Fury of pub­lic work­ers as judges could get pay rise 13 times their own

Daily Mail - - DR MAX - By Steve Doughty So­cial Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

MIN­IS­TERS were fac­ing an an­gry back­lash yes­ter­day over plans to hand se­nior judges a pay rise of al­most a third of their salary.

The in­creases put for­ward by a White­hall pay re­view body would mean 32 per cent ex­tra for High Court judges – a pay rise nearly 13 times the av­er­age given to most pub­lic sec­tor work­ers this year.

The ma­jor pay in­creases would come on top of the reg­u­lar an­nual pay rise for the ju­di­ciary – which is likely to be around 2 to 3 per cent.

The scale of the pro­posed awards brought an out­cry from trade unions and pro­voked worry among le­gal ob­servers that jus­tice may be un­der­mined if judges are given spe­cial treat­ment over pay.

The leak to the Daily Mail of the fig­ures put for­ward by the Se­nior Salaries Re­view Body was met with an icy si­lence from se­nior judges them­selves.

Some are thought to believe their salaries have de­lib­er­ately been thrown into the po­lit­i­cal fo­rum and that the ju­di­ciary is likely to lose out in the row now rag­ing. If the in­creases go ahead it will mean the an­nual pay of a High Court judge will go up by nearly £60,000, from £181,500 to £240,000.

Lesser-rank­ing cir­cuit judges – a judge of this rank will typ­i­cally pre­side at Crown Court crim­i­nal tri­als – would get 22 per cent to take their pay to £165,000. Dis­trict judges, who will han­dle County Court civil cases, would get an 8 per cent in­crease to £117,000.

But over the sum­mer the av­er­age pub­lic sec­tor weekly pay of £528 has been go­ing up at 2.4 per cent a year, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures. Av­er­age pri­vate sec­tor pay is slightly lower – £519 a week – but has been ris­ing slightly more quickly, at 2.6 per cent a year.

Judges have been press­ing for big pay rises, cit­ing the dif­fi­culty of re­cruit­ing high-earn­ing lawyers to the bench, cuts to the value of their pen­sions, and low morale.

A sec­ond re­port from the re­view body is un­der­stood to have rec­om­mended that judges get an­other pay rise, a rou­tine an­nual in­crease com­pa­ra­ble to that given to other pub­lic sec­tor work­ers.

But Mark Ser­wotka, of the Pub­lic and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices Union, which rep­re­sents low-paid civil ser­vants, said: ‘Most pub­lic sec­tor work­ers, par­tic­u­larly the civil ser­vants I rep­re­sent will say, how does this com­pare with how I have been treated?’

He told Ra­dio 4’s To­day Pro­gramme that union mem­bers ‘have had below in­fla­tion pay rises and the Gov­ern­ment has re­fused to re­flect on the pres­sure of the jobs that they do in Job Cen­tres and on the bor­ders. There will be a real sense to­day of dou­ble stan­dards’.

David Green, a com­men­ta­tor on le­gal af­fairs who is chief of the Civ­i­tas think-tank, said: ‘I do not ob­ject to pay­ing judges well. I do ob­ject to the dis­par­i­ties be­tween judges and other pub­lic sec­tor work­ers when the rec­om­men­da­tions of their pay re­view bod­ies are not met. If you set up pay re­view bod­ies, you should re­spect their rec­om­men­da­tions.’

The Min­istry of Jus­tice re­sponded to the leak by say­ing that it had com­mis­sioned the re­view and ‘will re­spond in due course’.

Lord Chief Jus­tice Lord Bur­nett said in July that there were 93 High Court judges, 15 short of the full com­ple­ment of 108. ‘That short­fall largely re­sulted from the steady ero­sion of ju­di­cial terms and con­di­tions,’ he said.

Le­gal pres­sure: Judges say it has been dif­fi­cult to re­cruit to the bench

From yes­ter­day’s Mail

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