This blog generally does not become involved in the minutiae of the "law" per se. The writer whilst obviously being interested is not qualified or knowledgeable enough to offer quality comment. Fellow bloggers obiterj and charon qc are excellent sites where such insightful views can be found. However the effects on the individual of legislation and all that surrounds it is very much the bread and butter on this site.
Some few times I have discussed the positions of juries, Crown Court Judges sitting without a jury or as a tribunal of three and District Judges sitting alone as both judge and jury at Magistrates` Courts. I have also ventured criticism of judges although not before being very careful of my language both legally and literally.
A basic principle of the way this country is run is that parliament makes the law and the courts and or the judiciary implement it. So it has been recently with the law on libel. The criminal law is tweaked by the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. Occasionally a criminal trial throws up an anomalous verdict that does not appear to be based on the evidence presented at the trial. However rarely has a judge`s summing up come in for such critical comment as in the case recently concluded at Brighton Crown Court where Judge Bathurst-Norman virtually encouraged the jury to aquit the defendants on trial for criminal damage at a factory where there might or might not have been military equipment manufactured for sale to Israel or Israeli interests.
Any discussion on Israel lends itself to risk of abuse from those whose purpose in delegitimizing that country`s very right to exist is akin to Monty Python`s quest for the holy grail….it must be pursued at the cost of all reason and normality. Perhaps that is why it has generally been below the bloggers` horizon. However for anybody who cherishes the rule of law as a protection for the citizen and a stick to beat those who would usurp that protection it is a monumental decision. The judge`s full summing up can be found here. Comment from the local newly elected Green MP who should be publicly shamed can be read here. The thoughts of the F.T. columnist Michael Skapinker are also interesting.
My opinion is that whist no two cases are the same, members of the Animal Liberation Front have been convicted of criminal damage with their arguments essentially of a similar nature to those at Brighton who, had they lived in Zimbabwe or Saudi Arabia or Burma or China or many such states where the “law” means what those in political power want it to mean, might find justification for their actions. But in England it is nothing short of a disgrace and brings the judiciary into disrepute.
Within the last few days the Office of Judicial Complaints has been asked to review the judge's summing up and the CPS have also requested a transcript. I await with interest any further comments.