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City firm Charles Russell is at the forefront of a new e-mail row involving three of its employees.The firm is being sued by a former employee, who is seeking substantial damages for sexual and racial discrimination.The case, which is due to be brought to a tribunal next year, centres around an e-mail sent by Charles Russell associate Andy Dowdney to one of the firm’s partners, Clive Hopewell.Following the resignation of the black secretary who is bringing the case, Dowdney sent an e-mail to Hopewell in which he asked “Can we go for a real fit busty blonde the time?”Dowdney went on to write: “She can’t be any more trouble and at least it would provide some entertainment.”The secretary, who read the e-mail shortly after she had handed in her resignation, complained to head of personnel at Charles Russell as well as launching formal proceedings.Both lawyers have written letters to the woman apologising for the e-mail. Hopewell, an internet and corporate finance lawyer, said that it had “been a childish joke” and that he hoped it “would not sour a good working relationship”. Dowdney also admitted that it was a “senseless, thoughtless joke”.A spokeswoman for Charles Russell said the firm was “defending [their] position vigorously”.The case is the latest incident of City solicitors facing embarrassment following joke emails.In December last year Norton Rose hit the headlines after an explicit email from one of its solicitors was forwarded to millions of people world-wide.In March this year Herbert Smith disciplined a trainee solicitor after a hoax email which claimed a secretary had been murdered was forwarded outside the firm.

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