You pay judges up to £60k to move house

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Mar­tin Beck­ford HOME AF­FAIRS ED­I­TOR

THEY earn al­most as much as the Prime Minister and are some of the high­est-paid pub­lic of­fi­cials in the coun­try.

But The Mail on Sun­day can re­veal that some judges have re­ceived up to £60,000 of tax­pay­ers’ cash when mov­ing home – to pay for le­gal fees, estate agent bills and even soft fur­nish­ings.

Gen­er­ous pay­ments to help se­nior members of the ju­di­ciary re­lo­cate when trans­ferred to a new court are made de­spite the Min­istry of Jus­tice bud­get be­ing slashed by a third over the past decade, lead­ing to dras­tic re­duc­tions in Le­gal Aid for the pub­lic and court­rooms be­ing shut down.

The fig­ures can only be re­vealed to­day af­ter a marathon Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion bat­tle with the Min­istry of Jus­tice (MoJ) last­ing more than two years.

The big­gest re­lo­ca­tion pack­age, to­talling £59,455 in just one year, was paid to a judge whose name was kept se­cret. In­cred­i­bly, tax­pay­ers footed the £34,200 bill for the judge’s stamp duty when they moved house, along with £8,760 in agent fees, £6,325 in re­moval costs and £3,321 on as­sorted ‘fit­tings’.

The judge even sub­mit­ted a claim for £190 worth of cur­tains.

Two other anony­mous judges were given £57,660 and £56,653.

One claimed £2,500 for ‘soft fur­nish­ings’ along with £ 15,600 in agent fees and £1,145 for a sur­vey.

The other claimed a £384 ho­tel bill, £108 to move cars to the new ad­dress and £23,910 in stamp duty.

Six other judges were iden­ti­fied. They are se­nior cir­cuit judges en­ti­tled to a salary of £148,526 this year and were given re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages when they were sent to dif­fer­ent courts in Eng­land and Wales.

Some ap­pear to have used pub­lic

£34,000 stamp duty bill paid by tax­pay­ers

money to rent prop­er­ties near their new post­ings while re­tain­ing own­er­ship of large coun­try homes.

Mr Jus­tice Stephen Ste­wart, who sat on the North­ern and North Eastern Cir­cuits from 2014 to 2016, got £57,044 to cover his rent, travel and coun­cil tax while he was work­ing in Liver­pool and Manch­ester.

Mr Jus­tice Wil­liam Davis re­ceived £29,842 to pay for util­i­ties in­clud­ing broad­band, rent and coun­cil tax. He was the most se­nior crim­i­nal court judge in Birm­ing­ham but now sits in the High Court in Lon­don.

Mr Jus­tice James Goss re­ceived £25,205 over two years to cover travel, rent and bills for gas, elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and in­ter­net af­ter he moved from New­cas­tle to the High Court in Lon­don in 2014.

Judge Si­mon Hickey, a se­nior cir­cuit judge in the North East, re­ceived a re­lo­ca­tion pack­age of £10,778 in 2014-15 – mostly to pay to store his be­long­ings.

Judge Ed­ward Hess, who was ap­pointed to the west­ern Eng­land cir­cuit in 2015, got £7,200 for six months’ rent while Judge John Har­row got £4,780 for re­moval costs.

Labour MP David Hanson, who sits on the Jus­tice Se­lect Com­mit­tee, said: ‘These pay­ments are a very odd pri­or­ity, at a time when the Min­istry is un­der­go­ing ma­jor cuts and courts are collapsing.’

This news­pa­per asked the MoJ in Oc­to­ber 2016 to say how much it had spent on re­lo­ca­tion pack­ages for judges. In Novem­ber 2017, the depart­ment re­vealed it had paid out £186,866 in 2014-15 and £192,907 the next fi­nan­cial year.

Last week the MoJ named six judges who had been given money to re­lo­cate – but re­fused to iden­tify an­other three on the grounds it ‘would be likely to en­dan­ger their safety’. A spokesman said: ‘Judges can be asked to re­lo­cate to ensure we main­tain ac­cess to jus­tice in all parts of the coun­try.

‘It is a long-stand­ing pol­icy that peo­ple re­quired to move for their jobs are ap­pro­pri­ately sup­ported.’

COSTS COV­ERED: Wil­liam Davis, left, and his own home in the Mid­lands. He had broad­band, rent and coun­cil tax bills paid when he moved to the High Court in Lon­don. Right: Stephen Ste­wart and his coun­try house in the North West. He had help with rent and bills af­ter he moved to dif­fer­ent courts in the re­gion

HAND­OUTS: Si­mon Hickey, left and James Goss, right, also got pub­lic money. Cen­tre: Cotswolds home of Ed­ward Hess whose rent was paid when he moved

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.