Warning for judge who “accidently” liked anti-Israel LinkedIn post

Ikram: Genuine remorse

A senior judge, awarded a CBE in 2022 for services to judicial diversity, has been issued with a formal warning for misconduct after he “accidentally” liked an anti-Israel LinkedIn post which he later described as “repulsive”.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) said a nominated judge who investigated 43 complaints about the behaviour of Deputy Senior District Judge Tanweer Ikram agreed with him that he had triggered a ‘like’ accidentally.

However, the nominated judge’s sanction of ‘formal advice’ was upgraded by the Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk and the Lady Chief Justice, Baroness Carr, to a formal warning.

It was widely reported earlier this year that Judge Ikram, a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission, had liked 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 Guide to Judicial Conduct cautions judges about “the risks of participation in public debate”, while social media guidance for the judiciary warns them against “activity which could undermine public confidence in judicial impartiality” and using their official title or disclosing their judicial roles on any public platforms.

Judge Ikram referred himself to the JCIO, “stating that he had inadvertently ‘liked’ the post”, it recounted.

The JCIO subsequently received more than 60 complaints about the issue, of which 43 complied with the Judicial Conduct Rules 2023 and were referred to a nominated judge.

Judge Ikram “accepted that inadvertently ‘liking’ the post had raised concerns about his impartiality” but “stressed that he had not intended to ‘like’ the post, describing it as ‘repulsive’”.

He had “closed his LinkedIn account, which he had primarily used for his work as a diversity and community relations judge”.

The judge provided the JCIO with a “technical report” he had commissioned, which “stated that it was ‘abundantly simple’ for a LinkedIn user to inadvertently trigger a ‘like’ using their iPhone, by double-tapping an image”.

The nominated judge found that he had breached the judiciary’s social media guidance by identifying himself as a judge on LinkedIn.

“However, she also noted that his posts primarily demonstrated his connection to his diversity work. There were no other inappropriate posts or ‘likes’.

“The nominated judge concluded that while Judge Ikram had commissioned the technical report, its contents were objective and supported his assertion that he had triggered a ‘like’ accidentally.”

The nominated judge found that “the inadvertent ‘liking’ of the post had resulted in a perception of bias”, demonstrated by the fact that “a link had been inferred between this issue and a case heard by Judge Ikram, which involved pro-Palestinian protestors”.

This was a reference to a ruling by Judge Ikram at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this year that three female protestors at a pro-Palestine demonstration who wore paraglider images linked to Hamas should be given conditional discharges and not jailed.

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

“For this reason, while determining that ‘liking’ the post was not deliberate or the result of carelessness, the nominated judge considered that the judge’s actions amounted to misconduct.

“In recommending a sanction of formal advice, the nominated judge acknowledged that Judge Ikram had taken full responsibility and shown genuine remorse.

“She also acknowledged that he has been at the forefront of work to promote judicial diversity.”

However, Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk, and the Lady Chief Justice, Baroness Carr, were “not satisfied that a sanction of formal advice was sufficient in this case” and agreed to issue Judge Ikram with a formal warning.

This took into consideration that the issue caused “significant reputational damage to the judiciary, as evidenced by the extraordinary number of complaints made to the JCIO” and the need “to underline their shared view on the seriousness of misuse of social media by judges”.

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