Danny McCance 27 Sep 2018 05:04pm

Smith & Williamson NED resigns after harassment charge

John Harley stepped down from his role as non-executive director on the board of Smith & Williamson “for personal reasons”

On Monday Harley pleaded guilty to one charge of harassment at Hastings Magistrates Court, the Argus reported. He will be sentenced at a later date.

From November 2017 Harley went on a three-month “campaign of harassment” against his former girlfriend of two years Raine Lacey.

A spokesperson for Smith & Williamson confirmed Harley’s resignation and said that the firm “would like to thank John for his contributions since joining the Board in June 2016.”

They added that Andrew Sykes, non-executive chairman, will act as chair of the audit risk and oversight committee until a permanent chair is appointed.

Harley has since also resigned as chairman of the board of governors of Brighton University. Between 2013 and 2015 Harley was a reporting panel member of the Competition Commission.

He was formerly a partner and global head of private equity at Big Four firm EY, retiring in 2011 after spending 11 years with the firm. Prior to this he was a partner at PwC.

The harassment included, among other things, sending emails to Lacey’s five daughters and showing up unannounced at one of her daughter’s homes when she was visiting.

“He told the victim he knew she would be there as it was her normal routine,” prosecutor Paul Edwards told the court.

Harley also sent letters to three doctors at the surgery in which Lacey worked stating that he had serious concerns about her ability to perform her duties.

“During the course of the harassment the victim felt the need to change her appearance. She changed her car through fear he was tracking her,” Edwards stated.

“The defendant is a very wealthy man and the victim feels he has the resources to harm her and he thinks he is above the law,” Edwards told the court, appealing for a restraining order against Harley.

“Importantly it was never [Harley’s] intention to cause Miss Lacey alarm or distress. He says he felt very alone,” the defence Tanya Robinson said.

She pointed to the fact that until the events in question Harley had been of “impeccable character” and that he was still a “committed family man and has done a great deal of charity work.”

In Monday’s hearing, one charge of stalking without fear made against Harley was dismissed. A further hearing will be held on 12 October.