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.
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.