'Covid is rife': David Amess murder trial delayed due to outbreak

An unlicensed dog breeder was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court of murdering a toddler

The defence case for Ali Harbi Ali had been due to start yesterday - March 28 - at the Old Bailey - Credit: PA

The trial of an alleged terrorist charged with the murder of MP David Amess has been halted after three jurors tested positive for Covid-19.

Ali Harbi Ali, of Kentish Town, has been on trial at the Old Bailey since March 21.

The defence case of the 26-year-old had been due to start yesterday (March 28).

However, Mr Justice Sweeney adjourned the trial for a week after learning that some jurors had contracted the virus.

Ali is accused of stabbing 69-year-old Sir David - the Newham-born MP for Southend West - to death during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15 last year.

Addressing the remaining panel of nine jurors in a hallway outside court, the judge apologised, saying the case was “adjourned” but “not aborted”.

He said: “Three of your number have tested positive, one over the weekend and two this morning, with the result we have had to adjourn the trial – not abort it.

“I have adjourned it until next Monday (April 4). By Monday I would realistically hope they will be better and that means you are not going to be required at this court when I have finished until next Monday.

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“I’m going to ask you please do not go to work unless you absolutely feel you cannot (avoid it) for this reason – I want to keep the risk of any of you testing positive between now and next Monday to an absolute minimum if I can.

“As you can imagine with a case of this importance it is vitally important if we possibly can to maintain a jury of 12.

“As today has shown us clearly, Covid is rife at the moment.”

The judge said court staff would confirm to the jury on Friday (April 1) that they should come back to court next Monday.

Last week they were shown footage of the moment Ali was tackled by two plain-clothes police officers.

Ali - labelled "warped, twisted and violent" earlier in the proceedings - denies murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

The trial continues.