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News Round-Up Week Ending 17.10.14

(Posted on 17/10/14)

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News Round-Up Week Ending 17.10.14

Behind Closed Doors

The first major British terrorism trial to be heard largely in secret began this week at the Old Bailey.

Erol Incedal, charged with preparation of terrorism, and possessing an electronic document on “bomb-making”, denies both charges.

The trial judge, Justice Nicol, told the jury that, although “the usual way in which justice is administered is in public”, there would be different arrangements for this trial: some parts heard in open court, some parts in the presence of a ten journalists forbidden from reporting, other parts heard with press and public excluded.

These arrangements were decided on by the Court of Appeal following an appeal by media organisations against a totally secret trial.

On Tuesday, in one part of the trial to be heard in open court, the jury was told that Mr Incedal’s car contained a note of a private address for Tony and Cherie Blair, suggesting they might have been a potential target.

Couple’s Convictions Quashed

The Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of a Belfast husband and wife for offences linked to the 1989 false imprisonment and killing of police informer Joe Fenton, without disclosing the full reasons why.

The case of James Martin and Veronica Ryan was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), after it gained access to a dossier of sensitive material not available at the original trial.

However, the appeal judges ruled that "the public interest would be undermined, not advanced, by the disclosure of material covered by the PII [Public Interest Immunity] certificate which the court has found to be properly issued. The right to a fair trial has been secured in these circumstances."

The couple's solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, intends to appeal against the non-disclosure in the Supreme Court: "Although we welcome the court's decision to quash the convictions, an acquitted person has the right to know exactly why they have been acquitted. Our concern is that there were serious intelligence issues at play, but that should not trump my clients' right to know the reasons."

Foreign Office Demands Thai Transparency

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has summoned Thai charge d'affaires Nadhavathna Krishnamra over concerns about the inquiry into the murders of two British tourists.

Two Burmese workers apparently confessed to killing Hannah Witheridge and David Miller last month on the island of Koh Tao.

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire “stressed that there was a real concern in the UK about how the investigation has been handled by the Thai authorities”. 
The FCO said it was “crucial for the investigation to be conducted in a fair and transparent way”.

No Murder Trial for Depressed Mother

Tania Clarence, a South African-born graphic artist and mother of four, who killed her three disabled children “to end their suffering” has had a plea of manslaughter by diminished responsibility accepted at the Old Bailey, and will not face a murder trial.

The three children had spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, a progressive disease leading to fatal respiratory problems. After suffocating the children, Clarence made a genuine attempt to commit suicide.

“This is a truly tragic case,” said Jim Sturman QC, defending. “Anybody who reads the evidence cannot fail to be moved.”