Recent events in both the legal and entertainment sectors have cast a spotlight on the critical need for ethical leadership and professional conduct. These incidents have unfortunately highlighted the broader implications of authority misuse and the essential need for rigorous standards to safeguard integrity and fairness.

A tribunal judge, Philip Lancaster, has been accused by multiple women of bullying and sexist behaviour during employment tribunal hearings in Leeds, as reported by BBC News. Reports indicate that Judge Lancaster exhibited overt hostility, particularly towards women presenting cases before him.

Dr. Hinaa Toheed, a GP, recounted an instance where the judge aggressively cross-examined her, trying to coerce her into conceding points favourable to the opposing side, and shouted at her numerous times. She reported feeling bullied and intimidated, stating:

If I didn’t agree with anything that he said, he would shout at me.

Similarly distressing is the backlash following the New York Court of Appeals’ decision to overturn the 2020 rape conviction of Harvey Weinstein, a former movie mogul. This decision has been perceived as a significant setback for the #MeToo movement and survivors of sexual abuse.

Weinstein’s case, which had been a landmark moment in highlighting sexual misconduct by powerful figures, was thrown into question when the court cited procedural errors, including the prejudicial inclusion of unrelated testimonies. Ashley Judd, a prominent actress and one of the first to come forward with allegations against Weinstein, expressed her dismay, stating:

Oftentimes survivors say that the betrayal and the moral injury we suffer within the system is worse than the sexual body invasion we experienced in the first place.

These cases reflect poorly on both the individuals involved but also on the systems that permit such conduct. They demonstrate failure in upholding the standards expected of positions of power and influence, which should be bound by principles of fairness, respect, and impartiality.


To effectively combat such issues, employees and employers need to have a clear understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment. The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides a comprehensive guide that explains the different forms of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, under the Equality Act 2010. This resource can be found here.

Understanding the nuances and scenarios in which harassment can occur is important. RAINN offers an informative campaign, “That’s Harassment,” which illustrates through video examples various forms of sexual harassment, helping both victims and bystanders recognise inappropriate behaviour. This  resource is accessible here.

Additionally, it is vital for employers to know how to handle a sexual harassment complaint effectively and responsibly. ACAS offers detailed guidance on managing such complaints to ensure they are dealt with appropriately and with the seriousness they warrant. Employers can access this guidance here.

Ethical work practises are a must

Looking forward, it is imperative that all sectors, particularly those where power dynamics are pronounced, implement and enforce strict ethical guidelines. The integrity of any institution relies heavily on its leadership. Ensuring leaders are held accountable and operate within a framework of ethical conduct is essential for maintaining public trust and organisational efficacy.

Organisations and governing bodies must invest in comprehensive training, establish clear accountability mechanisms, and foster an environment where unethical behaviour is promptly addressed and penalised. Leadership should champion such standards, ensuring they are integrated into all levels of professional conduct.