JCIO 33/24

Date: 08 July 2024





Ms Natalia Schiffrin JP


A spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said:

The Lady Chief Justice, with the Lord Chancellor’s agreement, has issued Natalia Schiffrin JP with a formal warning for misconduct.

The expedited process in the Judicial Conduct Magistrates Rules 2023 enables the JCIO to advise the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice that a magistrate should be issued with formal advice or a formal warning where—

(a) there is no dispute as to the facts set out in the complaint;
(b) the alleged facts relate to conduct which the JCIO considers that the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice would be very likely to decide amounted to misconduct; and
(c) the JCIO considers that the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice would be very likely to decide that formal advice or a formal warning was the appropriate disciplinary sanction.

The declaration and undertaking signed by all magistrates on appointment states that they will maintain the good reputation of the magistracy at all times, in their private, working, and public lives.

On 31 January 2024, Ms Schiffrin participated in a live webinar hosted by the Howard League for Penal Reform (HLPR). She was introduced as a member of an expert panel and a member of the HLPR’s Advisory Council. The audience of around 130 people was informed that Ms Schiffrin would be contributing to the discussion from her perspective as a magistrate. Ms Schiffrin informed the audience that she was no longer a magistrate. This was incorrect. While she no longer hears criminal cases, she is a magistrate on the family panel.

During the discussion at the event, Ms Schiffrin made several disparaging comments about magistrates and the criminal justice system. These included casting doubt on the abilities of magistrates, referring to them as naïve and judgmental, and stating that they accept whatever prosecutors tell them. She also remarked that magistrates are ignorant of the implications of sending people to custody.

In her representations to the London Conduct Advisory Committee, Ms Schiffrin accepted full responsibility for her actions. While stating that she had been motivated by a genuine concern over the use of custodial remand, she acknowledged that her comments had been intemperate and ill judged, for which she apologised. She added that as soon as she had become aware of the concerns about her conduct, she had asked the HLPR to take down a recording of the event from YouTube, which they had done. Ms Schiffrin consented to use of the expedited process.

The Lady Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor agreed with advice from the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office that a formal warning would be the most reasonable and proportionate disciplinary sanction in this case.




Notes for Editors

Media queries in relation to the JCIO should be made in the first instance to the Judicial Press Office - telephone 020 7073 4852 or via email - press.enquiries@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk

Sanctions for misconduct by judicial office-holders are set out in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. They are, in order of severity: formal advice, formal warning, reprimand and removal from office.

For more information about the Office, including details on how to make a complaint against a judicial office holder, you can visit the JCIO website at: Judicial Conduct Investigations website