"Core" of terrorism trial to be heard in secret

On 12 June 2014, the Court of Appeal gave their decision on an appeal by the Guardian and several other media organisations regarding an application by the prosecution for the entirety of a major terrorism trial to be held, for the first time in British legal history, in private and for anonymisation of the Defendants.

In the decision (available at www.judiciary.gov.uk), the Court of Appeal Judges said that, in this case, the "core" of the trial must be heard in private.  The Judges were "persuaded" on the evidence before them that there would be a "significant risk" that the administration of justice would be frustrated were the trial to be conducted in open Court.  However, the Judges were not persuaded that there would be a risk to the administration of justice if the following aspects of the trial were heard in open Court:

  • Swearing-in of the jury;
  • Reading the charges to the jury;
  • At least part of the Judges' introductory remarks to the jury;
  • At least part of the prosecution's opening;
  • The verdicts; and
  • If any convictions result, sentencing (subject to any further argument before the trial Judge as to the need for confidentiality).

Accordingly, the media and public will now be allowed to attend the above parts of the trial.  In addition, a small number of "accredited journalists" will be allowed to attend the closed parts of the trial, subject to agreement. 

However, despite the above, the Judges found it "difficult to conceive of a situation" where both a departure from open Court and anonymity of the Defendants would be justified.  The Judges were therefore not persuaded that there was justification for both and the identity of the Defendants has now been publicised.

The trial of the Mr Incedal and Mr Rarmoul-Bouhadjar starts on 16 June 2014.  They are charged with preparing for acts of terrorism contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006, collecting information for use in terrorism and possession of false identity documents.

Posted on: 17/06/2014

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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