Courts to give media advice

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Court officials are to be given a new role in briefing the media on how and why judges reached their decisions.

Although the Government dismisses suggestions that it is appointing outside "press officers", the move is designed to counter the public perception of judges and magistrates being out of touch with society.

In six pilot schemes at crown courts, to be launched later this year, senior court officials, probably court managers, will be earmarked as main "points of contact" to help with media inquiries.

Their role will be to provide explanation on judges' decisions - for example sentencing on rape cases - which may cause controversy. If the idea is approved by the Judges Council it could be extended to crown courts around the country.