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I'd always assumed the principle of Open Justice was taken as read in the criminal Courts, except of course in the case of Youth Court proceedings and in cases calling for the restriction of naming parties to a case.

I was therefore struggling to understand why, on two occasions in the last 12 months, when I had cause to visit Warrington and Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates' Courts', I had to ask an usher or a security guard to tap into a PIN code entry device to let me into the Courtrooms. One was a Court session dealing with RTO's and the other was for a general / overnights list.

I did query, via a couple of tweets to the MoJ, as to why this was happening but, they appeared to be less than 'open' in furnishing me with a response.

Equally, I have noticed that Court ushers tend these days to encourage defendants' to remain in the waiting room, rather than welcome them to sit in the public gallery.

Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, whilst appearing for someone in a Magistrates' Court who I had invited into the public gallery before his case was called on - I was asked by the legal advisor "who is this person at the back of Court ?", and "could you ask him to wait outside because we're just dealing with something else ?".

Which of course I politely but firmly refused to do.

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