OJC reprimands Smith J for misconduct

The Office of Judicial Complaints (OJC) has found the actions of Mr Justice Peter Smith, who should have recused himself from a hearing, amounted to misconduct.

After a 10-month investigation by the OJC under the Judicial Discipline Regulations 2006, Peter Smith J has been reprimanded by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips.

An OJC spokesman said this means that the High Court judge will have the misconduct on his permanent record.

However, Phillips LCJ, today (18 April) said: “I consider that a firm line has now been drawn under this matter. Both I and the Lord Chancellor value the services of Mr Justice Peter Smith and he has my full confidence.”

The Judicial Office said that Peter Smith J would not be making a statement.

The misconduct of Peter Smith J was in relation to the case of Howell and others v Lees-Millais and others where the judge was asked to recuse himself but declined to do so.

As revealed by The Lawyer (9 July) Peter Smith J had been in negotiations to join Addleshaw Goodard in a £750,000-a-year package for him and a court assistant.

The deal ended in disaster, so when Addleshaws private client chief Paul Howell was a party in the proceedings of Howell v Lees-Millais, the firm sought to have Peter Smith J recused.

The judge would not recuse himself leading to a scathing Court of Appeal judgment against Peter Smith J (4 July).

This then led to the matter being referred to the OJC (16 July).