July 05, 2005


My worries about whether I would get into the press gallery without a press pass meant I arrived at the Old Bailey about 8.30. I needn’t have worried, as there was plenty of room and a better view of proceedings from the public gallery. Mr. Hamza did not look as bad as recent news reports may have suggested.

He arrived flanked by two photo fit slightly balding prison guards with tattoos on their fore arms. The judge asked him to stand, and he promptly sat down. There was unintelligible discussion about this for a while, between Hamza, the guards, his barrister and the judge. The judge eventually concluded this by stating that he hoped Mr. Hamza was comfortable and to tell him if he became uncomfortable, for which Mr. Hamza thanked him. His first and last public words of the day. The judge almost immediately ruled that no one could report the days proceedings until after the trial. So instead I will tell you a story about a hat.

Over the last few days I have been ringing round the brothers to find that a scheduled protest outside Belmarsh had been canceled. Outside court this morning I met Samir’s brother(see CAN ANYONE LEND ME A XXXXING CAMERA) who was helping on the legal case.

He told me that Mr. Hamza had requested there should not be a “presence” on this occasion. Only three of Hamza’s nearest and dearest joined myself and various bemused tourists in the public gallery. One of these guys had a classic North African style hat, with no brim and a tassle as seen in films like Casablanca and worn by famous comedian Tommy Cooper.

He made a joke out of the hat with Police outside, then with the guards on the way in, and with everyone inside as we waited. He had a warm humour about him. He told me that he was actually wearing the hat to lift Mr. Hamzas’s spirits. Apparently it was a joke between them going back many years. I had not seen the guy, or either of his friends at the mosque before. He said that he had left Abu Hamza's house hours before his arrest, suspicious of the build up in activity outside.

What else can I report through the judges gagging order? Oh, the lock on the door of the gents on the way to the public gallery is bust. So if you’re ever caught short at the Old Bailey you’ll have to whistle loudly.

There was something strange and "Medieval London village" about being in the famous court one of the Old Bailey with the same TV crews and reporters who had put Hamza’s “kangaroo courtcase” together on the street. Most of the day Mr. Hamza’s demeanour was downcast. Once, he looked up at the public gallery and smiled. The man with the hat smiled back and jiggled his hat.


I.:.S.:. said...

It's called a fez, Dave.

DAVE BONES said...