Brexit lawyer Geraint Thomas, 47, fell to his death after leaving a disciplinary meeting convened following allegations he behaved inappropriately towards female colleagues at his work Christmas party
A Brexit lawyer was found dead after being suspended from work for his sexual behaviour towards women colleagues at a Christmas party, an inquest heard.
Geraint Thomas, 47, left a disciplinary meeting and drove to a clifftop beauty spot where he fell 150ft to his death.
His wife Rebecca told the hearing: ‘I have no doubt that whatever was said at that meeting was fundamental to Geraint’s change of state of mind and subsequent actions that day.’
The inquest heard Geraint was told he was under investigation after being called into the meeting at the Cardiff headquarters of Eversheds Sutherland where he was a partner specialising in Brexit.
He was due to fly to Australia with his wife and two children on a trip of a lifetime three days later.
His wife of 18 years said: ‘To say he was excited about the trip is an understatement.
‘There was no hint that anything was troubling Geraint during a family get together the weekend before Christmas.’
Geraint kissed his wife goodbye on Monday December 17 and told her he would see her later.
By the time he got to work the HR department had called a meeting and decided to suspend him while an investigation was carried out into his behaviour at the Christmas party and another event.
The inquest heard Thomas was ‘calm and professional’ when informed he was being suspended. He told Human Resources chiefs: ‘I will collect my things and go.’
Thomas drove to Southerndown in the Vale of Glamorgan where he and his family had enjoyed walks along the coastal path.
Thomas’s wife Rebecca, pictured with her husband, said she believed whatever happened in the disciplinary meeting was ‘fundamental’ to what had happened to change the state of his mind
In a written statement his wife Rebecca said she became concerned when her husband failed to respond to text messages that evening.
She spoke to one of her husband’s work colleagues at 10.15 who advised her to call police to register him as a missing person.
His body was found by coastguard at Southerndown the next day.
Lorraine Kilborn, Eversheds Sutherland’s international HR director, told the hearing she became aware of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour the day after the Christmas party.
She said: ‘We decided this was something we needed to consider very seriously.
On the day he died, Thomas was suspended from Evershards Sutherland, pictured, where he was a Brexit lawyer
Thomas’ body was found at the base of Southerndown Cliff tops in Cardiff
‘We arranged to meet at 8am on Monday morning to discuss matters further and after going through the main points I made the decision to suspend Geraint.’
Mrs Kilborn said Thomas was ‘calm, quiet and professional’ and made no comment about the allegations put to him.
She added that the firm offered to carry out the investigation within three days to allow him to carry on with his holiday.
The HR director said the investigation was halted when the firm ‘learned of the tragic circumstances of his death’.
Senior partner Anthony Rees said Mrs Kilborn told him a complaint had been received about alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour.
In a written statement he told the hearing: ‘A number of individuals had raised complains about Geraint behaviour at two events.
‘At the meeting he was told he would be given a full opportunity to answer the allegations and support was offered.’
The inquest heard Thomas said ‘thank you’ as he left the meeting at 12.55pm on December 17.
Thomas joined Eversheds Sutherland in 1994 and spent his entire career with the firm. He was a partner in the firm’s commercial department.
After his death the firm said in a statement: ‘Geraint was a truly exceptional lawyer, he will be remembered for his dedication to his clients and to the firm in equal measure.’
Detective Chief inspector Mark Lewis told the hearing that Thomas’s mobile phone had internet searches on Brexit and cricket but nothing to indicate he intended suicide.
He said: ‘There were traumatic messages from Mr Thomas’s wife and children pleading for him to come home which remained unanswered.’
A post mortem examination revealed Thomas, of Radyr, Cardiff, died of multiple injuries ‘in keeping with a fall from a height’.
Acting South Wales Central Senior Coroner Graeme Hughes said there was no direct evidence that Thomas jumped from the cliffs.
He said: ‘It is a possibility that in the dark and in heavy rain he simply travelled too close and either stepped or fell and was blown off the edge.
‘Suicide must be proved and there was no evidence that he formed any intention, there were no notes either at home or in his car.
‘There were no text messages and no evidence of suicidal ideation.’
Recording a narrative verdict the coroner concluded: ‘The deceased died as a consequence of catastrophic injury defending from the cliffs.
‘The circumstances cannot be sufficiently determined on the available evidence.’
His widow declined comment on the result of the hearing as she left the court.