Bathurst-Norman rapped for 'George Cross' comments

Judge Bathurst-Norman

Judge Bathurst-Norman

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, the judge told Hove Crown Court jury: "You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time."

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 June 28 and 29 2010 was unable to sit. To avoid an adjournment, His Honour Bathurst-Norman agreed to replace him.

"A number of complaints was 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."

Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chairman of the Zionist Federation, said: "Let the disgracing of this judge be a lesson to any other judges who similarly encourage the delegitimisation of Israel."

Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies, said: "We are pleased that the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor have demonstrated their clear condemnation of an appalling dereliction of duty from someone in such a responsible position.

"We question whether a person who has shown such utter disregard for the rule of law should continue holding an office whose role is to uphold it. This, however, is a decision for the country's legal authorities."

Roger Coe-Salazar, chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service South East, said: "The CPS opposed admission of the Goldstone Report [in evidence] on the basis of a lack of relevance, thereby requiring Judge Bathurst-Norman to formally rule on the matter. The judge decided to admit specific sections of the executive summary.

"The CPS made it clear that while we accepted the existence of the report, we specifically did not accept its contents or the assertions contained within it."

Last updated: 4:17pm, October 14 2010