Published: 00:00, 11 April 2017
| Updated: 15:28, 11 April 2017
A judge who sat at Canterbury Crown Court has been sacked after he posted abusive comments on KentOnline about cases he was involved in.
Jason Dunn-Shaw used a pseudonym to brand website visitors “donkeys” and “trolls”, accused them of being “narrow-minded and bigoted” and complained “lots of warty fingers at work here” when faced with comments he disapproved of.
He has been removed from judicial office after the “the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice concluded that this behaviour fell below the standard expected”.
He has today spoken out to say he will be appealing to the Ombudsman about the decision.
Mr Dunn-Shaw had been the recorder, a part-time judge, in a Canterbury Crown Court case of a woman who avoided going to prison after causing a horrific car crash at Shadoxhurst which left two people in a burning Mini.
Following online criticism of the decision, comments appeared under the username Querelle which sought to explain and justify the actions of the judge. Critics were also described as "donkeys".
In another case reported on KentOnline, a Betteshanger family were convicted of fleecing an 80-year-old dementia sufferer out of £57,000.
Mr Dunn-Shaw had been representing the defendants in the case.
Comments subsequently appeared on KentOnline also under the name Querelle which went into great detail about the circumstances.
The fraud victim's son later submitted a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) which oversees disciplinary matters relating to holders of judicial office such as judges, magistrates and coroners.
In a disciplinary statement released today, the JCIO said: “Recorder Jason Dunn-Shaw was subject to a conduct investigation for using a pseudonym to post comments (some of which were abusive) on a newspaper website about a case in which he had been a judge and another in which he had been a barrister.
“In his own name he also used publicly available social media sites to post material or not remove material which was not compatible with the dignity of judicial office or suggested a lack of impartiality on matters of public controversy.
“The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice concluded that this behaviour fell below the standard expected of a judicial office holder and have removed Mr Dunn-Shaw from judicial office.”
The complaint to the JCIO was made in early 2016 by Nick Lewis, son of Barbara Lewis, who was defrauded by the Betteshanger family.
Mr Lewis, 51, said: “It’s a shame that it has taken 14 months for the complaint to be investigated, but at least it’s the right result and he can no longer act as a judge.”
Mr Dunn-Shaw said: "I am dismayed. I have served diligently for a number of years throughout the South East. I have been described as "outstanding" by counsel, jurors and witnesses.
"The JCOI accept that comments were made on KentOnline under a pseudonym.
"Their other condemnation is of comments I made on the pages of Facebook friends which I believed to have been private. The day that I received my sacking was the same day that a judge was exonerated for calling a defendant a "C***" in open court.
"It seems to me unfair that the tracking of anonymous material places me where I am now.
"I have a text message from a colleague sent on the December 5 2015 which I have kept because I was proud of it: 'JDS I met someone this evening who described you as the best, fairest tribunal they'd ever appeared before. I'm not one for sentiment, but this was striking and genuine, so I had to pass it on. It resonated with me'.
"The JCOI has behaved disgracefully and I am appealing to the Ombudsman.
"A High Court judge advised that I should receive a 'formal warning'. The Lord Chief Justice personally intervened to have me removed from office.
"If it is to be that the judiciary is to be populated by timid and unimaginative 'yes-men' then I am better off out of it - but such degrades our fine heritage of some independently-minded judges who live in the real world."
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