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Warning to judge in first case of political comment

18 May 2010

A judge who commented that illegal immigrants were a drain on the country’s economy has been given a formal warning for “inappropriate intervention in the political process”.

The warning is believed to be the first involving statements that can be regarded as being of a political nature.

Judge Ian Trigger, who sits at Liverpool Crown Court, made the remarks while sentencing a Jamaican man for drug-related offences on 28 July 2009.

Delivering his sentence the judge told 31-year-old Lucien McClearley: “Your case illustrates all too clearly the completely lax immigration policy that exists and has existed over recent years in this country.”

A spokesperson for the Office for Judicial Complaints said the judge “has received formal advice from the Lord Chief Justice following an investigation.

“The investigation found, and the Lord Chief Justice agreed, that Judge Trigger’s comments were wholly unrelated to any of the issues which arose for consideration in his sentencing decision, and represented an inappropriate judicial intervention in the political process.”

A formal warning is the lowest level of disciplinary outcomes for judges. The next one is a formal reprimand, followed by dismissal.

The warning comes in the form of a letter from the Lord Chief Justice, which goes on the judge’s record and can lead to an automatic reprimand if the judge commits a similar offence later.

Lord Justice Richards was arrested last year by police investigating an alleged sex attack on a commuter train. The CPS found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute and the case was dropped.

"In September 2009 Lord Justice Richards was arrested by the British Transport Police. He immediately informed the Lord Chief Justice and agreed not to sit until the investigation was over," a spokeswoman for the Judicial Communications Office said.

"He was neither charged nor cautioned. Towards the end of October he was informed that no proceedings would be taken against him. Thereafter he resumed his duties. The judge has nothing further to say on the matter."

Another case is that of Judge Price, a Crown Court judge on the Welsh circuit.

Price was suspended last June following allegations that he had put a rent boy on the bench, describing him as a law student.

The OJC’s investigation in this case is expected to conclude imminently.

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