Terror trial: Counting the cost

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The Independent Online

Q: Do these convictions finally prove that there was a British plot to blow up transatlantic airliners using liquid bombs?

Yes, but not as conclusively as the prosecution would have liked. Although convictions were secured against three of the defendants, including ringleader Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, the jury acquitted three others of the bomb plot. The jury also failed to reach a verdict on another man.

Q: What will happen next?

There is always the chance that a retrial could be held in cases where juries failed to reach a verdict.

Q: The bomb plot was first discovered more than three years ago. So why has it taken so long to bring the case to court?

At the first trial, which ended last year, the allegations of a wider conspiracy were not proven. The Crown Prosecution Service's counter-terrorism unit decided to press ahead with a second trial of the same defendants to try to secure convictions which reflected the true scale of the terror being planned. The re-trial began on 3 March this year after two false starts.

Q: Do the verdicts vindicate the Government's decision to introduce one of the biggest security clampdowns on air travel ever witnessed in this country?

Ministers and the Director of Public Prosecutions were no doubt relieved by yesterday's verdicts. If the jury had rejected all the evidence of a major plot against the airlines there would have been a public backlash over the draconian steps taken to stop a bomb plot that never was.

Q: How much has the case cost?

Experts have estimated that police investigation and trials have cost up to £100m. By far the biggest part of this bill was the police investigation. The Metropolitan Police put the combined cost of the two anti-terror investigations up to March 2008 at £28m. Thames Valley Police were called in to scour woodland in High Wycombe where the gang had stashed materials. The extensive searches added £7.8m to the cost of the operation, which then led to lengthy criminal proceedings.

Q: What about the court costs?

The Crown Prosecution Service put the total prosecution costs for both the first trial and the retrial at £2.1m. Barrister fees for the first trial were £840,000 while counsel fees for the retrial were £655,000.