A major criminal trial involving two men charged with serious terrorism offences could be held entirely in secret for the first time in modern British legal history.
Lawyers contesting the decision at the court of appeal on Wednesday said the plan amounted to “an unprecedented departure from the principles of open justice” and was “inconsistent with democracy and the rule of law”.
Until now it has not even been possible to report the existence of the forthcoming trial against the two men, known only as AB and CD. But three appeal court judges lifted a gagging order allowing reporting of a hearing challenging the plans.
The trial would be the first criminal case to be held behind closed doors for hundreds of years. It involves two defendants who are charged with terrorism but whose names are being withheld from the public. Unless the appeal succeeds, journalists will be banned from being present in court to report the proceedings on 16 June or the outcome of the trial.
The men will be tried by a jury but no report of the case will be made public and no members of the media or public will be given access to the court.
Today’s “exceptional circumstances” will be tomorrow standard procedures.