It’s very unusual for a part-time Judge to go to prison (not unheard of though). On 25th November 2014 Michael Shrimpton a barrister who has previously sat as a part-time Immigration Judge, took a step closer to joining that illustrious club when he was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of 2 counts of making a bomb hoax.
Sentence has been adjourned until 6th February 2015, with the Judge directing a psychiatric report be prepared on Mr Shrimpton
The case is a bizarre and strange one, as can be seen by his claim that “German spies were plotting to target the Queen with a nuclear warhead at the London Olympics“. The two counts related to when he told “a close colleague of former Defence Secretary Philip Hammond that a nuclear device was planted in a hospital in east London.” The second count related to the next day when “he telephoned the offices of David Lidington MP and repeated” his claim about their being a nuclear bomb near the Olympic site.
Mr Shrimpton has made a variety of claims that, had they not come from someone who seemed quite an ‘establishment’ figure, would probably have been dismissed out of hand. For example, in evidence he said “I admit that the stuff I deal with is bound to sound strange, high falutin’, incredible and fantastic. It’s my world, welcome to my world.”
We won’t repeat it all here, but the full details are worth a read. In a (possibly unwise) bid for open justice, Mr Shrimpton has published his defence statement. This also includes the line of questioning that he would be following in cross-examination.
What’s the offence?
It is (we assume) the offence under s51(2) Criminal Law Act 1977 of communicating a bomb hoax – “A person who communicates any information which he knows or believes to be false to another person with the intention of inducing in him or any other person a false belief that a bomb or other thing liable to explode or ignite is present in any place or location whatever is guilty of an offence.”
The maximum sentence is 7 years in prison. There are no guidelines, or guideline cases, but the CPS website has an overview of the aggravating and mitigating features and suggest that there is normally a custodial sentence of 1-4 years.
We would not necessarily agree with that – it is the sort of case where sentences can vary wildly and are very fact specific. Especially so given that there are often mental health issues associated with people who commit this offence.
Is Mr Shrimpton still a barrister?
Seemingly so, looking at the Bar Directory. This is confirmed by the Bar Standards Board. Interestingly, for those that are aware of what QASA is, Mr Shrimpton is one of the very few barristers who have signed up to the scheme (giving himself top marks as a Level 4 advocate).
It seems that there is no record of any disciplinary hearings. This is slightly strange as the Daily Mirror reports that “Shrimpton holds one previous conviction for possession of indecent images of children. A memory stick was found in his house search containing the vile pictures and has been the subject of separate proceedings at magistrates’ court“.
If that is so, then there would have been a disciplinary hearing. The BSB only has findings going back to 2002, but it’s unlikely that there would have been a memory stick before that date.
In any event, it seems that this was from 2012 (again though, it’s a bit confusing). Mr Shrimpton denies the offence, saying that “secret service agents planted child porn on his computer memory stick in a plot to discredit him“.
It seems fairly clear that he is not sitting as a Judge anymore, although there is no record on the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office website that has disciplinary findings going back to 2009.
So. We are none the wiser, but it likely that a disciplinary hearing will be commenced at some point. After all this, it is certain that he won’t be a Judge again, and very likely that he won’t be practicing as a barrister again anytime soon.