A top divorce judge who stepped down after being rebuked for speaking out in favour of marriage has said he would have been “publicly hanged” had he spoken out again, according to the Daily Mail.
Sir Paul Coleridge, who has heard some of Britain’s most high profile divorce cases, including that of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, launched a stinging attack on the country’s most senior judge for disciplining him after he spoke out about the harm that family breakdown does to children.
He also said that the judiciary had been “brought into disrepute” by investigating him for holding a traditional view of marriage.
Sir Paul originally spoke out after seeing first-hand the harm that divorcing parents can do to their children. In May 2012, he set up the Marriage Foundation, a think tank dedicated to championing the institution and promoting ‘healthy, stable relationships’. He has also criticised co-habitation and called for greater government support for marriage.
He was given a formal warning by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling for “judicial misconduct”, which prompted him to hand in his resignation.
Yesterday he said the way he had been treated showed the judiciary was “terrified of mild criticism”, as only 10 people had complained about his views. Lord Thomas had issued Sir Paul a warning, but when Sir Paul hit back that this was “unfair and disproportionate”, he was reprimanded a second time.
“I thought it was completely ridiculous. Every time I said anything, a member of the public wrote in and I found the whole enormous panoply of the judicial complaints organisation just grinding on. I mean, where do we go after a reprimand? Public hanging?” he said.
He added that the senior judiciary are “risk averse to the point of being frightened of our own shadow.”
“[Lord Thomas] is the one who should have put a stop to it. He thinks I’m the one who brought the judiciary into disrepute. I’m not sure about that.
“Allowing this to get out of hand has done [the senior judiciary] no good at all. I think I said to him in a letter this whole affair brings the judiciary into disrepute.
“It makes us look stupid. It makes us look risk averse to the point of being ridiculous when half a dozen members of the public can provoke this kind of storm. It should not be allowed to happen.”
The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office issued a statement saying: “The office plays an important role in maintaining public confidence in the judiciary. It is a statutory body through which the lord chancellor and lord chief justice investigate judges and magistrates under regulations passed by parliament.”