A JUDGE is at the centre of a probe into his behaviour towards legal staff following complaints made against him.
District Judge Michael Wood has agreed to stop sitting at magistrates’ courts across County Durham while the investigation proceeds.
It is understood he has not sat for up to two months.
A spokeswoman for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “The Office for Judicial Complaints has been made aware of a complaint about District Judge Michael Wood’s conduct and is carrying out an investigation.
“District Judge Wood is not sitting at the present time.
“It must be stressed that he has not been suspended, he has voluntarily chosen not to sit while the investigation is being carried out.”
The Journal understands a complaint against Mr Wood was made by colleagues of a woman to whom he was alleged to have behaved inappropriately, but not by the woman herself.
Mr Wood, 61, is a trained solicitor, who became County Durham’s first full-time district judge in June 2004 at a salary of more than £100,000 per year.
He was admitted as a solicitor in July 1975, made a civil deputy district judge in 1993 and served until December 1999.
In 1998, he was appointed as an acting stipendiary magistrate and became a deputy district judge for magistrates’ courts in August 2000 on the unification of the district bench.
Judge Wood sits at magistrates’ courts across County Durham.
District Judges used to be known as Stipendiary Magistrates. Unlike magistrates, District Judges sit alone and have the authority to sit in any magistrates’ court.
District Judges have tended to be appointed from the ranks of legal advisers to the magistrates’ court and will be qualified solicitors or barristers.
Recent high-profile cases in which Judge Wood has been involved include the committal of catholic priest Fr Paul Shannon to Durham Crown Court, where he was convicted of possessing child pornography, and the committal to Crown Court of Naomi Jane Myers, 22, from Coxhoe, who admitted the manslaughter of Shaun Dalby, 28, by running him over.