3 Judges Sacked for Viewing Porn (and 3 other high profile dismissals)

I read with interest today that three Judges have been dismissed for allegedly viewing pornography at work. A spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) confirmed that District Judge Timothy Bowles, Immigration Judge Warren Grant and Deputy District Judge and Recorder Peter Bullock have been removed from office. A fourth judge, Recorder Andrew Maw resigned from his position with the judiciary before the investigation process was complete.

The dismissals follow an investigation into the allegation that they viewed pornographic material on judicial IT equipment in their offices. The JCIO “had concluded this was an inexcusable misuse of their judicial IT accounts and wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial officeholder”.

From an Employment Law perspective, and if the allegations are in fact true, the right decision has been made. You would expect a large organisation to have both a formal disciplinary policy and internet usage policy that dovetail together. You would also expect the viewing of material which could be described as pornographic to be an explicit example of gross misconduct, meaning that summary dismissal is an option open to the employer. In reality, there is little defence to this accusation if the relevant proof has been provided to the employee, and it is almost always going to result in dismissal.

Given the above story involves a high-profile “blunder” in a situation where you would expect the employee to know better, I also thought I would consider other well publicised dismissals in the United Kingdom for what, at best, could be described as blunders and examples of very poor judgment from the people involved, and at worse could be described as appalling conduct worthy of dismissal.

Glenn Hoddle

Glenn hoddle

In 1999 Glenn Hoddle lost his job as coach of the English national football team following what could be described as some ill-advised comments regarding disabled people. In an interview, he seemed to suggest that disabled people were being punished for sins committed in a past life, and their disability was some form of karma. Hoddle later described the comments as a “serious error of judgement in an interview which caused misunderstanding and pain to a number of people”.

 Chris Fountain

ChrisFountain

The former Hollyoaks and then Coronation Street actor was dismissed in August 2013 following a series of videos that appeared on YouTube where he was seen rapping about lewd content such as rape and violence towards women. In the videos, Fountain is not easily identifiable as the man is wearing a mask. The videos were posted under the alias the Phantom and had been uploaded to YouTube for over a year before somebody made the connection between them, and Fountain.

Leslie Grantham aka Dirty Den 

LeslieGrantham

In May 2004, Grantham was quite literally exposed by a Sunday newspaper for a variety of lewd acts allegedly including pleasuring himself via webcam when dressed as Captain Hook during panto season, sharing his sexual fantasy about animals, and insulting several cast members of Eastenders, including Shane Richie. Whilst Grantham did not instantly lose his job, there was a public uproar that resulted in him being written out of the series in February 2005.

An honourable mention in this article must also go to Jeremy Clarkson, who did not make the above list as, at the time of writing, he remains suspended by his employer, the BBC. Hot on the heels of the various formal warnings Clarkson has received for making racist comments during episodes of Top Gear, he has now allegedly been involved in what has been described as a “fracas” with a Top Gear producer, in which he is alleged to have punched the producer. He is currently suspended while his conduct is being investigated. However, over 100,000 people have signed an online petition to have Clarkson reinstated, which started on Twitter following the hashtag #BringBackClarkson.Jeremy Clarkson

Here at Michael Lewin Solicitors, we can offer advice in relation to ongoing disciplinary procedures. If you have been accused of anything as serious as the people above, then I would politely suggest that we, in fact any solicitor, will struggle to help you in those specific circumstances! However, if your conduct is not as serious and you are facing disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal, then please get in contact with the employment team here at Michael Lewin Solicitors on 0844 499 9302 or email us at employ@michaellewin.co.uk.

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