Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

'Lonely' court amid lawyers' strike

Published 06/01/2014

A lawyers' strike left an Old Bailey courtroom feeling 'lonely', according to the trial judge
A lawyers' strike left an Old Bailey courtroom feeling 'lonely', according to the trial judge

Lawyers' strikes over legal aid disputes have resulted in the unusual situation of two defendants appearing in court without the assistance of their solicitors.

Jurors in the case of brothers Muhammed Saeed Ahmed and Muhammed Naeem Ahmed were reminded by Old Bailey judge Gerald Gordon that the "lonely" courtroom was a result of strikes taking place across the country today over cuts to the service.

The seven women and five men on the jury - who this morning entered a sixth day of deliberating - were told by the judge: "You will remember the situation I explained on Friday.

"You can see the rather lonely position I am in.

"You have probably read or heard more about it," he added, to which members of the jury nodded in agreement.

The legal benches in courtroom 16 were left completely vacant, with only the judge, jury, two defendants, one security guard, three members of the press and one detective present.

The brothers, aged 21 and 20 and from Bradford, deny a charge of conspiring together and with others to attend a place used for terrorist training.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, had previously told the court that the pair had been observed by police and security services on ''effectively training trips'' in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons aimed at preparing themselves for stays in the Yemen and Afghanistan.

Items found during a search of the brothers' bedrooms in 2012 included a GPS device, night vision goggles, high quality LED torches and sleeping bags for use in very cold conditions in spite of the climate in Bangladesh being very hot and humid, he said.

Other items included high grade military clothing and a copy of an SAS survival handbook, he said.

But the Ahmeds' father told the court his sons were merely preparing to go on a family holiday.

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