Law society leader will face inquiry into 'bully' complaints

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The Independent Online

Kamlesh Bahl, the former head of the Equal Opportunities Commision and now vice-president of the Law Society, is to face an investigation over allegations of bullying. The Law Society is to ask the Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, to help establish a procedure for hearing the complaints which relate to harassment at work.

Kamlesh Bahl, the former head of the Equal Opportunities Commision and now vice-president of the Law Society, is to face an investigation over allegations of bullying. The Law Society is to ask the Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, to help establish a procedure for hearing the complaints which relate to harassment at work.

The Law Society yesterday confirmed that it had received two complaints from the society's union, the MSF (Manufacturing Science and Finance).

A senior solicitor at the society said: "This has been a long time coming. I'm surprised they've kept the lid on it for this long... She can be a very forceful personality at times."

Ms Bahl first rose to prominence at the Equal Opportunities Commission where she was chairman between 1994 and 1998. A source at the Commission said that during her reign she was the subject of three official complaints also relating to the bullying of staff.

She said that a number of other members of staff decided to leave or move jobs because of the way Ms Bahl undermined them or humiliated them in public. "Some still bear the scars and are still rebuilding their self-confidence," the source added. None of the allegations were brought before an employment tribunal.

Ms Bahl's critics at the Law Society say she has ruffled feathers in her desire to bring about change. But since being elected deputy vice-president the Law Society's profile has been enhanced. The Society has waged an aggressive campaign against the Lord Chancellor's radical reform of the legal aid system, more thanonce this year provoking the Lord Chancellor's wrath.

Until yesterday her future looked rosy as she was set to become the first woman and first non-white president of the 150-year-old Law Society next year. Now she must co-operate with an inquiry which will be headed by an "independent person" selected by Lord Woolf.

Ms Bahl has denied the allegations but would not commentuntil the inquiry was completed. In the meantime, she will continue her duties.