A judge who swore at a defendant in court will not face any disciplinary sanctions. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has reportedly confirmed it will not take any formal action against Judge Patricia Lynch QC.
Instead, the judge has been advised to ‘ensure that she responded appropriately to parties in court at all times’.
The exchange occurred last summer when Lynch was sentencing 50-year-old John Hennigan at Chelmsford Crown Court for a ninth breach of an anti-social behaviour order in 11 years.
When he called the judge 'a c***' in court, she reportedly said: ‘Well, you’re a bit of a c*** yourself. Being offensive to me doesn’t make things better at all.’
The exchange prompted debate in the legal profession about what is an appropriate way for judges to deal with abusive people in court.
According to the Guardian, the JCIO received around 10 complaints following the incident, but has decided not to take any further action following a referral to justice secretary Liz Truss and the lord chief justice Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.
The investigation report has yet to be published, but the Guardian says Robert Hackett, one of the complainants, has received confirmation of the JCIO decision.
The statement to Hackett reportedly said: ‘Although the lord chancellor and the lord chief justice considered HHJ Lynch’s remarks to be inappropriate, they did not find that they amounted to misconduct or warranted any disciplinary sanction. [They] were of the view that the matter should be dealt with by informal advice.’