Pension pay-out for judge facing fraud charges

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The Independent Online
A JUDGE who moved to America after being "too stressed" to face a retrial on charges of fraud will receive a substantial pension pay-out from the Government.

Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor, confirmed yesterday that Richard Gee, 57, has resigned his pounds 92,000-a-year post four years after he first faced allegations of fraud while he was working as a solicitor in the 1980s. The decision follows an exchange of letters between the Lord Chancellor and the judge about his continued employment.

Mr Gee was suspended on full pay after the allegations first emerged but his refusal to go quietly was the source of acute embarrassment to Lord Irvine. The situation has been made worse following reports that Mr Gee had moved to America and was living a life of luxury in a pounds 1.5m mansion in Long Island, New York.

A statement released yesterday by the Lord Chancellor's Department said that the resignation had "pre-empted" efforts to bring dismissal proceedings against the judge.

However, the Lord Chancellor conceded there was nothing he could do to stop the judge drawing a substantial pension of pounds 23,000 a year and receiving a lump sum of pounds 46,000 when he reaches 65.

Arrested in November 1995, Mr Gee appeared at the Old Bailey in March 1998 charged with mortgage fraud while working as a solicitor. He denied the charges.

On 7 October 1998, a jury failed to reach a verdict. Before a second trial could be arranged, evidence of the judge's poor mental health was presented. Mr Gee was examined by Professor John Gunn from the Maudsley Hospital, South London, who considered him to be plagued by suicidal impulses since his first trial ended without a decision. "The stress of a retrial would endanger his life," declared the professor.

The Attorney General halted the pounds 1m case with an ancient discretionary power, nolle prosequi, meaning a permanent stay was placed on the prosecution.