Anti-Israel activist acquittal judge reprimanded

The judge who suggested that one of the anti-Israel activists who was acquitted of damaging an arms factory should be awarded the George Cross has been reprimanded for his “personal views”.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman made the comments in his 87-page summing up of the July trial of seven activists who broke into the Brighton EDO MBM factory last year.

The “Smash EDO” group were acquitted of causing £180,000 worth of damage to the building, which they believed supplied Israel with arms equipment.

In his summing-up speech, he told the Hove Crown Court jury: “You may well thing that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time.”

In a statement released today, a spokesperson for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “At short notice, the judge assigned to try a politically sensitive trial at Hove Crown Court on 28 and 29 June 2010 was unable to sit. To avoid an adjournment, His Honour Bathurst-Norman agreed to replace to him.

“A number of complaints were made about some of the observations he made during the trial and summing up. An investigation found that a number of these observations did not arise directly from the evidence at trial and could be seen as an expression of the judge’s personal views on a political question. This was an error.

“The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice considered the conclusions of the investigation and HH Bathurst-Norman was formally reprimanded.”

Last updated: 3:03pm, October 11 2010