Two judges were recently issued with written rebukes by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). These rebukes were earned through some rather questionable blunders in judgement; they were caught using judicial computers to look at pornography when they were supposed to be working.
The two judges in question are Andrew Richard Matthew Maw and Peter Edward Bullock. Maw was appointed a district judge in 1994, having been a deputy district judge since 1983. In 1996 he became an assistant recorder, and in 2000 a full recorder. He resigned from this role in late September 2014, before the conclusion of the disciplinary investigation.
In a statement, the SRA confirmed that he had indeed used judicial IT equipment to view inappropriate material. Had he not resigned before disciplinary proceedings had reached their conclusion, the statement said, he would have been removed from his role by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice.
Bullock, meanwhile, was removed from office for his misconduct. This took place in March 2015, after the investigation concluded that he had indeed used his working hours and judicial IT equipment to watch porn. Bullock had been a recorder from 1996 to 2014, and a deputy district judge from 2011 to 2014.
According to the decision issued after the investigation into Maw, three judges were removed from office as a result of investigations into claims they had viewed pornography on Ministry of Justice computers. The same process, it said, would have been followed with Maw had he not already removed himself from office through resignation.
The decision reached following the investigation into Bullock, meanwhile, stated that the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor were were “satisfied that the material did not include images of children or any other illegal content” but that viewing erotic material at work was still “an inexcusable misuse of his judicial IT account and wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office-holder.”
The two judges admitted that they had viewed adult content using Ministry of Justice equipment and time, and that by doing so they had failed to comply with SRA principles. Specifically, the admitted that their offences ran contrary to principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, which respectively require that solicitors and judges act with integrity and behave in ways that maintain public trust.
Bullock claimed that his offences were mitigated by the fact that the pornography “was accessed only in private chambers… for a limited amount of time” and that doing so “did not impinge on his judicial work.” He also agreed to pay a £600 contribution to the costs of the investigation. Maw, meanwhile, agreed to contribute £1,350 to the investigation costs.
The SRA, however, described the judges’ conduct as “deliberate or reckless and was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent.”