Full text of anti-Israel activist acquittal revealed

By Marcus Dysch and Jessica Elgot, July 22, 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 in January 2009.

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.

The Office of Judicial Complaints is to investigate a number of complaints, including one from the Board of Deputies, that they have received about the judge's remarks.

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 criticised what he called "the Israeli colonialisation and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem... the Israeli colonial settlement policy". He described Operation Cast Lead as "a turkey shoot; the civilians had no escape".

The judge suggested: "If the members of the Israeli Air Force commit war crimes they can be prosecuted in England, as can anyone who knowingly helps the Israeli Air Force to commit such crimes or is complicit in their commission."

Judge Bathurst-Norman also referred to the Gaza flotilla incident, which had not taken place at the time of the break-in to the EDM factory.

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. "

He encouraged supporters of Israel to complain to the OJC.

Chief executive of the Board of Deputies Jon Benjamin said: "The judge's summing-up seemed to be more of a character reference for the defendants and an account of the iniquities of Israel and America than a dispassionate appraisal of the evidence.

"Rather than test whether the defence of lawful excuse was available to the accused, he appeared more intent on telling the jury why they would be morally wrong not to acquit them."

Read the full transcript here

    Last updated: 12:58pm, October 12 2010