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June 23, 2005

How a few ketchup splashes, a £4 bill and an e-mail have become the talk of the City

Jon Ashworth & Martin Waller

A CITY lawyer who made an office secretary pay £4 towards a dry-cleaning bill after she accidentally spilt ketchup on his trousers was paying dearly for his actions last night.

Richard Phillips, a senior associate with Baker & McKenzie, the world’s fifth- biggest law firm, sent an e-mail to Jenny Amner, a secretary at the firm’s London office.

Mr Phillips earns a reputed £80,000 a year, while Ms Amner earns about £25,000. The average profit share of a partner, one step up from senior associate, is £364,000.

“Dear Jenny,” he wrote. “I went to the dry-cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost £4 to remove the ketchup stains.” He wrote that it would be “much appreciated” if he could have the money back.

Ms Amner replied: “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.” She went on: “I apologise for accidentally getting a few splashes of ketchup on your trousers. Obviously your financial need as a senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary.”

Ms Amner’s colleagues offered to hold a collection to raise the £4 but she paid the sum herself — while copying her colleagues in on the e-mail exchange. It has since been widely circulated on the internet. A tabloid newspaper was offering to pay £2,000 last night for a photograph of Mr Phillips. Among many unanswered questions is how the ketchup came to arrive on Mr Phillips’s trousers.

Baker & McKenzie failed to see the funny side last night.

A spokesman said: “I can confirm we are aware of the incident. This is a private matter between two members of staff that clearly got out of hand. We are investigating so as to resolve (it) as amicably as possible. As I am sure you understand, we respect the privacy of our staff.”

Others were less guarded. One staff member confided: “She (Ms Amner) copied it to the whole floor and everyone was in stitches. She had come into work this morning to find a Post-it chasing her for the £4 after having the funeral the day before. He’s so tight.”

Mr Phillips’s areas of expertise include IT and media. He now finds himself even more intimately associated with both. As the e-mail exchange circulated last night, comments such as “great advert for lawyers”, “great PR” and “remember to be nice to your secretaries” were added. Another adds: “This chap should emigrate.”Mrs Amner’s husband and neighbours were not surprised to hear of the e-mail exchange. One neighbour said: “That’s just like Jenny.” When shown the e-mail Mrs Amner’s husband Colin laughed and told The Times: “That’s really good. Eleven marks out of 10 to her!” Mrs Amner, a slim bespectacled blonde in her 50s, looked embarrassed and declined to comment, directing all enquiries to Baker & McKenzie.

What happened next..

04:50 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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i heard u were shutting down ur blog ;-)

Posted by: Pradeep | Jun 24, 2005 3:51:31 PM

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