Cameras are allowed in court rooms for the first time in 100 years!
Posted on 3rd February 2020
Certain traditions, no matter how reasonable they were at the time, can now seem archaic and out-of-date. Following the famous case of Dr Crippen, who was convicted of killing his wife in 1910, Parliament passed a new law, as follows:-
"No person shall (a) take or attempt to take in any court any photograph, or with a view to publication make or attempt to make in any court any portrait or sketch, of any person, being a judge of the court or a juror or a witness in or a party to any proceedings before the court, whether civil or criminal; or (b) publish any photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made in contravention of the foregoing provisions of this section or any reproduction thereof."
This may seem like a shock, given that we see sketches frequently in the news following a high-profile trial, however the rules were later relaxed to allow the press to employ the talents of court artists to sketch a likeness of the accused and others involved in a trial.
Now, the introduction of the new legislation will allow TV cameras to film judges passing sentence in murder, sexual offences, terrorism and other serious high-profile criminal cases in Crown Courts in England and Wales, including the Old Bailey.
Filming in Scotland has been allowed in the Courts since 1992, subject to permissions and conditions, however it does not often happen, and the first filming of a sentencing in Scotland did not occur until 2012.
The on-going debate, which has perhaps delayed cameras being allowed in Court, is whether the filming of cases could deter victims, witnesses and jurors from taking part, for fear of being publicly televised. So, to by-pass this issue, allegedly only the judge will be seen on camera, as they deliver their sentencing remarks, with no other party to the trial being filmed, including the defendant.
The feed (filming of the Judge) will be lived, although there will be a slight delay to prevent any reporting restrictions from being broken, and to prevent any other error. Reporting restrictions can include, for example, a prevention of certain names being made public, such as in cases where parties are under a certain age.
The legislation finalising this new live-feed of Judges’ decisions should take around three months to finalise, meaning that the first broadcast could happen in around late spring or early summer.
Whilst this doesn’t impact our team of solicitors in Preston or Lancaster all that much (as we don’t deal with criminal law), it may help the public to feel that they are more involved with the big criminal trials, as well as changing a law that’s over 100 years old, showing that our justice system is trying, well in the eyes of our team of solicitors in Preston or Lancaster, to move with the times.
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors
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