Belfast Telegraph

Ford sceptical about court TV moves

Stormont's Justice Minister has expressed scepticism about filming inside courts in Northern Ireland after voicing concern about the trial coverage of Norwegian self-confessed mass killer Anders Breivik.

David Ford said there should not be a knee-jerk reaction to follow moves in Scotland, England and Wales to broadcast from the courtroom.

Mr Ford told the Assembly he had "no immediate plans" to lift the long-standing ban on filming judicial proceedings but said officials were monitoring developments in other parts of the UK to see if lessons were applicable to the region.

UK legal history was made last month in an Edinburgh courtroom when a judge was filmed sentencing a murderer to life imprisonment.

TV audiences worldwide have also been able to see images of the ongoing trial of Breivik, who admits carrying out the gun and bomb attacks that left 77 people dead in Norway last July.

The minister said protecting victims and vulnerable witnesses would be paramount in any considerations to allow broadcast access in Northern Ireland.

"Anything that would be done would have to take that into account as a key priority," he said.

"It is noticeable that the other local jurisdictions are merely looking at issue of giving judgements.

"I think those of us who have witnessed some scenes from the news over recent days of a court hearing in Norway would see particular difficulties in extending cameras to that sort of level."

In response to an Assembly question on the issue, he added: "I am more on the sceptic end than the enthusiast end as I see what is happening elsewhere."

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