Asylum judge Richard Hollingworth was obligated to resign as a district judge after stating on 30 October that crime victim Deepa Patel would not be “working anywhere important” with “a name like Patel”.
During a harassment case, Hollingworth told officials to bring victim Deepa Patel to the Preston magistrates court so that he could complete his sentencing by the afternoon.
Rachel Parker, the case prosecutor, suggested that the notice would be too short for Patel to be able to leave work.
The judge asked where Patel worked, to which Parker responded she did not know. Hollingworth then replied: “It won’t be a problem. She won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get the time off. She’ll only be working in a shop or an off-licence”.
When Parker asked Hollingworth to clarify his meaning, the £150,000-a-year judge further expanded: “With a name like Patel, and her ethnic background, she won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get the time off”.
After hearing Hollingworth’s racist remarks, prosecutor Parker withdrew from the case, stating: “I am professionally embarrassed. I cannot prosecute this case”.
Following this outcome, the defendant, Patel’s ex-boyfriend Parvan Singh, was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail.
The Crown Prosecution Service lodged an immediate complaint against Hollingworth following his remark in October. The complaint was received on 27 November by the deputy senior district judge for England and Wales, Emma Arbuthnot.
Hollingworth tendered his resignation on the same day. Arbuthnot asked Crown Prosecution Service officials to relay to court staff “how appalled I am by what he said”.
“It’s extremely rare for a district judge to resign,” a CPS insider stated about the case. “And for one to resign even before a formal investigation is even more rare.”
Controversially, Hollingworth still remains an immigration judge – news that has left CPS officials “astonished”. But the immigration judge’s role may be fleeting, as his racist outburst is currently being deliberated by Lord Justice Gross, the senior presiding judge for England and Wales.
The victim’s shock
Patel, 22, who is in fact a law student, expressed her utter disbelief at the judge’s comments: “I was born and bred in this country. I went through school, to college and then on to university to study law. It’s shocking and disgusting for anyone to say that, especially a judge. He’s the one making legal decisions and deciding people’s freedom and he’s saying stuff like that – it’s ridiculous.
“You would assume that people of this day and age, especially a judge, wouldn’t be racist. I’m more upset than angry, especially since I had already gone through so much by going to court – I was a victim of harassment, I didn’t even want to be there.
“And what’s worse, [Hollingworth] did it behind my back. I’ve had counselling because of what happened with my ex, so to hear this went on is even more upsetting. I’m glad I wasn’t in the room at the time, I don’t think I would have coped. It’s right that he’s resigned but it’s outrageous that he’s still an immigration judge – he needs to resign altogether.”
Patel, who currently works in an office during her university gap year, further expressed her gratitude for Parker “sticking up for [her]”.
A spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) declared: “Judge Richard Terrence Peter Hollingworth has resigned as a deputy district judge (magistrates court). The president of the first-tier tribunal of the immigration and asylum chamber is considering the matter in accordance with the Judicial Conduct (Tribunals) Rules 2014.
“Any finding of misconduct and recommendation of disciplinary action made to the president will be subsequently handled by the JCIO in accordance with the rules. [Hollingworth] remains a first-tier tribunal judge at the immigration and asylum chamber; however, he is currently refraining from all judicial duties.”
Hollingworth, based in Dronfield, Derbyshire, declined to comment.