John Hemming’s judicial conduct complaint against Sir Nicholas Wall

by Carl Gardner on September 1, 2011

I must write about something other than John Hemming MP and his causes soon, or else I’ll become an obsessed man, and start suing everyone, or something.

But before leaving the subject, I must pick up on something written by Christopher Booker on the Telegraph website over the weekend, in a piece critical of Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the High Court’s Family Division. In case you need reminding, Sir Nicholas is the judge who last week published details of the case involving Vicky Haigh, who John Hemming had named in Parliament; he’s also the judge who sharply criticised John Hemming MP for his conduct in another case, RP v Nottingham City Council, in 2008.

Christopher Booker tells us that John Hemming complained to the judicial ombudsman about Sir Nicholas. The reference to a forged document strongly suggests the complaint related to the RP case, in which Hemming claimed a solicitor had stooped to forgery.

In 2008, in another case, he was complained about to the judicial ombudsman by John Hemming MP, after he had witheringly dismissed Hemming’s arguments that a crucial document in the case was forged. “I find it not only unacceptable but shocking,” Wall ruled, “that a man in Mr Hemming’s position should feel able to make so serious an allegation without any evidence to support it. In my judgment it is irresponsible and an abuse of his position.”

Mr Hemming presented the ombudsman with several pages of transcript showing how he had produced lengthy evidence for his claim, set out in meticulous detail.

Christopher Booker merely tells us the fact that Hemming made a complaint, of course: he tells us nothing about the outcome.

In fact the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman does not rule on complaints about judges’ conduct, in spite of the title of the office. The guidance provided at the JACO website makes clear that  it only considers complaints about the handling of complaints to the Office for Judicial Complaints. The ombudsman will only consider a case if it’s already been decided by the OJC, and the complainant is not satisfied.

So assuming – as I do – that Christopher Booker is right about John Hemming going to the ombudsman, it must follow that he complained initially to the OJC. We know nothing, again, about the outcome: the complaints process is confidential, and the OJC routinely relies on a combination of section 139 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2000 and section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in refusing requests for information about them. But the OJC does issue investigation statements in some cases, and the list goes back to April 2008 – before the RP case. The earliest tells us about a reprimand issued to a High Court judge, for instance. But there is no investigation statement relating to Sir Nicholas Wall.

So we can’t tell whether Hemming’s complaint was dismissed out of hand by the OJC, or on the advice of the nominated judge without the need for investigation, or whether it got any further than that.

But I suspect that, had it succeeded, either John Hemming himself or perhaps Christopher Booker would have told us so. Taking that together with the lack of any investigation statement, and the fact that Hemming remained dissatisfied and applied to the ombudsman, I am led to conclude that John Hemming’s complaint against Sir Nicholas Wall was dismissed.

I am as always happy to be corrected by anyone who knows better.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anajinn November 14, 2011 at 13:59

I can tell you that there are documents which go through all of the courts which are forged, and that there are judges who will sign injunctions to silence victims of crime. Lawyers are by-passing the court system with documents that have not followed due process and judges are cooperating.

2 Dadzarmy February 5, 2012 at 23:01

When the RH Hemming complained to the OJC about Sir Nicholas Wall he would most certainly have received a response which advises that they cannot investigate judicial decisions or judicial case management. This relates to Regulation 14 1(b) requires that the OJC dismiss any allegation that falls into either category. The scope for this interpretation is considerable and most complaints that are made to the OJC about Judges will be put into this category. It is hard to see what the OJC’s function is given they make it almost impossible for a complaint to be made against a Judge.

3 Bruno D'Itri February 2, 2013 at 09:58

The contradictory pronouncements of Sir Nicholas Wall on ‘Payne v Payne’ are plainly highlighted in the comments section of the following link:

http://www.mckenziefriend.com/2010/04/27/your-numbers-up-payne-v-payne-time-for-change/

Even experienced family lawyers criticised his illogical position and called for an explanation:

http://blog.taylorking.co.uk/category/children/leave-to-remove/

Now that Sir Nicholas has retired, perhaps he will have the courtesy finally to give that full explanation.

The hundreds of ‘non-primary’ parents who had enjoyed a ‘shared parenting regime’, but whose children were, nevertheless, removed overseas between February 2010 and July 2011, would be very grateful.

Regards
Bruno D’Itri

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