The trial of an alleged terrorist for the murder of MP Sir David Amess has been halted after three jurors tested positive for Covid-19.

The defence case for Ali Harbi Ali had been due to start on Monday at the Old Bailey.

However, Mr Justice Sweeney adjourned the trial for a week after learning that some jurors had become sick.

Addressing the remaining panel of nine jurors in a hallway outside court, the judge apologised saying the case was “adjourned” but “not aborted”.

He said: “Three of your number have tested positive, one over the weekend and two this morning, with the result we have had to adjourn the trial – not abort it.

“I have adjourned it until next Monday. By Monday I would realistically hope they will be better and that means you are not going to be required at this court when I have finished until next Monday.

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“I’m going to ask you please do not go to work unless you absolutely feel you cannot (avoid it) for this reason – I want to keep the risk of any of you testing positive between now and next Monday to an absolute minimum if I can.

“As you can imagine with a case of this importance it is vitally important if we possibly can to maintain a jury of 12.

“As today has shown us clearly, Covid is rife at the moment.”

The judge said court staff would confirm to the jury on Friday that they should come back to court next Monday.

Ali, 26, is accused of stabbing 69-year-old Sir David, the MP for Southend West, to death during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15 last year.

The defendant, from Kentish Town, north London, denies murder and preparing acts of terrorism.