A former judge who has spoken out in support of marriage says the official reprimand he received for his stance is “unfair” and “silly”.
Sir Paul Coleridge worked for 40 years as a barrister and judge in the family courts and set up the Marriage Foundation in 2012.
Following the launch he urged couples to “mend it – don’t end it”, but was told at the end of that year to keep a “lower profile” by the Office for Judicial Complaints.
He continued, however, to vocalise his support for marriage and in December 2013 an official investigation ruled that this amounted to “judicial misconduct” despite only ten people complaining.
Speaking about the reprimand to The Sunday Times this week he said: “I was depressed, annoyed, mystified, exasperated”.
“I was depressed that the judiciary were so prepared to cave in to the slightest criticism from the public, unjustified criticism in fact”, he commented.
Sir Paul also said that comments he made about same-sex marriage prompted complaints calling for him to be “struck off, murdered, strung up, as these were obviously radical, homophobic views”.
“There wasn’t any evidence to suggest that for a minute”, Sir Paul said.
He commented: “Every time I said anything, a member of the public wrote in and I found the whole enormous panoply of the judicial complaints organisation just grinding on.
“I mean, where do we go after a reprimand? Public hanging?”
In his interview Sir Paul also criticised the current Lord Chief Justice, the Rt Hon Sir John Thomas, over his handling of the issue.
Sir Paul officially took early retirement last month, partly because of the lack of support from some of his colleagues for his pro-marriage beliefs.
In February, a Supreme Court judge vocalised strong support for same-sex marriage. Speaking at Queen’s University Belfast, Lord Wilson questioned Northern Ireland’s support of traditional marriage.
He claimed “the blended family” had replaced “the nuclear family”.