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Ketchup stain sparks e-mail flurry

Corporate Governance

LONDON, England -- An e-mail exchange between a law firm executive and a secretary over a ketchup stain has set London's legal world buzzing.

The details were forwarded across the city after Richard Phillips, a senior associate at Baker & McKenzie, sent a message to secretary Jenny Amner.

The exchange appears to refer to her spilling ketchup on Phillips' trousers and who should pay the cleaning bill, UK's Press Association reported.

The first e-mail, which Phillips sent on May 25, said: "Hi Jenny. I went to a dry cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost £4 to remove the ketchup stains. If you cd let me have the cash today, that wd be much appreciated."

On June 3, Amner replied: "With reference to the e-mail below, I must apologize 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 apologize again 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."

She wrote that she had told various partners, lawyers and trainees about his e-mail and they had offered to "do a collection" to raise the cash.

"I however declined their kind offer but should you feel the urgent need for the £4, it will be on my desk this afternoon."

Subsequently the e-mail exchange was forwarded across the legal world, with comments added questioning Phillips' generosity.

On June 15, one respondent to the e-mails wrote: "Judging by the names, this was around the whole legal city by now."

In a statement Thursday night, Baker & McKenzie said: "We confirm we are aware of the incident and subsequent e-mail exchange.

"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 we can.

"As I am sure you understand we respect the privacy of our staff and make it a policy not to comment on individuals to the media."

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