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A British trainee solicitor (in the English system, a law school graduate who is undergoing post-graduate on-the-job legal training, much like a medical resident in the United States) has told a tribunal how she has lost faith in the profession after months of sexual harassment — but wants to return to work. Loretta Pereira, just three months away from completing her training contract, has told an employment tribunal in London how she endured 18 months of harassment at north London law firm Norton & Co. She claims that legal executive Alan Perry, now at Nalders in Falmouth, sexually harassed her. He is alleged to have attempted to kiss her, accused her of being a lesbian, and told her to wear shorter skirts. Perry denies all claims. The firm’s principal solicitor Peter Norton dismissed Miss Pereira in June 1997, believing that she was responsible for a spate of vandalism caused within the firm. The tribunal heard how telephone cords were cut, tape machines wiped, and an ashtray tipped into sandwiches. Miss Pereira, who has been temping since her dismissal, spoke of how she has become disillusioned with the legal profession. “After years of exams, and accruing debt, I have lost faith in the system. It’s supposed to protect people like me,” says Pereira. However, if successful she would like to return: “I’m so close to finishing now, all I want to do is get back to it and start again.” A decision on the hearing is expected in two weeks.

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