| 13.7°C Belfast

Jury discharged in secret trial


Court artist sketch of Erol Incedal appearing at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Court artist sketch of Erol Incedal appearing at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Court artist sketch of Erol Incedal appearing at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

A British law student accused of targeting former prime minister Tony Blair is facing a retrial after the jury was discharged in the UK's first secret terror trial.

Erol Incedal, 26, was charged with preparing an act of terrorism with others abroad, either against individuals or a "Mumbai-style" attack, as well as possessing a bomb-making document on a memory card. He denied the offences.

After three-and-a-half weeks of evidence and five days' deliberations, the seven women and five men of the Old Bailey jury were discharged this morning by Mr Justice Nicol.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the court that the Crown would seek a retrial on a date to be fixed, probably in the New Year.

The jury, which retired at 11.13am last Wednesday, had been deliberating its verdicts for 23 hours and 35 minutes.

During the trial, the court heard that Incedal was stopped and arrested by police on September 30 last year for driving his black Mercedes car at 60mph in a 40mph zone with no licence and insurance.

Officers discovered a slip of paper with the address of former prime minister Mr Blair and his wife Cherie on it in the car and planted a bug which picked up Incedal's conversations in the following days.

The Turkish-born defendant was heard on tape to complain about "pigs" to his wife and talking about going to a "Plan B".

He said: "I made a big mistake. Some very important stuff was in the car. If they find it, I would be f*****."

On October 13 last year, armed police stopped Incedal's car again near London Bridge and arrested him on suspicion of being a terrorist.

They searched the Turkish-born father-of-two's home address in Unity Court, south London, where they found notes on a "Plan A".

It detailed a checklist of "three to four workers, two tennis racquets, one month's surveillance, rent nearby flat, transport, assess security, assess risk, legitimacy, action etc", the court heard.

And at a second shared flat in Sussex Gardens, near Paddington, officers uncovered a laptop computer containing coded messages about a Mumbai-style attack and a Kalashnikov rifle, the court has heard.

They also discovered a photograph of an East End synagogue on his iPhone as well as an internet search history including YouTube pages on Isis.

In his defence, Incedal denied that he had been planning a terrorist attack. He accepted that he possessed the memory card but said he had a reasonable excuse for it.

The majority of the Old Bailey trial has been heard behind closed doors, at times with accredited journalists present but unable to report on proceedings, but mainly completely in secret.

In all, 40 hours of evidence was heard behind closed doors, eight hours with accredited reporters present and 12 hours in open court.

Incedal was formerly known in the court case as AB and his co-defendant Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, 26, who has admitted possessing an identical bomb-making document, as CD.

The exceptional and controversial arrangements for the secret trial were made after a media challenge at the High Court against the entire case being heard in secret on grounds of national security.

As well as opening up the case to partial reporting, it led to the defendants being named in public for the first time.