Leading article: Justice must be seen to be done

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The Independent Online

Viewers of Sky News may feel relieved or deprived as they contemplate a world without live coverage of the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor that has occupied so much airtime in recent weeks.

Far from giving televised justice a bad name, however, this drama – which lacked the histrionics of the OJ Simpson case and focused mostly on medical technicalities – should pose once again the question of televised court coverage in this country. Earlier this week, the BBC's Crimewatch programme considered the case of Joanna Yeates and the trial of her killer, Vincent Tabak. Every-thing was real, from the police interview with Tabak to film of the actual flat she lived in.

Everything except what happened in court, for which drawings and actors were used. Coming so soon after British viewers had also been able to watch, live from Perugia, the acquittal on appeal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher, this seemed to verge on the ridiculous.

There are dangers in live relays of court proceedings, to be sure. But Britain is starting to look fustily behind the times. The televising of trials, like the televising of Parliament – highly contentious in its day – is an overdue step in updating our institutions. The Justice Secretary's plans to allow cameras into the Court of Appeal is a start, but one that is far too timid.