Forensic accountants could face being caught on camera in court
In her address to both Houses of Parliament, the Queen has announced that television cameras will be allowed to film in Court for the first time in Britain. Its part of the detailed programme of legislation proposed for the coming year.
This is the culmination of a long-running campaign which was given fresh impetus, earlier this year, by an open letter from Sky News to the Justice Secretary.
In the document, Sky News Editor John Ryley, who has spearheaded a campaign to televise court cases, told Kenneth Clarke the public would have better understood controversial sentences passed on rioters, had judges’ remarks been televised.
Broadcasters have been pressing for some years for cameras to be allowed into courts. But, under current law, cameras – including video cameras – are banned from courts in England and Wales under section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925.
The one exception is the Supreme Court where, for the past two years, cameras have been allowed to film proceedings .
Sky’s home affairs correspondent Mark White said the changes were a "significant development".
White said the move would probably see broadcasters allowed to air the sentencing remarks of judges rather than entire trials.
Mr Ryley’s proposal, put together with senior management at the BBC and ITN, was for limited coverage of court proceedings, which would not show vulnerable witnesses.
He said: "Sky News welcomes the decision and looks forward to working with the judiciary to bring about more transparency in our justice system."
Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg said he was surprised the Government was moving to change the guidelines so soon after the renewed pressure.
"You will see someone convicted, you will see someone being sentenced, but the witnesses who might otherwise be discouraged from giving evidence won’t be shown under what we understand the Government’s plan to be," he said.
Mr Rozenburg said the law will have to be changed in Parliament – meaning it might be up to a year before the first television pictures are aired from criminal courts.
Conservative MP John Whittingdale, the chair of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, told Sky the changes were "long overdue".
He said he would be "surprised" if any MPs or peers objected to the proposal.
"I find it quite difficult to think of any arguments against doing it," Mr Whittingdale said.
"It seems to me fairly evident we want to encourage people to respect the law more, this has to be the right thing to do."
However, not everyone is in favour of the changes.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, speaking earlier on Sky, warned such a move "undermines justice".
She also said the only cases that would be given real coverage would be "salacious" ones.
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