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.”

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Latest stories from i100
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

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?