Ketchup Stain Spat Soils Lawyer's Image

LONDON --Removing the ketchup stain from his trousers cost Richard Phillips 4 pounds ($7.30). The subsequent spat over who would pay the bill may have cost the lawyer his dignity.

An e-mail exchange allegedly between Phillips and his secretary, Jenny Amner, has been forwarded around Britain's legal community, spread across the Internet and become a talking point in the British press. Several newspapers on Friday reprinted the exchange, which began with a May 25 message purportedly from Phillips, a senior associate at law firm Baker & McKenzie, to his secretary.

"Hi Jenny. I went to a dry cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost 4 pounds to remove the ketchup stains. If you cd let me have the cash today, that wd be much appreciated," it said.

Amner, who was off work because of her mother's death, replied in piquant style on June 3.

"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 pounds," said the e-mail.

"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."

Amner sent the exchange to colleagues, who passed it on to others. Along the way, recipients added comments, many criticizing Phillips for his stinginess.

Baker & McKenzie said the incident was "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," it said in a statement.

Details here from the AP via The Boston Globe. Read more details from The Scotsman: 57 varieties of woe for lawyer as saucy trouser e-mail backfires