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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 16:29 GMT
Massive cost of Afghan hijack
Hijacked plane
An expensive security operation was mounted
A record three-day stand-off at Stansted Airport and two trials pushed the costs of the Afghan hijack past 12m.

The UK's longest airport siege caused massive disruption at the Essex airport, with cancelled and delayed flights and lost business costing more than 3m.

More than 200 flights and 1,500 passengers were disrupted while the drama was played out on the tarmac.

And the cost of Essex police's armed security blockade - while negotiators painstakingly worked towards a resolution - was in excess of 2m. The Home Office refunded the cost.

The subsequent trial involved 14 QCs and 13 other barristers but ended three months later when the jury failed to agree verdicts, with only one of the accused being acquitted and one other being cleared of hijacking.

Legal aid

A team of interpreters had relayed proceedings to the defendants, who listened with headphones in the dock.

As preparations were made for the second trial, Mr Justice Butterfield warned lawyers to do what they could to keep the legal aid costs down.

Without implying any criticism about the first trial, he reminded counsel of legal aid regulations which said it was their duty to review the need for QCs and extra barristers in some circumstances.

The number of barristers involved was reduced to 19, of whom five were QCs, for the second trial.

Legal challenges

After the hijack was brought to an end, 74 people on the plane remained in the UK receiving the support and benefits offered to asylum seekers.

The applicants, including 14 originally charged with hijack, have still not all been processed.

Some have been allowed to stay while others are mounting legal challenges against decisions to make them leave.

The defendants were granted conditional bail during the trials and many were housed in hostels.

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