Judge to be investigated after outburst

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The Independent Online

A judge who described Britain's immigration system as "completely lax" is to face an official investigation, it was revealed today.

Judge Ian Trigger complained that "hundreds and hundreds of thousands" of illegal immigrants were abusing the benefits system.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has referred the outburst to the Office of Judicial Complaints, to rule on whether it was too political.

A spokesman for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: "The Lord Chief Justice has decided to refer His Honour Judge Trigger to the Office for Judicial Complaints, following comments the judge made in open court in the sentencing of Lucien McClealey at Liverpool Crown Court on July 28 2009.

"The referral is not related to the judge's comments on the specific case or the sentence passed.

"The OJC has been asked to focus on the propriety of the judge's statements and assertions, and whether they went beyond the facts of the case and extended overtly into the political arena."

Judge Trigger made his comments as he sentenced a Jamaican man, Lucien McClearley, for two years for drugs offences at Liverpool Crown Court last week.

The 31-year-old was arrested by police who found bags of cannabis in his car in Liverpool on February 15 and cannabis worth £7,200 at his home.

Judge Trigger said: "Your case illustrates all too clearly the completely lax immigration policy that exists ... in this country.

"People like you, and there are literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people like you, come to these shores from foreign countries to avail themselves of the generous welfare benefits that exist here.

"In the past 10 years the national debt of this country has risen to extraordinary heights, largely because central government has wasted billions and billions of pounds. Much of that has been wasted on welfare payments.

"For every £1 that the decent citizen, who is hard-working, pays in taxes in this country, nearly 10% goes on servicing that national debt. That is twice the amount it was in 1997 when this government came to power."

The final decision on whether the judge stepped out of line will be made jointly by Lord Judge and the Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw.

If the complaint is upheld, sanctions available range from guidance to reprimand or even dismissal.

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