Bathurst Norman reprimanded

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George Bathurst Norman, the part-time judge who expressed his personal view of Israel’s actions in Gaza to a jury when summing up in a trial for criminal damage, has been reprimanded for this error by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and the Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke.

A spokesperson for the Office for Judicial Complaints said this morning:

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.

Lord Judge’s decision is in line with my prediction here and here. Indeed, it goes further. It is fully justified.

Today’s statement also makes it clear that Bathurst Norman was not the first choice to conduct this “politically sensitive trial”. We can now see why.