Chief Magistrate

The title “Chief Magistrate” holds historical and contemporary significance in various legal and governmental systems across the world.

The Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) of England and Wales, as they are known, has a leadership responsibility for the 300-or-so District Judges (Magistrates’ Court) (DJMCs), and Deputy DJMCs across England and Wales.

The Chief Magistrate has no authority over lay magistrates, or over the several hundreds of district judges who sit in the county courts of England and Wales.

The current Chief Magistrate of England and Wales is Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring.

The current Deputy Chief Magistrate of England and Wales is Senior Deputy District Judge Tanweer Ikram CBE.

The position of Chief Magistrate, often laden with authority and responsibility, embodies the essence of governance, justice, and leadership within a jurisdiction.

The Chief Magistrate is responsible for:

  • hearing many of the most sensitive or complex cases in the magistrates’ courts and in particular extradition and special jurisdiction cases.
  • supporting and guiding district judge (magistrates’ court) colleagues.
  • liaising with the senior judiciary and Presiding Judges on matters relating to magistrates’ courts and district judges (magistrates’ courts).

The Chief Magistrate’s Office is also responsible for arranging sittings of Deputy DJMCs across England and Wales, and managing the hearings of disciplinary adjudications in prisons. Where a disciplinary offence by a prisoner merits additional days of imprisonment, full-time district judges are deployed to prisons to hear the cases. Requests come from prisons throughout the country – a list of cases is then built up, and when a sufficient number of cases has been generated, a judge attends the prison to hear them.

Chief Magistrate Courts and Tribunal Judiciary


Three women convicted of terror offence for ‘celebrating’ Hamas attack on Israel by displaying images of paragliders at pro-Palestinian march were spared jail as the Deputy Chief Magistrate of England and Wales, Senior Deputy District Judge Tanweer Ikram CBE says he ‘decided not to punish’ them after ’emotions ran very high’.

For this offence, Section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows for :-

(a)imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months,
(b)a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or

Why did the Deputy Chief Magistrate “let them off” so lightly ?

On the 11th June 2024 Deputy Senior District Judge Tanweer Ikram CBE was issued with a formal warning for misconduct by the JCIO.

The Deputy Chief Magistrate of England and Wales inadvertent ‘liking’ of a post had resulted in a perception of bias. The Lord Chancellor and the Lady Chief Justice were not satisfied that a sanction of formal advice was sufficient in this case as he had caused “significant reputational damage to the judiciary”.

A row has broken out after a judge who decided to let three women wearing parachute images at a pro-Palestine march walk free admitted to liking a social media post branding Israel a ‘terrorist’.

Tanweer Ikram is facing calls to be investigated for a conflict of interest after he liked a LinkedIn post calling for a ‘free Palestine ‘ by a barrister who had previously promoted conspiracy theories claiming that Israel allowed the October 7 attack.

The senior district judge admitted to liking the post ‘by mistake’ three weeks ago, but was told by the Judicial Office that the matter would not be investigated further.

Daily Mail – Senior Deputy District Judge Tanweer Ikram

History of the Chief Magistrate

From ancient times to modern democracies, the chief magistrate has played a pivotal role in upholding the rule of law, ensuring the administration of justice, and maintaining social order.

Historically, the term “magistrate” finds its roots in ancient Rome, where magistrates held considerable power in the Roman Republic.

They were responsible for the administration of justice, overseeing public ceremonies, and enforcing laws. The chief magistrate, known as the “consul,” was the highest-ranking official elected to lead the republic for a term of one year. Their authority was balanced by the Senate and other governmental bodies, reflecting a system of checks and balances.

When the first Chief Magistrate began sitting at Bow Street in 1735, the title wasn’t confusing at all – at the time, magistrates in London were paid judicial office-holders, and magistrates’ courts in London were presided over by Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrates.  All magistrates – paid and unpaid – are Justices of the Peace. Nowadays the word magistrate is more commonly used for the unpaid judicial office holders, also commonly known as JPs.

Early holders of the post also had responsibility for the Bow Street Runners, until they were replaced by the Metropolitan Police in the 19th century.

Chief Magistrate’s Office

The Chief Magistrate’s Office provides administrative support both to the Chief Magistrate and to district judges sitting at all the magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.

The Chief Magistrate’s Office is based at:

181 Marylebone Road

DX 120551, Marylebone 9

Email addresses:

Chief Magistrates’ Office enquiries mailbox:

Judicial Deployment mailbox:

Independent Adjudication mailbox :

Chief Magistrate’s Office
Paul GoldspringSenior District Judge (Chief Magistrate)
Tanweer Ikram CBEDeputy Senior District Judge (Deputy Chief Magistrate)
Stephen SmithPA and Business Support to the Senior District (Chief Magistrate) and Deputy Senior District (Chief Magistrate)
Claire-Louise ManningLegal Adviser and Researcher for the Chief Magistrate
Rahat SiddiqiDelivery Manager
Khalilur RahmanAdmin officer – Deployment Section
Jabir AhmedAdmin officer – Deployment Section
Karen JenningsTeam Leader – Prison Section
Karolina ZukauskaiteAdmin officer – Prison Section
Gold Fax 01264 887 396
Contacts at the Chief Magistrates Office

We recommend you should always seek formal legal advice if required, from a qualified and reputable lawyer (solicitor or barrister).

We have a number of links to Free Legal Resources and Legal Organisations on our Free Legal Advice , Legal Aid and Pro Bono pages.

Read the reviews of Junior Sussex Barrister Gavin Howe 

“He is awful, underhanded and should not be practising law!”

and Legal 500 Junior Barrister Eleanor Battie

She is a one-woman legal A Team”

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By Dom Watts

Dom Watts founded the Ministry of Injustice in July 2021. Dom works in IT and has no legal training and is not a lawyer. You can find Dom on X or Google.

Dom publishes the Ministry of Injustice as a citizen journalist. The journalism exemption is detailed in the Data protection and journalism code of practice published by the ICO and Section 124 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

In 2002 Dom Watts was an unlikely consumer champion. The dad of three from Croydon took on the power and might of Kodak – and won………

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