Neil Hutt, a partner of 16 years at Ernst & Young has resigned after being reprimanded for making obscene remarks to a colleague
A partner at a Big Four accounting firm has resigned his position after he was reprimanded for telling a female trainee ‘I am going to f*** you’ on a company ski trip.
Neil Hutt, a partner of 16 years with Ernst & Young, was found to have behaved in an ‘obscene and aggressive’ fashion when he made the remark to a junior colleague, a disciplinary by the sector’s governing body found.
But despite the finding, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales determined that he would not be struck off as there was no risk of repeated behaviour.
However, since the panel’s report was made public, Mr Hutt has resigned from the company with immediate affect.
In an email seen by MailOnline and sent to the company’s employees, Ernst & Young’s UK Chair Hywell Ball said he was upset that employees’ trust in the firm ‘had been damaged’.
He insisted that the leadership team is committed, to creating a workplace where ‘everyone feels safe and belongs’ but admitted this incident showed they still have ‘a long way to go’.
A spokesman for Ernst & Young said: ‘We can confirm that Neil Hutt has offered his resignation from EY UK LLP, which has been accepted and takes place with immediate effect.’
Neil Hutt was reprimanded and handed a financial penalty by the company after the incident in 2019.
The female trainee was left ‘shocked and disappointed’ following the 51-year-old’s remarks on an annual EY ski trip for partners and staff, the panel was told.
Following an investigation in which he said he had ‘taken a joke too far’ the partner was fined £75,000 by the firm but kept his job after agreeing to attend diversity and inclusiveness training.
Neil Hutt, a partner of 16 years with Ernst & Young, has been allowed to keep his job after a panel found to he behaved in an ‘obscene and aggressive’ fashion towards a junior colleague
The hearing was told Mr Hutt qualified as an accountant in 1992 and became a partner at EY in 2005.
Based in Reading, Berks, he lead the EY Transaction Support team for the telecommunications, media and technology sectors.
The tribunal heard EY organised a ski trip for members of staff and partners in January 2019, which has become an annual event for the firm.
A trainee accountant – who had had little contact with Mr Hutt previously – also attended.
The panel was told that during lunch on one of the days of this trip, the trainee was having a conversation with a colleague.
The tribunal heard it was at this point Mr Hutt interrupted and said: ‘What are you doing this afternoon? Because I’m going to f*** you. And then I’m going to f*** [another colleague].’
The tribunal heard the trainee felt ‘shocked and disappointed’ by the remark but tried to hide her emotions.
After the lunch while the group was sitting outside having drinks, the trainee was discussing an incident that had happened earlier in the day when she had been ‘bashed’ into from behind by a snowboarder.
Mr Hutt interrupted her and said: ‘Ha ha, that’s funny because I’ll be bashing you from behind this afternoon.’
The tribunal heard she tried to ignore the comment but found it ‘offensive and shocking’.
EY conducted an internal investigation which the female trainee found ‘uncomfortable and embarrassing’ as she had to recount what was said to senior members of the firm.
The panel heard ‘increasing rumours around the office had left her feeling isolated and publicity about the incident had significantly increased her embarrassment and shame to the extent she had found it difficult coming into work’.
Mr Hutt told a disciplinary panel he had taken a joke too far. The panel found that his behaviour was aggravated by ‘the extreme difference in age and seniority’ at Ernst and Young (pictured)
Mr Hutt was interviewed in February 2019 during the internal investigation.
He admitted using the words alleged by the female trainee, except he thought he had said ‘shag’ rather than ‘f***’.
He also ‘accepted that he had taken the joke too far and that it was a stupid thing to say’, adding that he was ‘mortified and embarrassed’ by what had happened.
In March 2019 the firm gave Mr Hutt a final written warning and a financial penalty.
He was also ordered to attend diversity and inclusiveness training and to agree to be an advocate for the firm’s cultural improvement, including talking to peers about his conduct and what he had learned.
The ICAEW found Mr Hutt guilty of misconduct following a hearing in July.
In a judgment published at the end of last week, Rosalind Wright QC, chair of the disciplinary tribunal, said: ‘The misconduct in this case was aggravated by the extreme difference in age and seniority… in circumstances which the behaviour amounted to an abuse of his position and power.
‘The Tribunal considered that the conduct set out in the complaint was both obscene and aggressive.
‘Egregious behaviour of this nature has no place in the profession and the Tribunal seriously considered whether [Mr Hutt’s] conduct was incompatible with him remaining a member of the profession.
‘Had the Tribunal been of the view there was a risk of repetition it would have no option but to exclude him from membership of ICAEW.
‘On balance, however, the Tribunal was satisfied that the public interest could be adequately protected by severely reprimanding [Mr Hutt] and imposing a financial penalty.’
The tribunal fined Mr Hutt £7,000 and ordered him to pay legal costs of £4,895.
A spokesman for Ernst and Young told MailOnline previously: ‘As the ICAEW notes this was a serious incident which we investigated thoroughly and resulted in EY imposing sanctions.
‘EY takes these matters very seriously and will always take disciplinary action against anyone found to be in breach of our values and global code of conduct.’
The email sent to staff by Hywell Ball added: ‘I want to be clear: inappropriate behaviour, when reported, is always investigated and sanctions applied, regardless of rank or role.’