CPS blocks press access to evidence used in trials

The Crown Prosecution Service has banned prosecutors and police from giving the press and media material used in evidence at trials.

The ban covers material such as audio and videotapes of interviews with suspects, closed-circuit television footage, and transcripts of interviews with suspects or witnesses.

It was introduced in guidelines the CPS sent recently to its area offices, Media Lawyer has revealed.

The existence of the guidance emerged when journalists at a police and CPS briefing on the case of bus driver Michael Robinson were told they would not be allowed access to, or stills from, CCTV footage which shows him getting on a train on the night that he killed sports student Sara Cameron.

Robinson murdered Cameron just 100 yards from her home in Earsdon, north Tyneside.

The briefing was held in advance of his trial, during which Robinson admitted the charges of attempted rape and the murder.

A CPS spokeswoman told Media Lawyer the ban on allowing the media access to prosecution material was introduced after “concerns” were expressed.

“It is not correct to say we don’t give information to the press. We won’t give out evidence – prosecution evidence – any more,” she said.

The decision to issue the guidelines was taken after the CPS received complaints that video and audiotapes were being passed to the media, she said.

“We took counsel’s advice, and that advice was that we should not be giving prosecution material to the media.”

It was thought the type of material banned under the move would include the police video footage which showed Soham child killer Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr being interviewed by detectives; and Roy Whiting being quizzed by detectives over the murder of Sarah Payne.

By Jon Slattery

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