A JUDGE is being investigated after a complaint was made against him about his behaviour towards a member of legal staff.
District Judge Michael Wood has agreed to stop sitting at magistrates’ courts, including Peterlee, while the inquiry is carried out.
A spokesman for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “We have been made aware of the complaint about District Judge Michael Wood’s conduct and are investigating the matter.
“District Judge Wood is not sitting at the present time.”
He has not sat at courts across County Durham since April.
The department has said he has not been suspended, but has volunteered to not sit on cases while the investigation is carried out.
It is believed it was sparked by a complaint against him by colleagues of a woman who he is said to have behaved inappropriately towards, but not the woman herself.
North Durham Magistrates’ Court did not wish to add to the comment from the Office for Judicial Complaints when contacted about the investigation into District Judge Wood.
The 61-year-old was appointed as a salaried District Judge in the magistrates’ courts on June 1, 2004, when he became County Durham’s first full-time district judge.
He continues to be paid during the inquiry and is on a salary of £100,000 a year.
He was appointed as a solicitor in 1975 and was made a civil deputy district judge in 1993, serving until December 1999.
In 1998, he was appointed as an acting stipendiary magistrate – the old title for district judges – and became a deputy district judge for magistrates’ courts in August 2000 on the unification of the district bench.
District judges sit alone – rather than as a group of three as magistrates do – and have the authority to sit at any magistrates’ court.
The role tends to be filled by the ranks of legal advisors and will be trained solicitors or barristers.