Appeal judge who was cleared of flashing on packed commuter train retires at 65

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Lord Justice Richards hangs up his robes


Lord Justice Richards, the judge found not guilty of indecent exposure nearly nine years ago, retired today as a Lord Justice of Appeal.

He is not related to Lord Justice David Richards, who was recently promoted to the Court of Appeal.

Sir Stephen Price Richards, 65, has had a glittering legal career. Appointed when he was still only 46, he served as a judge for more than 18 years but could have remained on the bench until he was 70.

In 2006, Richards quashed the convictions of Ian and Angela Gay, a couple convicted of killing the boy they wanted to adopt with a salt overdose.

In 2000, he turned down an appeal by Sally Clarke against her conviction for murdering her sons. She was eventually cleared in 2003.

But in 2007, a then 56 year-old Richards himself faced trial at the City of Westminster magistrates’ court on two counts of indecent exposure. He was accused of exposing himself to a 20-something-year-old woman on the morning commuter train from Wimbledon to Waterloo.

Richards’s accuser claimed the senior judge flashed her again eight days later, prompting her to make a complaint to the police.

The Oxford grad — who was called to the bar in 1975 — vehemently denied the accusations. He said at the time:

It’s extraordinary for someone to behave in such a fashion on a crowded commuter train and not be observed. I’m a judge and it’s simply not the sort of conduct I would engage in.

Richards was found not guilty on both counts by a bench of three magistrates, after a high-profile two-day trial that saw him hold up a pair of his underpants to show that his preferred style was different from those described by his accuser.

The decision to prosecute him attracted scathing criticism, being described by defence lawyers a “zenith in public dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system”.

Tim Workman, the senior district judge who headed the bench of magistrates that cleared Richards, said that British Transport Police had failed to investigate the allegations promptly or thoroughly. They had not obtained CCTV evidence.

Three years later, Richards was again arrested after a woman in her 30s accused the lawyer of rubbing himself against her on a train. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with the case because of insufficient evidence and Richards was never charged or cautioned.

Richards resumed full judicial duties after he was cleared in 2007 and served as Deputy Head of Civil Justice from 2013 until the end of last year.