A crown court judge who swore at a convicted racist during a trial has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Patricia Lynch QC was in the middle of sentencing John Hennigan in August 2016 for breaching an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) when the defendant said: "It's obvious, isn't it? It's because you're a cunt and I'm not."
In an exchange that has now become famous, Lynch immediately replied: "Well, you're a bit of a cunt yourself. Being offensive to me doesn't make things better at all."
Hennigan then replied: "Go fuck yourself," to which Lynch said: "You too. Take him down."
The Judicial Conduct Office (JCO) received 10 complaints about the incident and Lynch apologised for her choice of words, calling it a momentary lapse of judgment.
"Although the lord chancellor and the lord chief justice considered HHJ Lynch’s remarks to be inappropriate," the JCO said in a statement, "they did not find that they amounted to misconduct or warranted any disciplinary sanction. [They] were of the view that the matter should be dealt with by informal advice."
Hennigan, 50, who has dozens of previous convictions, was being sentenced to 18 months in prison for using racist language in public, contrary to the terms of his ASBO.
Chelmsford crown court heard that he had told a black woman who was out with her children in Harlow town centre that he preferred white children.
According to reporters in court, Hennigan banged the glass that divides the dock where defendants sit from the rest of the courtroom, before performing a Nazi salute, shouting “Sieg heil!”, and singing about Jews being gassed.
Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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