Media challenge secrecy in murder trial

'National security' claim disputed

Seven national newspaper groups have challenged a bid to have parts of the trial of the man accused of murdering writer Allan Chappelow heard in private.

The unusual secrecy order would allow witnesses at the trial of Wang Yam, the 45 year-old man accused of murdering the millionaire writer, to be heard in private. The CPS argued that the order was necessary on the grounds of national security and protection of witnesses, and have  indicated the charges may be dropped unless the application is granted.

The media groups opposing the application at the Old Bailey yesterday argued that there was a general and strong rule under the European Convention of Human Rights in favour of unrestricted reporting of any criminal proceedings, and that “the strong presumption that the press, as watchdog of the public, may report everything that takes place in a criminal court can only be displaced by unusual or exceptional circumstances.”

Mr Chappelow, the author of several books about George Bernard Shaw, was found dead in his home in June 2006.

A ruling is expected today.