Security guard stops Mirror's Penman entering court

A Daily Mirror investigative journalist who went to a County Court for a hearing was stopped at the doors and told by a security guard that he was not allowed to enter the building.

Andrew Penman then asked to see the manager at Aldershot County Court – and was told by another official he could go into the building to check court lists, but was not allowed into the courts.

It was only after he pointed out that he was a journalist and knew that courts were open to the public and press, unless specific restrictions were imposed, that he was allowed to proceed.

Penman said: “It is so depressing – these security guards should know that the courts are open, and that journalists can attend.

“They really should have a lot more training, so they know what they are doing.”

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts Service, which is responsible for the administration of the courts, said: “Civil justice, like criminal justice, should be open and transparent.

‘There is a general presumption that most civil cases are heard in open court unless the judge rules otherwise, although there are exceptions such as possession cases, which are generally heard in private.

“HMCS Press Office will look into cases of journalists who are wrongly excluded from a civil case.”

Guidance issued by HMCS to its staff on dealing with the media states: “It is normal to provide the media with seats in the well of the court during a trial.

‘The media are entitled by law to hear and be present at all open court proceedings.”

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