BBC News, August 4, 2009
A judge is facing an investigation after criticising the UK’s immigration system for being “completely lax”.
Judge Ian Trigger’s comments came while sentencing illegal immigrant Lucien McClearley at Liverpool Crown Court on 28 July for drugs offences.
The judge also stated that “hundreds of thousands” of illegal immigrants were abusing the benefits system in the UK.
The Office for Judicial Complaints will consider whether his words “extended overtly into the political arena”.
McClearley, a 31-year-old Jamaican, was jailed for two years after admitting possessing cannabis and cocaine, having a fake passport and taking a vehicle without consent.
The local press reported that Judge Trigger told the court: “Your case illustrates all too clearly the completely lax immigration policy that exists and has existed over recent years in this country.
“People like you, and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people like you, come to these shores from foreign countries to avail themselves of the generous welfare benefits that exist here.”
He continued: “In the past 10 years the national debt of this country has risen to extraordinary heights, largely because central government has wasted billions and billions of pounds. Much of that has been wasted on welfare payments.
“For every pound that the decent citizen, who is hard-working, pays in taxes in this country, nearly 10% goes on servicing that national debt. That is twice the amount it was in 1997 when this government came to power.”
‘Propriety of statements’
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has referred the judge’s comments to the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC).
A spokesman for the OJC said: “The referral is not related to the judge’s comments on the specific case or the sentence passed.
“The OJC has been asked to focus on the propriety of the judge’s statements and assertions, and whether they went beyond the facts of the case and extended overtly into the political arena.”
Lord Judge and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw will make the final decision–Judge Trigger could face sanctions ranging from guidance to reprimand or dismissal.
It is not the first time Judge Trigger’s courtroom comments have made the headlines.
Last year, after three teenagers were convicted of murdering Gary Newlove, he said it was the fault of Parliament, not judges, that “wild, feral youths” were being freed on bail.