I've since found out she was involved in dodgy dealings in her last job and was asked to leave quietly on the agreement that her employers would provide glowing references. That way, the consultancy could sweep the whole thing under the carpet. I think our partners should know this, but I'm aware that coming from me it might seem like sour grapes.
A: Before you tiptoe into this unappealing bramble thicket, try as hard as you can to separate in your mind your knowledge of the woman's past record from the fact that she got the partnership and you didn't. You're right, of course, in thinking that others may doubt your motives, but you mustn't.
First, how certain are you of the facts? You say: 'I've since found out she was involved in dodgy dealings ...' Is this wine-bar tittle-tattle, or solid info? Second, are the dodgy dealings of a kind that make her a professional liability? Did she cheat on a client, fiddle her expenses, or just use the office internet for a bit of personal Christmas shopping?
If you're certain that the allegations are well-founded, and that her past behaviour is indeed serious enough to pose a professional threat to your existing firm, then I guess you've got to do something about it You'd actually be being irresponsible if you let yourself be frightened off by the whiff of sour grapes.
Somewhere in your firm there must be a company lawyer or an HR director in whom you can confide. Present them with the evidence and the name of your informant. Then, very firmly, say you want nothing more to do with the matter - and keep to that.
Jeremy Bullmore's responses to work dilemmas in MT are collected in his book Another Bad Day at the Office? (Penguin, pounds 5.99)
Please address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: Management Today, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP. Or e-mail: email@example.com Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.