Former head of 15 Winckley Square seems to have been heavily influenced by Kevin the Teenager and Alan Partridge
A judge who told a court how “bitterly resentful” he felt about spending his weekend “reading this codswallop” has been formally reprimanded by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) — and hastily dubbed “Britain’s rudest judge” by the Mail Online.
Family judge His Honour Robert Stephen Dodds — who is the former head of 15 Winckley Square Chambers in Preston — was criticised by the Court of Appeal in January for his conduct and case management, with his behaviour labelled as “gratuitously rude”. Subsequently Liverpool law firm Jackson Canter made an official complaint against him to the JCIO.
Having been referred to the judicial watchdog for his behaviour in four cases, Lord Chancellor Michael Gove and Lord Chief Justice John Thomas agreed that Dodds’ actions in three of those cases amounted to “serious misconduct”.
So what did Dodds do that made him so much ruder than the nation’s other grumpy judges, of which there are many?
Well, for starters there was the aforementioned “codswallop” line, as the judge — evoking the spirit of Harry Enfield’s comic creation Kevin the Teenager — told a hearing involving a girl’s bid to discover the identity of her real father:
Can I tell you how bitterly resentful I am at how much of my Saturday I spent reading this codswallop?
In the same case — which saw the Dodds, 63, refuse a bid from the girl for a DNA test to establish who her father was — he warned lawyers, “You may want to put your crash helmet on,” before bellowing:
If she told you that the moon is made of green cheese will you say, ‘Yes, S, no, S, three bags full S?
In a remarkable performance — which ultimately led to his judgment being overturned by the Court of Appeal where Lady Justice King called his “unrestrained and immoderate bombast” both “deplorable” and “unacceptable” — Dodds went on:
For heaven’s sake, in this day and age especially, just because the lunatic says, ‘I want, I want’, you do not have to respond by spoon-feeding their every wish.
In another case, Dodds slammed lawyers who wanted a young boy to live with his grandparents in Poland. Recalling Alan Partridge at his very best, he told them:
This is a game of chess, not draughts.
Finally, Dodds’ extreme grouchiness meant that, in another family case, everyone in court “crumbled under his caustically expressed views”. Dodds’ reaction to this was to blast the mother for looking “upset and bewildered” by his rant.
Despite being disciplined, Dodds will still be allowed to sit in family court sessions.