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A new ‘secret justice’ row blew up last night after it was revealed two suspected terrorists could be tried behind closed doors.

Prosecutors will apply to a judge tomorrow for a draconian order to hold large parts of a major terrorist trial out of the public eye.

Senior Scotland Yard detectives believe that alleged conspirators of the men could be tipped off if details of their actions are made public.

They said there are ‘strong operation reasons’ for large swathes of the trial to be held in secret.

But critics said the move is further evidence of a dangerous trend of secrecy despite Britain’s historic commitment to open justice.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, condemned the move as part of a ‘dramatic drift towards secret trials’.

‘Cases littered with initials instead of names are no way of ensuring trust and confidence in our Justice system,’ she said.

 

‘The courts should at least provide clear explanations rather than bland assertions before closing their doors on press and public.’ 

 

Neither of the men, both aged 25, has been named publicly since they were arrested when the tyres of their car were blown out by police in London last month.

Both terrorist suspects are British citizens, one of Turkish origin and second from an Algerian background.

One of the men, known only as AB, is charged with preparing terrorist acts, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and possessing a terrorist document.

The second man, known as CD, has been charged with possessing a terrorist document and an offence under the Identity Documents Act 2010.

The document is suspected of being instructions on how to make a bomb and prosecutors claim it was found on hidden on a memory card in their mobile phones.

During a hearing last month, prosecutor Michael Atkinson said the defendants could not be identified to ‘protect an ongoing investigation’.

He said that associates of one of the defendants may also recognise him if further details of the charges he faces are revealed.

Two other men, one aged 29 the second aged 28, arrested at the same time were later released without charge.

The highly-sensitive inquiry comes amid growing concern about the threat of terrorist plots in Britain linked to Jihadi groups fighting in the Syrian civil war.

The Justice and Security Act has recently provided for secret sessions in High Court actions involving national security.

Anonymity orders are also common in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission which hears terror-related cases.

But similar levels of secrecy are extremely rare in the criminal courts, where almost all proceedings are held in public.

Earlier this year Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, addressed concerns about judicial secrecy.

He said it is ‘an important function of an open society’ that the judiciary ‘comply as much as we should with the need for open justice’.

The preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey will be before Mr Justice Sweeney, who prosecuted the men found guilty of trying to blow up Tube trains and a bus on July 21, 2005.

The application for the secrecy order will be made by the Crown Prosecutions Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division.

A CPS spokesman said: ‘We apply for these orders in counter-terrorism cases rarely and only when we feel it is necessary to do so.

‘Our application will be outlined in full to a judge who will be responsible for deciding whether or not there are grounds to grant the order.’ 

A Met spokesman said: ‘For operational reasons we are not prepared to discuss this case further.’

See on www.dailymail.co.uk

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