Law Report: Procedure on Pre-Trial Hearings in Camera Ex Parte Guardian Newspapers Ltd Court of Appeal, Criminal Division (Lord Justice Brooke, Mr Justice Kay and Mr Justice Maurice Kay) 30 September 1998
Kate O'Hanlon, Barrister, The Independent (London, England)
AN ORDER that a pre-trial application to stay criminal proceedings as an abuse of the process of the court be heard in camera was an order within Rule 24A of the Crown Court Rules 1982, and notice should accordingly be given of an application for such an order.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of Guardian Newspapers Ltd under section 159(1)(b) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 against an order made by Collins J at the Central Criminal Court that the part of the criminal proceedings before him concerning the defendants' application to stay the proceedings as an abuse of process be held in camera.
Notices were served on the Crown Court under Rule 24A of the Crown Court Rules 1982 indicating an intention to apply for an order that part of the proceedings in question be heard in camera. The notices failed to state whether national security or the protection of the identity of a witness was the reason for the application, and failed to specify to which part or parts of the proceedings the notice related. Guardian Newspapers Ltd unsuccessfully opposed the making of the order, and subsequently served a notice on the Registrar of Criminal Appeals seeking leave to appeal under section 159(1)(b) of the 1988 Act. Michael Tugendhat QC (Siobhain Butterworth) for the Guardian; Robert Boyle (Serious Fraud Office) for the Crown; Alun Jones QC and James Wood (Simons Muirhead & Burton) for the first defendant; Edmund Lawson QC and Mukul Chawla (Kingsley Napley) for the second defendant. Lord Justice Brooke said that it fell to the court to decide for the first time whether the reference to "an order that all or part of a trial be heard in camera" in Rule 24A(1) was apt to refer to an order that a pre-trial application to stay proceedings for abuse of process be heard in camera. If the rule did not apply, then there were no rules of court to require any public notice of such an application, nor to regulate the carriage of an appeal which undoubtedly lay pursuant to section 159(1)(b) of the 1988 Act. …