London: District Judge Peter Hollingworth, 63, was forced to quit after allegedly making a racist remark about an Asian woman victim in the court. The judge had asked lawyers to fetch the harassment victim so he could finish sentencing her ex-boyfriend. Prosecutor Rachel Parker said she was unsure whether the woman in question, Deepa Patel, could attend at short notice due to work commitments.
The district judge allegedly replied: “It won’t be a problem. She won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get the time off. She’ll only be working in a shop or an off-licence.”
When Miss Parker asked the judge to clarify his comments, he added: “With a name like Patel, and her ethnic background, she won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get the time off. So that’s what we’ll do.”
At this point Miss Parker withdrew from the case at Preston Magistrates’ Court and told the judge: “I am professionally embarrassed. I cannot prosecute this case.” The Crown Prosecution Service made an official complaint after the incident on October 30, and Hollingworth resigned four weeks later from his part-time job as a deputy district judge.
The 63-year-old remains an immigration judge for the Asylum and Immigration Chamber – but is not hearing any cases while he is investigated over his alleged comments. He could yet face the sack from this second role, which pays more than £120,000 a year. Miss Patel, a 22-year-old from Preston, is currently working in an office after completing a law degree. She said, “I was born and bred in this country... it’s shocking and disgusting for anyone to say that, especially a judge.t
“He’s the one making legal decisions and deciding people’s freedom and he’s saying stuff like that – it’s ridiculous. You would assume that people of this day and age, especially a judge, wouldn’t be racist. I’m more upset than angry, especially since I had already gone through so much by going to court. I’ve had counselling because of what happened with my ex, so to hear this went on is even more upsetting. I’m glad that I wasn’t in the room at the time, I don’t think I would have coped,” Miss Patel added.