Magistrate issued formal warning after speaking to defendant over the phone during a hearing
A magistrate who had a telephone conversation with a defendant during a court hearing has been reprimanded.
Howard Tate, who hears cases in West Yorkshire, was the subject of a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.
A spokesman for the office says a High Court judge has issued a formal warning after an investigation.
He said Mr Tate spoke to a defendant who had not attended the hearing.
"Whilst hearing a case in open court, Mr Tate had used his personal phone to speak twice to a defendant who had not attended the hearing," said the spokesman, in a statement published online.
"He also made comments about his actions to colleagues which were not appropriate in tone."
The spokesman said Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb issued the warning on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland.
He added: "Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb and the Lord Chancellor felt the action had potentially affected the fairness of the proceedings in open court, but took into account Mr Tate's lengthy service as a magistrate without any conduct issues and his acceptance of the errors made."