The judge who presided over the much-debated case of Lavinia Woodward will not be investigated further by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO). Ian Pringle QC was criticised for sentencing Woodward to a ten-month suspended custodial sentence after she stabbed her boyfriend in the leg. His reasoning attracted criticism - he focused on Woodward’s educational background - she studies Medicine at the University of Oxford - saying that a sentence which would prevent her from pursuing her career would be “too severe”.
Pringle also granted Woodward a four-month period to prove herself, prior to the sentencing. In this time, she was admitted to a clinic to address various mental health issues, including substance addiction and an eating disorder.
The responses to this case have been mixed - some have jumped to Woodward’s defence, accusing the media of selective reporting which obscured Woodward’s mental health conditions, instead focusing on her race, educational background, and class. Others have criticised the handling of the case - indicating that it shows racial inequality in the justice system, as well as a bias against male victims of domestic abuse.
The JCIO said that it could not pursue the watchdog complaint against Pringle because it concerned a matter unrelated to his personal conduct as a judge. A spokesman said: "The JCIO received and rejected three complaints against HHJ Pringle QC in connection with a case which concluded at Oxford Crown Court on 25 September.
"These complaints were rejected because they related to an independent judicial decision and not conduct."
Baker McKenzie LLP
Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro