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North East Commissioners Take Their Complaint Further with the Ombudsman

18th November 2014

The three north east Police and Crime Commissioners have today taken their complaint of misconduct against Judge George Moorhouse, for his handling of domestic violence cases, a stage further by appealing to the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman.

The commissioners first wrote to complain and seek to make the judge accountable shortly after he sentenced Anthony Bruce to a suspended sentence of imprisonment notwithstanding that Bruce had throttled his former partner, shot her in the foot with a pellet gun and held a knife to her throat when she told him she was thinking of leaving him. They then added details of four more cases in which the same judge gave other domestic violence perpetrators suspended sentences.

They write that they are dissatisfied with the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office which has asserted that their complaint was not within its remit because it concerns a sentence.

The JCIO acknowledges that on an appeal, the court of appeal might report a judge to it for misconduct in the way he sentenced an offender and thus makes clear that it is possible to discipline a judge for misbehaviour, even if that misbehaviour is part of the sentencing process.

Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It’s like saying that a footballer can run the ball out of play, foul two players, be offside and still score a valid goal.

“The JCIO is saying that no matter how much misconduct he commits, as he disregards the law and the guidelines, the fact that he can call the outcome ‘a sentence’ means his misconduct can’t be dealt with.

“We will see this case through to the end to get some satisfaction for the thousands of women who are let down, having been rightly encouraged by the police to report domestic violence, when judges free violent perpetrators and their victims are forced into hiding.”

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “It is clear that this unduly lenient sentence has impacted on victim confidence and has had a wider impact on society’s attempt to stop the wide-spread crime of domestic violence and abuse.”

Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, said: “We will continue to seek accountability for the decisions made by Judge Moorhouse to ensure that the satisfaction and safety of victims is at the forefront of any sentencing decisions made in regards to domestic abuse.

“It is important that victims are not discouraged from reporting and here in Cleveland we have excellent specialist provisions in place to provide the much needed support that domestic abuse victims often require.”

Complaint To Ombudsmen Regarding Judge George Moorhouse