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United Kingdom The Courts

UK Seeks To Hold Terrorism Trial In Secret 240

hazeii (5702) writes in with news about a secret trial set to take place in England. 'A major terrorism trial is set to be held entirely in secret for the first time in British legal history in an unprecedented departure from the principles of open justice, the court of appeal has heard. The identities of the two defendants charged with serious terror offences are being withheld from the public, and the media are banned from being present in court to report the forthcoming trial against the two men, known only as AB and CD.'
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UK Seeks To Hold Terrorism Trial In Secret

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2014 @03:12AM (#47169803)

    Formally, UK legal history goes back to the coronation of Richard 1 in 1189. Practically, it goes back to the 8th century or so. This is (one of) the few trials in camera in the last 100 years, that's all.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @03:28AM (#47169849) Journal
    Recall when Duncan Campbell, Time Out reporter Crispin Aubrey and former SIGINIT operator John Berry faced witnesses from the UK intelligence community:
    Colonel 'B'. []
    The UK court system has reverted to 1977 and the Official Secrets Act 1911 to try and stop the press from reporting again. All this has been tested in the UK press and legal system before. Secret courts did not save the GCHQ from Time Out article "The Eavesdroppers".
    If the case is so "major" and is legally sound, let the press in to see the UK justice system at work. The same issues where faced over Ireland, UK gov staff working for the Soviet Union, the first super grass efforts (well connected informers getting reduced time).
    How a secret national security trial will legally challenged in open court after a conviction for the tactic of "major terrorism" will be interesting.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @03:57AM (#47169903)

    My theory is because currently terrorism still has a bit of 'awe' factor behind it. Treating these cases like any other case would diminish that. The emperor has no clothes, and they are terrified at letting us see what precisely is going on, and what we're giving up civil liberties over.

    Terrorism is the vehicle by which the authoritarian elements in society (on both sides of the pond) can use to gain more power and exert control over the populace. Since 9/11 (and I'm sure 7/7) the state has granted itself more power at the expense of personal privacy.

    Allowing us to see that in reality it's not an extraordinary case, that plotting to murder people over ideology shouldn't be treated any differently than plotting to murder people indiscriminately -- takes that avenue away from them.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:02AM (#47169923)

    And the global dictatorship is slowly being pieced together.

    And citizens do nothing, amazingly. People with any knowledge of history should be scared shitless - I know I am.

    And soon it'll be too late to do anything about it...

  • Re:Dear UK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:10AM (#47169961)

    How do you know it's not a case so important and transcendental that absolute secrecy is required to protect British society as a whole?

    We only know it's a terrorism trial.

    Maybe AB downloaded a Justin Bieber song. Maybe CD whistled a Disney tune during a bus trip without paying the representation fees. Maybe AB is brown skinned!

    See? Now I'm afraid. I hope they have already been executed, just to be sure. Or sent to an american torture camp, to be exchanged for the next marine that's abducted by a pirate arab communist hacker terro-jihadist.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:16AM (#47169989)

    People are doing something, they're voting against the main parties.

    The problem is in the process they're leaning towards the lures of the far right like UKIP with it's populist lies.

    I find it incredible that the three main parties are running round like headless chickens screaming "Oh my god, we're losing votes to the far right, how do we stop this disease in our society!" yet remain completely oblivious to the fact that this sort of shit is exactly why people are flocking away from them en-masse.

    I want them to change course not simply because things like this sicken me as they did during Brown era authoritarianism, but because the fact they're pushing people into the arms of the far right is even more disturbing.

  • Re:Dear UK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:30AM (#47170037)

    I enjoy your sarcasm, but I will still answer your 1st question as if you were serious.

    How do you know it's not a case so important and transcendental that absolute secrecy is required to protect British society as a whole?

    Because the system on which our liberty and freedom is based is more important than some guys setting of a bomb, no matter how large the attack.

    We just cannot - under any circumstance - accept a situation that a government can capture, try and imprison people without ever having to be accountable for those actions.

    I could accept a situation where trial is postponed because of ongoing investigations against others, but the trial must be public. Heck, we (= the West) have been fighting regimes that did this in the past, saying we had to liberate the people from the oppression, etc. etc., and now we're doing it ourselves? Does not compute.

