Lee Rigby murder trial: The four questions posed to potential jurors in case against Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Have you been near a terror incident? Have you ever been in the Services? Could your beliefs or occupation affect your verdict? Is there a compelling reason to excuse you?

Jury selection has begun in the trial of two men accused of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

A panel of potential jurors gathered in oak-pannelled Court Two of the Old Bailey today, and were asked four questions to determine their ability to try the case.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are charged with murdering the Fusilier as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks in south-east London on May 22.

They are also each accused of attempting to murder a police officer on the same day, and conspiracy to murder a police officer on or before that day.

Mr Justice Sweeney told the potential jurors: " A fair trial is the right of all in this country. To state the obvious, the role of the jury is a vitally important one in ensuring the fulfilment of that right.

"In our crown courts it is the jury consisting of 12 people chosen at random and with no connection with the case who are the judges of the facts and who alone decide on the true verdicts according to the evidence in the case that they are trying.

"Sitting in judgment on your fellow citizens is one of the most important duties that any of us can be called upon to perform and once summoned as you have been it is a duty that must be undertaken unless there are compelling reasons that require a potential juror to be excused."

He added: "It is an essential part of a fair trial that the jurors who try the case must have no connection with it whether direct or indirect, and must be able to reach true verdicts based on the evidence rather than on any pre-conceived ideas, beliefs or prejudices."

Adebolajo, wearing a black shirt, and Adebowale, in a brown jumper, sat in the dock separated by security guards as the process began.

The jurors were asked:

* Have you or any person with whom you have regular and close personal contact been in the vicinity of a terrorist incident?

* Are you or any person with whom you have regular and close personal contact employed or have been employed by the Armed Forces, Police Force, Prison Service, Security Services or the Crown Prosecution Service?

* Is there any reason arising from your beliefs, past or present occupation or any other matter that you feel may inhibit the essential requirement to return true verdicts according to the evidence in this trial? In particular do you or any member of your family or a relative or close friend hold political or religious views of such strength that they might materially influence your consideration of this case?

* Is there some other compelling reason requiring you to be excused?

Fourteen potential jurors were chosen today, and it is hoped that a final jury of 12 will be selected and sworn in tomorrow, when the prosecution case is expected to open.

Mr Justice Sweeney warned the group not to research the case, to try to contact anyone involved with it or to speak about it with family or friends.

He told them: "The jurors who try this case must do so impartially, and thus based on only the evidence that those jurors are going to hear in this courtroom and absolutely nothing else."

Father-of-one Fusilier Rigby, 25, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, died of multiple cut and stab wounds when he was attacked as he returned to the barracks after spending the day at the Tower of London.

Adebolajo, from Romford in Essex, has asked to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, while Adebowale, from Greenwich, south-east London, has asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah.

PA

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