Broadcasters in talks to televise courts

The Lord Chancellor is in talks with broadcasters to let television cameras into the Court of Appeal by the summer, writes Wale Azeez.

A source in Lord Irvine’s department revealed that the head of the judiciary is considering a pilot scheme to allow broadcasters access to the civil and criminal divisions of the court.

“There has been a meeting between the Lord Chancellor and broadcasters. The Lord Chancellor has indicated he is open to the idea and would like to see how it works,” said a source in the Lord Chancellor’s department.

“Whether television cameras are finally let in or not will depend on how the broadcasters put together their material and work within the pilot-scheme period. The length of the pilot, the format and how it will work is being mulled over,” he added.

If the go-ahead is given, access to the Court of Appeal would be given for news – both live coverage and bulletins – documentaries and educational programmes.

High-profile cases recently dealt with by the Court of Appeal include Stephen Downing’s, who spent 27 years in prison for the “Bakewell Tart” murder before the court quashed his conviction in February, and solicitor Sally Clark’s, who walked free from the court after being cleared of murdering her two baby sons, in January.

Allowing filming in the Court of Appeal would bring England in line with Scotland, which has allowed cameras into court since 1992. A law passed in 1925 prohibits all cameras from English and Welsh courts. Guidelines drawn up in 1992 by Lord Hope, then head of the Scottish judiciary, allowed cameras into Scottish courts with certain restrictions.

Wale Azeez

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