Magistrate who posted similar gun photo to Bar Standards Board investigations chief is sacked from judiciary

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By Thomas Connelly on

When should a gun photo cost you your job?


A magistrate who tweeted a photo of himself with a gun has been removed from the judiciary.

Ex-Derbyshire magistrate Ajit Atwal (pictured above left) posted the image of himself holding an AK-47 weapon last year while on holiday in India.

The photo hit mainstream media in late March of this year and he was immediately suspended while an investigation took place.

Atwal, who was also a former Liberal Democrat councillor, subsequently removed the offending image and claimed it had been circulated for “political reasons” in the run up to a local election — which he subsequently lost.

But various judicial conduct tribunals disagreed with him as he was found to have brought the magistracy into disrepute in a decision that was appealed right to the top of the judiciary. On Friday a spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed:

“The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice concluded that this behaviour amounted to serious misconduct and have removed Mr Atwal from the magistracy.”

As you can see in the photo above, Atwal’s picture is not dissimilar to the one posted on Facebook in October by Bar Standards Board (BSB) investigations manager Paul Pretty (pictured above right).

At the time, Pretty — who was a practising criminal barrister before joining the BSB — told Legal Cheek that the picture “was taken in the appropriate setting of a shooting range,” adding:

“As soon as I was alerted to the fact that the image may give an inaccurate impression of myself, I immediately took it down from my Facebook profile.”

A BSB spokesperson this morning told Legal Cheek:

“The BSB looked into the circumstances of Mr Pretty’s inappropriate Facebook profile image and we are not prepared to comment further.”


Bar Standards Board investigations chief removes scary Facebook profile photo [Legal Cheek]