Judge given warning after ‘accidentally’ liking anti-Israel LinkedIn post

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By Legal Cheek on

Breached guidance

A Deputy Senior District Judge has been issued with a formal warning after “accidentally” liking an anti-Israel post on LinkedIn.

Tanweer Ikram CBE has been handed the sanction for inadvertently liking a post by a barrister which read: “Free Free Palestine. To the Israeli terrorist both in the United Kingdom, the United States and of course Israel, you can run, you can bomb but you cannot hide — justice will be coming for you.”

The incident first came to light in a news article published on February 14, and the next day, Judge Ikram referred himself to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO), stating that he had liked the post in error.

The JCIO received over 60 complaints about the incident, 43 of which were referred to a nominated judge for further consideration.

During the investigation, Judge Ikram acknowledged that inadvertently liking the post had raised concerns about his impartiality. He also admitted that he had not familiarised himself with the latest social media guidance for judges but stressed that he had not intended to like the post, describing it as “repulsive.”

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The guide to judicial conduct prohibits political activity by salaried judges and cautions them about the risks of participating in public debate. The social media guidance for the judiciary also warns against activities that could undermine public confidence in judicial impartiality.

This includes judges not using their official title as “it is most unlikely to be appropriate to disclose the fact of your judicial role on any platform or account with unrestricted public access”.

The nominated judge found that Judge Ikram had breached judicial social media guidance by identifying himself as a judge on LinkedIn, although concluded that he had triggered a like accidentally.

The judge further concluded that this “had resulted in a perception of bias,” drawing attention to the inference made between the LinkedIn like and a case heard by Judge Ikram involving pro-Palestinian protesters.

“The risk of undermining public confidence had been heightened by the fact that he had identified himself on social media as a judge,” the decision states.

Whilst the nominated judge recommended formal advice the Lord Chancellor and Lady Chief Justice were “not satisfied” with this, and issued the more serious formal warning.

“In reaching their decision, they took into consideration that, in addition to having breached the guidance on social media use, the judge’s actions caused significant reputational damage to the judiciary, as evidenced by the extraordinary number of complaints made to the JCIO. They also considered it important for their decision to underline their shared view on the seriousness of misuse of social media by judges.”

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