Ketchup-stain row lawyer quits
THE lawyer at the centre of the "ketchupgate" row has quit his £150,000-a-year post following public humiliation over an embarrassing e-mail which travelled across the whole legal profession.
Richard Phillips, who was ridiculed for demanding 4 from a secretary after she splattered his suit with tomato ketchup during lunch, has resigned from his job as a senior associate with leading City firm Baker & McKenzie.
Sources close to the 36-year-old lawyer said he had made the decision to leave "long before" the publication of the now infamous e-mail. He was said to be in a state of "absolute devastation" at his public humiliation.
Mr Phillips, an IT law expert, reportedly sent the e-mail the day after the ill-fated meal while secretary Jenny Amner was at her mother's funeral, a fact that was unknown to him.
Mr Phillip's message, dated 25 May and tagged "ketchup trousers", read: "Hi Jenny, I went to a dry cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost 4 to remove ketchup stains. If you cd let me have the cash today, that wd be much appreciated."
On 3 June, an outraged Ms Amner sent a withering e-mail to Mr Phillips apologising for her late reply blaming the "more pressing issue" of her mother's funeral.
She also pointed out that the sum was so small, and his position so senior, that he could surely afford it.
The killer e-mail stated: "With reference to the e-mail below, I must apologise for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother's sudden illness, death and funeral I have had more pressing issues than your 4.
"I apologise for accidentally getting a few splashes of ketchup on your trousers. Obviously your financial need as senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary."
Ms Amner, who is believed to have an annual salary of about 25,000, added she had told partners, lawyers and trainees about his e-mail and said they had offered to "do a collection" for him.
The e-mail concluded: "I, however, declined their kind offer but should you feel the need for 4 it will be on my desk this afternoon."
She copied their e-mail exchange to all the staff in the commercial department at the firm, from where it winged its way across the City with some people adding comments questioning Mr Phillips's generosity.
Ms Amner is also said to be shocked by the furore stirred up by her e-mail. She is understood to have found herself increasingly isolated by staff who feel Mr Phillips has been unfairly victimised.
It had been believed that both Mr Phillips and Ms Amner had been given indefinite leave from work until the e-mail row subsided.
Ms Amner, in her late fifties, is also said to be considering her position with the firm.
Since the story broke last week, the message boards of the Lawyer magazine and Roll On Friday, a website for City solicitors, have been inundated by e-mails backing Mr Phillips.
One states: "I thought the consensus was that this seccie had shown herself to be ... contemptible to a degree which made the lawyer's ill-judged tight-fisted pettiness seem trivial in comparison ... It seemed to be the majority view on her."
Baker & McKenzie has refused to comment on Mr Phillip's resignation.
A company spokesman would only say yesterday: "We are investigating so as to resolve the issue amicably. We respect the privacy of our staff."
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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