Old Bailey to reopen for business after electrical fire

The Old Bailey will reopen for business on Monday after an electrical fire inside the high-security building.

On Wednesday 1,500 people were evacuated from the building and two had to be rescued from lifts after a fire broke out in an electrical substation inside the Central Criminal Court in central London.

The fire caused the power to go down, with windowless courtrooms being plunged into complete darkness.

London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire was “accidental” and not being treated as suspicious.

Emergency works were ongoing to restore power to the building on Thursday and Friday.

On Friday, the Recorder of London, Judge Mark Lucraft KC, said the building, which houses 18 courtrooms, would reopen on Monday.

He said various health and safety checks needed to be made before it could open.

Cases would be listed to resume from 12 noon on Monday to allow for staff to check all the systems in the courtroom are working properly, he said.

Old Bailey evacuated
Police outside the Old Bailey after it was evacuated (Emily Pennink/PA)

In the past, it has been identified as a high-value terror target and was badly damaged in an IRA car bomb attack in 1973.

On Wednesday a member of security staff had raised the alarm after hearing a loud explosion, the London Fire Brigade said.

The lights flickered and went out as acrid black smoke was seen billowing from the rear of the building in Warwick Lane.

Four fire engines and 25 firefighters were called as crowds of barristers in black gowns and wigs gathered at the front of the building.

Later, defendants were seen being escorted by police out of a side exit and into waiting prison vans to be returned to jail.

The fire caused disruption to dozens of cases, including the ongoing trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon who are accused of the manslaughter of their baby daughter, and the inquest into the deaths of the victims of the Reading terror attack.

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