Howard Riddle

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Howard Riddle
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Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) for England and Wales
In office
Appointed byElizabeth II
Preceded byTimothy Workman, CBE
Succeeded byEmma Arbuthnot
District Judge (Magistrates' Court)
In office
Appointed byElizabeth II
Personal details
Howard Charles Fraser Riddle

13 August 1947
CitizenshipUnited kingdom
Spouse(s)Susan Hilary Hurst
Children2 daughters
EducationJudd School, Tonbridge
Alma materLondon School of Economics, College of Law.
AwardsCBE 2018

Howard Charles Fraser Riddle (born 13 August 1947).[1] is a British retired[2] judge who was the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) for England and Wales. He was appointed to that office in 2010.

Early life and education

Riddle was educated at Bexley Grammar School; The Judd School, Tonbridge in Kent; the London School of Economics and the College of Law, Lancaster Gate. He was Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 1978.


1969–70 - Sub-Editor, Penguin Books;

1970–71 - Editor, McGill-Queens University Press;

1971–76 - Publications Officer, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council[3], Canada;

1976–95 - Solicitor, Edward Fail, Bradshaw and Waterson, (Senior Partner, 1985–95);

1993–95 - Vice-Chairman, London Area Committee, Legal Aid Board;

2004–10 - Member, Sentencing Advisory Panel, (Vice-Chairman, 2007–10);

2008–11 - Chairman, Legal Committee, Council of District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts);

2012–17 - Member, Editorial Board: Blackstone’s Criminal Practice;

2012–17 - Member, Editorial Board: Criminal Law Review, now Honorary Member.

Judicial career

Riddle was appointed a Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate in 1995, automatically becoming a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) upon the renaming of that role. He was appointed Senior District Judge for England and Wales (Chief Magistrate) in 2010. He was a contributing editor to Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences between 2008-12 and contributed to Blackstone's Criminal Practice between 2011-12.

High profile cases

District Judge Riddle (as he then was) presided over a number of high-profile extradition cases, including: Julian Assange of WikiLeaks wanted in Sweden on allegations of sexual assaults, including rape[4]. Shrien Dewani wanted in South Africa for the alleged murder of his wife on their honeymoon (he was sent to South Africa and acquitted[5][6]). Domenico Rancadore who had been convicted in Italy in absence of mafia-related offences (the warrant was later withdrawn)[7]. Davit Kezerashvili the former defence minister of Georgia wanted for prosecution for financial offences (extradition was refused)[7]. He also tried and/or sentenced a number of high-profile criminal cases, including John Terry acquitted on public order charges[8] ; an unsuccessful private prosecution against Thomas Monson the president of the Mormon church for fraud[9]; Danny Cipriani for drink driving[10]; and (sitting with two magistrates) Neil Fox a well-known radio disc jockey found not guilty of sexual assaults[11]. In March 2011 he was criticized by some for convicting[12] a man who had burned a poppy in a demonstration during the two-minute silence on Armistice Day (it being said by critics that this breached the right to freedom of expression[13]), and more widely criticized for imposing too lenient a fine after conviction.[14] In 2015 Riddle issued search warrants for premises connected to three distinguished and entirely innocent men. The allegations against them were made by a man known at the time as “Nick” but later identified as Carl Beech. In 2019 Mr Beech was convicted of perjury for these false allegations, and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment. A report by Sir Richard Henriques, a former High Court judge commissioned by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, concluded that the judge was correct to issue the warrants on the basis of the information provided to him, but would not have done so had the information provided to him by the police not been misleading.[15]

Honourable appointments

He was appointed an Honorary Master of the Bencher of Gray’s Inn in 2012.[16] Riddle was awarded a Order of the CBE in the 2018 New Year Honours List.[17]


Rugby football, tennis, visiting France.


  1. "Riddle, Howard Charles Fraser, (born 13 Aug. 1947), Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), 2010–16; a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) (formerly Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate), 1995–2016". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.001.0001/ww-9780199540884-e-32536.
  2. "Retirement of Senior District Judge Riddle". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  3. Government of Canada, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (11 May 2012). "Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council".
  4. "Sweden, The judicial authority of v Assange [2011] EW Misc 5 (MC) (24 February 2011)".
  5. "South Africa v Dewani [2011] EW Misc 11 (MC) (10 August 2011)".
  6. "Six reasons Shrien Dewani was acquitted". The Independent. 8 December 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Domenico Rancadore: Mafia boss wins extradition battle". 17 March 2014 – via
  9. "Mormon leader Thomas Monson fraud case thrown out". 20 March 2014 – via
  10. "CPS -v- Danny Cipriani".
  12. "CPS v Haque & Anor [2011] EW Misc 25 (MC) (7 March 2011)".
  13. "Poppy burning, free speech and the £50 question". UK Human Rights Blog. 9 March 2011.
  14. Andrews, Emily (7 March 2011). "£50 insult to Britain's war dead: Veteran's fury as poppy burner enjoying a life on benefits gets paltry fine and mocks soldiers". Mail Online.
  17. "The New Year honours 2018".

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