Inge Bernstein

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Ingeborg "Inge" Bernstein (born 24 February 1931) was an English Circuit judge (England and Wales).[1]

Bernstein studied at Peterborough County Grammar School for Girls and St Edmund's College, Cambridge before moving to Liverpool and graduating from the University of Liverpool in November 1952. From 1952 until 1991, she worked for the Liverpool Chambers (becoming a Recorder (judge) in 1978 and head of the chambers in 1988). She was also a member of the Mental Health Act Commission from 1984 until 1986 and was president of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (England and Wales). From 1991 until 2001, she was a Circuit judge (England and Wales).[2]

In 1994, she used the racist phrase "nigger in the woodpile" in relation to two police officers in a summation to a Liverpool Civil and Family Court. She immediately apologised for the turn of phrase.[3] However, the plaintiff Valentine Reid, a Black people, brought a damages action to the Court of Appeal (England and Wales) (Reid v Chief Constable of Merseyside[3]), supported by Peter Herbert (lawyer)|Peter Herbert, the chair of the Society of Black Lawyers.[4] The appeal was rejected in 1996, ruled as an inadvertent (but highly offensive and inappropriate) slip of the tongue which was immediately withdrawn, and one which did not refer to the plaintiff or prejudice the jury against him.[3][4]

Bernstein retired in 2001.[2]

From 2001–2002, she was director of the Alternative Futures Group, a health and social care charity provider.[5]


  1. "Bernstein, Her Honour Ingeborg, (Inge), (born 24 Feb. 1931), a Circuit Judge, 1991–2001". Who's Who. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u7355. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Northern Circuit Directory For Circulation". 22 April 2004. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Apology removed any risk of bias; Law report". The Times. NI Syndication Limited. 5 February 1996. Retrieved 11 November 2021 – via Gale.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Judge's nigger-in-the-woodpile quip cleared of racial bias". The Mercury. News Limited. 8 February 1996. Retrieved 11 November 2021 – via Gale.
  5. "ALTERNATIVE FUTURES GROUP LIMITED overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK".

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