London, March 17 (IANS) In what may be considered as declining moral standards among the guardians of justice, three judges in Britain were removed and another resigned following charges of watching pornographic material on office computers, media reported on Tuesday.
A disciplinary inquiry by Britain’s Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) found “inexcusable misuse” of the judges’ IT accounts, The Guardian reported.
The revelation is certain to hurt people’s confidence in the judiciary.
“Three judges: district judge Timothy Bowles, immigration judge Warren Grant, and deputy district judge and recorder Peter Bullock have been removed from judicial office following an investigation into an allegation that they viewed pornographic material on judicial IT equipment in their offices,” a statement from the JCIO said.
“The Lord Chancellor (justice secretary, Chris Grayling) and the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd) were satisfied that the material did not include images of children or any other illegal content, but concluded that this was an inexcusable misuse of their (the accused judges’) judicial IT accounts and a wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office-holder.”
“A fourth judge, recorder Andrew Maw, was also found to have viewed similar inappropriate material via his judicial IT account,” the statement said.
It added that the accused judge would have been removed, but had resigned already.
The judges, however, were not exchanging images or believed to be linked in any way.
While Maw worked at the Lincoln county court, Bowles worked at the Romford county court, Bullock on the North Eastern Circuit, and Grant at the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, first tier immigration tribunal, based at Taylor House in central London.
Viewing pornography is not illegal in Britain, but doing so on office equipment is considered a serious misconduct that undermines public confidence in the judiciary.
Dismissal was seen as a necessary punishment for the judges whose private lives are not expected to raise questions about their impartiality or judgment.
There is no appeal within the JCIO’s disciplinary procedure, but the dismissed judges can make a judicial review challenge.