A High Court judge has been censured for comments he made in the media in support of traditional, biblical marriage, prompting him to retire early.
Sir Paul Coleridge was given a formal warning by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) for comments he made in articles that appeared in The Times in December 2012 and in July 2013 on the Daily Telegraph website.
According to advocacy organisation Christian Concern, the JCIO, which is the official body that deals with judicial discipline, claimed the comments amounted to ‘judicial misconduct’.
In 2012, Sir Paul told The Times, ‘So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1 per cent of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown’.
In the Telegraph, he said, ‘”Stability” is the name of the game and comparatively speaking that means marriage.’
Sir Paul said the lack of support from some of his colleagues over his pro-marriage beliefs has pushed him to consider early retirement. In 2012 the judge set up the Marriage Foundation which aims to be a ‘national champion’ for the institution, and said many of his colleagues were in ‘silent’ agreement with him.
Of the JCIO warning, Sir Paul said, ‘I strongly disagree with the overall conclusion of the JCIO, which underlies this announcement that my occasional comments on the huge social problem of family breakdown or my public support for the Marriage Foundation amounts to misconduct or brings the judiciary into disrepute’.
As quoted by Christian Concern, he said his involvement with the work of the Marriage Foundation was not ‘incompatible with my judicial responsibilities’. He added: ‘It has not in any way interfered with my judicial work and no one who has appeared in my court has ever suggested that it has or does’.