Your Honour, on Friday last I received a telephone call from Mr Taylor expressing concerns about a heightened level of security occasioned, he was informed, by certain intelligence received by the prison authorities. As a consequence of that call Mr Townsend and Mr Chekera attended upon Mr Taylor in the afternoon of Friday last and, having spoken to him, from my conversation with Mr Chekera the situation is this:
Intelligence has been received by the custody officials suggesting that there is a general security risk unrelated to Mr Taylor and there is no specific suggestion, as I understand it, that Mr Taylor himself poses any risk, but nonetheless, as a consequence of that intelligence, there is a raised level of security which relates in particular to his transportation to court.
Now those measures include two particular procedures to which the defendant objects. Firstly, during the course of his transportation from the unit he is transported in such a way as to effectively cause him sensory deprivation. Secondly, during the course of that - and I have put that in those terms because I have been specifically requested by Mr Townsend on behalf of the security officials that I don't spell out precisely what measures are employed during the course of his transportation which is why I have been so elliptical in the way in which I have put that, your Honours. But the second particular procedure is that the defendant is chained around his waist and effectively led like a leashed animal and he finds that particularly objectionable and degrading. Now whereas the defendant accepts the need for security, he challenges the two particular procedures which have been demanded by the security services.
Now your Honours will be aware that this heightened level of security caused us difficulties in the past during the course of these proceedings and on that occasion upon further investigation it was discovered that it was a totally false alarm. As a consequence Mr Taylor is concerned that the need for these heightened security measures be investigated properly and, whereas he accepts the need for some form of security, will not be willing to attend court if those two particular measures remain in place.
Now part of the difficulty, particularly from our point of view as his legal representatives is the lack of transparency so far as these intelligence notifications are concerned and we are particularly concerned in light of the history of these matters when the need for heightened security measures in the past was found to be totally unfounded. We submit that these matters ought in the first place to be properly investigated and, secondly, we are concerned at the impact the imposition of such measures might have upon Mr Taylor's fair trial rights, in particular because the adoption of such measures in the first place taints his public image not only with the Court, but we submit also with the public, suggesting, as it does, that he personally poses some particular security risk. Secondly of course it affects his ability to prepare for and concentrate on the proceedings whilst in court because of the anxieties occasioned by the circumstances of his transportation and in particular it distracts not only the accused from following the proceedings properly, but also his advisors who have necessarily to deal with and confront these matters obviously to the detriment of other more important issues with which we have to deal.
Whereas we appreciate that at one level these are administrative matters, we do submit that unresolved they do impinge upon the fair trial rights of the accused and obviously upon the smooth and efficient running of the Court. So far as that latter point is concerned, the point of my submission this morning is that we should not sit today until such matters are resolved.
Now I appreciate the pressures upon this Court in terms of time, finance and otherwise, but equally I have to balance that against the rights of the accused to a fair trial and the Court will no doubt be aware of the degree to which the defendant has become involved directly and personally in the conduct of his defence and I would be loathe as lead counsel to embark on the cross-examination of an important witness in the absence of the accused, because whereas we are in possession of instructions so far as this witness is concerned necessarily matters may arise ex improviso during the course of the proceedings which require the direct attention of the accused and the taking of specific instructions from him and it seems to us in the circumstances it would be very difficult for us to proceed properly in the absence of Mr Taylor.
So the application we make this morning is that the proceedings be adjourned until these particular difficulties are resolved. That is my application, your Honour, unless there are any specific matters upon which I can further assist you.