OPINION - Talking Point: What do you think about allowing cameras in court?

·2-min read
Court No 1 at the Old Bailey in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Court No 1 at the Old Bailey in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Judge Sarah Munro QC made legal history in the first televised sentencing to take place at the Old Bailey.

Temporary permission to livestream cases during the pandemic has become permanent in law – albeit with a number of restrictions.

High Court and Senior Circuit judges sitting in crown courts can be filmed delivering their sentencing remarks. It will be the judge alone seen on camera. Victims, witnesses and jurors will be protected, meaning we haven’t seen the end of court cases being depicted by sketch artists (who themselves are not even allowed to draw while in the courtroom and have to make their sketch later from memory – strange but true).

It will be up to the judge to allow filming if it is “in the interests of justice”, which has been argued to be a good thing for transparency and “open justice”. However, the judge can choose to deny it if it “jeopardised the administration of justice”.

It may be utilised for high profile trials where the courtroom cannot fit all those who wish to attend in person, and screen to a spillover room. Of more widespread use will be streaming online, where virtual attendees must identify themselves by name and email – as well as adhering to usual court rules as if they were there in person. That means no screen captures or recording the transmission in any way, such as on a mobile phone.

So it doesn’t quite sound like the TV spectacle we know of some American court cases. But it’s certainly a big leap from the long-held stance of no cameras at all in court.

What do you think about allowing cameras in court? Deliver your verdict in the comments below for the chance to be featured on the ES website.

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