Singapore lawyer struck off for taking upskirt, other intrusive photos of colleague

·Senior Editor
·3-min read
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A gavel being struck. (FILE PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A lawyer who had taken upskirt and down-blouse photos of a colleague was on Thursday (19 May) struck off the roll.

The judgment by the Court of Three Judges – comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Justice Andrew Phang, and Justice Steven Chong – comes a day after it struck off entertainment lawyer Samuel Seow following his assault on three employees in 2018.

In its latest judgment, the court ruled that the misconduct of the former lawyer, who cannot be named under a gag order, “attests to character defects rendering the respondent unfit to be a member of the legal profession”. The respondent was formerly from a top law firm.

The Law Society of Singapore had sought a suspension against the respondent for a period of three-and-a-half to five years in the disciplinary proceedings. The respondent did not appear at any stage of the proceedings before the court.

The respondent was jailed four weeks in 2020 after he admitted to two charges of insulting the modesty of a woman in 2017. Another count of insulting the colleague’s modesty and one charge of molesting her were considered in sentencing.

Pretext of reading victim’s computer screen

On one occasion, at their workplace, the respondent approached the victim from behind as she worked and leaned over her on the pretext of reading her computer screen.

The respondent rested his body on the back rest of the victim’s chair and saw that the victim’s brasserie was exposed as the neckline of her dress was loose, according to the prosecution. He peeped at the victim’s brasserie and took some photographs of the victim’s chest and brasserie for his viewing pleasure.

He returned to the victim a few minutes later and employed the same ruse, and took several photos of the victim’s panties. Afterwards, he viewed the photos that he had taken before he deleted them.

About half a year later, the respondent took upskirt photos of the victim, the prosecution said. He sat on the floor next to her desk and struck up a conversation with her.

The respondent, who was holding his phone in his hand, pointed the camera lens in the direction of the victim’s thighs and managed to take several photos of the victim’s panties. He also pressed his thigh against the victim’s upper arm.

Court of Three Judges’ ruling

In its judgment, the court agreed with the Law Society that the respondent’s conduct was “premeditated and persistent”.

The court also noted the victim’s account of the respondent’s “emotional blackmail”, including claiming that the case against him would “hurt his mother who was already very sick” if it were to proceed, his threats to commit suicide, as well as asking mutual friends to tell the victim to drop the case.

These acts reflected the respondent’s “cynical and exploitative attitude” towards the victim. Instead of showing remorse, the court said the respondent tried to wage a war of “emotional attrition” against the victim, in the hope that she would buckle under the pressure. “We find this deeply disturbing.”

The court said it was also “reprehensible” that the respondent had committed the offences against his colleague in the workplace.

In addition, the respondent’s complete absence from the proceedings before a disciplinary tribunal and before the court underscored the “utter lack of remorse” on his part. The respondent did not bother to offer any explanation for his actions despite many attempts to contact him.

“In our view, the respondent’s absence from these proceedings is at best indicative of his disinterest, and at worst, his disdain…. His lack of remorse and unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions only fortifies our conclusion that his misconduct stems from an underlying character defect rather than a momentary lapse in judgment,” the court said.

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