Cherie Booth’s “religious man” sentencing did not constitute misconduct

The Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) has found that Matrix Chambers’ Cherie Booth QC did not commit judicial misconduct when she said that a man found guilty of assault should be spared jail because he was “a religious man”.

Cherie Booth
Cherie Booth

The OJC gave no reason for its decision.

Acting in her capacity as a recorder, Booth was presiding over the trial of Shamso Miah at the Inner London Crown Court in February 2010 when she reportedly made the contentious remarks.

Miah, a Muslim who broke another man’s jaw after a row over who was next in line for an ATM machine, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.

In passing sentence Booth was reported as saying: “I’m going to suspend this sentence for the period of two years based on the fact you’re a religious person and haven’t been in trouble before. You caused a mild fracture to the jaw of a member of the public standing in a queue at Lloyds Bank…You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour.”

The comments were leapt upon by the press and a complaint was lodged with the OJC by the National Secular Society (NSS).

A spokesman for the OJC said: “After receiving a number of complaints about comments reportedly made by Cherie Booth QC in her capacity as a recorder, in connection with the trial of Shamso Miah, the Office for Judicial Complaints investigated the matter in accordance with the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2006 (as amended). That investigation has concluded and found that Recorder Booth’s observations did not constitute judicial misconduct.

“The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have considered the conclusions of the investigation and agree that no disciplinary action is necessary.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the NSS, said: “We believe we should be informed about how Cherie Booth QC explained the remarks attributed to her, and the basis of the conclusions reached by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice. In the absence of such information, we’re unable to comment on their decision.”