Why was Erol Incedal acquitted of terrorism charges? Was the prosecution even justified in the first place, or was it all a government stitch-up? We'll never know, because the secrecy in Britain's secret "trial" has been made permanent:
Before sentencing the two men at the Old Bailey in London on Wednesday, Mr Justice Nicol rejected an application from 11 media organisations for the reporting restrictions to be lifted.
Anthony Hudson QC, counsel for the media, had argued that there was a “legitimate and substantial public interest” in the public being permitted to learn why Incedal had been acquitted.
In rejecting the application, Nicol handed down two judgments - one open, and one secret. His open judgment said that crown prosecutors could be dissuaded from bringing such a case in the future if reporting restrictions were varied, and concluded: “For reasons which I can only explain in the accompanying private judgment, I reject Mr Hudson’s application.”
The decision will almost certainly be appealed by the media all the way to the ECHR if necessary. Secret trials are fundamentally incompatible with the principle of open justice and the right to a fair trial, and they fatally undermine public confidence in the justice system. Sadly, the british establishment, as represented by its judges, seems incapable of recognising this.
Meanwhile, Incedal was sentenced to 42 months for possession of a bomb-making manual. How does that stack up against other sentences in similar cases? Well, in this one a defendant received 24 months for posession of not just a bomb-making manual, but an actual live bomb and a stash of other weapons. The difference? He was a member of the English Defence League, not a Muslim. Terrorism, it seems, is a more severe crime if you are brown rather than white.