Northern Ireland

Judge convicted of drink-driving will not lose job

Belfast High Court
Image caption Charles Redpath is a master of the High Court

An NI judge convicted of driving while over the alcohol limit will not lose his job, a tribunal has ruled.

Charles Redpath, a Master of the High Court, was stopped by a police officer in October and found to be over the prescribed alcohol limit for driving.

He pleaded guilty last month at Newtownards Magistrates Court and was fined £120 and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

The Lord Chief Justice said he accepted the tribunal's recommendation.

At the request of Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, Master Redpath has not sat since the offence was committed.

Following the conviction, the Lord Chief Justice convened a tribunal to consider whether Master Redpath should be removed from judicial office on the ground of misbehaviour.

The tribunal sat on 11 February. It held that the conviction for driving with excess alcohol constituted misbehaviour.

It considered, however, the circumstances of the individual case and the submitted evidence and concluded that it should not make a recommendation that Master Redpath be removed from office.

The Lord Chief Justice said that he regarded the conviction of any serving member of the judiciary to be a very serious matter.

"I expect members of the judiciary to maintain high standards of behaviour at all times," he said.

"This is essential if the judiciary are to retain the confidence of the community. Master Redpath has made a grave error of judgment which he recognises.

"The tribunal, however, has heard all the evidence in this case and presented me with its findings. I accept its recommendation".

The Lord Chief Justice will now consider the imposition of a disciplinary sanction short of removal from office.

In Northern Ireland, a judicial office holder can only be removed from office on the recommendation of a tribunal convened by either the Lord Chief Justice or the Judicial Appointments Ombudsman, after consulting each other.