Skip to main content

Are we a nation of prudes?

Aghh Michael Gove's coming... delete, delete, delete

Last year three judges were sacked and one resigned after being caught viewing pornography at work. There was no suggestion that this interfered with their judicial office or any cases that they were hearing. It all happened in private in their own offices and appears to have been detected only because the Ministry of Justice audited computer use by employees. It appears that none of this was regular and, in some cases, occurred on just one or two occasions.

Two of the men were full time judges while the other two were part-timers, which usually means they are still in practice as lawyers when not sitting as a judge.

Staff viewing non-work related websites, including pornography, during work hours is a problem for all employers. When I had employees if I’d sacked everyone who looked at porn once or twice I doubt there would have been anybody left. If I sacked everybody who looked at non-work websites just once a day, I’d definitely have been a very lonely lawyer. There did come a time when we let an employee go because he was viewing porn at work – his was an extreme case. He was doing it in the reception area next to a 12-foot-high and 20-foot-long window that looked directly on to the high street so was potentially visible to anybody passing by. He was warned but ignored the warnings and was eventually sacked.

One of the judges, I’m not going to name him, was accused by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of failing to act with integrity and to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him. He admitted the charge on the basis that he accessed “inappropriate material on two occasions”. There was no suggestion that he had done any criminal act, allowed his work to suffer or done anything that would have an impact on justice.

Another judge is currently battling the Ministry of Justice’s decision to fire him on the basis that he was suffering from severe depression at the time following the breakdown of his marriage. You might think that when an employer discovers an employee is unwell the right course of action is to support that person, especially where there is no suggestion that his actions, again in private, had any impact on his work.

No reports suggest that any of the judges were warned about their behaviour or given an opportunity to correct their behaviour. In one case, the judge who accessed porn on two occasions did so TWO YEARS before his sacking – there is no suggestion in any reports I have read that he had repeated this action in the next two years.

I’m not suggesting that judges should be allowed to wank themselves silly in court or be given free passes to Pleasure Zone, Spicy Tranny and Retro Porn Hub (three of the sites of choice by the judiciary I understand) but a sensible attitude needs to be taken when dealing with people accessing lawful, non-work-related material during work time. I note that nobody has been sacked for accessing Facebook or Twitter and I bet far more judges access that every day than most of these people were looking at pornography. In short, if it weren't for a prudish attitude to porn these men would have been dealt with very differently.

A final thought: we’re always being told that the judiciary should reflect the general population, well now we know that some members of the judiciary are wankers (we all suspected it) just like some of the general population. Another box ticked, the MoJ should be pleased.


Popular posts from this blog

Ched Evans

Before I begin, I will say that at around 4,500 words this is probably the longest blog I’ve ever posted but I think it’s all necessary to set the scene for this case and explain the background that has been largely ignored or airbrushed in the press. Despite its length, I have not attempted to include every little detail of either fact or law but have done my best to provide a balanced picture of the Ched Evans case, what happened and why the courts reached the decisions they did. There has been so much written about the Ched Evans case over the past weekend, much of it based on a very shaky grasp of the facts and law, that I decided I would read up about the case and weigh in (hopefully on a slightly firmer footing than most of the articles I’ve read so far).

Broadly speaking there seem to be three groups who have opinions on the case:
1.Sexual violence groups (including people describing themselves as “radical feminists”) who appear to take the view that the case is awful, the Court o…

How do the police decide whether to charge a suspect?

A question I’m often asked by clients (and in a roundabout way by people arriving at this blog using searches that ask the question in a variety of ways), is “how do the police decide whether to charge or take no further action (NFA)?”
What are the options?
Let’s have a quick think about what options are available to the police at the end of an investigation.
First, they can charge or report you for summons to attend court.  Charging means that you are given police bail and are required to attend court in person.  A summons is an order from the court for you to attend or for you to send a solicitor on your behalf.  In many cases where a person is summonsed, the court will allow you the option of entering a plea by post.
Second, you may be given a caution.  These can be a simple caution, which on the face of it is a warning not to be naughty in future, or it can be a conditional caution.  Conditions could include a requirement to pay for the cost of damage or compensation, etc.  Either…

Bid to prevent defendants knowing who accuses them of a crime

When I read The Trial by Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, I took them as warnings of how a bad justice system wrecks lives of those caught up in it. Sadly, some Members of Parliament and the House of Lords seem to view the books more as a guide to how they would like our Criminal Justice System to run. Today, I read of plans to hide the names of accusers and witnesses from defendants in a large number of cases. Victims of sexual offences, such as rape, have had the right to lifelong anonymity for many years now. This means that it is a criminal offence to publish information that will lead to a complainant being identified. A Bill currently being considered by Parliament would extend that anonymity to bar defendants and their lawyers knowing the name of the person accusing them. This would apply not only in sexual offences, as has been reported in the press, but also in violent offences.
The anonymity currently offered to victims of sexual offences is not total, the complainant…