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Rare gag order in British murder trial

Dec. 13, 2007 at 8:36 AM

LONDON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- British officials filed petitions to have the trial of a man alleged to have killed an award-winning author in secret because of links to government agencies.

British Home Secretary Jacqueline Smith signed a "public interest immunity" certificate to impose a gag order on the trial of the death of Allan Chappelow, the author of several books on George Bernard Shaw, The Times of London reported Thursday.

Officials discovered Chappelow, 86, dead in his home from apparent head injuries following a spate of identity theft incidents involving the reclusive author.

Wang Yam, 45, faces burglary charges in addition to murder charges for the death of Chappelow.

Smith signed the gag order on the basis of protecting national security interests and to protect the identity of informants, The Times said.

Critics said the move affects the "fundamental principles of the criminal justice system."

The trial was set for Jan. 23.

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