A married city lawyer who shared intimate photos with a teenage trainee half his age is facing the end of his career.
Oliver Bretherton, then 36 and now 41, became obsessed with the 18-year-old and is said to have ogled her as she spread her legs in a swivel chair at the Gowling WLG offices.
He sent her a video of himself performing solo sex acts and threw ping-pong balls at her dress, the Lawyers Disciplinary Court has heard.
The lawyer told her to bring a sex toy to a party and tried to get her friend involved, asking her to tell him what kind of underwear her friend was wearing.
She also wanted the teenager to send her photos of her having sex with her boyfriend and taking off her underwear.
Oliver Bretherton became obsessed with the 18-year-old when they were working at the international law firm Gowling WLG.
Bretherton promised her that she would be “his favourite” if she played with him on WhatsApp.
The married Bretherton took advantage of the young woman, known as Person A, for nearly two years.
He was ‘constantly’ texting her demanding to know what she was doing and who she was with.
“I would be traveling on the train and the tube, knowing that I would have a flow of messages from Oliver,” the victim said at the hearing.
He also texted her at the office and watched her to see what her reaction was.
Bretheron told her to perform sexual acts every day at the office and at home at night.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that Bretherton told the teen to bring a sex toy to a party and tried to get her friend involved.
Bretheton would even track her periods if she tried to use them as an excuse not to take intimate pictures of herself.
The misconduct began in March 2017, shortly before he was to marry his wife in a traditional Scottish ceremony, and lasted until January 2019.
He had described a 23-year-old trainee as ‘hot’ and ‘vying to be my favorite blonde’.
A third trainee, 21, said Bretherton also behaved inappropriately towards her in a sexualized manner by dropping ice cubes down the back of her dress and commenting on her breasts at a work party.
Person A had said at the hearing: ‘He [Bretherton] He went back to his chair and told me to spread my legs so he could see my underwear and spread them wider so he could get a good view and then he dropped something on the floor.
Bretherton admitted that he sent him links to pornography he liked, erotic literature and leaked nudes of a Love Island star.
He agreed that he talked about Person A’s sex life and told her that a photo of her turned him on.
The lawyer told her to bring a sex toy to a party and tried to get her friend involved, asking her to tell him what kind of panties her friend was wearing.
Bretherton also admitted to sending a message asking her to remove her underwear, describing sexual positions and what it would “feel and taste like”.
The lawyer also agreed to exchange intimate videos with Person A.
Bretherton said: ‘I remember him turning in his chair to look at me and spreading his legs out in front of me.
He wasn’t crawling on the ground. Person A came into my office and spread her legs so I could see her skirt and her underwear.
“She came into my room and spread her legs and I encouraged her to do it.”
She admitted that they had discussed the purchase of a vibrator, but denied paying half of it or asking her to film herself using it.
“It was inappropriate behavior,” he said. She knew it was inappropriate.
“I don’t think I can sit here and say it was a positive.”
Bretherton said he had a passionate French kiss with the teenager, but insisted that “she tried to instigate things a bit more.”
He denied ranking his colleagues on who would be the best in bed and who would be the “kinkiest” in bed.
Bretherton said: ‘It was a consensual relationship at the time. I don’t think it was scary. They were two willing adults who were engaged in a sexual relationship acting in a particular way.
‘She was very open about what she wants to know in terms of her sex life.
“I was very surprised when these allegations came to light. It was equal because of the participation of both sides.’
Recalling a kiss with Person A in the pub during a work social, Bretherton said: “That was far from everyone.” I definitely didn’t want to take any chances there and it’s something I immediately regret.
“I think, in the kissing example, I think it was out of character because we had been drinking.
The lawyer was a director of Gowling WLG at the time of the allegations. He is now a banking and financial partner of the Gunnercooke law firm.
He said the teenager sent him an explicit photo of herself, just after having sex with her boyfriend, while he was in Scotland with his wife in February 2018.
The lawyer stated that he acted “with integrity at all times” adding: “At the time this exchange occurred, I viewed Person A as a mature adult who wanted to participate in this consensual relationship.”
He denied that she was vulnerable and insisted that she instigated their relationship.
“On multiple occasions he told me he was enjoying it. The vast majority of what happened to me and Person A happened outside of the office. It wasn’t like she was upset.
‘She was very proactive. She was telling me how turned on she was. It left me in no doubt that she wanted to be in this relationship. She was instigating a significant part of it.
Bretherton denied throwing ping pong balls at the teenager’s dress in the office, as other people would have seen this throw the glass walls.
‘It is a clear and obvious inappropriate activity. I have never done this and never would have.
He also denied timing his bathroom breaks.
Chloe Carpenter, representing Bretherton, told the hearing that it was “clear” that the teen had instigated the relationship.
“Person A was happy in her fantasy sexual relationship with Mr Bretherton when it was taking place and subsequently changed her mind,” he said.
The teen became jealous when Bretherton showed “kindness” to other staff members, Carpenter said.
“Ultimately, she wanted to ruin Mr. Bretheron’s life.”
She added: “Who are the SRAs to judge the nature of any relationship or to decide or assume how a woman should or should not or would not behave,” asked Miss Carpenter.
“This kind of sexting, video sending, and picture type relationship that Mr. Bretheron and Person A had may not be to the taste of the SRA, but that doesn’t matter.”
Panel chairman Gerald Sydenham said the accusations leveled against him by the three young workers amounted to an “abuse of his position”.
The hearing continues.