The Swedish Supreme Court judge who admitted to paying a 20-year old rent boy for sex will keep his job, the chancellor of justice has decided.
However, in an about-turn following widespread criticism, he will now be moved sideways into a position on the Council on Legislation, a body which provides opinions on law proposals before they are submitted to parliament.
On Wednesday it appeared that he would continue to hear cases in court. Indeed, the head of the court, Bo Svensson, told Dagens Nyheter that his colleague’s extra-curricular research could be “an advantage”.
“One could say that he has deeper knowledge of the subject,” joked Svensson, who on Thursday said he regretted the comment.
The judge, who has been named by the Swedish media as 59 year old Leif Thorsson, initially denied the accusations. But by confessing he avoided a trial and has instead accepted a fine of over 40,000 kronor.
This in itself is a first, noted Swedish Radio: never before has one of the 16 government-appointed judges, Sweden’s highest lawyers, been caught breaking the law.
In a statement the chancellor of justice, Göran Lambertz, said that he would not be taking further measures against Thorsson since he had not shown himself to be so “obviously inappropriate” for his role that he should be fired
“In my judgement the crime which he has admitted to does not reach that level,” he said.
“But this decision does not mean that it’s OK for a judge to buy sex,” he told Swedish Television’s Rapport programme.
Lambertz added that “it is clear that confidence in him as a judge has been damaged”.
Leading figures in the legal profession said that the case has harmed the reputation of the Supreme Court. Anne Ramberg, the general secretary of the Swedish Bar Association, told Swedish Radio that even if the rules allow Thorsson to stay, he ought to resign.
“The Supreme Court tries this kind of crime, which the public considers to be important, rather often, and there’s a danger that faith in the court will be eroded,” she said.