Naked Judge investigated

A JUDICIAL watchdog in NZ is investigating a complaint about the conduct of a judge whose naked photographs were used online to promote a nudist camp.

The Herald on Sunday has learned of at least one formal complaint laid with the Judicial Conduct Commission.

The complaint is that the images of the district court judge adversely affect the standing of the judiciary and undermine public confidence "especially in the hearing of sex crimes, public indecency cases and the exposure of minors to pornography".

The full-frontal nude pictures were publicly accessible on the Pineglades Naturist Club website. In one, the judge was posing on a lawn. In another he was playing petanque.

They were removed after inquiries from this newspaper and Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said they were posted without the judge's knowledge.

The Herald on Sunday has chosen not to name the judge.

The judge told the Herald on Sunday this week that he "understands the interest, given the article" but, after taking advice, he has "no comment that I would like to make".

The complaint to the Conduct Commission queries how the judge could be "especially critical of a man exposing himself to school children or of pornographic pictures on the internet given the pictures of himself were readily and freely available".

The Conduct Commission refused to confirm the complaint, which has been seen by this newspaper, saying it is bound by confidentiality laws.

But a spokesman confirmed all complaints would be examined.

The complaint may then either be dismissed, referred to the chief judge or a recommendation made to the Attorney-General that an inquiry is necessary. Inquiries are conducted by a Judicial Review Panel which reports findings back to the Auditor-General.

Doogue declined to comment yesterday. "If a complaint is before the Judicial Conduct Commissioner, then it would be inappropriate for the Chief Judge to make any comment," a spokeswoman from her office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Pineglades is considering policy changes. Members give written consent for pictures to be used when they join.

President, Christine Nee, told the Herald on Sunday the judge remains a member and she understands he is still on good terms with the club, but the club might revise its rules around photography, privacy and how it seeks consent to publish people's images online.

The website for Pineglades Naturist Club at Rolleston, south of Christchurch, says: "We would like to welcome you to our little piece of paradise ... Once inside our gate, we can show you how you can shed your stresses with your clothes."

There are baches and camping facilities, a swimming pool and spa and various sports facilities, plus a lively social calendar.

- Herald on Sunday

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