Plans to hold a terrorism trial completely in secret have been overturned by the UK's Court of Appeal, following a media challenge
Judges at the UK’s Court of Appeal have ruled that a proposed secret terror trial must be heard partly in public, though the core of the case can be held in private, the BBC reports. The swearing in of the jury, some of the prosecution’s introductory comments, the laying out of the case, verdicts and possible sentencing will all be heard in public.
Justice Nicol made the unprecedented decision in May that the case would be heard in secret and the defendants not named. Until Thursday, the accused, Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, were known only as AB and CD.
Nicol’s ruling prompted a joint challenge from a number of media organizations. On June 4, the Court of Appeal ruled that the media could report on their challenge. Prior to this, news outlets couldn’t even mention the trial’s existence.
The Crown Prosecution Service, who are prosecuting the two men, said the trial had to be held in private for reasons of national security. They added that were the trial to be made public, they might have to drop it.
In their ruling, the appeal court judges stated that they had “grave concerns” about holding criminal trials in secret and not releasing the identities of defendants. They also added that though the core of the trial would be heard in private, a small group of journalists would be in attendance and their notes held until the end of the trail.
The two defendants were arrested in October 2013 in what were described as “high-profile circumstances.” Both are charged with collecting information useful to terrorism. Incedal was further accused of preparing for terrorist acts whilst Rarmoul-Bouhadjar is alleged to have possessed false identity documents.