A magistrate has been issued with formal advice for misconduct over a ‘reckless untruth’. 

Magistrates' court

Source: Alamy

Declan Ball was accused of spreading a ‘lie’ about two fellow magistrates by falsely claiming they had recorded a meeting without his consent. Ball sent a ‘generic’ email to the Magistrates’ Association asking for the protocol on meetings being recorded without participants’ consent, adding that ‘this had happened to him once and it had concerned him’. The email gave no details about the meeting.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said Ball said he was ‘working long hours abroad at the time and was very tired.

‘He genuinely could not recall agreeing to the meeting being recorded and was concerned about the recording being distributed without his consent,’ the JCIO added.

Following an investigation, Ball was found to have been aware the meeting had been recorded and had given consent.

The JCIO said he ‘told a reckless or deliberate untruth. His actions amounted to misconduct and caused distress to the two magistrates concerned’.

It added: ‘Magistrates sign a declaration and undertaking on appointment, which includes a commitment to be circumspect in their conduct and maintain the dignity, standing and good reputation of the magistracy at all times.

‘The Guide to Judicial Conduct highlights the importance of courtesy, tolerance, and respect, and the guiding principle of integrity.’

Ball was given formal advice as he ‘may not have been aware that the magistrates concerned would see his email and did not intend this’. His behaviour was considered to be an ‘isolated lapse arising from a concern about how the recording would be used’. The investigation found Ball was concerned about having hurt the feelings of others and ‘is committed to serving the community’ as a magistrate.