A Punjabi-origin former councillor in the East Midlands city of Derby - at the centre of a row over a photo of him holding an AK-47 rifle - has been removed as a magistrate after a probe concluded that he brought the magistracy into disrepute.
Ajit Atwal had posed for the photo during his visit to India in September last year, and the photo was uploaded on his Twitter account. He has since apologised, removed the photo, insisted that the rifle was not loaded and that critics were politically motivated.
The decision to remove him as a magistrate follows an investigation by the judicial conduct investigations office that began in April.
An investigations office spokesperson said: “Mr Ajit Singh Atwal, a magistrate assigned to the Derbyshire bench, uploaded photographs of himself holding an automatic weapon, which is illegal in the UK, on his Twitter account.”
“The photographs were deemed by a conduct panel to have brought the magistracy into disrepute. This decision was then later upheld by a disciplinary panel. The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice concluded that this behavior amounted to serious misconduct and have removed Mr Atwal from the magistracy.”
When the investigation began in April, Atwal had voluntarily agreed to refrain from sitting as a magistrate, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Before the investigation started, Atwal had said: “I realise that the picture may cause offence to some people and so I have removed it. The gun was not loaded and I asked someone to take a picture of me holding it last September when I was on holiday in India.”