Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
1

Media News

Government says televised trials will not become 'theatre'

By
A gavel

© PA Images

Justice secretary Ken Clarke has ruled out expanding the relaxation on TV cameras in courtrooms during criminal trials to include witness testimony.

In September, the government confirmed that the ban on television cameras being allowed to film inside law courts is to be overturned, as part of plans to improve "public confidence" in the justice system.

However, MPs have expressed concern that court hearings could become "theatrical" after the move, while some defendants could use legal privilege to harass their victims.

Conservative MP Christopher Pincher said that court officials and lawyers must be protected from "unwanted attention", adding that while justice must "be seen to be done, it mustn't be seen to be fun".

Speaking yesterday, Clarke insisted that courts would not become 'theatres' as filming would be limited to just the judges' remarks, reports the Press Gazette.

He also confirmed that the ban on filming would be lifted first to allow judgements in the Court of Appeal, expanding to the Crown Court "in due course".

"We will not allow filming of jurors, victims and witnesses under any circumstances," he told MPs.

"So far as the judge is concerned, giving a sentence or a judgment, he is a public official forming a public function. His words can be quoted, he will be reported and there is no real reason why he shouldn't be filmed.

"But other people need to be protected because otherwise the whole nature of the proceedings will change. Some people will be intimidated and some people will have their behaviour affected."

Chris Bryant MP asked whether defendants could use the arrival of television cameras to launch damaging attacks on their victims.

But Clarke insisted that the new system would be subject to tight controls preventing such problems.

"I strongly disprove any attempt for this to be used for people to make allegations against the victims or for the defendant to make a theatrical display in the witness box or for the jurors' reaction to be filmed or anything of this kind," he added.

"We are talking about the judgments and what is said as part of his official duties by the judge and at this stage I am not contemplating going any further."

Meanwhile, new guidance has been issued allowing journalists to tweet, text or email during court proceedings in England and Wales without first having to make an application.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...