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Crown Court broadcasts move closer


Cameras are to be placed at the Royal Courts of Justice

Cameras are to be placed at the Royal Courts of Justice

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Cameras are to be placed at the Royal Courts of Justice

The prospect of TV cameras being allowed to film judges sentencing murderers, rapists and other criminals has moved a step closer under new Government plans.

Proceedings in the Court of Appeal will be televised later this year, with cameras set to be allowed into Crown Courts in future. Viewers will be able to watch lawyers' arguments and the rulings of appeal court judges under the plan, which could be in place by October.

The Ministry of Justice is working with the judiciary and broadcasters to then extend this to Crown Courts, in an effort to "bring a new openness" to the system in England and Wales, a Government source said.

Cameras will be placed at the Royal Courts of Justice, where they will be able to film criminal and civil appeals. Broadcasters will determine which cases are covered, subject to necessary judicial checks.

The source said: "In some cases it will not be in the interests of justice to broadcast footage."

Unlike in US-style televised trials, victims, witnesses and defendants will not be filmed.

A No 10 source said: "This is an important step in opening up the court process. Allowing the public to watch justice in action will help build trust in our judicial system. Hearing why verdicts have been given and watching the sentencing process will add to public confidence in the courts."

Proceedings in the Supreme Court can already be filmed, but this new initiative will extend that principle.

In January the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, raised concerns about sentencing being shown on television amid fears that members of the judiciary would be booed.

He told the Lords Constitution Committee that filming a sentencing could encourage hecklers to yell abuse or even cheer, adding: "I'm very troubled about having cameras just swanning around."