A High Court judge who recused himself from a case against British Airways after he got into a dispute with the airline over his lost luggage is being investigated by judicial conduct authorities.
Mr Justice Peter Smith (pictured) emailed BA demanding an explanation of why a planeload of passengers’ luggage had been left off a flight he and his wife were on earlier this month. He then asked BA’s legal team, which included Slaughter and May and Jon Turner QC, to enquire into the case and provide him with an answer.
BA’s lawyers accused him of bias, requesting that he be removed from the price-fixing case, which Smith had been the nominated judge for since November.
Smith recused himself to prevent his presence becoming a distraction, but used his judgment to voice his anger about how BA managed to lose the luggage, accusing the airline of ‘exploiting’ the situation to remove him from the case.
In the judgment he suggested BA had deliberately left behind the luggage for a ‘more profitable cargo’, warning that he would continue his investigation in a private capacity ‘with the vigour for which I am known’.
A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed that Smith is now being investigated. But it could not give any further details until the investigation is concluded.
BA has declined to comment on the case, and also would not comment on whether the company had made a complaint against Smith.