10:37, October 05 71 0 theguardian.com

2017-10-05 10:37:03
Judge cleared of making inappropriate remarks in modern slavery case

A crown court judge has been cleared of making inappropriate comments about Travellers when sentencing 11 members of the same family for modern slavery offences.

After a two-week review, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) has rejected the complaint against Judge Timothy Spencer QC.

Addressing members of the Rooney family from Lincolnshire as he sentenced them in September, Spencer said: “You claimed that what went on at Drinsey [in Lincolnshire] was no different from what was going on at any Travellers’ camp around this country, that all Travellers had workers operating under similar conditions.

“Sadly, I very much fear that you may be correct about that. But that does not make any of it right.”

That widely reported comment triggered a complaint from Shay Clipson, chair of the National Alliance of Gypsy Traveller & Roma Women.

In a letter to the JCIO, she said: “This is a very damaging statement and the judge has made it with no proof at all that this practice is carried on at any other Travellers’ site.”

But the JCIO said in an official statement on Thursday: “The JCIO has dismissed a complaint against His Honour Judge Spencer QC in connection with a case which concluded at Nottingham crown court on 12 September.”