Legal Cheek

Mr Justice Peter Smith will retire tomorrow, days before disciplinary hearing

The investigation into his alleged behaviour will now cease

Mr Justice Peter Smith, perhaps best known for his bizarre lost luggage rant during a high-profile British Airways (BA) case that he was presiding over, will retire tomorrow.

The announcement, published on Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) website, comes just days before Smith was scheduled to appear before a disciplinary tribunal over alleged misconduct. Earlier this month, Legal Cheek reported that the unnamed four-person panel was due to sit at an undisclosed location on Monday 30 October. The investigation will now cease.

The retirement of Smith confirms a prediction made by leading legal affairs journalist Joshua Rozenberg. Writing for Legal Cheek in April, Rozenberg — who has followed the saga closely — said “there will be widespread relief if Sir Peter Smith jumps before he is pushed”.

Smith — who sat in the High Court’s chancery division — first hit Legal Cheek headlines back in 2015 while he was hearing Emerald Supplies Ltd v British Airways. He complained in court that his suitcase had been misplaced during a flight back from Florence, raising the matter with BA’s barrister on at least 30 separate occasions according to a court transcript.

The former barrister then hit headlines again almost a year later after he penned a letter to the joint head of Blackstone Chambers, Anthony Peto QC, in which he pledged to “no longer support” his chambers. The letter came in response to an article written by Blackstone Chambers’ David Pannick QC, criticising Smith’s handling of an unrelated case. It was later described as “shocking” and “disgraceful” by senior judges in a scathing Court of Appeal ruling.

Last year, a report claimed that Smith was “understood to be mentally unfit to defend himself in a disciplinary inquiry”. He has been suspended on a full £181,566 salary for the past 18 months.