Nearly a decade on, and the same judge was trundled out of retirement (we are surely entitled to ask "Why?") to preside at the trial of a number of people charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage - £180,000 worth of it - to a Brighton factory believed to be exporting arms components to Israel. The damage occurred in response to Operation Cast Lead. Last week, Bathurst Norman effectively directed the jury to deliver "Not Guilty" verdicts, telling them in his summing up: "You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time". He added, of the ringleader: "The jury may feel his efforts investigating the company merit the George Cross" (Britain's highest civilian award for gallantry!).
The defendants' acquittal, then, rested on his subjective agreement (presumably deriving from his assimilation of Hamas propaganda via such sources as the BBC) with their defence argument, namely that their actions against the factory were justified in order to prevent a greater evil - war crimes by Israel. Said the jubilant defence lawyer of the verdict: "It sends a clear indication that sometimes direct action is the only option when all other avenues have failed".
Similarly, Brighton MP Caroline Lucas, head of the Israel-demonising Green Party and herself a pro-Palestinian activist, expressed her delight "that the jury has recognised that the actions ... were a legitimate response to the atrocities being committed in Gaza" and that the defendants had clearly "exhausted all democratic avenues and, crucially, that their actions were driven by the responsibility to prevent further sufferings in Gaza". Outside the courtroom one of the defendants reiterated that "it was necessary for ordinary people to take action like we did" - and vowed that the factory would continue to be targetted until it closed down.
So there we have it. An English judge has given a virtual carte-blanche to violently-inclined anti-Israel fanatics. Apparently, there can be no appeal against an acquittal. But there should certainly be a protest against Bathurst Norman's biased and blockheaded summation. You can complain to the Office of Judicial Complaints on the form which can be accessed here: