Pressure grows to allow cameras to film Diana inquest

Diana: huge public interest

The ongoing campaign for broadcasters to be allowed to take cameras into UK courtrooms gathered pace this week after a law expert said access is likely to be granted to film the forthcoming inquest of Diana, Princess of Wales News organisations should begin preparations now for applying to take cameras into court to broadcast the inquest, according to Mark Stephens, partner in the media law firm Finers Stephens Innocent. The inquest is expected to resume next year.

Stephens was instrumental in CNN being allowed to take its cameras into the Harold Shipman inquiry and beam footage worldwide, after a High Court challenge in October 2001.

He said he thought the Diana inquest is “open to be broadcast”.

No decision has been made by the Lord Chancellor, but Stephens said recent changes in the law are such that “the court is obliged to make access available, so that the court is presumptively open to electronic broadcast whether that is live television, webcasting, radio, or all three”.

He added that the Human Rights Act and the right to freedom of expression means the courts are caught between two issues.

“One is the right of the broadcasters to broadcast matters of great public interest. And it’s difficult to think of something more in the public interest than Diana’s death and the inquest into it. The second issue is that in the modern era, no longer have we got time to go and sit in the public gallery.

The virtual public gallery is of course the electronic broadcast and most countries of the world recognise this.”

By Wale Azeez

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