A new jury in the Sarah Payne murder case was today sworn in, hours after the trial was halted and the first jury discharged.

The hearing was stopped at 11.10am, a day and a half into the prosecution opening of the case against the defendant Roy Whiting.

High Court judge Sir Richard Curtis said a "procedural irregularity" meant he was forced to discharge the first jury.

The new jury-in-waiting was asked if they had helped in the search for Sarah, eight, after her disappearance from a field near Kingston Gorse, East Preston, on July 1 last year.

Members were also asked if they had helped police with their investigation, if they or anyone close to them knew the Payne family, the Whiting family or any members of the Sussex Police investigating team.

One man replied that he, or someone he knew, was connected to the Sussex Police team and was asked to leave the courtroom.

The new jury of nine men and three women were told that Whiting denies kidnapping Sarah on July 1 last year and murdering her between June 30 and July 3 last year.

The judge told them they were the judges in the case and stressed they must not discuss any details with anyone but themselves.

The jury was then sent home until tomorrow morning while the court heard legal submissions.

As he dismissed the jury for the day, the judge indicated that Timothy Langdale QC would open the prosecution case against Whiting tomorrow morning.

November 15 2001