A senior judge has retired after he was formally warned over campaigning for marriage. Sir Paul Coleridge, who served in the High Court’s Family Division, said he could not “sit here day after day” seeing the harm done by family breakdown without speaking out against it.
He called for action to “stem the tide” of family breakdown, but was formally warned against his campaigning in December, when heads of the judiciary reprimanded him for setting up the Marriage Foundation think tank and calling gay marriage a “minority issue”.
The Daily Mail reports that at his retirement ceremony, Sir Paul said: “I know how consoling and good a good marriage can be and how it gets better over the years and also how ghastly family breakdown can be. Something can and should be done to stem the tide of family breakdown.
“Family judges have a unique experience of this and therefore a unique contribution to make. We should not be afraid to speak out”.
In 1972 in Britain there were 426,241 marriages, with 78 in every 1000 men getting married, and 61 in every 1000 women. In 2009, there were just 231,490 marriages, and only 21 in every 1000 men got married, and just just 19 in every 1000 women.
Sir Paul said he “cannot sit here day after day watching misery and doing nothing.”
He announced last year that would stand down because he wanted to focus on his foundation, but also admitted that the lack of support he received from the legal profession because of his traditional views was contributed to his decision.
In December, Sir Paul told the Telegraph that couples should not have children if their relationship is not “strong enough” for marriage.
He has also said previously that “hundreds” of judges were afraid to back his Marriage Foundation because they thought it might harm their careers.