in

He’s the first British judge to resign since 1970. Sir Hugh Laddie has taken another job because his judicial duties had become boring.

A high court judge who is leaving the bench to join a firm of solicitors because he is bored with judging took fellow judges by surprise yesterday.

Mr Justice Laddie has risked the disapproval of the legal establishment by breaking the unwritten convention that the bench is a life sentence ended only by retirement or death.

Yesterday his resignation was the talk of the inns of court where judges meet for lunch. One appeal court judge said: “For some of the old school people at Lincoln’s Inn, saying he was going to join a firm of solicitors was a double insult.”

The judge said some colleagues felt Sir Hugh Laddie was saying, in effect, “if no one else is resigning as I am resigning because of being bored, they must need very little stimulation”. He added: “You might feel harassed, you might feel overworked, but bored I think not. I wasn’t when I was there [in the high court]. I had a big variety of work: one day murder, the next ships.”

Lord Donaldson, former master of the rolls, insisted that he was never bored when he was a high court judge. “The divisional court was absolutely fascinating. The [now-defunct] industrial relations court was even more fascinating.”

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.