Saturday, July 24, 2010
If George Bathurst-Norman is an anti-Semite, that's all very interesting, though I'm hardly comfortable reading about British officialdom investigating a colleague over remarks he made from the bench about Israel. Does it affect our thinking either way if they acquit him of the "charge?" We can read it for ourselves. More interesting to me is the question of just how it was that this man was brought out of retirement for the sole purpose of hearing this one case, and why it was, given his biases, that he heard the case at all. And was his summing up and conduct of the trial itself inappropriately prejudicial of the outcome? These strike me as the real questions. I can make the decision on whether he's a Jew hater on my own: Judge faces anti-Semitism probe after speech attacking Israel helps free arms factory protesters
A senior judge was under investigation yesterday after being accused of making anti-Semitic remarks in court that may have swayed his jury into acquitting a group of protesters.
Judge George Bathurst-Norman was said by critics to have persuaded a jury to clear a group of campaigners who smashed up a factory making parts for Israeli warplanes.
Summing up in the criminal damage trial, he compared Israel to the Nazi regime and accused the country of ignoring international law.
The judge added that 'there may be much to be admired' about the chief protester, and that 'in the last war he would probably have received a George Medal'.
The Office for Judicial Complaints, which deals with objections over the conduct of judges and magistrates, confirmed that an inquiry into how Judge Bathurst-Norman handled the trial of five political activists at Hove Crown Court in June is under way.
Its findings will be considered by Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who have the final say on any disciplinary action.
A number of complaints are said to have accused the judge not just of anti-Israel rhetoric but specifically of anti-Semitism.
The case involved a group of activists who broke into and vandalised a Brighton factory run by engineering firm EDO MBM.
The company was making parts for use in the bomb-aiming equipment on Israeli F16 warplanes.
The invasion shut the factory for a week and caused £187,000 worth of damage. But five men and women who appeared in court claimed they had done nothing wrong under criminal damage law.
The law says someone is not guilty of causing damage if they believed it was necessary for the immediate protection of someone else's property.
It is framed to protect, for example, someone who smashes a neighbour's door down if they believe their house is on fire...