Court staff told to stop asking journalists for ID

Security staff at a magistrates’ court have been told to stop asking journalists for proof of their identity when they arrive to cover cases.

The move follows a protest by the Press Association after its Plymouth-based reporter, Chris Court, was told by security staff when he went to Torquay Magistrates’ Court on 1 December that he had to produce proof of identity and sign a form saying who he was and why he was there before he would be allowed into court.

One security man told Court that although he would be allowed into court even without proving his identity, he would not be allowed to take notes.

Court said he signed the form, adding: “As court was just about to start I had no opportunity to debate with the security our press rights of entry to courts.”

A spokesman for HM Courts Service said security staff at the court had now been told that journalists did not need to produce identification of sign in when they arrived to cover courts, and that they were not to be stopped from taking notes.

He added that any journalist encountering difficulties with security staff demanding identification or threatening to stop people taking notes should first raise the problem with the courts manager.

Guidance issued by the courts service says that identification should only be sought from people visiting courts if they are on business and need to go to sensitive or secure areas such as the cells.

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