Court of Appeal backs secret terror trial

Court of Appeal judges have thrown out a bid by The Times and other media organisations to lift historic reporting restrictions that meant a terrorism trial was held in conditions of unprecedented secrecy.
The lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, and two other judges ruled yesterday that the restrictions regarding the Old Bailey trial of law student Erol Incedal should stay in place.
“We are quite satisfied,” said Lord Thomas, “from the nature of the evidence for reasons which we can only provide in a closed annex to this judgment that a departure from the principles of open justice was strictly necessary if justice was to be done. It was in consequence necessary that the evidence and other information heard when the journalists were present was heard in camera.”
The appeal judges had heard from a lawyer representing a number of broadcasters and newspaper publishers that the case raised “important issues about the constitutional principle of open justice”.
Incedal, of southeast London, was acquitted last year of plotting with a terrorist in Syria either to target individuals such as former prime minister Tony Blair or carry out a “Mumbai-style” outrage using a Kalashnikov.
The media organisations argued there was a substantial and genuine public interest in reporting of the matters that lay at the heart of the prosecution’s case against Incedal, and that without such reporting the public was unable to understand the real issue at the trial, and the reason for his acquittal on the main charge.

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