The Department for Work and Pensions office in London.

A system that allows barristers who are paid by DWP to prosecute benefit fraud cases to also sit as judges on tribunals that decide social security appeals is “unquestionably wrong” and a “direct conflict of interest”, say welfare rights experts.

Once a judge is appointed to a full-time, salaried post they are no longer allowed to carry out paid work as barristers.

Neither DWP nor the Judicial Office, which supports the judiciary, expressed any concerns this week about part-time judges on social security appeal tribunals also prosecuting cases on behalf of DWP.

But Steve Donnison, co-founder of Benefits and Work, which provides benefits information and advice, said: “It is unquestionably wrong that judges can be allowed to sit in jurisdictions where they have a financial relationship with one of the parties to appeals.

“It undermines people’s trust in the independence of the judiciary.”

Source: Allowing DWP barristers to sit as benefits appeal judges ‘is unquestionably wrong’

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