Terrorism Trial to be Held Entirely in Private in the UK

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The Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice (c) Graham Turner/The Guardian

A terrorism trial against two defendants, known only as AB and CD, is set to commence in London on 16 June. The trial looks to be the first in modern legal history to be held entirely in private with the identity of the defendants withheld and both the media and the public excluded from the entirety of the proceedings.

This extraordinary turn of events follows an application by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Mari Reid, unit head of the counter-terrorism team in the special crime and counter-terrorism division of the CPS, gave evidence that there was a “serious possibility that the trial may not be able to go ahead” if it had to be held in public.

The order for the proceedings to be held in private was granted by Mr Justice Nicol on 19 May 2014. It is presently being appealed by the media to the Court of Appeal who heard submissions on the issue this Wednesday. Richard Whittam QC, senior Treasury counsel, argued that the exceptional nature of the case against the defendants merited the exclusion of the public from the proceedings.

The Court of Appeal was told that AB and CD are charged with serious terrorism offences, including possession of a document entitled “Bombmaking”. The evidence that the Crown are relying on could not be heard in public.

Lord Justice Gross stated that he will give the court’s decision on the appeal in a few days with a full judgement to follow

shortly thereafter.