One of London’s most respected white-collar crime lawyers has dismissed claims that his firm helped Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, cover up allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
Ian Burton told The Brief that despite his firm being named in a court action in New York, “we have absolutely never acted for Weinstein or any of his agents”.
Burton’s firm, BCL Solicitors, formerly BCL Burton Copeland, is renowned for acting in some of the most significant investigations involving the Serious Fraud Office and City watchdogs, as well as celebrity criminal cases, over the last decade.
Six women allege in an action filed last week at a federal court in Manhattan that they and others faced a “credible and objective threat of being blacklisted by Weinstein [and his companies] if they refused Weinstein’s unwanted sexual advances or complained about his behaviour”.
The women claim that a group of people and entities around the film producer and his businesses became part of a "Weinstein sexual enterprise", which endeavoured to disguise his alleged harassment and assaults.
Four law firms are cited in the action, although none of them is named as a defendant. That means the claimants are not pursuing the lawyers but simply highlighting their alleged involvement to demonstrate that Weinstein allegedly tried to cover up his behaviour.
Burton pointed out that because his firm was not a defendant in the claim it would be difficult to become involved in US litigation to refute the suggestion that the controversial film producer had instructed BCL.
However, Burton, who is BCL’s founder and senior partner, told The Brief that he was bemused and galled by the firm being mentioned in the court papers. “We have not acted for Weinstein or in any way been remotely linked to him,” he said, adding that he did not want to speculate on how the firm had come to be mentioned in the court documents. It is the only English firm that is mentioned.
The others are K&L Gates, an international practice based in Pittsburgh with a City of London office, Boies Schiller Flexner, a national US firm based in New York, and Gross Kleinhendler Hodak Halevy Greenberg & Co, an Israeli firm.
K&L Gates issued a statement reported in the US media saying: “The claims relating to K&L Gates are false. K&L Gates has never represented Mr Weinstein or any other person or entity concerning investigations or inquiries relating to Mr Weinstein.”
The other firms named were reported not to have commented.