EXCLUSIVE: judge Jeremy Lea found guilty of computer misuse by Crown Court

Judge Jeremy Lea found guilty of computer misuse by Crown Court

By HMCTS correspondent                                                                       7 April 2020


Swindon Crown Court caught a circuit judge committing serious acts of professional misconduct last year.
Nottingham’s judge Jeremy Lea already infamous over his handling of the scandalous Samantha Baldwin case now awaits his fate at the hands of the Lord Chief Justice.
Jeremy Lea was reported to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) and the police in 2019, after his personal User Account on the Digital Case System (DCS) — the Crown Courts’ computer system — was used to access sensitive case files in which Lea had no legitimate interest.
The JCIO began an investigation into Jeremy Lea in 2019, and referred the matter to the Lord Chief Justice earlier this year.
In summer 2019, Swindon’s senior presiding judge, His Honour Judge Peter Crabtree OBE, was notified that Jeremy Lea had accessed DCS files in a prosecution, then in progress at Swindon Crown Court, of journalist Richard Carvath.
At the time Lea committed his misdeeds, Lea not only knew and was sided with the complainant in the Swindon stalking prosecution, but he was himself a complainant against Mr Carvath, in a harassment prosecution then in progress at Sheffield magistrates’ court.
The two prosecutions of Mr Carvath shared much common background.
Both Lea and the other complainant knew each other (through the Samantha Baldwin case), and both complained about Mr Carvath to police in the same month (January 2019), in which month both complainants became aware that Mr Carvath was due to give evidence against them, in the Samantha Baldwin case then in progress at Nottingham family court.
Lea was the judge in the Samantha Baldwin case until he recused himself in January 2019.
Mr Carvath attempted to give evidence against Lea and others in the Samantha Baldwin case in March 2019, but Nottinghamshire Police arrested him in the court building, just moments before he was due to testify.
The same day as the police prevented Mr Carvath from testifying against Lea, the police proceeded to charge Mr Carvath with harassing Lea, and the following day Nottingham lay magistrates banned Mr Carvath from entering the county of Nottinghamshire.
Mr Carvath was acquitted of stalking by a jury after trial at Swindon Crown Court in December 2019, but convicted of harassing judge Lea by judge Tan Ikram, in a rigged trial at Sheffield magistrates’ court in March 2020.
Mr Carvath is expected to appeal against Ikram’s verdict.
Jeremy Lea’s misconduct on the DCS is contrary to the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
The misconduct also raises concern over whether Lea may have perverted or attempted to pervert the course of justice.
A letter sent to all full-time judges in April 2017 warned judges that misuse of the DCS “out of curiosity or for personal reasons” would lead to investigation by the JCIO and police.
In the case of Jeremy Lea’s misuse of the DCS, Swindon Crown Court acted to bar Jeremy Lea immediately the court became aware of what he had done.
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