Call for re-trial after 'shocking' summing-up

By Marcus Dysch, July 15, 2010

The full transcript has been revealed for the first time of a judge's summing-up in the trial of seven anti-Israel activists acquitted of damaging an arms factory.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman had told the jury at Lewes Crown Court that the group's leader should be awarded the George Cross for his campaign.

The group were cleared last month of causing £180,000 of damage to the EDO MBM factory in Brighton after they claimed they had acted "to prevent Israeli war crimes".

The company denied ever supplying Israel with arms equipment.

In his summing-up speech, Judge Bathurst-Norman told the jury: "It may be as you went through what I can only describe as horrific scenes, scenes of devastation to civilian population, scenes which one would rather have hoped to have disappeared with the Nazi regimes of the last war, you may have felt anger and been absolutely appalled by them, but you must put that emotion aside."

He said Christopher Osmond, who had led the "Smash EDO" group, should be rewarded for his efforts: "People like Mr Osmond, who put themselves in harm's way to protect others… there may be much to be admired about people like that. Perhaps if he had done it in this country in the last war he would probably have received a George Medal."

Judge Bathurst-Norman also criticised the British and US governments, telling jurors: "You must put aside any feelings of being thoroughly ashamed of our government, of the American government and the United Nations and the EU in doing nothing about what was happening."

Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chair of the Zionist Federation, obtained the full 87-page transcript.

He said: "Judge Bathurst-Norman behaved more like the defence counsel than the neutral officer of the court that he was supposed to be. The role of a judge – far from advancing his own political agenda – is to clarify points of law to the lay members of the jury.

"Bathurst-Norman's comments reveal that he has an extreme anti-Israel agenda."

Mr Hoffman said the case should be declared a mis-trial and retried under a new judge. He encouraged supporters of Israel to complain to the Office for Judicial Complaints and to write to Justice Minister Ken Clarke.

Last updated: 2:03pm, July 15 2010