A senior judge has issued a formal warning for “liking” a pro-Palestinian post on LinkedIn

A senior judge was given a formal misconduct warning for “liking” a post on Linkedin calling for a free Palestine shortly before overseeing the criminal trial of three women who showed photos of paragliders during a protest.

Deputy Chief Justice Tan Ikram found defendants Heba Alhayek (29), Pauline Ankunda (26) and Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo (27) guilty of a terrorist offense during a pro-Palestinian march in central London, a week after Hamas carried out the 7 October in Israel.

The judge’s handling of the case came under criticism after he granted the women conditional release and said they had “learned their lesson well”.

His impartiality was then questioned when it emerged that he had previously “liked” a LinkedIn message from a lawyer that read: “Free, free Palestine. To the Israeli terrorist in both the UK, the US and, of course, Israel, you can run, you can bomb, but you cannot hide – justice will come for you.”

Judge Ikram insisted that he accidentally liked the news and issued a statement at the time saying that he was unaware that such a thing had happened and that it was a “genuine mistake”.

But he faced a deluge of media reports about the incident and calls for misconduct proceedings, including from former Home Affairs Minister Suella Braverman.

On Tuesday, the Office of the Judicial Conduct Inquiry announced that the Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk and Chief Justice Baroness Carr had issued a formal warning to Judge Ikram.

A judge who handles high-profile criminal cases at Westminster Magistrates’ Court identified himself as a judge on LinkedIn, breaching the court’s social media guidelines.

The JCIO ruling said Justice Ikram “acknowledged that his inadvertent ‘liking’ of the post raised concerns about his impartiality” and admitted he was unaware of the latest social media rules.

“He emphasized that he had no intention of ‘liking’ the post, describing it as ‘disgusting,'” the disciplinary committee said.

“He stated that when he learned about the article, he did everything he could to mitigate the consequences of inadvertently “liking” the post. This included contacting the Office of the Judiciary Press Office. The judge also closed his LinkedIn account, which he used mainly for his work as a diversity and community relations judge.

“In support of his contentions, Justice Ikram produced a technical report ordered by him. The report confirmed that he had no direct social media connection with the author of the comment. The report also indicated that it was “extremely easy” for a LinkedIn user to inadvertently trigger a “like” on their iPhone by double-tapping an image.”

(ES composite)

Justice Ikram approached the JCIO following news reports about the LinkedIn post, and the JCIO said it had received 60 complaints.

The judge reviewing his case found that Justice Ikram, who received a CBE in 2022 for his work on diversity in the judiciary, used LinkedIn to promote his work.

However, she also found that “inadvertently liking the post resulted in the perception of his bias” due to his high profile in the trial involving pro-Palestinian protesters.

The judge said he had “taken full responsibility and shown genuine remorse” and recommended he receive formal counseling.

However, the Lord Chancellor and Lady Chief Justice opted for the tougher sanction because it had caused “significant damage to the image of the judiciary” and to “underline their shared view of the seriousness of the misuse of social media by judges”.