• Judge Beverley Lunt says the she ‘has always been vocal about matters of female oppression’ • Lunt used sexist remarks about feminists while sitting on the bench
A high court judge described as racist and sexist by a fellow judge has been ordered to be removed from the bench after she used discriminatory and insulting remarks about women.
The role of Luton magistrates court judge, Beverley Lunt, has been suspended pending a review, following her controversial remarks.
Her comments included calling feminist lawyers “gypsies” and labelling lesbianism as a form of “deep sexual corruption”.
On her career, Lunt said she had “always been vocal about matters of female oppression”.
This led to accusations that the judge had become judge-friendly, by pushing through an alleged breakdown in diversity in the legal profession.
Lunt’s remarks came during a public enquiry involving the 2015 courtroom incident involving two female barristers, from whom Lunt and her colleagues allegedly demanded that they pay legal costs even though their cases had not gone to trial.
The arguments centred on whether a joint hearing should be held in the magistrates court, to hear the representation of the two women, or in the high court.
Legal aid legal cases represent a rare occurrence and are usually heard in high court civil court. But the judges claimed that the women would not have had the same opportunities had their case been heard in the civil court, which is more prone to costly litigation.
Lord Justice Pill and Sir Peter Justice Aspinall, the chief judges of the high court and magistrates court, said: “It is regrettable that, in court, Beverley Lunt did not distinguish between the very high costs of litigating in the high court from those incurred by barristers who had had the case heard by the district judge in magistrates court.
“She failed to recognise the difference between the two systems, to the embarrassment of the court.”
In their joint statement they said the system had serious flaws.
“Our system, particularly in relation to legal aid, has significant strengths which we should all be grateful for. However, it suffers from chronic inefficiencies that the courts, barristers and the public must continually confront.”
Lunt joined the bench in 2010 having previously worked in the private and judicial bar.
The judge’s first recorded use of sexist language happened in November last year, when she compared two barristers who both represented female clients in a case at the district court with kerb crawlers.
Talking about a barrister who represented a young woman who had been groped by a policeman, she said: “This is an example of what I call kerb crawling. It’s the kerb crawling of the legal profession. It is not necessarily an articulate kerb crawler, it’s a kerb crawler. “
Later in the same court Lunt again referred to women in a derogatory way.
She stated: “Feminists, for example, like to describe their situation, and it is a position, a place they occupy. As with gypsies, it doesn’t interest me at all and I don’t know what exactly they are.”
Leaked documents about the women’s case suggested the judges’ decision to separate the proceedings would affect confidence in the judiciary. A Magistrates Association spokesperson said Lunt’s comments showed her to be a “frustrated, defensive and over-awed judicial officer”.
“She clearly has not got the confidence, skills and experience to deal with such a high-profile case,” the spokesperson said.
“The suggestion that we are implicitly encouraging people to behave in this way is false and insulting to the efforts of magistrates throughout the country who work tirelessly and well to protect the rights of their members.”
On her social media posts Lunt included jokes about Muslim judges in sordid and pornographic images.
Beverley Lunt declined to comment about the court proceedings.