By Stephen Addison
A man suspected of possibly planning to target former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been found not guilty of preparing a terrorist act after a retrial in which much of the evidence was held in secret.
At the original trial last year, the jury had been unable to agree a verdict on Erol Incedal, 27, from London, although they had convicted him of of possessing a document likely to be useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism.
Incedal was arrested in 2013 with another man, Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadja, who later admitted possessing a bomb-making document on a memory card. Both men will be sentenced for those offences next Wednesday.
Incedal, a British citizen of Turkish descent, had denied charges of preparing for acts of terrorism with unnamed others abroad and possessing information useful to terrorism.
At the original trial last year, the Old Bailey had heard Incedal was accused of preparing to attack either a limited number of individuals, an individual of significance or a more wide-ranging and indiscriminate assault such as that in Mumbai (India) in 2008.
A piece of paper with the address of a property owned by Blair had been found in Incedal’s black Mercedes when it was stopped for a traffic offence in September 2013.
Blair, 61, who has a house in central London, was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, during which time Britain joined the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had originally asked for Incedal’s trial to be held entirely in secret on national security grounds – a request unprecedented in recent British legal history.
That application was rejected by the Court of Appeal although large parts of the trial and retrial were still held behind closed doors.
“This has been an unprecedented investigation, where some of the evidence was heard in secret,” said police Commander Richard Walton.
He added in a statement: “Public safety remains our primary consideration and in this case, the trial judge agreed there was a requirement for elements of the evidence to be aired in closed proceedings.”