Thursday 13 December 2018

Judge investigated by gardaí over sexual assault claim

He has continued to preside in court since the allegation was made

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Stock picture
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A judge is being investigated by gardaí following an allegation of sexual assault.

The probe relates to an incident alleged to have occurred last year.

Although a woman has made a formal complaint, it is not known if the judge has been interviewed to date or has been made fully aware of the claim against him. Gardaí have declined to comment on the inquiry.

The judge at the centre of the investigation has remained on the bench and has continued to conduct hearings since the allegation against him surfaced.

The Department of Justice said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was aware a Garda investigation was under way "into allegations of a criminal nature in relation to a judge".

However, it said it would be inappropriate for the minister to comment on a criminal investigation.

The department said conduct and management of all court business, including court sittings, is the responsibility of the president of each court.

The matter has once again thrown the spotlight on the adequacy of mechanisms for dealing with judicial misconduct.

Although a judge can be removed from office for "stated misbehaviour or incapacity", the impeachment procedure requires resolutions to be passed by the Dáil and the Seanad and has never been used.

The Government plans to address accountability concerns with its Judicial Council Bill, which provides for the establishment of a judicial conduct committee to facilitate investigation of allegations of judicial misconduct.

Irish Independent

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