At the risk of antagonising a good proportion of our readers, we begin 2012 by praising Kenneth Clarke. He has decided that plans to televise criminal trials will be limited to judges’ comments. The dispensation will not extend to filming juries, victims and witnesses ‘under any circumstances’ - nor to the filming of court officials or lawyers.

Back in September, when news first broke that cameras would be allowed into courts, it did not escape observers that not 24 hours earlier Sky News had reiterated its demand for proceedings to be televised in the wake of the August riots; and that Clarke made the announcement before consulting senior judges.

As the Gazette has long argued, the suspicion is that claims by broadcasters that televising the courts is ‘in the public interest’ and ‘about democracy’ are disingenuous. What broadcasters really want - though they would of course deny it - is for the government to commoditise criminal justice so they can create a new ‘reality TV’ format. If this is the hidden agenda, their hopes are dashed; at least for now.

‘The other people involved [apart from the judge] need to be protected,’ Clarke told MPs, ‘because otherwise the whole nature of the proceedings will be changed, some people will be intimidated and some people’s behaviour will be affected.’

Quite so. The justice secretary might have added that this is exactly what happened when cameras were allowed into US courtrooms.