A judge who called a defendant “a bit of a c***” in court has been cleared of misconduct.
Her Honour Judge Patricia Lynch, QC, was in the process of telling a repeat offender, John Hennigan, at Chelmsford Crown Court (pictured) in England, that he would be sent to prison for racially abusing a Caribbean woman when the bizarre incident occurred.
Hennigan interrupted her, saying: “It’s obvious, isn’t it? Because you’re a c*** and I’m not.”
— ESSEX (@DailyESSEX) August 11, 2016
It was at this point that the judge replied: “Well, you’re a bit of a c*** yourself. Being offensive to me doesn’t make things better at all.”
When the judge confirmed the sentence, Hennigan, 50, said: “Go f*** yourself.”
Judge Lynch shot back: “You too. Take him down.”
Ten people who read or heard about the exchange, which took place in August 2016, complained to the authorities. The incident was referred to the lord chief justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and to Liz Truss, the justice secretary, triggering an inquiry.
The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has now excused Judge Lynch, who said she deeply regretted the incident attributable to a lapse of judgment.
She apologised “unreservedly” for her remarks, according to a JCIO statement sent to one of the complainants, Robert Hackett.
Judge Lynch, who is in her mid 60s, began her legal career in 1979. She is known for her tough approach, on one occasion telling a flasher: “No-one wants to see your penis.”
Featured image via Flickr/Stuart Axe