the partner “made out one drunken evening” on a colleague’s couch. In the claim she alleges: “Many witnesses were present. This was a heavy make out session and included tongues, hands on genitalia etc.”

She alleges that she was subsequently given an employment review by Humphrey in which no formal documents were involved and that her former boss accused her of being “too wild” and “not committed enough” to the man who was her boyfriend at the time.

Dare claims that she was fired after Humphrey became “crazy with jealousy” following her involvement with another man.

In her claim form Dare alleges that she introduced the client Alstom Transportation to the firm and had done a major deal for SMBC, but was nonetheless sidelined from work, which led to her becoming depressed and seeking help from a therapist.

Dare filed a formal grievance for sexual harassment with the firm’s HR department and was dismissed without notice after she refused to take down her online book – Expat: A Weekly Serialized Novel About Living in Moscow, which she argued “had been up for months, and everyone had been reading it”.

In her claim Dare says: “I believed I had every right to continue to write (…) in my personal time. Many lawyers are frustrated writers: we work with words. (…) This is gagging the entire profession and basically saying that we’re not allowed to be creative in our spare time.

“If they’d really thought that they had a right to make me stop, they would have done so months prior to when they did,” she added.

The claim continues: “One of my potential clients in Moscow said that he often sees A&O people at whorehouses and throwing up in bars. He couldn’t understand how my little book could possibly bring the firm into disrepute.”

The former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Milbank employee made £126,000 per year at A&O and is now earning £138 per week as a self-employed writer. She has instructed Maud Bergvelt at Hylton Potts Legal Consultants in London to represent her.

A&O has instructed Tom Linden QC at Matrix Chambers.