The controversy over judges commenting on public issues is set to escalate after a member of the judiciary was issued with ‘formal advice’ for ‘inappropriate’ comments about a dissallowed mayoral election.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) today published a statement on its website in relation to Donald Peter Herbert OBE, a Crown court recorder, fee-paid employment judge and fee-paid immigration judge.

The JCIO said Herbert has been issued with formal advice ‘after making a public speech criticising the Election Commissioner’s decision in 2015 to declare Lutfur Rahman’s election as mayor of Tower Hamlets void.’ Rahman was banned from standing for office for five years in 2015 after an election court found him guilty of electoral fraud. 

A JCIO disciplinary panel found that Herbert’s comments were ‘inappropriate and put the reputation of the judiciary at risk, which amounted to misconduct’. The lord chief justice and lord chancellor agreed.

The lord chief justice has written to Herbert with ‘formal advice regarding his future conduct as a fee-paid judge’, the statement concluded.

The JCIO said that it could not expand on published statements.