The first terror suspect to be tried in a secret court case has been found not guilty of targeting the former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie.
British law student Erol Incedal was convicted of possessing a bomb-making manual on a memory card when he was arrested in October 2013.
On Thursday, he was cleared of plotting with a terrorist in Syria to either attack individuals or carry out a “Mumbai style” shooting using a Kalashnikov in a retrial.
At the original trial last year, the jury had been unable to agree a verdict, although they had convicted him of possessing a document likely to be useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism.
The 27-year-old burst into tears when the verdict at the retrial at the Old Bailey was announced. He and his friend Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadja will be sentenced next week for both holding identical copies of the bomb making manual.
Incedal’s trial sparked controversy when journalists were banned from reporting most of the events inside the courtroom.
This ban means it is not known what Incedal was accused of planning or any further details of the alleged plot, nor is it known why he was found not guilty.
The Crown Prosecution Service had attempted to hold the entire trial in secret, citing interests of national security. But following a legal challenge by the media at the High Court, the case was divided into three parts – public; private, with 10 accredited journalists present but banned from reporting; and completely secret.
In the first trial last year, the ‘Part 3’ top secret part of the trial amounted to 40 hours of the three-and-a-half week hearing, compared with eight hours in ‘Part 2’ with journalists present, and 12 hours in public. The retrial followed a similar pattern.
The accredited journalists allowed in court were warned they would face prison sentences if they published any of the information released in completely secret sessions.
The only details available so far from the trial are that Incedal was stopped by traffic police two weeks before his arrest, taken to a station and questioned for two hours.
It was here that officers searched his E-class Mercedes and found the address of a property owned by Blair and his wife inside a glasses case.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content