Magistrate removed after failing to disclose convictions

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A magistrate has been removed from office after failing to disclose that he had been convicted of five offences.

Ben Walker did not declare he had been convicted of five offences in either the application form to join the magistracy or at interview, despite being asked whether there was anything in his private life which could damage his credibility as a magistrate if it became known to the public.

The Judicial Conduct Investigation Office said Walker, of the Gloucestershire bench, apologised for failing to disclose the information but he ‘had not sought to deceive or bring the judiciary into disrepute’.

It added: ‘[Walker] did not think that the matter for which he was fined amounted to a conviction, therefore, did not need to declare it.’

A chairman of the South West Region Conduct Advisory Committee considered the matter and recommended Walker should be removed from office. The lord chancellor and lady chief justice agreed.

The JCIO said magistrate applicants are required to disclose any information that, if it became generally known, ‘might bring the magistracy into disrepute or call into question their standing as a magistrate’ which includes all cautions or convictions.

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