12 Jun 2014

A partial victory for open justice

A rare media victory today in the controversy over secret trials.

The court of appeal today pulled back one or two of the layers of secrecy intended to cover the reporting of a forthcoming terror trial involving two characters known as AB and CD.

First, their names can be published and for the record, they are Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar.

Second, the media will be allowed to report some aspects like the jury swearing-in, judge’s introductory remarks, some of the prosecution opening, verdicts and sentencing. So now only partial secrecy.

But the appeal judge Lord Justice Gross went slightly further, saying that a small group of state-accredited journalists will be allowed to follow proceedings but their notes will impounded at end of each day and be held until some future date.

Today decision is in effect a score draw. The trial will from the public’s point of view still take place behind closed doors, but the media can claim victory for preventing the state from operating in a complete shroud of secrecy.

Such are the vagaries of our wonderful system, based on the fundamental principle of open justice.

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