Mackay rebukes `niggers' judge

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A judge who used the expression "work like niggers" was yesterday formally rebuked by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, for giving offence to ethnic minorities.

He told Judge William Crawford QC, who said in a case "I know many people ... who work like niggers", that such remarks did "wholly disproportionate damage to the perception of justice and the reputation of the judiciary."

For Judge Crawford, 60, who is married with three children, it was a second offence. He was reprimanded five years ago for kissing a court usher during an incident in his chambers at Newcastle Crown Court.

Lord Mackay reminded him that he had sent a letter to all full-time judges in 1994 making clear that behaviour causing offence, particularly on racial or religious grounds, or amounting to sexual harassment, was unacceptable.

Judge Crawford has apologised for the remark, saying it was a "regrettable slip" not intended to offend. "I trust you now recognise," Lord Mackay told him, "that use of such expressions is likely to give offence and did, in fact, give offence to members of the ethnic minorities."

However, Mohan Singh, the 43-year-old social worker who made the initial complaint after hearing the comment in the public gallery, was furious. "He should have been sacked for this. Merely being rebuked is no fitting punishment for what he said."