It seems that I have severely underestimated the judges of the realm. For many years, I held a prejudiced view, based on nothing better than personal experience, that the men and women of the robe were dull, uninspiring automatons whose knowledge and interest in affairs of the heart – or loins – was about as developed as Texas Hold ‘em in Turkmenistan. The lone exemplar of something resembling sexual abandon was from Angouleme, and I have written of his sadly rather too onanistic antics before. Besides, he was French. Here, in this scepter’d isle, it was my belief that the Queen’s Bench Division was a place wholly free of double entendre, and that our judiciary was a saintly, if dour, breed, a collective which had trouble operating video technology in courts but whose every waking hour was, at least, absorbed by the grandest mistress of them all, the law.
And then along came the cleaner, the judge, his lover and her lover. And – who knows? – their lovers. God knows there is a lot of it about, but it all started with Judges J and I. We now know that Judge I is 61-year-old Judge Mohammed Ilyas Khan, but in some ways, I prefer to think of him as Judge I. His identity, then - before the conviction on blackmail and theft counts of his cleaner, Roselane Driza - was so much more tantalizing. Who was this lothario of the legal world, this avatar of sexual incontinence who missed the "P" of his "chilly hot stuff" lover when she was away? All kinds of images jostled in my febrile mind, but none approximated the reality, namely that Judge I is an eminence grise of both immigration law and internet dating with a predilection for red jumpers.
Let us briefly retread the well-worn, tabloid friendly facts. The trial of Ms Driza centred on her alleged attempt to blackmail Judges J and I, a pair who were once live-in lovers. The 37-year-old Ms Driza was retained in a professional capacity by both judges but was alleged to have neglected her cleaning duties in favour of theft. We now know that she stole videos of Judge I – or, if you insist, Mohammed Ilyas Khan - having sex with two women. However, her motive in doing so remains unclear, in the sense that the charge of blackmailing Khan into providing her with a rent-free home was unproven.
Perhaps Ms Driza stole the videos for her personal enjoyment. Then again, perhaps not. We cannot know her true purpose. But we do know that she was convicted of blackmailing Judge J. It was claimed that she threatened to write to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, telling him that she had worked illegally at Judge J’s house for five years. To prevent the Lord Chancellor learning of this mind-blowing piece of information, Ms Driza – who denied the charges against her – would apparently take £20,000. It should be noted that Khan and Judge J denied any knowledge of the fact that Ms Driza, a Brazilian, did not have a work permit.
The sexual shenanigans appear to have reached their nadir during Christmas 2004, when Judge J found Ms Driza and Khan in bed together. Albeit that, by then, Khan’s relationship with the mysterious, unidentified Judge J had drifted to the Platonic, this was not his finest Christmas present to his former beau. Tensions were clearly running high, and Khan told Judge J that he would end his relationship with the Brazilian. Evidently, though, she was possessed of the uncommon charms of the girls of Ipanema, Rio and Fortaleza, for Khan seems, against his better judgement, to have found her impossible to resist. Whatever lingering affection he may have had for her, though, it surely evaporated when he returned home from an overseas trip to find that two video cassettes featuring him in flagrante delicto "with two or more women" were missing.
To top all this, Judge J admits beginning a relationship with an unnamed senior judge after the end of her relationship with Khan. The senior judge is said to be a married father no longer living with his wife. For his part, Khan says he has made a terrible mistake and that "judges are human beings."
Good Lord, where will it all end? Are they all at it? Is their judge out there who is not enamoured of Brazilians or living a high-risk ménage a trois? What of barristers, from whose ranks most judges appear? Are they all at it, too, by way of practising for their time on the bench?
It is all very worrying. For years I may have poked fun at the Olympian indifference with which judges treat us mere mortals, but deep down there was a sense of comfort that, well, judges are people of rigour, rectitude and restraint. I may have wanted them to be a little more human and humane, but I didn’t want them running around engaging in sexual carnage. And when they protested in court that video technology was beyond them, I would get frustrated with their antediluvian ways but a part of me would let them off, as if the idea of a judge being technologically incompetent was part of the natural order of things. Now, though, I am confronted with the knowledge that at least one judge is so proficient with a video camera that he can produce amateur porn.
I am not sure if this is in the natural order of things.