In his ‘Dear Brian’ letter to Sir Brian Leveson – possibly the only time in history that a lord chancellor has addressed the head of the Queen’s Bench division in such terms? – Chris Grayling revealed last week that his programme to create a digital courtroom ‘has now firmly moved into delivery phase’.
It has certainly delivered for four junior members of the judiciary, who were last week either sacked or elected to resign following the discovery that their desktop computers had been used for viewing pornography.
The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office certainly enlivened many a newsroom on an otherwise quiet day. Unusually for such an announcement, it seems to have been timed for maximum exposure. Obiter reckons that Sky News was first with the online newsflash, closely followed by the BBC and the Gazette’s website – which we’re reasonably pleased with, given that we like to check our facts before committing them to screen.
For newsdesks, these rushed and unexpected stories always pose the problem of illustration. Inevitably, several newspapers, including the Guardian, fell back on stock shots of senior judges processing in ceremonial robes and full-bottom wigs.
This looked a bit odd, as the story was about three district judges and an immigration judge. It’s also potentially dangerous if an individual can be recognised in the picture. Especially as, three hours after the initial announcement, the investigations office followed up with an urgent ‘naming clarification’.