Television cameras are now a permanent fixture in English and Welsh courts for the first time.
A statutory instrument, the Court of Appeal (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2013, allows equipment shared by four broadcasters and controlled by a video journalist to film judges and lawyers for live broadcast.
The lord chief justice welcomed the move, saying broadcasting ‘will help a wider audience to understand and see for themselves how the Court of Appeal goes about its work'.
Broadcasts will be subject to measures to protect the administration of justice, ensure no disruption to proceedings and protect witnesses and victims. They include:
- A 70-second delay in some live transmissions to allow the removal of anything that contravenes broadcasting regulations or reporting restrictions,
- Appeals against conviction which might result in a retrial will be shown only once the case is decided,
- The judge can prohibit filming or broadcasting if it is in the interests of justice or to prevent undue prejudice,
- There will be no broadcasting or audio of private discussions between judges and between counsel in the courtroom,
- Cameras will be discreetly sited, typically in bookshelves and operated by a ‘court video journalist’,
- Footage can be used in a news and current affairs context only, not other genres such as satire, entertainment or commercial use in advertising.
Five of the criminal and civil courtrooms used by the Court of Appeal have been wired and equipped with cameras. Recordings will be distributed via production hubs at the BBC, ITN, Press Association and Sky News, the four broadcasters funding the scheme.
Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said: ‘This is a landmark moment that will give the public the opportunity to see and hear the decisions of judges in their own words. It is another significant step towards achieving our aim of having an open and transparent justice system.
‘We are clear that justice must be seen to be done and people will now have the opportunity to see that process with their own eyes. It will also help further the public’s understanding of the often complex process of criminal and civil proceedings.'
He pledged that victims and witnesses would not be filmed.
John Hardie, chief executive at ITN, said: ‘Filming in courts has been a long time coming and is for the benefit of open justice and democracy. Never before will television viewers have had such an insight to justice being seen to be done.'
England and Wales are behind other jurisdictions in allowing courtroom broadcasting. Since 1992 some filming has been allowed in limited circumstances in Scotland.
In England and Wales, pilot filming in the Court of Appeal by the BBC, ITN and Sky took place in 2004 but was never broadcast.