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Sacked gun-wielding magistrate’s fury at ‘double standard’ over BSB investigator’s Dirty Harry-style photo

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AK-47 posing magistrate frustrated over his fate as staffer at bar regulator goes unpunished for Facebook gun pose

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A former magistrate who tweeted a photo of himself wielding an assault rifle has lambasted a Bar Standards Board (BSB) decision not to punish a senior member of its staff over similar behaviour.

Ajit Atwal was removed from an East Midlands bench in December 2014 after a Judicial Conduct Investigations Office review into the incident. The loss of his job still niggles, and over the weekend Atwal went public with an admission that he feels like the victim of “a blatant double standard” given how lightly his BSB counterpart got off.

Legal Cheek reported last year that Paul Pretty (pictured top right), who is in charge of disciplinary and investigation hearings at the BSB, had posed for a Dirty Harry-style snap on Facebook.

Pretty — a former criminal barrister before joining the BSB — quickly removed the photo from his Facebook profile when Legal Cheek contacted him. The Harry Callahan wannabe could be seen pointing a handgun directly at the camera, but he stressed the photo “was taken in the appropriate setting of a shooting range”.

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Ex-magistrate Atwal was pictured in a similar fashion brandishing an AK-47 while holidaying in India in 2013.

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But unlike Pretty he got the sack. On Saturday Atwal told the Derby Telegraph:

It is nothing short of disgraceful and shows a blatant double standard as far as I am concerned. I was removed from being a magistrate for a picture that was taken months before and was taken in a safe environment.

Atwal, a former Liberal Democrat councillor, continued:

[Paul Pretty] is in a senior position whereby he determines how to deal with complaints against barristers and yet he is allowed to get away with doing this.

A spokesman for the BSB said:

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