One of three judges removed from the bench last year for viewing pornography from a work computer, along with another who resigned before he was removed, have accepted rebukes from the Solicitors Regulation Authority for their conduct.
Peter Bullock, who qualified as a solicitor in 1967, sat as a recorder for 18 years until July 2014, and also as a deputy district judge for the last three years of his time on the bench.
Andrew Maw was appointed a deputy district judge in 1983, a district judge in 1994, an assistant recorder in 1996 and a recorder in 2000. He resigned with effect from 27 September 2014.
They found themselves splashed across the media in March 2015 after the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) confirmed that Mr Bullock – along with District Judge Timothy Bowles and Immigration Judge Warren Grant – had been removed from judicial office following an investigation into an allegation that they viewed pornographic material on judicial IT equipment in their offices.
The JCIO said: “The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice were satisfied that the material did not include images of children or any other illegal content, but concluded that this was an inexcusable misuse of their judicial IT accounts and wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office holder.”
It said Mr Maw would have been removed for the same offence had he not resigned before the disciplinary process ended. The four judges were not linked in any way.
In a regulatory settlement agreement published by the SRA yesterday, Mr Bullock admitted that “by accessing inappropriate material on two occasions between 12 July 2013 and 1 August 2013 using computer facilities issued to him by the Ministry of Justice and/or doing so in judicial time”, he failed to act with integrity and failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services.
In mitigation, Mr Bullock said that the material was accessed only in private chambers, that his conduct did not impinge on his judicial work, and that he accessed material on two occasions and for a limited amount of time.
The SRA said a written rebuke was an “appropriate” sanction. It continued: “The SRA considers this to be a proportionate outcome in the public interest because Mr Bullock’s conduct was deliberate or reckless and was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent.”
Mr Bullock also agreed to pay £600 towards the cost of the investigation.
The agreement published today in relation to Mr Maw was in the same terms, although there was no mitigation provided. He agreed to pay £1,350 towards the cost of the investigation.