Rumbled by an nameless letter to HR

A Metropolis solicitor has been suspended from the career for 12 months after being caught with cocaine for a second time.

Matthew Podger, who labored for high industrial regulation companies in London, tried to cowl up his second police warning for possession — solely to be rumbled by an nameless letter to HR.

The previous finance affiliate resigned days after the second warning got here to gentle and has now accepted a one-year suspension as a part of a settlement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Podger’s first brush with the regulation got here whereas a junior affiliate at Slaughter and May. He joined the celebrated outfit as a trainee in 2011 and certified in 2013, working within the agency’s financing apply.

In April 2014, he accepted a warning for possession of cocaine and promptly got here clear to his employer and the regulator, telling the SRA that it was “a one-off and uncharacteristic lapse of judgment on my half”.

The SRA clearly agreed, deciding that the one sanction wanted on that event was a “letter of recommendation”. Podger disclosed this primary warning when he moved to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in March 2017.

However 9 March 2018 he was arrested exterior his dwelling with three wraps of cocaine. Police cautioned him a second time for possession.

This time, Podger determined to maintain issues underneath wraps. He later informed the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) that he felt he had “no alternative however to maintain secret what had occurred” to save lots of his profession and his troubled marriage.

On 10 January 2019, nonetheless, Cleary Gottlieb’s head of human sources obtained a letter marked “Re: Matthew Podger”. The nameless missive talked about Podger’s first warning and mentioned “chances are you’ll want to examine whether or not he obtained any further sanction for additional offences in the identical class final 12 months”.

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Confronted with the allegation, Podger ‘fessed up. Cleary Gottlieb suspended him and he resigned a number of days later.

In a settlement with the SRA, published last week, Podger admitted varied breaches of regulatory guidelines and accepted that the second warning and the delay in reporting it each demonstrated a “lack of integrity”.

In mitigation, Podger mentioned he had been “present process a interval of serious stress in his private life attributable to issues in his younger marriage. He had additionally been working very lengthy hours at work and was usually away from dwelling”.

Podger additionally mentioned that “he knew of his obligation to tell his regulatory and agency of the second warning, as he had executed after he accepted the primary warning in 2014. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t have his spouse’s assist in the course of the course of which might virtually actually end in his shedding his job and his profession and so his marriage and residential too”.

“Finally”, the tribunal commented, “that is precisely what occurred”.

Crucially, although, Podger denied dishonesty in relation to the reporting delay. A discovering of dishonesty usually results in being struck straight off the roll of solicitors.

The SRA determined to not pursue the dishonesty allegation, saying that “we settle for the Tribunal might not discover it proved to the required normal”.

That paved the best way for a lesser sanction of a one-year suspension and prices of £1,809, in addition to a ban on working as a regulation agency compliance officer.

Signing off on the settlement, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal commented that “neither the safety of the general public nor the safety of the fame of the authorized career justified hanging the Respondent off the Roll”.

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