Top judge to step down over lack of ‘support’ on marriage

A senior High Court judge is set to retire early, partly because of the lack of support from some of his colleagues for his pro-marriage beliefs.

Sir Paul Coleridge says there are “hundreds” in the judiciary who agree with him in private, but are too frightened to say so publicly.

The judge set up the Marriage Foundation in 2012 to combat the culture of broken families.

Attacked

He was attacked for his involvement, with critics saying a sitting judge should not be so overtly ‘political’.

But the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) dismissed complaints against him and allowed him to continue in his role with the Foundation.

Now, in an interview for Roman Catholic paper The Tablet, he says he will take early retirement so that he will have more freedom to speak his mind.

Struggled

He said he “could have struggled on” if he had got “more solid support”.

He added: “But after April, I will be freer to be outspoken.”

Sir Paul announced in October that he will retire from the bench next year in order to focus on his work with the Marriage Foundation.

Policy

Last December he said the Government was pushing the “wrong policy” with gay marriage, and should be concentrating on combating family breakdown.

He said same-sex marriage was a “minority issue” and that “so much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1 per cent of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown”.

Last year Sir Paul was told to keep a “lower profile” by the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) over his role as chairman and founder of the Marriage Foundation.

Incompatible

The OJC did not consider his involvement with the charity to be “incompatible with his judicial responsibilities” but said a lower profile role within the organisation would be “more appropriate for a serving judicial office holder”.

The investigation followed a complaint which media reports suggested related to comments the judge made at the launch of the charity.

Related Resources