Protests as judge wins job reprieve

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THE LORD Chancellor was accused of appearing to "condone" drink- driving yesterday after announcing that a judge caught driving over the limit could keep his job.

The Campaign Against Drinking and Driving (Cadd) said the Lord Chancellor's decision sent out completely the wrong message and called on Judge Victor Hall to quit.

The 51-year-old circuit judge was fined pounds 1,000 and banned from driving for 20 months earlier this week after admitting driving while nearly twice over the legal limit.

He was suspended after the hearing at Leicester magistrates' court, but yesterday the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, said he could return to work later this month.

Maria Cape, founder of Cadd, said the judge should have lost his job.

She said: "The Lord Chancellor seems to be condoning Judge Hall's actions by not getting rid of him.

"I think this is a quite appalling message to send out. He is a judge and how can he possibly sit in judgment of other people who have committed crimes, not just drink-driving, when he has committed one himself."

The Lord Chancellor delivered a "severe reprimand" to the judge. But he said he had decided not to sack him after taking into account his record of voluntary work and a number of "personal considerations" which were factors in his "unprecedented behaviour".

He had also given the judge credit for offering to resign.

He warned Judge Hall if he was caught drink-driving again, he would be sacked "immediately".

Lord Irvine said Judge Hall should not sit in any motoring cases as long as he was banned from driving.