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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T V W Y

X Factor Law / Legal Big Brother - cameras in the Courtroom?

X Factor Law / Legal Big Brother - cameras in the Courtroom?

Thursday 26th April 2012

Mark Manley, Media Law Partner at Brabners Chaffe Street comments:

“Lights, camera … evidence”? In July this year China allowed the cameras into a civil case. The case was “assessed” by an X-Factor style panel of two legal experts and a well-known Chinese newsreader. I'm sadly unable to report whether their verdict on the (Court's) verdict merited progression to boot camp or eviction. Rumour has it that the Judge refused pre-broadcast make-up. David Cameron has announced that the Ministry of Justice is considering allowing TV cameras in Courts to show verdicts/Judge's closing comments - but not the actual trial process. Would this assist the public in having a greater understanding of the judicial system? 

I'd argue not unless the whole trial could be shown, and even then I'm not in favour. Snippets from cases would be dangerous. Assessing sentencing without knowing the facts would be a real mistake. The usual cries of insufficient punishment would become more common - but the criticism would be based on little knowledge of all of the facts of the case.

When the House of Lords became the Supreme Court in 2009 it was fitted with cameras. Footage is available for broadcasters. Surprised? Don't be - the reason you don't watch it on our TV screens is that, put bluntly, it's boring to the vast majority of people. Maybe criminal cases would be of greater interest. However, I'm not convinced that allowing such “transparency” would be in the public interest unless in fact Judges were given full freedom to dish out harsher sentences. Otherwise, allowing those intent on committing crime to watch the techniques used by clever counsel to secure acquittals and/or low sentences, might just be contrary to the public interest. 

So for me, I'd prefer to stick with the tears in X Factor, Planet Earth and the Grands Prix than watch some thug get a slap on the wrist and a few hours community service for some atrocity. 

Ends

This article reflects the personal views of the author, in his individual capacity. It does not necessarily represent the views of the law firm Brabners Chaffe Street LLP. 


For further information contact Mark Manley at Brabners Chaffe Street on 0151 600 3063