18 December 2013, The Tablet

High Court judge rebuked for support of marriage

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has issued a formal warning to high court judge Sir Paul Coleridge for voicing his support for traditional marriage.

On Tuesday it said that it found the family court judge’s decision to give an interview to the Times in December 2012 and write an article for The Telegraph in July “to be incompatible with his judicial responsibilities and therefore amounts to judicial misconduct”.

In his article for the Telegraph he suggested marriage was the most stable form of relationship and speaking to the Times he described gay marriage as a “minority issue”.

Sir Paul, who heads the Marriage Foundation thinktank and is an Evangelical Christian, said in a statement the “formal warning” was “a disproportionate and unfair reaction”.

He said he disagreed with the JCIO conclusion that his public comments amounted to misconduct or brought the judiciary into disrepute. “Indeed I think the contrary is true,” he wrote.

Tackling “the huge social problem of family breakdown” he said “calls for those of us who know more about [this] than any one else, occasionally to ‘blow the whistle’ publicly and do something.”

Sir Paul, who has already announced his decision to leave the judiciary next Easter, said his position as a judge would become “increasingly untenable”.

“I could have carried on for a further five years (and [would have] been prepared to complete them) but it is not really feasible if I have to look over my shoulder every time I want publicly to support The Marriage Foundation or its work.”

He added: “Finally I would like to refute the erroneous suggestion that my fellow judges are opposed to what I have been doing. With one or two exceptions they have been very, if quietly, supportive.”

In a lengthy interview for The Tablet, Sir Paul said last month that after Easter he would be freer to be outspoken in his support for marriage.

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