  • Re:Dear UK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:44AM (#47170061)

    First it's once, then twice, and before you know it every single trial will be private. I still don't buy the whole terrorist defense we slap that tag on pretty much everything. Slap on the terrorist tag and you can pretty much ignore some unlucky fuckers basic human rights whether they;re guilty or not.

    I don't care if it was Adolf Hitler, it needs to be public because this one fucked up precedent. You do not want to let this happen unless you're fine with your kids and their kids dealing with it.

  • Major Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:47AM (#47170071)
    It is obvious that we lost some wonderful and brave people on 9/11. We also lost some expensive buildings and the suffering of many people may ruin the lives of many families for life. Sometimes 9/11 is compared to Pearl Harbor. But in all seriousness 9/11 does not compare to Pearl Harbor at all. During that attack we lost ships and sailors and airmen that we would need to save our nation and the pain to our nation included the threat of loss of the nation. The 9/11 attack was not a major attack in that sense. I don't think many people viewed 9/11 as threatening to collapse the entire nation. The idea that for purposes of trial we label 9/11 as a major attack doesn't sit well with me. Yes, we do have a lunatic, cult like, group of incompetents who would like to crush us. But we see them more as idiots than a military threat. I think the term idiots is justified as none of the enemy will improve their place in life from the wretched little fight that these folks have put up. In the end these people live at our leisure. If they really were a "major threat" then we would have gone to the big weapons and simply erased them from the face of the Earth. Covert actions by our government may be far more dangerous than a bunch of religious primitives running about with AK47s.
  • by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @04:55AM (#47170099)

    We are talking about a terrorism trial... There are more than only the defendants at stake.

    Invalid passport, copy of a booklet or even possession of illegal weapon are insufficient to prove that someone is a terrorist. There probably need some witnesses. ...

    And, pray tell, how do you know the accused are terrorists? That the government has clear evidence that they are terrorists? Or that there are any credible witnesses at all?

    You don't. In truth, you don't know anything at all. Because the whole proceedings are secret and hidden from you.

    The government could drag you before the same secret court tomorrow, and none would be wiser. Think about it before you so enthusiastically throw away your rights. Secret trials because of "terrorism" can be used to hide many sins and subvert inconvenient rights.

  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:20AM (#47170207)
    There will be a jury - though one may be sceptical about how unprejudiced they will be - and the judge will be responsible for ensuring real fair play. The issue is, of course, about trust of these institutions given there is no chance for the gawping public to follow the details of the case. Given the inability of the public to accept jury verdicts when the they are 'sure' that the opposite answer is the right one, one has to doubt that the gawping public offers a great deal. I admit I'm thinking out loud here - I really don't know the right answer, I'm just not 100% sure 'open justice' really doesn't descend into witch hunting on a regular basis.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:00AM (#47170507) Homepage

    That is not the problem of a secret trial. The real problem of a secret trial is the presumption of guilt and the defendants must prove their innocence. That presumption of guilt is basically being "LOUDLY" and "PUBLICLY" declared tainting all possible juries. The trial has to be secret because they are guilty and 'er' 'um' because they are guilty. The judge in upholding the secrecy has publicly declared their guilt. So the trial is not longer a trial of guilt or innocence simply a secret declaration of an pre-agreed punishment to be handed out. The whole point of public trials to to force government to publicly prove it's claim because we don't fucking believe them until they do so and every time government fails to prove it's case it is because it is lying.

  • Re:Dear UK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rich_hudds ( 1360617 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:04AM (#47170525)
    What a load of shit.

    Most Muslims in the UK are quite happy with the way things are. You really think they want to turn us into Pakistan?

    The 'UK School Trojan Horse Plot' is some hyped up nonsense based on a fake letter. Reminds me of the fake 'elders of Zion' hoax that still causes grief to Jews.

    Some nutters blew up a couple of buses 10 years ago and as a result of peple like tyou playing into their hands by over-reacting we have awful legislation like this.

    Islamic Extremism is not surging in the UK and don't bandy about your 'We' as if you represent me you ignorant arsehole.
  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @08:39AM (#47170911)

    Seriously. The last 20 years have seen British political life descend into the level of parody. Are we going to find out in another 20 years that the entire political class starting with Tony Blair was infected with some disease that ate their brains?

    By the way, it is not the case that England has never had secret trials before. There used to be the Star Chamber [], (prior to 1398 to 1641) :

    Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, and no witnesses. Evidence was presented in writing. Over time it evolved into a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts.

    That did not end will, and neither will this.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll