Cameras in courts are allowed in court for the first time since last week. It has been described by the BBC as ‘…a landmark for justice and journalism’. After many years of campaigning by the BBC, ITN, Sky News and the Press Corporation, live broadcasting is possible in five courtrooms and recordings in 13 others.
Since 1925 it was an offence to take photos of judges, witnesses and jurors in the courts of England and Wales. In Scotland, broadcasters have been allowed to film since 1992 but this requires the consent of all parties. However for the first time in England and Wales a case will be broadcasted. This case concerned a ringleader of a scam to forge pound coins failed in his bid to appeal a seven year sentence.
As for the crown and magistrate courts, cameras are not allowed yet. Additionally, lawyers arguments’ and judges comments’ can be shown but defendants cannot.
It can be argued that this change in the law will allow the public to understand the work of the courts and gain an wider understanding. Several broadcasters have supported the move, many arguing that it would benefit justice and democracy.
John Hardie, ITN chief executive said filming in courts would be ‘for the benefit of open justice and democracy’.
However there has been criticism of allowing cameras in court. Labour Peer Baroness Kennedy QC said ‘What I’m worried is something more fragile, which is our liberty as citizens in this country that the legal system should be taken seriously’. There is fear amongst critics that it would undermine the respect for the court.