Complaints of prejudice and illiteracy

The story of the JP who was required to apologise for complaining about a foreign defendant has already been covered in the Daily Mail. But what struck me when I read the account given by the Office for Judicial Complaints in its annual report was how badly written it was.

Read the following passage for yourself and work out where the commas ought to go. Incidentally, the other examples on page 18 of its report show an inability to use hyphens or to spell “driving licence”.

A reprimand, requirement to undertake further training, and removal from a mentoring list were imposed, where a judicial office holder had used words in open court with regard to a non-British defendant, that could have been construed as displaying prejudice against them for not being British, including saying, “We take exception to people coming to our shores and abusing our hospitality”. Removal was considered in this case as the words used fell short of the qualities of social awareness and sound judgement expected of the judiciary, however, long service as a judicial office holder without previous complaint, and his apology and contrition, were taken into account in the final decision.

Whilst not meant to be an exhaustive list, inappropriate behaviour or comments include rudeness, aggressive behaviour and the use of insulting, profane, racist or sexist language. The individual circumstances vary widely and where they have led to removal, details are set out on our website.

During this year inappropriate behaviour and comments led to nine occasions where informal guidance was given by the Lord Chief Justice, six occasions where formal advice was given, four reprimands, four resignations, and five removals.

The Lord Chief Justice has agreed a schedule of delegations to senior judiciary in relation to the exercise of some disciplinary functions relating to tribunals office holders and magistrates.

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