Lord Judge ‘troubled’ by court camera plan

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The lord chief justice has voiced opposition to the government’s plan to allow the filming of sentencing in the Crown court.

Lord Judge said today he was ‘troubled by cameras swanning around court’.

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Appearing before the House of Lords constitution committee today he revealed that broadcasts of the criminal and civil appeal court would begin in October, under the Crime and Courts Bill currently going through parliament.

But Judge, who retires from his post in September, said he was opposed to the government’s long-stated aim to allow cameras to film sentencing remarks.

‘My concerns about the sentencing process is you can have the camera fixed on the judge, but do you have it on the defendant?

‘How do you avoid what has happened in New Zealand where they fixed cameras on the judgment but people demonstrated during the remarks with cheers and booing?’

Lord Judge said he was happy for cameras to come into the appeal court, although he predicted that viewers would find proceedings ‘very dull’.

But any further intrusion, he said, should come only with the approval of the lord chief justice and not be dictated by broadcasters.

During the hour-long appearance, Lord Judge also revealed that he expects an announcement next week on the long-running issue of judicial pensions changes.

Whilst he accepted that everybody should have to feel the effect of the country’s economic situation, he said the government should not overlook specific factors relating to the judiciary.

In particular he said judges had committed themselves to this career with no prospect of returning to their work as a solicitor or barrister, whilst pension reform could also affect attempts to create greater diversity in the judiciary.

The current proposals, which include greater pension contributions and benefits based on career average rather than final salary, would ‘not be very welcome’, he added.

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