Two judges who were investigated for viewing pornographic material at work have received written rebukes from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
In decisions published on the regulator’s website, the SRA said the outcomes were reached by agreement with solicitors Peter Edward Bullock and Andrew Richard Matthew Maw.
Bullock, who was admitted to the roll in 1967, was a recorder between 1996 and 2014, and a deputy district judge between 2011 and 2014.
The decision states that on 17 March 2015, a statement issued by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed that Bullock had been removed from judicial office following an investigation into an allegation that he viewed pornographic material on judicial IT equipment in his office.
The lord chancellor and lord chief justice ‘were said to be satisfied that the material did not include images of children or any other illegal content, but concluded that it was an inexcusable misuse of his judicial IT account and wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office-holder’.
Maw, who was admitted to the roll in 1973, was appointed a deputy district judge in 1983, a district judge in 1994, an assistant recorder in 1996 and a recorder in 2000. He resigned with effect from 27 September 2014.
The regulator’s decision for Maw states that three judges were removed from office following investigations into the allegations that they viewed pornographic material on judicial IT equipment in their offices.
The statement ‘confirmed that [Maw] was also found to have viewed similar inappropriate material via his judicial IT account. The statement confirmed that the lord chancellor and the lord chief justice would likewise have removed Recorder Maw had he not resigned before the conclusion of the disciplinary process’.
The SRA accepted Bullock and Maw’s admissions that by accessing inappropriate material using computer facilities issued to them by the Ministry of Justice and/or doing so in judicial time, they:
- Failed to act with integrity contrary to principle 2 of the SRA Principles 2011;
- Failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in [them] and in the provision of legal services contrary to principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
Putting forward mitigation, Bullock said that ‘material was accessed only in private chambers, that his conduct did not impinge on his judicial work, and that he accessed material on two occasions and for a limited amount of time’.
The SRA concluded that it was appropriate for Bullock and Maw to be given written rebukes in relation to their conduct. The regulator considered these to be ‘proportionate’ outcomes in the public interest because their conduct was ‘deliberate or reckless and was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent’.
Bullock’s decision states that he agrees to pay a contribution to the costs of the investigation in the amount of £600.
Maw’s decision states he agrees to pay a contribution to the costs of the investigation in the amount of £1,350.
District judge Timothy Bowles has also been given a written rebuke for viewing pornographic material at work. He was removed from judicial office on 26 February 2015.
He agreed that by viewing the material he had failed to act with integrity and failed to behave a way that maintains the trust the public places in him. He also agreed to pay costs of £1,350.