Cameron backs moves to put TV cameras in court

 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The sentencing of serious offenders by judges could soon be televised under moves backed by David Cameron.

The Prime Minister is understood to be sympathetic to the idea of bringing cameras into hundreds of English courts for the first time.

Filming could be limited to sentencing, a judge's final remarks and possibly the opening and closing statements by barristers.

To protect the identities of witnesses and jurors, the cameras would not be allowed in for trials or to capture the moment a verdict is returned.

Mr Cameron is likely to be asked today about the initiative when he appears before the Commons liaison committee, which is comprised of senior backbenchers.

Critics, drawing on the experience of filming trials in the United States, will argue that the step risks turning high-profile court cases into television spectacles.

The move, which would require legislation, could be expected to run into opposition among judges and lawyers in the House of Commons.

Broadcasters have been pressing for years for cameras to be allowed into courts and argue that sentences given to rioters would have had greater impact if they were caught on film.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has also backed the move on the grounds it would allow the public to "see justice".

Cameras have been allowed in Scottish courts under limited circumstances for almost 20 years.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We are considering proposals put forward by broadcasters to allow limited recording and transmission from courts in specific circumstances.

"However, before any firm proposals are developed, the Lord Chancellor will wish to consult on the principle of broadcasting from court with the senior judiciary."

Sadiq Khan MP, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said: "Public understanding of and confidence in our legal system would improve if judges' verdicts were televised."