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Top judge scolded for ‘shocking and disgraceful’ behaviour ‘mentally unfit’ to face disciplinary inquiry

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Mr Justice Peter Smith has been “signed off sick”

peter-smith

A High Court judge, whose letter to a top QC was branded “shocking and disgraceful” by the Court of Appeal, is unable to defend himself at a disciplinary inquiry because he is “mentally unfit”, according to a report this morning.

Judge Peter Smith, 64, penned an astonishing letter to Blackstone Chambers’ head Anthony Peto QC back in December 2015, in which the top judge pledged that he “will no longer support” the well-respected public law set.

The letter — which circulated Twitter before hitting the national press — was branded “shocking and disgraceful” in a Court of Appeal ruling in the case of Harb v HRH Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd, which Smith had originally presided over and in which Blackstone Chambers had represented the losing party. A £20 million award made by Smith was set aside by Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, and a retrial was subsequently ordered.

Now, according to a report in The Times (£), the top judge is “understood to be mentally unfit to defend himself in a disciplinary inquiry”. The newspaper further claims that Smith “has been signed off sick and may never return to work.”

As well as the highly critical letter, the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office (JCIO) is also considering a complaint in relation to the Chancery judge’s handling of a case involving British Airways (BA).

During a separate hearing, Smith embarked on his — now infamous — ‘lost luggage rant’, complaining his suitcase went missing during a BA flight back from Italy.

A spokesperson for the judiciary said:

Mr Justice Smith has agreed to refrain from sitting at the present time.

Refusing to confirm whether Smith was “mentally unfit”, a spokesperson for the JCIO said:

The JCIO investigation into the BA matter is continuing.

21 Comments

Anonymous

Surely ‘scolded’?!

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Anonymous

Who knows what goes on in the basement levels of the RCJ.

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Anonymous

Faking it to get out of the public humiliation of being found at fault, disgraceful.

(5)(2)

Lord Lyle of Dying Constitutional law

Perhaps you youngsters could educate me? The JCIO is a government office right?
In my day, complaints were made to the Lord Chancellor’s office, a position which no longer exists.
A high court judge could only be removed by parliament. Has this changed?
Can high court judges now be sacked by a gov minister?

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Anonymous

The JCIO is an independent office that looks at complaints about judges (not a Government department). Following an investigation they make recommendations to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor and it would be for them to decide whether to remove a judge from office.

(6)(0)

Anon

……but the removal of a high court judge does still require a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.

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Anonymous

I’m mentally unfit to post comments on Legal Cheek, but I do it anyway.

(18)(0)

Defendant credit hire bot

Beep…. need is not self-proving… zzzttt… we put yourselves to the strictest proof…. zzzt…. beeep… paragraph 1 is denied. the claimant is put to the strictest proof in respect of the matters set out in paragraph 1. without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing it is denied.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

To be fair, Justice Smith was mentally unfit many years ago…

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Anonymous

On a serious note it has been clear for some time that he has had a problem. I hope he gets the help he needs.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

And that the powers that be give him the necessary support even if he is removed from office rather than just dumping him and walking away.

(2)(1)

Lord Lyle of Who Gets to Sack a High

Thanks for that reply Anon (but almost everyone is Anon. Why?)

The Minister of Justice and the Lord Chief Justice sack High Court
Judges. But what if they disagree? Do they flip a coin or what?

The office of Lord Chancellor was replaced by the minister of justice under Blair. Now you could in theory have a 16yo school leaver as minister of jisjustice, whereas a Lord Chancellor had to be from up on high among the judiciary.

(2)(0)

Peter

Matters are a little more complicated.

High Court judges may be investigated by the Judicial Conduct Investigations
Office, but the ultimate sanction of removal from office can still only be
applied on foot of a resolution of both Houses. Senior Courts Act 1981, s.11(3).

Judges below the High Court can be removed by the Lord Chancellor, but
only with the concurrence of the LCJ.

The

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Justice

If this report is true that Justice Peter Smith claims he is mentally unfit to defend himself in the disciplinary hearing . It is therefore highly likely that he was mentally unfit to adjudicate and at all. The cases that he has presided over need to be re tried. Justice Peter Smith has brought embarrassment to the Justice system. The legislation currently set in the removal of Judges is far too draconian and requires up dating. Justice Peter Smith has finally met his end.

(2)(0)

Sarash

Maybe Justice Peter Smith, with respect, wanted to see his own end by intentionally behaving the way he behaved himself all along. This irrational conduct made him look like he was ” mentally unfit ” and this adverse label might have facilitated a favourable hidden objective. There’s a silver lining to every dark cloud!

(2)(0)

RK

Peter Smith J is hardly a bad judge and as for the appeal, this US case might give some idea as to how successful it might be:

http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/06/03/10-99013.pdf

(the dissent begins with “The majority holds that a judge suffering from dementia
may sentence a man to death. I disagree.”)

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Not soon enough. Floundered about and refused the proper appointment of a liquidator after the first one had done his job. Wanted to have a full examination and trial of evidence before granting the appointment of a professional adminstrator who would look for other assets unnoticed probably deliberately by the previous administrator.

He was repeatedly timed and selected by KPMGs administrators in a friends hearings to try to make it go away. When I talking loudly so that all 30 people could hear as I consulted with a barrister beside me my words were similar to

so the judge wants to have a trial before the new administrator can be appointed because of allegations of fraud but it seems because the name KPMG was used rather than an unknown firm. I thought justice was supposed to be blind and the administrator is a court appointed independent official. The costs of such investigation to be borne by the administrator as he seems sure to find more assets. {whilst wondering why KPMG had the ex joint administrator plus a barrister plus another solicitor sitting in court} which should be just an administrative procedure}
A retrial would be right as that turned into a farce and I had barely any legal experience other than going to some previous court hearing about the case. . .

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Anonymous

Well put

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Anonymous

Peter Smith aka “Sarash” – please stop commenting on the forum as you are mentally incapable of doing so.

Get back to your Biggles books

#disgracetojustice
#gocombyourtash

(1)(0)

Philip Green

High Court judges dropping like flies first Grabiner now Smith

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Anonymous

we have an awful crop of judge at the moment and now Lowell Goddard resigning for too many holidays

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