The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) has confirmed that investigations into High Court judge The Honourable Sir Peter Winston Smith will immediately cease on his early retirement tomorrow.
Earlier this month Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg revealed that a disciplinary panel was due to meet on 30 October to hear misconduct allegations against the judge. Smith has effectively been suspended on full pay since May 2016.
However, announcing Smith's retirement today, the JCIO said: 'In accordance with JCIO rules, all conduct investigations cease immediately when a judicial office holder retires, and as such investigations into Mr Justice Peter Smith cease on that date with no outcome.'
The JCIO began investigating Smith's conduct in July 2015 about a matter involving British Airways and his luggage, which came to light during a case he was hearing, Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways. Smith had emailed BA requesting an explanation of why a planeload of passengers’ luggage had been left off a flight he and his wife were on earlier that month. He then asked BA’s legal team to enquire into the case and provide him with an answer.
In spring 2016 the JCIO confirmed it was investigating a second linked matter connected to the case of Harb v Aziz which Smith had heard and was subject to an appeal. In May last year, the JCIO said Smith agreed to refrain from sitting until Harb v Aziz had been resolved. He subsequently agreed to continue to refrain from sitting while investigations continued. A disciplinary panel hearing was set for 30 and 31 October.
Smith was called to the bar in 1975. He was appointed an assistant recorder in 1994, a deputy High Court judge in 1996, a recorder in 1997 and a High Court judge in 2002.
Breaking: Mr Justice Peter Smith agrees to stand down from tomorrow. The investigation of his conduct automatically lapses.— Joshua Rozenberg (@JoshuaRozenberg) October 27, 2017
Mr Justice Peter Smith’s decision to retire early does not absolve judiciary from need to reform discipline process: https://t.co/qELUqvb4WH— Joshua Rozenberg (@JoshuaRozenberg) October 27, 2017