Senior Master leaves post after conduct investigation

Whitaker: resigned

Senior Master Whitaker – who won plaudits for establishing the specialist list for mesothelioma claims and for his work on e-disclosure – has left office voluntarily ahead of being removed, it emerged today.

Observers had noticed recently that he had suddenly left the Royal Courts of Justice, and today the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office issued a statement on him.

It said: “A judicial investigation into the conduct of Senior Master Steven Whitaker has found that he made misleading entries in his Outlook diary with the intent to mislead anyone who might scrutinise the record.

“The Lord Chancellor and the Chancellor of the High Court (on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice) concluded that this behaviour amounted to serious misconduct and would have removed the Senior Master from office had he not voluntarily resigned.”

Lawyers on Twitter have responded by expressing sadness at the news, with several praising him as a good, effective and fair judge.

Steven Whitaker was called to the Bar in 1973. A member of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee from 2002 to 2008, he was appointed the Senior Master and Queen’s Remembrancer in 2007. The practice he introduced for mesothelioma claims has been followed internationally and is now embodied in the CPR.

He chaired the working party set up by the rule committee to draft the e-disclosure practice direction that implemented Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations.

In 2006, Mr Whitaker helped draft amendments to the Compensation Bill that reversed the controversial House of Lords decision of Barker v Corus on mesothelioma claims. He is the current general editor of the White Book.

Dating back to 1164, the post of Queen’s Remembrancer is the oldest judicial post to remain in continual existence. Among the tasks are presiding over two of the oldest legal ceremonies, which both began in the 13th century: the Rendering of the Quit Rents to the Crown and the Trial of the Pyx.

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