Ministers set on collision course with judges after giving go-ahead for televised crown court verdicts

Plans will include rape and murder cases but senior judges fear repeat of US-style show trials

Ministers have set themselves on a collision course with senior judges after they decided to push ahead with landmark plans to televise crown court proceedings in England and Wales.

Critics warned the move threatened to turn prosecutions into American-style media spectacles similar to the OJ Simpson and Amanda Knox trials. The Government is planning to allow TV cameras into the Court of Appeal as early as this October, as part of efforts to “open up the judicial process”.

But it emerged last night that the Coalition has decided to go further by extending the measure to more than 90 crown courts, which deal with the most serious criminal cases, including murders and rapes.

Supporters of the move – backed by broadcasters – insist the initiative will help the public to understand what can seem arcane court proceedings.

However, it directly contradicts advice from senior judges and barristers, who warned that beaming trials into millions of homes could deter witnesses from coming forward to give evidence – and make the judiciary targets for abuse.

They also fear witnesses and lawyers could play to the cameras and the experience could be damaging to innocent defendants.

The country’s most senior judge, Lord Judge, has cautioned against the plan, claiming his counterpart in New Zealand had warned about “cheers and boos” during sentencing.

The proposal to restrict coverage to the appeal court, covering mainly legal arguments and judgments, rather than full proceedings, was seen as a compromise between the judiciary and Government. After lengthy discussions between ministers, judges and broadcasters, cameras are expected to make their first appearance in the Court of Appeal in October.

Cameras will be placed in some courts at the Royal Courts of Justice where they will be able to film parts of criminal and civil appeals.

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, told MPs earlier this year: “I’m perfectly happy with cameras coming into court, provided their presence doesn’t increase the risk that justice won’t be done. [But] I’m very troubled about having cameras just swanning around the court. I think you have got to see how it works in the court of appeal.”

A television film next week will show parts of a murder trial from the High Court Edinburgh, the first time cameras had been admitted to a British court room. The leading Scottish advocate Donald Findlay had warned it would turn the “whole thing into a media circus”.

Julian Young, the senior partner at a London law firm, said vulnerable offenders could be persecuted by fellow prisoners who followed their trials, while the innocent could suffer from viewers believing there was “no smoke without fire”. He said: “Televising a trial is fraught with dangers. It could deter witnesses, it could encourage them to grandstand.”

A Government source said the Ministry of Justice was working with the judiciary and broadcasters to extend the experiment to the Crown Court, “to bring a new openness to courts across the country”.

Victims, witnesses and defendants would not be filmed, but viewers will be able “to watch judges in their local area explaining the verdicts reached and the sentences given”.

A Downing Street source said: “Hearing why verdicts have been given and watching the sentencing process will add to public confidence in the courts.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home