A magistrate spoke last night of her relief as her suspension from court duty was lifted.

Pat Simpson also talked for the first time of the shock of receiving - ten months ago - the request from the Lord Chancellor's office to stand down pending an investigation into a remark she allegedly made in open court.

The Lord Chancellor's office confirmed yesterday that Mrs Simpson, a member of the national executive of the magistrates' association, is now free to resume her place on the Bench at Teesside Magistrates Court.

The ex-nurse, from Stockton, was asked to step down from court duty last year following a complaint about a remark made at Teesside Youth Court.

Mrs Simpson told The Northern Echo: "I think the main thing to say is the Lord Chancellor is taking no action.

"Justice has been done, but I should have been on the Bench the whole time. When you have given up 20 years of life to the magistracy, it is a shock.

"The work is very hard and, naturally, I have been very upset for the past ten months. I am very pleased I have been exonerated by the Lord Chancellor, but it is going to be difficult to get back to working again.

"I have the experience and the practice, but when you have been through such a traumatising event you have to start to build bridges again. I shall do that with the support of colleagues.''

Mrs Simpson says she will resume her place on the Bench within the next 14 days.

"I am delighted the Lord Chancellor has taken the view he has,'' she said, adding: "I have worked very hard on behalf of magistrates across the country. I did six years on the training panel in London, am on the executive and I have worked hard for the Magistrates' Association."

During a lengthy investigation, Mrs Simpson appeared before an advisory panel, with her solicitor.

A spokeswoman for the Lord Chancellor's office, said: "Mrs Simpson was asked to stand down last year pending a formal investigation. Following that investigation she can resume her seat.''