Live: Jo Cox murder trial suspended for day due to prison strike

Court sketch by Elizabeth Cook of prosecutor Richard Whitman QC as Thomas Mair, who is accused of the terror-related murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, sits in the dock at the Old Bailey

Court sketch by Elizabeth Cook of prosecutor Richard Whitman QC as Thomas Mair, who is accused of the terror-related murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, sits in the dock at the Old Bailey

The trial of the man accused of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox has been suspended for the day due to industrial action taking place in the prison where he is being held.

As jurors arrived at Court 8 of the Old Bailey in London this morning, they learned that the case would be unable to proceed as Thomas Mair was not in court.

Jo Cox and Thomas Mair

Jo Cox and Thomas Mair

The Honourable Mr Justice Wilkie said they had no doubt noticed that the defendant was not in the dock, but this was through no fault of his own.

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There are circumstances at Belmarsh and, I understand, prisons all over the country that have precluded the bringing of any prisoners to court for hearings.

The Honourable Mr Justice Wilkie

He said: “There are circumstances at Belmarsh and, I understand, prisons all over the country that have precluded the bringing of any prisoners to court for hearings.

“The law is very clear that, as here, if the defendant does not attend the trial through no fault of his then in the absence of his consent it is rarely, if ever, appropriate at all to proceed.

“This is particularly so in this trial when we had reached the stage when the first evidence was to be heard.”

He said a number of witnesses had travelled to London expecting to give evidence today.

Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, with their mother Jean, at the Old Bailey

Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, with their mother Jean, at the Old Bailey

The court heard it had not been possible to seek Mair’s consent to proceed and it was considered that he would want to hear the first day’s evidence.

Adjourning the court, Mr Justice Wilkie said: “With great reluctance I’m afraid that we’re unable to proceed.”

It is hoped that the trial will resume tomorrow morning at 10.30am.

Mair, 53, of Lowood Lane, Birstall, is accused of murdering Batley and Spen MP Mrs Cox on June 16.

He is also facing charges of possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, possession of an offensive weapon - a dagger - and causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Bernard Carter Kenny.

Mair denies all four charges.